On Weems

Last week I had reason to mention the German secret agent Weems. Since then, further information has come to light, which I shall share with you in the interests of robust transparency and transparent robustness. The first tranche of information concerns his mop and his patter and his flip-top lids and his submarine and his fixation and his ink and his piccolo and his other mop and his secrets.

His mop. Weems had a blond mop, sometimes tousled, sometimes flattened and primped and slathered in hair oil. Which “look” he chose depended on the mission he was undertaking. Where a mission called for a tousled mop, he tousled his mop. If it was thought prudent to have his mop flattened and primped and slathered in hair oil, he flattened and primped it and slathered it in hair oil. There were occasions where no clear guidance was available, with regard to his mop. Weems would agonise, up to the very last minute before embarking on the mission. Then he would either tousle or flatten and primp and slather in hair oil according to what he described as his “gut feelings”. These feelings were not truly in his gut, but in his head, directly below his mop. They were cogitations of the brain rather than feelings.

His patter. Weems was a polyglot, and could deliver his patter in the tongues of many lands. The patter was designed to disguise his true identity as a German secret agent. If he unleashed his patter on you, you would think he was a chocolate swiss roll sales rep, or a trainer of budgerigars, or a snippy man, depending on which patter he deployed. Those three were by no means his only patters, there were others, but they are given as a sample.

His flip-top lids. For ease of access and retrieval of the things he kept in containers, Weems insisted on those containers having flip-top lids. He argued that the time it would take him to unscrew a screw-top lid could prove critical, and he would be better occupied doing something germane to his mission rather than unscrewing a screw-top lid. Several containers had to be modified by lid boffins in the secret agency atelier. Weems liked to personally test the modified lids when possible, but if he was engaged on a secret mission and thus unable to visit the atelier he delegated the lid testing to a trusted minion.

His submarine. Weems travelled from place to place in a submarine. It was his HQ, his centre of operations, and he was the captain. Weems knew every inch of its piping and every individual valve. He could move about the submarine blindfold, and sometimes did, just to show off. He had a hand-picked crew who idolised him. He also kept a budgerigar in a cage hanging from one of the overhead pipes. The budgerigar’s name was Simon. Weems once blindfolded Simon, as a prank, but the bird panicked and suffered heart palpitations and the prank was never repeated.

His fixation. Dangerously for a secret agent, Weems had a Gwyneth Paltrow fixation. He did not go so far as to stalk the actress, but he had a compulsion to hack into her website, Goop, from the on-board computer on the submarine. For a long time he managed to keep his fixation and his hacking hidden from his handlers, until one day a keystroke mishap betrayed him. Hauled before a hastily empanelled panel, Weems tried patter. It worked, and he pulled wool over the eyes of the panel, ten eyes in all, one of glass. La Paltrow then subjected the on-board submarine computer to a viral attack, which seems to have sobered Weems up.

His ink. As a secret agent, Weems wrote all his communiqués in invisible ink. He kept the ink in small storage jars with flip-top lids (see above). The ink being invisible, it was impossible to tell which jars contained ink and which were empty. Weems could have solved this problem by feeling the heft of each jar in his hand, but the ink was weightless as well as invisible. He devised a method of injecting the ink with dye, made from crushed raspberries. This caused the ink to turn raspberry-coloured, and thus visible, so before writing a communiqué Weems poured the ink from its small storage jar into a bigger storage jar, also with a flip-top lid, and diluted it with sufficient water to render the raspberry dye so pale that to the unaided eye it was as good as invisible. The water he obtained by surfacing in the submarine, clambering out on deck, and scooping up seawater with a ladle.

His piccolo. Weems was an accomplished piccolo player, but had a limited repertoire. His playing becalmed Simon the budgerigar (see above), who seemed to enter a trance-like state when listening. Note, “trance-like”, so not quite a full trance.

His other mop. In addition to the mop of blond hair on his head, Weems kept in reserve another mop, one affixed to the end of a wooden pole such as might be used by a janitor. Curiously, a janitor was not one of the disguised identities he assumed, backed up by patter (see above). Weems had tried and failed and tried again and failed again to master the art of janitorial patter. Eventually he had given up the ghost. An unconvincing janitor was too risky a role, and if unmasked Weems’ usefulness to his handlers would be at an end. He would be put out to pasture, or executed. He kept the mop, however, in a cubby on the submarine, and sometimes mopped the decks with it, while blindfolded (see above). There were lowly submariners among the crew whose duties included mopping, but Weems was willing to muck in with menial tasks. This willingness was born of his sheer love of the submarine, a love that was boundless. It was sometimes said of Weems that a team of psychiatrists could have a field day with him, but he was too canny an operator ever to allow even a single psychiatrist anywhere near him.

His secrets. Never divulged. His Memoirs reveal nothing.

1 Responses to “On Weems”


  • I tried reading this poem using the pentameter, and in particular had trouble with the line, “There were lowly submariners among the crew whose duties included mopping,”.
    In particular, I would like this question addressed: Is Iambic Pentameter real, or, can anything be read in a pentameter kind of rhythm? Sometimes I look at a piece of writing, and I can’t tell if there is a meter at all.
    Is the whole thing made up?

    I guess, since I have had to go so long without a ‘Hooting Yard on the Air’, I have begun impersonating the sonorous resonance of Mr. Frank Key on my daily errands and telephone calls. The lady at the post office was especially confused, as she is used to my generally high-pitched and nasal American accent.

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