Callum: Hello, I'm Callum Robertson and this is London Life.
On the banks for the River Thames at a place called Vauxhall there's a very distinctive building. In the movies this building is the home of James Bond. In real life? It's also the home of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service.
The new James Bond film Casino Royale is proving very successful at the box office. James Bond is an agent, a spy for the British Secret service. He famously has a license to kill – official permission to kill people. But what is the job of a real secret service agent? Do they live as exciting and glamorous a life as James Bond does and do they have a license to kill?
Recently the BBC's Colin Murray had the opportunity to interview two real secret service officers as they are known. Because of the job that they do their identities remain secret and their voices were electronically changed.
Listen to one of the officers now, Officer A, and try to catch the following information. What is the name of the organisation they work for, and what is the role of that organisation?
We're both officers of the secret intelligence service which most people know as MI6 and is indeed the organisation that James Bond is supposed to work for and it's the organisation that collects secret intelligence overseas for the British Government which is unlike the security service, MI5, which is responsible for domestic security in the UK.
Callum: Did you catch the information? They work for the Secret Intelligence Service, which most commonly known as MI6. Their job is to collect secret intelligence overseas. In other words they have to get secret information from foreign countries.
Officer A and B are operational officers and their job is to recruit sources, to recruit sources, which means they get people to work for them and give them information. The officers explain a little more about their roles.
Officers A & B
What we do is identify individuals who've got, can provide, the intelligence that we need and our job is to establish a relationship with them and then to develop that relationship to the point where they are motivated to work with us and help us.
It's basically about finding people and talking to them, communicating with them and encouraging them to help us, to help the British government understand and mitigate the threats that we all face.
Callum: Their jobs are to encourage people to talk to them and give them information. For what reason? To help the government understand and mitigate threats, to understand and mitigate threats. This means they try to get information which will help the government stop attacks against the country.
We've heard what the real officers do, but what about how they go about it doing it.
Do real MI6 officers have, like James Bond, a license to kill? Here's Officer A
No, it's a complete myth.
Callum: No, they don't, it's a complete myth, he says. A complete myth, there's no truth in it at all. Officer A goes on to explain more.
No, it's a complete myth. I'm sorry, it's good to be able to say that. The job of the service is to obtain intelligence to inform government policy and to help prevent, for example, terrorist attacks.
In doing that we work under UK law and the work of the service is overseen both politically and legally. So there's absolutely no room in that for killing people.
Callum: Their work, he says, is overseen politically and legally. Politicians and lawyers make sure that what they do is within the law and the law does not allow for killing people.
So is there anything about the job that is like the film character James Bond? What about other things like gadgets and people with letters for their job position. In the Bond films the head of the service is known as 'M' and the man who provides all the gadgets is 'Q'. Do they exist in reality?
We don't have an 'M' but we do have a 'C' He is 'C' That's what the chief of the service has been called since it was established back in 1909. And we also have a 'Q' figure whose team is responsible innovative technology and gimmicks and gadgets and things like that. We do use technology and some of it is pretty cool
Callum: So 'M' is actually 'C' but 'Q' does exist and is responsible for gadgets, some of which, he says are pretty cool!
Well that's all from our short look into the lives of the real James Bonds. And why did MI6 allow two of their officers to be interviewed? Well, they are trying to recruit new members of the service. They even have a website if you are interested.
Amber: Hello, I'm Amber, and you’re listening to bbclearningenglish.com. In London Life today, we sit down to a traditional British breakfast in a smart London restaurant and a ‘greasy-spoon café’! A ‘greasy-spoon café’, or ‘caff’, is the opposite of a smart restaurant!
We find out what the traditional British breakfast is made of, and why is it becoming more and more popular, especially in London, to eat breakfast in a café before arriving at the office for a hard day’s work.
Our first guest is an American anthropologist. An anthropologist studies all aspects of human culture and development. Kaori O’Connor says that strangers to England have a ‘vague vision’, an unclear picture in their minds, of what the traditional British breakfast is – perhaps it’s served from silver dishes on a grand ‘sideboard’…
As you listen, try to catch what Kaori lists as the three main ingredients of the great British breakfast.
‘It’s a meal that everyone outside of England has heard of, and dreams about, and we don’t know what it is, but when we come here, we want to eat it. And we have some vague vision of, you know, a sideboard with silver dishes and it’s just going to be the most wonderful thing on earth and I got here, and I went to a café and there was the bacon, eggs and chips, and I thought – gosh, is this all there is?!’
Amber: Did you catch it? Kaori says she went into a London café for breakfast and there it was ‘bacon, eggs and chips’! Bacon is meat from a pig that has been salted and dried, and it is fried for a traditional English breakfast! The eggs are usually fried too, and there is also usually some kind of bread – perhaps fried bread or even, as Kaori saw, chips – fried potatoes!
So now let’s go to a smart London restaurant where chef Lawrence Keogh is frying a traditional breakfast! You can hear the sizzling in the background!
He explains why he eats breakfast – the egg and bacon are ‘protein’, for example – protein is healthy. He says ‘it keeps you going all day’. It’s ‘sustenance’, nourishment, healthy food.
As you listen, try to catch what he says is a new trend, or fashion in London’s top restaurants.
‘I think it’s fundamental to the start of the day. If I’ve got a long day at work, I try and eat egg and bacon in the morning because it’s protein – it keeps you going all day. Well, it’s sustenance isn’t it? You know really, we do a lot of business meetings as well now in the morning – the place is very busy – and I think you see it across London now, there’s lots more people having business meetings in top restaurants and it’s getting very fashionable to have breakfast.’
Amber: Did you catch it? Laurence says that more and more people are having ‘business meetings in top restaurants and it’s getting very fashionable to have breakfast.’
Well our last stop today is a greasy-spoon café. Russell Davies is an expert on these! He’s written a book called ‘Egg, Bacon, Chips and Beans: 50 Great Cafes and the Stuff That Makes Them Great’. He explains what makes a great breakfast in a down-market London café, or ‘caff’. Try to catch two or three of the things he talks about.
‘I would say the café experience, you know, it’s less than 50% the food, as it were, there’s also the atmosphere, there’s the fact that in a decent caff, they’re not going to hurry you out.
There’s the smells, there’s the sounds, you know - the badly-tuned radio, the eccentric art on the wall, the kind of odd condiment choice - and most cafes are so small that it’s the best place for eavesdropping and just kind of listening to the world go by.’
Amber: So Russell Davies says the key ingredients of a great breakfast in a down- market London café are: the atmosphere, they won’t hurry you out, the smells, the sounds, for example, the badly-tuned radio, the unusual or ‘eccentric’ art on the wall, the odd condiments, for example, tomato sauce, and the fact that you can listen to other people’s conversations!
Now here again is some of the language from today’s programme: