I am sat at the end of an empty bench and am so engrossed in my book that it takes me a while to realise that a very smartly dressed gentleman has sat down towards the other end. He is also reading, although something a bit more highbrow than my John le Carré, it looks like an academic hardback, maybe on philosophy. I try harder to read the title but I Kant, so I go back to reading about agents and tradecraft.
After a while I notice that he has a folded white piece of paper in his hand and he is slowly inching it, albeit nonchalantly, along the empty bench towards me. I go back to reading my book but I can’t concentrate. I look down again at the paper, which is still in-between his finger and thumb, but does appear to be gradually getting closer, shimmering in the sunshine. He sees me looking and smiles at me and says: ‘Beautiful weather’ and instinctively I reply ‘Yes, for this time of year’.
Now I begin to worry. Have I just innocently said the right response phrase or am I just getting it mixed up with a line from a James Bond movie; should I let him know he’s got the wrong person? I stare at the page in my book trying to calm my thoughts when suddenly the gentleman stands and buttons his jacket, looking like he is about to walk away. Before I can stop myself, I glance down to retrieve the piece of paper but the bench is empty. I look around to see if it has fallen somewhere and I am spooked to see it still glimmering in the sunshine, protruding from the pages of his book.
No drop, no coded message, no approach to join the service, just a simple bookmark. I am alone again on the bench and I sit there quietly for some time, wondering what my imagination would have conjured up if I had been reading Jilly Cooper.
The image is a 350sqm stencilled mural called Chuuutt!!! (Shh!) just next to the Pompidou Centre, created by Jef Aerosol in 2011.