Conspiracy or cock-up? I have long subscribed to the cock-up theory of human disaster myself, because I believe more in things going wrong than going very, very right. Vince Houghton, though, believes in both. He’s very interested in conspiracies, but only in the ones that go completely pear-shaped. His history of drastic espionage failures is amusing, surprising and, at times, almost beyond belief. For instance, let’s consider Operation Acoustic Kitty which, like all of these stories, actually happened. This was one dreamt up in the Sixties by American intelligence to solve the problem of electronic bugs.