Now here’s a story. Back in 1905 a woman pitches up in Paris and gets famous as a performer of Asian-inspired dances. Give it a few years and she’s touring all over Europe, telling some tale of how she was born in a sacred Indian temple and taught ancient dances by a priestess who gave her the name Mata Hari - “eye of the day” in Malay.
The problem is that it was all bollocks. In truth Mata Hari was born in a little town in northern Holland in 1876, and her actual name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. She’d acquired her pretty superficial knowledge of Indian dances when she lived for a few years in Malaysia with her former husband, who was a Scot in the Dutch colonial army. As such, if anything, she was a pretty much a small-town girl in a big arcade (who got addicted to a losing game etc).