Saturday, 10 July 2010
The spying game.
America's Russian spy scandal closes with an exchange of captured agents in Vienna of all places. Cue deep film noir shadow and Harry Lime Theme. Readers of this blog may not be aware of the fact that I am a recognised authority on international espionage. Well, to the extent that I have read every one of John le Carre's books I am. It's the level of sustained deceit required of a spy that intrigues me. In fiction le Carre captures this wonderfully in A Perfect Spy. Magnus Pym is the perfect spy due principally to his huge capacity for deceit. It is no coincidence that Magnus is the son of a master con artist. It is no coincidence either that le Carre based the character of Pym's father on his own conman father. In the real world Kim Philby must count as one of the coolest deceivers of all time. A senior member of MI6, typical establishment figure; and long term Soviet agent. The unpleasant drunken toff hiding the alter ego of unpleasant drunken Stalinist. How do they hold it all together? I would probably be alright at the tradecraft: the secret ink, deadletter drops or whatever and I quite fancy the clandestine meetings in dodgy boozers. But the deceit? I find it difficult to hide the smallest misdemeanours from her indoors. No, espionage is probably not my line of country after all.