You're listening to a podcast from the today programme on B.B.C. radio four looking back from the library, where he sits in Germany, working smiley seems to be overwhelmed by a sense futility in his personal life in the great game.
Yes, do you feel that futility, I think, first of all, it was terribly hard to write this book during the period of Brecht's it, and the ascendancy of trump, and I'd like to think that it affected smiley, and that smiley was aware of the sense of aimlessness, which has entered into tall aren't minds, we seem to be joined by nothing but fear, I think smiley, who had spent his life defending the flag, one way or another, feels alienated from it, he feels a stranger in his own country, and that's why we find him.
And, indeed, leave him in a foreign place unless he looks back, he is overwhelmed with a sense of the futility of it.
In a way, but we see him also remembering that ties of loyalty of the friendships and the feeling of honour, despite the betrayals in the deceit, which are at the heart of this book broken, which were at the heart of the spy who came in from the cold.
There is still that sense of something worthwhile, it seems, for him to have gone.
Yes, well, I mean, first to the futility.
I think he was aware, He was always aware that intelligence work by itself didn't win the cold war did may have contributed just that contributed to the thirty nine forty five war, a victory, but it never was entirely decisive.
I think he knew that what really ended the cold war with things like the fax machine, the impossibility of running a closed society in the Soviet Union and put the impossibility of a command economy alike.
In the end, it wasn't erosion as to his own commitment, yes, I mean, he is also a child of the thirty nine forty five war, he never doubted his allegiance to his own country.
He never doubted the purpose, really, of what he was doing in the large, even when it was at the expense of his own humanity.
No, I think he feels he has the humanity, but not the Corrs the Corrs been taken away from him, the sense of allegiance to his country, which country which Briton has disappeared.
He loves his country.
Still, I'm sure, but it does feel a stranger in it, he always needed, the great game of spying didn't he.
Because it provided him with the emotional support the intellectual challenge, but in his private life, he could never manage on his private life is a mess.
We know only that his wife is glamorous and repeatedly deceives him, and he always has her back beyond that he has his own lines Of study, and he has his agents and his sovereignty and his commitment to the secret world, which is his own private perish in a way for you, it seems, through this book and through your writing.
In recent years, that there is always a struggle, or a balance, perhaps between the romance that you still feel for their secret world.
The daring do and other competing sense of hopelessness and anger about where it leads, yes, I mean, what the secret world offers, in principle, is we go for the end without worrying too much about the means, as long as the end is there appears to be the justification in smiley's time, when he was fighting Naziism their purpose was not in dispute.
When he was fighting the worst of Soviet communism, the purpose was not in dispute, although I think he felt that the areas of compassion, were much more fluid, and that the identification of the enemy.
It was much more complex under continents, and then we pretend, but now we have a series of power blocs, which seem not to negotiate diplomatically, but to face off militarily.
We don't really know where our allegiance belongs, and the democracy that smiley perceived to be the ultimate aim the democracy, he would love to bring back to the old Europe.
That's under threat, both from the East and the West, and that is something which, for him, it's totally dismayed as it is for me, I have to say, and Peter gwillim who tells the story in the first person.
It's the first time you used that style is hauled over the coals for events, more than half a century ago by people who are new broom sweeping clean by parliamentary Committee is that going to look back into the files, and there's a terrible sense of melancholy that comes through, he's lying to his interrogators, because he believes he has to try to protect things from the past, I wonder if you see something of yourself in grill them in his approach to that world in his love for what he did, and his regret about the way it's now seen, yes, I do see myself in Greenham to quite a large extent, it's, it's hard to put together any fictional character, but something put herself in it.
Yes, with William, I don't to fly, in a sense, he had forced upon him a public school education that he detested, he was uprooted in his imagination, or mine from an idyllic life somewhere else.
I never campus recall the idyllic life, his father in this narrative in the previous narrative, it was their mother, but I switched it was I wanted smiley to replace his father, so his father was a great hero who had died working for S.O.E. during the war, and was assumed into a patriotic environment very important to me, and indeed to them is this, that I was too young To fight for thirty nine forty five war, but I was old enough to inherit the whole nostalgia for it, that occurred in the immediate post war years.
So I did my national service.
I pretended I'd been a real soldier, I never had been, and I inherited the, I think, when you walk down the corridors of m.i.five in my first spell people pointed out, the great ones.
He ran the Shetland bus.
He did this he did that all of them bloody didn't the metalled from the war.
And, of course, it's one of the comedies of the thing, actually, we, we always fight you wore on the principles of the old one, and one of the reasons why British CounterIntelligence after the war, it was so bad was that we would still our heads were still swirling from the triumphs of the thirty nine forty five war, and I was a creature drawn straight into that ethic.
I was the battle of Britain pilot who was too young to fly the aeroplane and, I think, well, um, what's exactly in that position.
And when he was tapped on the shoulder in my day.
There was no way of applying from intelligence service, you were taken aside and spoken to threats of chain of connections and eventually finished up being given an awful lunch in one of those clubs and Palma and go along the same and smiley.
First of all, he's asked to do a few jobs Abroad and smiley likes the cut of its jib likes the way he performs operational it, and he's drawn into the circus and that becomes his life, just as ewers a sixteen seventeen year old, in Bern, where ask buyer Lady in the British Embassy to do what I think you've described bits and pieces run around with messages young run around with messages I sometimes fantasise sense that I was simply carrying secret messages between lovers, but I show that's not quite the case, I didn't know what the messages contained.
I didn't know what part, I was playing, and it was quite a trivial thing.
Much more important to me at that time was going to Germany from Switzerland will come back to Germany, in a moment, we're talking about the young, David, Cornwall, and there are two aspects of Europe youth that a very fascinating.
One is the lack of a mother effectively, and the other is the presence, by contrast, of this now do well father Ronnie who was up to every trick in the book, who will be attractive terrifically persuasive terrifically flamboyant and our history has shown terrifically bent and you've written, that he was somebody who could always try and cajole people by pretending to deliver them.
The most precious of secrets, especially for them, but that's true, and it was always true, but it seems to be even more true now.
We made recently, the most extraordinary discovery.
I, for reasons of Irrelevant wanted to see my stars, the file.
I've got it here.
It's a matter of fact, and your father's fathers and violence is vastly more entrance.
Well, it is because yours, appears to be weeded Mina's been weeded either by the people who supplied the file now of the people who composed it read, it would have been in my case would be secret annexe for that file.
Let's just for explain that we're talking about Communist East Germany, and it's feared at security service, the stars, it now, when you were in Bonn and West Germany as it then was a second Secretary in the Embassy in the early sixties, working for m.i.six how much do you think they knew, and have you got any evidence from these files as to how they knew no, I mean, I've always assumed on two grounds.
Firstly, that essay, yes, and I six at that time was heavily penetrated.
Secondly, our Embassy in Bonn, a provisional Embassy and bombed while German, it was still waiting to be United, it was three hundred strong about one hundred of them were locally employed Germans, it is unimaginable, but none of them had a reporting responsibility, anyone could've told simply by identifying the rooms, where I worked, that I was a Member of the of the m.i.six station.
In addition to that, my behaviour pattern was completely observable, I was never there when I should have been travelling far more than I was expected To, I was in and out of Berlin, and all the time.
I made no sense for anybody observing me and come on the newspaper correspondents in Bonn, all new deposit all on, but then say it, Jim, many of the newspaper correspondents would more or less what I was anywhere, but looking at this, does he file, it's extraordinary to read about your father because they saw him as a rather useful figure dealing in arms and all kinds of things, floating in and out across the iron curtain pretending to have contacts that he probably never had an extraordinarily in this file as a detailed drawing of his business Office in London, supplied by somebody, whose name has been redacted, but appears to be an Austrian and like practically every other Austrian, he's a doctor something or other.
They were up to some shenanigans which involved, it's, Germany, and the next thing we know it's the same doctor on orders from the start, see is paying a social visit to my father in his offices in Jermyn street is reporting to start to see the people he encounters the layout of the building, the actual layout of my father's offices and the position of the saints in those offices.
No, what on earth's that to me it looks exactly like a reconnaissance before a secret operation some current what on earth.
They thought they would Get out of his safe.
Well, I can tell you certainly didn't no money.
Do you think it might have been your father, who perhaps inadvertently told them who you were and what you were doing.
I think they knew very well, who I was what I was doing.
I think he could perfectly well Emma, I'll flush of self importance and which came, but he hatch, which came very naturally to playing the magic man, he might have said they could deliver he could deliver me or deliver a conversation, which would produce a reconciliation between East and West Germany anything, there came into his head.
It was a kind of, he had these trump oi it moments of of enthusiasm and self conviction, and I think the other thing that is hilarious.
This is that he's written down as being extremely rich and you really have to understand that it was never in his life, extremely rich, he had racehorses.
He had Bentley cars.
He had offices all over West of the West end of London, never at any one point, what's the other than deep and looking back to those days, you've always said that you never talk about precisely what you did in the few short years that you were an m.i.five and m.i.six, but let me ask you this, Magnus Pym in a perfect spy, who's the figure, there's many resemblances to you developed a very close relationship with someone on the other Side, Alex, it's an ambiguous relationship, but they both gave something, and no one is quite sure who's given more.
Did you ever have any kind of relationship of that sort.
When you were working in Germany, but somebody on the other side.
Yes, I suppose, so..
Certainly, I did, but it didn't take the form that I only later fictionalised really on that whole front, that's about as much as I can say, I never found it possible to talk, even if I were released to talk about what I did, I would find it very hard, the loyalty that you have to old friends sits alongside what some of your old comics think is a kind of betrayal, by the way, you've presented the service somebody who was very senior I nose says this, that his recollection of a lifetime in that world was that it was dominated by loyalty, whereas in your books.
It's dominated by betrayal.
What do you say to that.
Well, without loyalty.
There is no betrayal and Anna's smiley doesn't, so let's just talk about the loyalty for a second.
When I finished my M.A six Bootcamp we trainees were summoned by the head of training and told that somebody called GeorgeBlake had betrayed the service or ways up that nobody quite knew what to do with us, we should go home and wait until we were called, I've been in bond them stationed in bond for a couple of years, When KimPhilby another family name was revealed to have been a spy a long before he entered m. i. six, of course, there's a huge sense of loyalty among colleagues comrades in those intelligence services which you still share, I absolutely share that, in the sense that one loves the Regiment, if you like, and they were wonderful people wonderful company that did not make them immune either from from any of the ordinary human failure would be, I guess, no, that's him Philby and Blake, the two names that glimmer in this history, you've written that on paper, you should probably a few more in common with Philby not on the question of betrayal, but his his background, his style, his love of the romance.
And yet somehow you find yourself more sympathetic to Blake a foreigner, in effect, an outsider, he was Jewish, and service.
It was difficult, and yet do you said that you have more sort of understanding you he put he did, obviously, but you have more understanding than you have a Phil b. it's curious, isn't it.
Well, Blake was a better writer and somehow the absolutism of his conversion and his enormous physical courage and endurance impressed me.
I think it's really only by contrast with Philby, but I find some admiration for Blake, I found Philby, it is my personal conviction that Philby was some kind of of sensual, he's some kind of treason addict, if you like, there are So many small incidents in his life, a chaidh a wanton betrayal took place that had nothing to do with his two great roles, and it interest me very much that when Nicholas Elliott who was his very close friend and, of course, colleague, went out to interview him in BeirutPhilby said that when the Russians withdrew their favour from him, and he was cut off from the surface, the game of playing both ends, against the Middle left him extremely the absence of that game left him extremely lonely.
He was deprived of the tensions which you've fed from, do you think that when Eliot spoke German in Beirut.
The idea was simply to warn him, and let him go there, because that was preferable to having them come back to London, Elliot told me that nobody wanted him back in London that I can well believe I think there was a schism, I think, Peter Lunn, who was much more puritanical previous head of station in Beirut, and incidentally, my station Chief in on for a while, I think, Peter Lum felt that Philby should be arrested, tried and that Justin, I think that wasn't occasion when usefulness was outweighed by his sense of morality or justice, Sir dick white, I think, quite definitely didn't want him anywhere near a Chief of the Chief of the service.
I think Macmillan that time even proposed rather vaguely that he should be done away with, somehow, probably yes.
Ask Me whether it was deliberate that he was allowed to go back to Moscow won't go to Moscow, I think, probably in some, it was, yes, it was, if it was not deliberate, it was incredibly incompetent, you had the chance in the eighties to meet Phil in Moscow and you declined that opportunity.
Here was a chance to talk in effect of bill Hayden Lee traitor who dies at the end of tinker tailor soldier spy, it must have been difficult to resist the opportunity to sit down and have a large drink with Philby, why did you, because as Kipling said of Kim, there were two sides to my head.
At that moment, on the one hand, like yourself, like a journalist.
Like any human being with curiosity, I would've been fascinated to meet him.
But what was clear to me, it was questions being put to him, put to me by his handler Kendrick what of it, what was clear to me was that by meeting him, I would give him comfort.
And I would definitely provided people that providing him with something that he wanted, and I couldn't bring myself to do that, I was thinking of the numbers of agents, he'd sent to their deaths.
I was thinking of of this fat to that Philby had always been in the position inside him might sticks to know the scale of the Soviet horror of the persecutions, the deportations, the go lurks the limitations on human Freedom, all of that he knew he knew that from Stalin onwards, the Communist dream had been nationalised and turned into a Soviet possession for all that he never flinch.
I don't see how, possibly, he could have been so motivated without quite other factors, playing in him.
I think he really thought he owned the world that he played the world's game did it frightfully well too.
You talk to moment, it goes in relation to your own enthusiasms and inspirations about Germany, you've written that Germany.
Do you, he was a young man, seem to combine classic austerity and a sort of neurosis, the trick.
You said was to use one, and the trick was to deny it.
What does it classic austerity and something you himself.
I don't want to get the right classical austerity and neurotic excess, you said that, as a young man, you thought that Germany combined, and its culture, classic austerity a neurotic excess, and the trick was to disguise one with the other.
It seems quite a nice motif or your life.
Yes, I would settle for that you.
What was it about Germany, but as a young man gripped you never let you go.
I had been in boarding schools from the age of five to the edge of a level, I'd say, I beg your pardon.
I've been in boarding schools for eleven years.
Non nonstop from the edge of five, I detested my public school, there was one voice Teaching me at my public school that I really listen to and enjoy, that was a guy, O.K.. up Mister King, who taught us, German, and I've found that my tongue warmed itself naturally to the German language.
I love the early German poetry.
I was particularly proud of when everybody was cursing Germans uphill and down Dale to stand up for Germany that was just of thoroughly perverse thing to do, and then when I decided that I had soldiered for long enough in this to me absolutely culture barren environment hostile environment, I simply refused to go back and demanded to be allowed to attend a Swiss University, where I could go on beating German, it was a very wilful adolescent thing that grew out of that.
Then, when I arrived in quite soon, a Lady who outside the University, I took on to give me German conversation she insisted, she was of German Jewish origin, and she insisted, I go to Germany and see it, and so I got myself a visa was called in those days, visitor no facilities, which allowed me to go into the British occupied zone of Germany, and I went to to concentration camps in quick order to duck, and to build and Benson, and that was a massive culture shock.
The place they still smelled of death in nineteen forty nine, I went to, I saw the smashed Ruhr district of German, it went up to Berlin and in Berlin, I managed to get mumps, and that also involved an assault on why midriff hunt and I, and I was then confined in underground hospital in Berlin, in the budding underground, as was and shared very rudimentary accommodation with all sorts of strange people, we were all refugees from something like that, and I came back to bare and which was still a Toby luxurious place and, ironically, Thomas won the greatest German writer of his period had arrived in to celebrate.
Two hundred years of Goethe Goethe's dates seventeen forty nine to eighteen thirty two, and so I attended the Court, the cousin, you know, the Grand cos, you know, huge hall in Burton and Thomas mum gave up frightfully literally lecture, which was interrupted by booze from rowdy or fascists students, I was incensed, for some reason, and marched to Tom last month's dressing room door when it was over, since me and hammered on it, and the door was opened by nine who looked terribly like an actor of that time called Clifton Webb very tall enquiring stooping unsmiling figure, and he said, what do you want.
I said this in German.
Obviously, I would shake your hand, and he looked at me as if I won't need it held out his hands at will.
Here it is, so I shook it happens every now and then, when I'm in Germany, I allow people to shake the hand that shook the hand of Thomas month At that sealed it for you.
Well, it's healed.
It was a commitment.
I don't know the commitment to Germany, continued, I served I did military service in Austria, as an intelligence Officer, I'd studied German at Oxford and then taught it to, he just became an obsession.
Looking back to those young days, there was a lot of adventure.
There was a lot of excitement.
There were many possibilities, but they were always secrets.
You said you've admitted you informed on fellow students when you were at Oxford, you always wanted to do that.
Do you regret that particular period.
Well, in your life.
I regretted very much, but you should know the context, the ambition was after Burgess Maclean such people in their thirties traitors, mainly from Cambridge, the ambition was that they would find a young Middle class fellow who disguised his left wing sympathies put him at that m.i.five would find such a person put him alongside the Soviet recruiters who came to the major universities regularly frequently under the guise of society for culture, relations with the U.S.S.R. and that such a person would get himself recruited and would become a double edge, and to do that, I had then tour sign up if surreptitiously with various left wing organisations at Oxford and look like a secret Communist, and that involves befriending to my shame left wing people at University fellow students and that will always haunt, but then I ask myself, how can it Be today, I tried to imagine the awfulness of recruiting young student against the Islam its target.
I ask myself how I would feel about my sons, if one of them had been involved in the same kind of operation, and I have to say, somebody has to do the job.
We would blame the secret services if they didn't do that job.
And, incidentally, I was a complete flop.
That's picked up by a Soviet cultural counsellor of some sort.
And invited repeatedly to the Russian Embassy in Kensington Palace gardens saw the battleship Potemkin several times drank a lot of vodka asked about my political opinions, I thought I'd Vamp very well, and I was dropped.
Like a hot brick, so they never really tried to get you never followed it up.
No, the whole thing, just like that.
When will writes his story, he writes, at the end of the book about his last conversation with smiley in the library and in Freiburg here.
Yes, smiley is working away, we assume that smiley, he's still alive.
At the end of the bill certainly do.
Yes, we want smiley just have to go on living.
That's the obligation not suggesting he'll return, I'm not.
I'm absolutely not.
This is smiley's felt smiley's farewell, and it is a farewell that heavy with nostalgia, with a long arm and with some pride, still, yes, well, um tries to get at him, tries to say, why did we do it.
George, Because they're looking back on their bodies and the casualties and the deceptions smiley always moderate squillion as he moderates me, so he doesn't make some great mission statement, but he does say something, which to me is very important.
You saying that if he had a dream.
It was to see a Europe unified everything he was doing was for Europe.
It was Europe, he believed in the dream he had was of a second Reformation and are great peaceful, democratic Europe, I've made it son too fulsome smiley wasn't that fulsome, but I think, because it's such a difficult period in which to write with Brecht's it, which I detest and trump why also detest.
What we're looking at is Europe as the squeezed Middle democratic rule, as we understand it, being assailed from both sides of the Atlantic, and that for smiley is a big thing to swallow.
You don't want to talk in detail, but it is known that you were an agent when you were an, I, five, that's right, I can see something about that.
Sure I can, because both Max night and JohnBingham who were my colleagues had biographies written about them, and so everything was, in a sense, no, and even even, I'm afraid.
Some of the names of some of the agents Bingham did in one of the models for some BinghamBingham being the physical model, at least, and in many ways.
Yes, the model of smiley.
So, yes, And I was entrusted with a number of agents have recruited agents of my own, and quite contrary to the perception of agent running, this is a pastoral duty you, you go in offering whatever you can offer that is much more than just money and resettlement, it's companionship of a kind hits its solace the word, late at night, and it's taking the phone call at two in the morning from somebody is saying, I can't do this any more.
I'm cutting my wrists, and my wife, can't take it, and so forth, and you're saying, understood the how you remember when we last met.
Let's go back there.
Sure, we are, I'll be there at two in the morning to tomorrow.
Three, and I'll be there at three o'clock, and so on.
Do you think you were good at it.
So, yes, I think so.
I mean, I was attentive to their needs.
I was receptive of their their problems, as I did my best doesn't sort of parish priest, and at the same time, use them operationally one, it was very much aware that you were exploiting people, but you had to explain that to them.
Somehow, and do you think it mattered.
It's one of those things if it hadn't been done, you'd wonder why that was such a huge Esplanade bit of bureaucracy.
At that time, it was the name of the game in town.
So if we weren't covering the Communist party Always up, why not.
If we weren't, for that matter, covering the fascists, always up, why not.
If we weren't locating penetrating following Russian illegals as we called them, why not, whether it all amounted, whether it all delivered a positive outcome.
I don't know what the whole problem is there smiley at the end of a legacy of spies looks back, we've had the spy who came in from the cold.
Put into context.
In this book, we've also gone forward in a way to tinker tailor soldier spy and the unmasking of bill Hayden the and smiley sees it all through his thick glasses from his library in Germany.
Yes, it's a very wistful experience for him.
Looking back, isn't it.
Yes, it is, I think it is, I think, he looks back on loyalties that he didn't question in himself in humanitarian concerns he felt were justified, and he looks at a world without those qualities are disappeared, as he understands it, whether Europe is under threat from East and West, where everything is up for grabs.
Well, and in the, in the words of the American President.
He even, even the law of the land is fake news, where a great constitutional truths are being assailed and as a human looking at his friends, his experiences.
The adventures corners that had to be cut, and the risks that had to be taken at a busy now feel he feels a huge sense of comradeship, Without doubt, in retrospect, he would feel personally burdened with the responsibility of having caused the destruction of even people who worked with, he would question everything as he always did, and he would look back on a tremendously varied life, where he had lived the passion of his time done his best he had had an extraordinarily varied life.
Um, as I say, lift the passion.
If it's time to perform, he would not have expected, he would not have expected to look back on happiness, that wasn't really what his search was, for I think his such was for the fulfilment of some mysterious sense of moral duty to mankind, if you like, what did you search can for what am I searching for a better me, I suppose I better book to write some kind of reconciliation with my own past, which, I guess, is what all old people are looking for, and when the time comes when you think you've done it.
I hope I'll feel enormously grateful for their varied life, I've led and for the insight, so I've been given the luck, I've had luck has been amazing.
I mean, without Ian Fleming, there would be no la carry not on that scale.
It was really Ian Fleming created an appetite in people, for some kind of realistic spires story, and I happened to step in.
At that moment, and feed the appetite.
I think those things are huge luck and through the exercise Of that appetite to chart the waxing and waning of Empire.
I think that time, I'm proud of, in a sense that I did, I went into the fields in mid life and followed, above all, the aftermath of the cold war.
These neglected places no longer colonial no longer terribly interesting to Western in Western influence, and so it was that that period, withdrawal of American power from South East Asia.
At the end of the Cambodian war, the end of the Vietnam war.
The withdrawal of British colonial power from Kenya, American power again from Panama Congo thrown into neglect.
Again, and soon as the cold war was over, and I went to these places, and I smelt smelt them out, and I feel, in that sense, I did record evenness and things, and that was a useful contribution to like smiley is contentment.
There is, there is contentment.
Yes, of of great happiness.
I'm not sure I can speak of that, but fulfilment.
I can speak of her John the Carrie, thank you very much.
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