Monday 11 December 2017

Who Were You With Last Night?

Roaming the channels for something, anything, of interest, came across a programme on Sky Arts which was two hours of David Cornwell, otherwise the author, John le Carre.

He was giving a talk about his life and times and writings to an audience at the Royal Festival Hall following the publication of his latest book, "A Legacy Of Spies".

After an hour of his talk, clips of actors talking about their roles in TV and film work of his books was then followed by an interview with John Snow. He has given interviews in the past and there is a good deal of material about on his life and career there were few surprises.

What interested me was the working conditions of the relevant security HQ's, how they were more or less organised and in particular what went down to the archives, all those reports and comments on reports made up and down the layers of management.

Much of the archive is already history, but not one perhaps that anyone living now will have any access to. It is for any future if there are then any historians or any archive left. It is a feature of the past that there has often been intended or accidental destruction of materials of value from their history.

But what history? When le Carre was doing his own scribbling and note taking at work, he was not the only one writing fiction. But he admits that often in his reports he was imaginative rather than factual and sometimes his analysis or opinion was off the cuff rather than thoroughly researched.

The picture above is of the actor, Alec Guinness, who played the fictional George Smiley created by le Carre. But was he "created"? The other man is John Bingham, 7th Baron Clanmorris, 1908-1988, who worked with le Carre who also wrote fiction, thrillers, detective novels and spy novels alongside his reports and is alleged to be the model for Smiley.

Even where his reports were honest, they might contain material from others which was uncertain, theoretical or guesswork. So how much of it is "real" history and how much just a pile of documents from the last which tell us little more? Yet this was a part of government that was supposed to be critical, albeit small, but with substantial importance for policy and action.

If around the desks of the higher echelons of the civil service there were others writing fiction or making it up as they went along and if the evidence is thin or unconvincing soup it up to get the decision you would like or some friends would want?

From Westminster move around The City of London  and the major corporations where you would expect perhaps tighter control and detailed study, if only because big money is involved. In recent years it seems to be no better. They are not interested in future history. They have very different priorities.

It was Henry Ford, 1863-1947, who said "History is bunk" and now we have John le Carre, or rather David Cornwell, to prove it.


  1. There is often the fuzziest of fuzzy boundaries between analysis and opinion. Without external scrutiny the boundary may well have disappeared altogether.

  2. A certain poetic licence with the facts.

  3. I'm Junia Noel, I'm from UK !!! i am very grateful sharing this great testimonies with you, The best thing that has ever happened in my life is how i won a lottery. I am a man who believe that one day i will win a lottery.finally my dreams came through when i contacted Dr Iyaryi. and tell him i needed the lottery numbers. i have come a long way spending money on ticket just to make sure i win. But i never knew that winning was so easy until the day i meant the spell caster online which so many people have talked about that he is very great in casting lottery spell, so i decide to give it a trial .I contacted this man and he did a spell and he gave me the winning lottery numbers. But believe me when the draws came out i was among the lucky winners. i won (107,932,603,20) ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN MILLION,NINE HUNDRED AND THIRTY TWO THOUSAND,SIX HUNDRED AND THREE POUNDS AND TWENTY PENCE . Dr Iyaryi truly you are the best, with this man you can will millions of money through lottery. i am so very happy to meet these man, i will forever be grateful to you. You can Email him And also Reach him on WhatsApp Number: +2349057915709 Thanks Dr. IyaryI