LE CARRE, John
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
(conversation with the Head of the Service, known as Control).
‘I want you to stay out in the cold a little longer.’ Leamas said nothing, so Control went on. ‘The ethic of our work, as I understand it, is based on a single assumption. That is, we are never going to be aggressors. Do you think that’s fair?’
Leamas nodded. Anything to avoid talking.
‘Thus we do disagreeable things, but we are “defensive“. That, I think, is still fair. We do disagreeable things so that ordinary people here and elsewhere can sleep safely in their beds at night.’
‘This is your last job’ he (Control) said. ‘Then you can come in from the cold. About that girl -do you want anything done about her, money anything?’
‘When it’s over. I’ll take care of it myself then.’
‘Quite. It would be very unsecure to do anything now.’
‘I just want her left alone’ Leamas repeated with emphasis. ‘I just do not want her to be messed about. I don’t want her to have a file or anything. I want her forgotten.’
He nodded to Control and slipped out into the night air. Into the cold ‘.
The Constant Gardener
The news hit the British High Commission in Nairobi at nine-thirty on a Monday morning. Sandy Woodrow took it like a bullet, jaw rigid, chest out, smack through his divided English heart. He was standing. That much he afterwards remembered. He was standing and the internal phone was piping. He was reaching for something, he heard the piping so he checked himself in order to stretch down and fish the receiver off the desk and say, “Woodrow.” Or maybe, “Woodrow here.” And he certainly barked his name a bit, he had that memory for sure, of his voice sounding like someone else’s, and sounding stroppy: “Woodrow here,” his own perfectly decent name, but without the softening of his nickname Sandy, and snapped out as if he hated it, because the High Commissioner’s usual prayer meeting was slated to start in thirty minutes prompt, with Woodrow, as Head of Chancery, playing in-house moderator to a bunch of special-interest prima donnas, each of whom wanted sole possession of the High Commissioner’s heart and mind.
In short, just another bloody Monday in late January, the hottest time in the Nairobi year, a time of dust and water shortages and brown grass and sore eyes and heat ripping off the city pavements; and the jacarandas, like everybody else, waiting for the long rains.
Exactly why he was standing was a question he never resolved. By rights he should have been crouched behind his desk, fingering his keyboard, anxiously reviewing guidance material from London and incomings from neighboring African missions. Instead of which he was standing in front of his desk and performing some unidentified vital act — such as straightening the photograph of his wife Gloria and two small sons, perhaps, taken last summer while the family was on home leave. The High Commission stood on a slope, and its continuing subsidence was enough to tilt pictures out of true after a weekend on their own.
Or perhaps he had been squirting mosquito spray at some Kenyan insect from which even diplomats are not immune. There had been a plague of “Nairobi eye” a few months back, flies that when squidged and rubbed accidentally on the skin could give you boils and blisters, and even send you blind.
Agent running in the Field
It is my considered opinion, that for Britain and Europe, and for liberal democracy across the entire world as a whole, Britain’s departure from the European Union in the time of Donald Trump, and Britain’s consequent unqualified dependence on the United States in an era when the US is heading straight down the road to institutional racism and neo-fascism, is an unmitigated clusterfuck bar none.