M Book Tour!

Some talks I’ll be giving in the months ahead:

20 April – Edinburgh Spy Week

4 May – Camberley Natural History Society

6 May – Clapham Omnibus

8 May – M Book Launch

11 May – Borzoi Bookshop

12 May – Swindon Festival of Literature

24 May – Sohemian Society

25 May – Hungerford Bookshop

1 June – Heffers Bookshop

5 June – Village Books, Dulwich

12 June – The Society Club

13 June – Ealing Local History Centre

14 June – Surrey Heath Local History Club

20 June – Kibworth Bookshop

26 June – Reform Club

29 June – Chalke Valley History Festival

1 July – Felixstowe Literary Festival

2 July – Buckingham Literary Festival

11 July – British Library

24 July – Special Forces Club

9 August – Waterstones Gower Street

22 August – Evesham Festival of Books

15 September – Gloucester History Festival

27 September – Royal United Services Institute

13 October – Frinton Literary Festival

15 October – Thame Arts & Literature Festival

17 October – Authors Club

6 November – Bridport Literary Festival

6 November – Richmond Literature Festival

22 November – Folkestone Bookfest

1 March 2018 – Sevenoaks Bookshop

10 May 2018 – Chipping Campden Literature Festival

16 October 2018 – Oxted & District History Society

More soon…

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Spies

I’ve just finished watching Spies on Channel 4, which was intriguing. It’s essentially The Apprentice meets The Night Manager in which a series of contestants are put through their paces over four episodes to find out which one of them could cut it as an intelligence officer. Watching it was fascinating and oddly reassuring. I couldn’t help thinking that the fundamentals of espionage, or at least running agents, as they are depicted in this show, haven’t changed that much over the ninety years since Maxwell Knight began to learn his craft.

‘An intelligence officer is made, not born,’ as a former MI6 man reminds us at the start of each episode. Was the same true of Knight, or ‘M’?

Absolutely.

Just as the contestants were judged on their ability to build up a rapport with potential agents, their charisma, and how well they listened, so too was he – albeit from more of a distance, and often by himself.

Also intriguing was the emphasis placed by the show’s former spies – one ex-GCHQ, one ex-MI6, another ex-MI5 – on the need for an intelligence officer to have some kind of x factor that draws people in and makes them want to work for them. The same was certainly true of M.

Another moment that struck a chord was when one former spook, possibly the ex-MI6 officer, Julian Fisher, said as an aside that espionage is about being able to wait.

Would M have passed the course?

I think so.

If you haven’t seen Spies yet, do. It’s great.

Image (c) Channel 4

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