“H” Reveals All About “M” – Henry Hemming at Central Library

14 May


Since I do not want to have to shoot you all, I cannot tell you what was said by “H” about “M”. Renowned writer Henry Hemming, hereinafter referred to as “H”, uncovered, first Head of MI5, Maxwell Knight, hereinafter referred to as “M”.

Which is a shame as an eager crowd, who were, during the secret talks, checked out themselves as to whether they were good enough liars to be spy material, they will say to a man, and this secret talk was (hand covering this reviewer’s mouth) largely about women spies, the crowd will say “Ummm it was ‘interesting’. Goodness is that the time? Sorry I have to go.”

It is such a shame I cannot tell you about M’s childhood fascination with injured or abandoned lizards – hiding one in a family camera so his secret snapped out! I cannot tell you that he mirrored his power over emotionally injured or mistreated people in his spy mastering coven.

I can, however, give you un-attributable snippets: “M” looked for people with the characteristics of ‘watchers’ who saw much and were themselves unnoticed – secretaries were a favourite of his through which he advanced the cause of infiltration of the Communist Party of Great Britain to great patriotic effect.

In 1931, Olga Gray, bullied by her father, reminiscent of the injured wild animals “M” nurtured, excelled in the art of the spy. Indeed she broke through the Women Agents’ Glass Ceiling, reaching the unsettling heights, in a 31 year career, of being secretary in Moscow to a very senior Communist.

Her entrance started when a Clock Golf sister at a garden party enquired “I say old thing, ever thought of working for the Secret Service?” 

From an early stage in his illustrious career “M” had friends in high places due to his staggering aptitude for the job – allowed to work from home from Day One, might carry a lizard in his pocket to work. He managed to keep the right side of what “H” termed ‘either the quaintly eccentric or the worryingly weird’.

He did make some competitive enemies within the Secret Service but usually out-manoeuvred any nuisance bosses or colleagues – such was his skills set.

“M” lizard and jazz lover, parrot and secret keeper, was in fact promoted after an early indiscretion of his infiltrations, such was his unique set of, perhaps, who knows, Liam Neeson-esque “Taken” skills.

I feel I must now cut short this review since there is a crackling from my mobile phone which might just be …..

Heavy breathing …. Before I do get cut off … try YouTubing “Olga Pulloffski, the Beautiful Spy” – a record that …

Words: “T” (Tony Hiller)

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