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School for Spies

 
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 10-05-2014 04:36    Post subject: School for Spies Reply with quote

Prompted by research in other directions: it has lately been borne in upon me that I happened to attend for my secondary schooling, an establishment which for a good many decades, chanced to nurture a disproportionate number of Britons who came to be high up on the intelligence / spying scene. Said place being Bishop’s Stortford College, Hertfordshire. My sojourn there (1959 – 65) was not happy – which seen in retrospect, to be quite largely my own silly fault – that factor has likely contributed to my perhaps unjust long-time perception of said outfit as a bargain-basement fifth-rate English-public-school-wannabe / con-operation vis-a-vis parents-of-boys, with more money than sense. (The place has subsequently become co-ed – which when I was there, felt rather less imaginable than the Soviet bloc collapsing from its own non-viability.)

Eton / Harrow the joint maybe isn’t – but there certainly seems to be something about it, re the spying game. Alumni of BSC who featured prominently in same: Sir Dick White, who was Director-General of MI5 1953 – 1956, head of MI6 1956 – 68. Peter Wright, prominent in MI5 from 1950s to 70s, and famous / notorious as author of the book “Spycatcher”, which let various sensitive cats out of bags. (now-Sir) Stephen Lander (when at the school, a contemporary and something of a friend of mine – we have long since lost touch, that being just “how things worked out” ) – Director-General of MI5 1996 – 2002; Chair of Serious Organised Crime Agency, 2004 onward. A bit less “immediately-spyishly”– Edward Crankshaw, who played important roles in liaison Western Allies / USSR in World War II, and was subsequently a prominent historian and author specialising in Russian matters.

Feel that I can be excused for figuring self somehow fated as regards brushes with the spy-and-spook scene, in that additionally, I attended Oxford University in the late 1960s – an acquaintance-of-a-friend there, was (now-Dame) Eliza Manningham-Buller, who much later succeeded my schoolfriend S. Lander as Director-General of MI5, in which capacity she served from 2002 to 2007. I might have fleetingly met the Hon. Eliza, as she was then – don’t remember now – certainly, heard her mentioned by my friend.

Little if any of all this stuff seems to have rubbed off onto me personally. I did engage in a bit of snooping in the then Communist half of Europe, and mildly raised a few official eyebrows there. These, though, were completely non-political doings: I’m a railway and steam-loco enthusiast, and some of those countries kept steam in regular everyday service on their railways, a lot longer than did anywhere in Western Europe – Communist officialdom often erroneously suspected visiting Western railfans of doing genuine spy stuff on behalf of their countries’ intelligence agencies.

All pure coincidence, I’m sure – still, feel moved to make this post.
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 10-05-2014 06:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems like you have a few names there to mention on the Six Degrees of separation thread! Cool
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 10-05-2014 19:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have never really paid much attention to the Six Degrees of Separation thread -- it has generally struck me as overly speculative and "anything's-possible". Still -- interesting potential stuff, suggested.

I can cite -- well, few -- degrees of separation, between myself and a couple of the 20th century's most infamous monsters. Some 40 years ago, I had a work colleague who had earlier in his life been in India's diplomatic service, and had in same, done time in the USSR and had at least been in the same room with Stalin -- not sure whether they actually interacted. And a late uncle of mine, an aero-engineer by profession, did in the mid-1930s a spell as a young trainee, on "exchange" with a German firm: including time spent at an aviation-related exhibition in Germany, at which -- to quote a letter written by him to those back home -- "Hitler was present, and I saw him -- but I don't think he saw me".
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