Thursday, 23 July 2009

279: Anthony Blunt 1

One of the great journalistic hunts of the 1960s and 70s was to find the legendary “Fourth man”. The spies Burgess and Maclean had defected to Russia in the 1950s, then Kim Philby followed them in 1963. Everyone suspected there was a “fourth man” who had been assisting them in passing information and providing other support. This spy ring was confirmed by intelligence from Russian spies. But who was the “fourth man”? As it turned out, his identity had been known by a select Establishment few by the early 1950s, but it had been covered up. There were assorted eruptions of interest over the years. But almost all of them were tinged by the suspicion that homosexuality would be one of the clues. As it turned out, this wasn’t an erroneous assumption. Following the Vassall affair, there was now a strong connection in the public imagination between treacherous spies and homosexuality. It’s all the same kind of duplicitous behaviour by chaps trying to pass as something they’re not, donchaknow.

in “Private Eye”
29 May 1964
A nicely thought out play on bugging and buggery playing on ambivalence and Establishment stupidity. I suspect that Peter Cook may have some input in a few of the jokes. Don’t forget to read the titles of the books in Willie Rushton’s illustration.

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