Feb 20, 2014

Do You Even Know George Smiley or Not?

A Brief History of George Smiley by John Le Carré

The first appearance of John Le Carré's wily grey eminence: the first chapter of the first Smiley novel, Call for the Dead
When Lady Ann Sercomb married George Smiley towards the end of the war she described him to her astonished Mayfair friends as breathtakingly ordinary. When she left him two years later in favour of a Cuban motor racing driver, she announced enigmatically that if she hadn't left him then, she never could have done; and Viscount Sawley made a special journey to his club to observe that the cat was out of the bag.
  1. Call for the Dead
  2. by John Le Carré
  3. Find this on the Guardian bookshop
This remark, which enjoyed a brief season as a mot, can only be understood by those who knew Smiley. Short, fat, and of a quiet disposition, he appeared to spend a lot of money on really bad clothes, which hung about his squat frame like skin on a shrunken toad. Sawley, in fact, declared at the wedding that 'Sercomb was mated to a bullfrog in a sou'wester'. And Smiley, unaware of this description, had waddled down the aisle in search of the kiss that would turn him into a Prince.
Was he rich or poor, peasant or priest? Where had she got him from? The incongruity of the match was emphasized by Lady Ann's undoubted beauty, its mystery stimulated by the disproportion between the man and his bride. But gossip must see its characters in black and white, equip them with sins and motives easily conveyed in the shorthand of conver­sation. And so Smiley, without school, parents, regiment or trade, without wealth or poverty, travelled without labels in the guard's van of the social express, and soon became lost luggage, destined, when the divorce had come and gone, to remain unclaimed on the dusty shelf of yesterday's news.
When Lady Ann followed her star to Cuba, she gave some thought to Smiley. With grudging admiration she admitted to herself that if there were an only man in her life, Smiley would be he. She was gratified in retrospect that she had demonstrated this by holy matrimony.
The effect of Lady Ann's departure upon her former husband did not interest society – which indeed is unconcerned with the aftermath of sensation. Yet it would be interesting to know what Sawley and his flock might have made of Smiley's reaction; of that fleshy, bespectacled face puckered in energetic concentration as he read so deeply among the lesser German poets, the chubby wet hands clenched beneath the tumbling sleeves. But Sawley profited by the occasion with the merest of shrugs by remarking partir c'est courir un peu, and he appeared to be unaware that though Lady Ann just ran away, a little of George Smiley had indeed died.
That part of Smiley which survived was as incongruous to his appearance as love, or a taste for unrecognized poets: it was his profession, which was that of intelligence officer. It was a profession he enjoyed, and which mercifully provided him with colleagues equally obscure in character and origin. It also provided him with what he had once loved best in life: academic excursions into the mystery of human behaviour, disciplined by the practical application of his own deductions.
Some time in the twenties when Smiley had emerged from his unimpressive school and lumbered blinking into the murky cloisters of his unimpressive Oxford College, he had dreamt of Fellowships and a life devoted to the literary obscurities of seventeenth-century Germany. But his own tutor, who knew Smiley better, guided him wisely away from the honours that would undoubtedly have been his. On a sweet July morning in 1928, a puzzled and rather pink Smiley had sat before an interviewing board of the Overseas Committee for Academic Research, an organization of which he had un­accountably never heard. Jebedee (his tutor) had been oddly vague about the introduction: 'Give these people a try, Smiley, they might have you and they pay badly enough to guarantee you decent company.' But Smiley was annoyed and said so. It worried him that Jebedee, usually so precise, was so evasive. In a slight huff he agreed to postpone his reply to All Souls until he had seen Jebedee's 'mysterious people'.
He wasn't introduced to the Board, but he knew half of its members by sight. There was Fielding, the French medievalist from Cambridge, Sparke from the School of Oriental Languages, and Steed-Asprey who had been dining at High Table the night Smiley had been Jebedee's guest. He had to admit he was impressed. For Fielding to leave his rooms, let alone Cambridge, was in itself a miracle. Afterwards Smiley always thought of that interview as a fan dance; a calculated progression of disclosures, each revealing different parts of a mysterious entity. Finally Steed-Asprey, who seemed to be Chairman, removed the last veil, and the truth stood before him in all its dazzling nakedness. He was being offered a post in what, for want of a better name, Steed-Asprey blushingly described as the Secret Service.
Smiley had asked for time to think. They gave him a week. No one mentioned pay.
That night he stayed in London at somewhere rather good and took himself to the theatre. He felt strangely light-headed and this worried him. He knew very well that he would accept, that he could have done so at the interview. It was only an instinctive caution, and perhaps a pardonable desire to play the coquette with Fielding, which prevented him from doing so.
Following his affirmation came training: anonymous country houses, anonymous instructors, a good deal of travel and, looming ever larger, the fantastic prospect of working completely alone.
His first operational posting was relatively pleasant: a two-year appointment as englischer Dozent at a provincial German university: lectures on Keats and vacations in Bavarian hunting lodges with groups of earnest and solemnly promiscuous German students. Towards the end of each long vacation he brought some of them back to England, having already earmarked the likely ones and conveyed his recommendations by clandestine means to an address in Bonn; during the entire two years he had no idea of whether his recommend­ations had been accepted or ignored. He had no means of knowing even whether his candidates were approached. Indeed he had no means of knowing whether his messages ever reached their destination; and he had no contact with the Department while in England.
His emotions in performing this work were mixed, and irreconcilable. It intrigued him to evaluate from a detached position what he had learnt to describe as 'the agent potential' of a human being; to devise minuscule tests of character and behaviour which could inform him of the qualities of a ­candidate. This part of him was bloodless and inhuman – Smiley in this role was the international mercenary of his trade, amoral and without motive beyond that of personal gratification.
Conversely it saddened him to witness in himself the gradual death of natural pleasure. Always withdrawn, he now found himself shrinking from the temptations of friendship and human loyalty; he guarded himself warily from spontaneous reaction. By the strength of his intellect, he forced himself to observe humanity with clinical objectivity, and because he was neither immortal nor infallible he hated and feared the falseness of his life.
But Smiley was a sentimental man and the long exile strengthened his deep love of England. He fed hungrily on memories of Oxford; its beauty, its rational ease, and the mature slowness of its judgements. He dreamt of windswept autumn holidays at Hartland Quay, of long trudges over the Cornish cliffs, his face smooth and hot against the sea wind. This was his other secret life, and he grew to hate the bawdy intrusion of the new Germany, the stamping and shouting of uniformed students, the scarred, arrogant faces and their cheapjack answers. He resented, too, the way in which the Faculty had tampered with his subject – his beloved German literature. And there had been a night, a terrible night in the winter of 1937, when Smiley had stood at his window and watched a great bonfire in the university court: round it stood hundreds of students, their faces ­exultant and glistening in the dancing light. And into the pagan fire they threw books in their hundreds. He knew whose books they were: Thomas Mann, Heine, Lessing and a host of others. And Smiley, his damp hand cupped round the end of his cigarette, watching and hating, triumphed that he knew his enemy.
Nineteen thirty-nine saw him in Sweden, the accredited agent of a well-known Swiss small-arms manufacturer, his association with the firm conveniently backdated. Conveniently, too, his appearance had somehow altered, for Smiley had discovered in himself a talent for the part which went beyond the rudimentary change to his hair and the addition of a small moustache. For four years he had played the part, travelling back and forth between Switzerland, Germany and Sweden. He had never guessed it was possible to be frightened for so long. He developed a nervous irritation in his left eye which remained with him fifteen years later; the strain etched lines on his fleshy cheeks and brow. He learnt what it was never to sleep, never to relax, to feel at any time of day or night the restless beating of his own heart, to know the extremes of solitude and self-pity, the sudden unreasoning desire for a woman, for drink, for ­exercise, for any drug to take away the tension of his life.
Against this background he conducted his authentic commerce and his work as a spy. With the progress of time the network grew, and other countries repaired their lack of foresight and preparation. In 1943 he was recalled. Within six weeks he was yearning to return, but they never let him go.
'You're finished,' Steed-Asprey said: 'train new men, take time off. Get married or something. Unwind.'
Smiley proposed to Steed-Asprey's secretary, the Lady Ann Sercomb.
The war was over. They paid him off, and he took his beautiful wife to Oxford to devote himself to the obscur­ities of seventeenth-century Germany. But two years later Lady Ann was in Cuba, and the revelations of a young Russian cypher-clerk in Ottawa had created a new demand for men of Smiley's experience.
The job was new, the threat elusive and at first he enjoyed it. But younger men were coming in, perhaps with fresher minds. Smiley was no material for promotion and it dawned on him gradually that he had entered middle age without ever being young, and that he was – in the nicest possible way – on the shelf.
Things changed. Steed-Asprey was gone, fled from the new world to India, in search of another civilization. Jebedee was dead. He had boarded a train at Lille in 1941 with his radio operator, a young Belgian, and neither had been heard of again. Fielding was wedded to a new thesis on Roland – only Maston remained, Maston the career man, the war-time recruit, the Ministers' Adviser on Intelligence; 'the first man,' Jebedee had said, 'to play power tennis at Wimbledon.' The NATO alliance, and the desperate measures contemplated by the Americans, altered the whole nature of Smiley's Service. Gone for ever were the days of Steed-Asprey, when as like as not you took your orders over a glass of port in his rooms at Magdalen; the inspired amateurism of a handful of highly qualified, under-paid men had given way to the efficiency, bureaucracy and intrigue of a large Government department – effectively at the mercy of Maston, with his expensive clothes and his knighthood, his distinguished grey hair and silver-coloured ties; Maston, who even remembered his secretary's birthday, whose manners were a by-word among the ladies of the registry; Maston, apologetically extending his empire and regretfully moving to even larger offices; Maston, holding smart house-parties at Henley and feeding on the success of his subordinates.
They had brought him in during the war, the professional civil servant from an orthodox department, a man to handle paper and integrate the brilliance of his staff with the cumbersome machine of bureaucracy. It comforted the Great to deal with a man they knew, a man who could reduce any colour to grey, who knew his masters and could walk among them. And he did it so well. They liked his diffidence when he apologized for the company he kept, his insincerity when he defended the vagaries of his subordinates, his flexibility when formulating new commitments. Nor did he let go the advantages of a cloak and dagger man malgré lui, wearing the cloak for his masters and preserving the dagger for his servants. Ostensibly, his position was an odd one. He was not the nominal Head of Service, but the Ministers' Adviser on Intelligence, and Steed-Asprey had described him for all time as the Head Eunuch.
This was a new world for Smiley: the brilliantly lit ­corridors, the smart young men. He felt pedestrian and old-fashioned, homesick for the dilapidated terrace house in Knightsbridge where it had all begun. His appearance seemed to reflect this discomfort in a kind of physical recession which made him more hunched and frog-like than ever. He blinked more, and acquired the nickname of 'Mole'. But his débutante secretary adored him, and referred to him invariably as 'My darling teddy-bear'.
Smiley was now too old to go abroad. Maston had made that clear: 'Anyway, my dear fellow, as like as not you're blown after all the ferreting about in the war. Better stick at home, old man, and keep the home fires burning.'
Which goes some way to explaining why George Smiley sat in the back of a London taxi at two o'clock on the morning of Wednesday, 4 January, on his way to Cambridge Circus.

from the guardian

would you like to actually see a picture of the real George Smiley......click on this link if you dare:


Does Ann Coulter Know What She Believes?

Does Ann Coulter Know What She Believes?
Polemicist Ann Coulter, once a recognized icon of the conservative movement, and later, a gay icon, has puzzled many people in recent years. Eager to be seen as conservatism’s darling, a firebrand and flamethrower – indeed, a zealot in all things conservative – Coulter has been anything but conservative.
Though giving lip service to the pro-life movement, Coulter fails to seek or support pro-life candidates. Espousing family values, she became a national spokesman for gay conservatives. Claiming to be a Reagan conservative, Coulter claims Romney was a better candidate that Reagan. Now, Coulter is again attacking the Tea PartyCoulter wouldn’t know a RINO if she looked in the mirror.
If Coulter is such a firebrand conservative zealot, why does she fall in love with so many RINOs?
Perhaps the answer to Coulter’s conflicting views and behaviors lies within Coulter. Perhaps Coulter neither knows what she really believes nor believes what she thinks she knows.
For almost two decades, Coulter has lied, twisted the truth, defended her hypocrisy, refused to repent, and continually pushed the political and rhetorical edge. Without boundaries, and having forsaken the north star of truth, Coulter has simply gone over the edge.
If Coulter doesn’t know what to believe, and if she doesn’t believe what she claims to believe, why should be believe anything she says? We should Never Trust Ann Coulter – at ANY Age.

from Daniel Borchers

Thank you, Dan, for telling us your thoughts.......cl

here is a link to Dan's website:


this is from Coulter Watch....just click on the link (above) and it will take you right to this page if you would like to see the website and sign up on the mailing list.......cl:

Welcome to Coulter Watch!

Coulter Watch is a site that promotes the proposition that Conservatism can only endure as a viable and vibrant movement if it maintains a commitment to the core character traits of honor andintegrityhonesty and virtue.

Huffington Posts Martha Burk--A Very Short memo to the GOP

Martha Burk Headshot

A Very Short Memo to the GOP

Posted: Updated: 
Print Article
From: The little woman and her sisters
Date: 2014-2016 election season
The majority of voters (women) want access to birth control.
The majority of voters (women) want abortion to be legal.
The majority of voters (women) don't think any rape is legitimate.
The majority of older voters (women) rely on Social Security and don't want it cut.
The majority of those on food stamps (women with kids) need the help.
The majority of minimum wage workers (women) want a raise.
The majority of voters (women) think they should be paid the same as men for the same work.
The majority of voters (women) know at least one husband who had a sleazy sexual relationship.
The majority of voters (women) respect the wife for getting through it the best way she could.
The majority of voters (women) don't want a female presidential candidate attacked for something her husband did almost 20 years ago that has nothing to do with her credentials, track record, ability, and yes, ambition.
The majority of voters (guess who?) know that if a man says he wants to win on his own terms he's tough and dedicated, but if a woman says it she's ruthless and bitchy.
Guess why the majority of voters (you guessed right) think your party is waging a war on women.
Follow Martha Burk on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarthaBurk

from the Huffington Post

Each and every statement from Ms. Burk is true. Well written.
The Republicans have done nothing useful for years. When you have nothing to say, you attack the other side. Because your own record is at best blank, the best you can do is try to say well they are worse than us!
"The majority of voters (women) don't want a female presidential candidate attacked for something her husband did almost 20 years ago that has nothing to do with her credentials, track record, ability, and yes, ambition."

How about a female presidential candidate who rode to power as the wife of a sexual predator and worked actively to defend him in order to maintain her own political power?

How about a female presidential candidate who calls the female victims of a sexual predator in the Senate and their female supporters "whiny women" who needed to shut up because the then First Lady needed the Senator's vote for her government health care takeover?

How can the leader of a coalition of so called women's groups support and defend such behavior?
Ms Burk:

Hillary will have to answer all her questions first during the DNC Primary Election.

It has nothing to do with the GOP
If it has nothing to do with the GOP then why is presidential aspirant Rand Paul attacking her along with the head of the RNC, which also bussed people to the so-called March for Life on the mall last month. Wake up!
Right on target Martha. Nothing else needed.