There are two letters I wish I had kept to show you. I threw both away. One was from Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, who's army defeated German General Rommel's army at El Alamein. The other was from British spy novelist John le Carre.
Le Carre, made famous for his novel "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold", was living in Vienna at the time. I drove there (from my farmhouse in The Netherlands, I believe ) to interview him for a CBC "Ideas" radio documentary titled "The Spy in Fiction, The Spy in Fact". The aim was to separate fact from fiction in the spy business. .
Len DeightonI also interviewed Len Deighton author of “Ipcress File” and Ian Fleming’s personal secretary ( the creator of James Bond had just died )for the same program But more about Deighton later.
Le Carre offered me lunch with his wife in their comfortably furnished apartment and we later talked about his breakout spy novel “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold".
He was a good host and we had pleasant exchange of views followed by a radio interview. I took a photo (since lost ) of him outside the flat and left for home.
I finished the documentary and sent copies to Le Carre and Deighton. Deighton wrote back that he liked it and recommended I send it to an agent.
The reaction of Le Carre was quite different. He was furious that I had described him as "upper class" compared to Deighton who I had described as "working class". Le Carre's letter upset me so much I stupidly (s threw it away.
Deighton was a more down to earth character. He proudly showed me cabinets full of cards containing information related to espionage.
Deighton drew a cooking column for one of the Sunday papers. He cooked Liset and I dinner at his home. Deighton knew so much about the espionage business because of diligent research and exhaustive cataloging.
Le Carre worked for British intelligence as an MI6 or M I 5 agent.
The Field Marshall Montgomery story happened while I was living in Hanover Terrance, one of the Georgian terraces in London's Regent Park. Ray deBoer, a good friend and fellow freelance broadcaster, wrote to Montgomery requesting an interview; about what I can't remember. Montgomery's response was to return out letter with the message "No, Viscount Montgomery of Alamein" scrawled across it.