Although espionage is one of my favourite genres, I cannot list John le Carre’s novels amongst my favourites as the smoke and mirrors often left me confused.
I preferred the dramatisations and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy remains one of the best productions I have seen on television.
I can however claim some knowledge of the man as his authorised biographer Adam Sisman is an old friend.
He told me that although he had the assistance of his subject sometimes the latter would fiercely deny an evident and documented truth.
However he identified the key to the man namely his upbringing.
This was both conventional and extraordinary.
He went to the well known public school of Sherborne, Oxford, joined the Army and then MI5 and MI6.
On the other hand his father Ronnie Cornwell was a notorious con man.
He was as likely to pick up his son from school in a Bentley as his son was to be informed that his dad was serving a stretch.
This paradox of a traditional institution and duplicity is at the heart of his espionage novels.