March 1st, 2005

I was a spy in the House of Fraser

Details have emerged of a Russian espionage handbook to 1930's London, thanks to the declassification of another set of MI5 archives. Produced to aid communist agents infiltrating England, it's a detailed Michelin-style guide that would be a boon to anyone writing a 1930's detective novel...
The guide, a kind of Time Out of its era without the shopping recommendations, lists what to do in London, including the best places to meet without blowing your cover.

"The West End with its nightlife, the big hotels with foreign statesmen and jewellery-wearing society ladies all these make central London the most closely policed area of England," writes the anonymous author.

"There are no reasons why one should not use the hotels in this area - but it is remarkable how persistently this area is preferred for rendezvous by people who should know better.
If you wanted to lose someone, then a big department store was the key to a successful escape...
The key was to use large stores, such as Liberty on Regent Street, to quickly lose a tail by dodging in and out of the various departments.
Oh, and you needed to join the AA. No Q for you - just a man in a brown suit on a motor-cycle.
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