Thursday, 18 February 2010

Bill Haydon

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this guy. I've just finished Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, and listened to it on the radio, so clearly I've experienced quite a lot of Bill Haydon lately. Briefly, my problem is this. He's an absolute fucking bastard. I mean the bastard of all bastards. He is a role model for the younger men at the Circus, is No2, is generally idolised - and has been a Soviet mole for 20 years! Worse than that, according to the Radio 4 version, he reckons he's a Colonel in Soviet Intelligence!

If I am writing this with all the subtlety of a 4 year old who's just realised that the witch in Hansel and Gretel isn't as nice as she first seemed, then fair enough. But, even though it is obvious who the mole is from an early stage, the unmasking of the hero of all these characters is still a shock. It's a shock you feel on the other characters' behalf more than on your own. It's the betrayal, the smiling, charismatic betrayal he has carried with him all this time - and which has killed so many people along the way. The brilliance of his career at the Circus is vastly exceeded by the brilliance of his career with the Soviets. Bastard Bill Haydon, not only being a good spy and a brilliant mole, but being loved so much by everyone else. Being loved and cutting it to pieces.

When he is debriefed by Smiley, he gives nothing away, and only makes Smiley feel that Haydon as a man doesn't reall exist at all. This is awful, because you desperately want Haydon to be beaten up, kneecapped and shot. But - the novel is only vaguely about spies and spy rings. Its about love and hate. Smiley does not, cannot hate Haydon, Guillam has to make himself want to hurt him. For neither of them does revenge really enter into it - nor does Haydon expect it to. He expects to keep his good reputation, his history of service, his charisma - all intact. He's not delusional as such, merely un-self aware. Smiley loves Ann of course, and Haydon slept with her - not because he loved her, but much worse than that - on orders. Subverting love altogether. Haydon tries to communicate to Smiley some kind of love for the USSR but it only comes out as a frustrated aristocrat trying to influence the world when he knows his own country can't. Smiley's greatest gift in this book is his love - of Ann, of duty, of Britain, even of his colleagues at the Service (eg Connie Sachs).

Bill Haydon is a sore, but not a festering one - he doesn't itch enough for that. He doesn't make enough itching. As a result, will he achieve the fame and notoriety he wanted? Will he be loved?

Nope. Chances are, even if he hadn't have been topped by another man who deeply loved him, ie Jim Prideaux, he'd have been like Philby. A scalp, but one who doesn't quite know his place. And the historians he thinks will write his apologia, thanks to Smiley, probably will never get to know about him.

He will be nothing, the net result of his betrayals.

Of course, he's based on that cunt Philby, who ruthlessly exposed agents in the Soviet Union only for them to be shot, and who was convinced he was a Colonel in the KGB only to find that he was, instead, a largely washed up communist arsehole, who like all the other fuckers, drank too much vodka.

In fact, I hate Bill Haydon so much, I'm changing my name - to Bill Haydon.

Saturday, 6 February 2010



Life takes its route, through sexual desire, into the tunnel of early middle age, where you worry about a combination of your body and your performance: in point of actual fact, you are neither a pornstar with a ten inch cock of almost infinite variety and adaptability, nor a non-wannabe train-spotter with a semi-hibernating cock of uncertain provenance and even less certain occupation (to the extent that even a putative mother in law might worry about the general occupation of your membrum virilis). In short - you are just a guy, just a guy.

You are the service module of any Apollo mission: you do what you can but you are never going to be the star.

Trees are cut down, hurricanes never come again and the modern world fades into oblivion; you and your friends vaguely recall a female prime minister and lots of strikes; you don't in fact recall a time when accepting a job was not your decision but the union in charge's call. You don't recall there being no point in holding savings of any kind. You remember the smiles but you didn't see the cynicism in them. You don't recall the violence of the picket lines that you did see on TV, even though you were a kid. You remember the sparkly, glittery music and television, the over-emphasised desire to escape at every single point. You really do not remember the concrete blocks from motorway bridges; the spittle; the dodgy deals; the illegality that seemed normal because there was no law that could contain this new age with its conflict between the two sides of the same belief: Self.

What is self?


going to school, in the cold and the fog and the mist, just like going anywhere anywhen on this island.

Shiver: down the path to the bogs, the dirty concrete, the other person there - he was the boy who you never understood. There he was, trousers round his ankles; even then, at the age of seven, you knew that was not how males went for a piss. Went for a piss/ a slash/ a jimmy riddle/ a wee/ to see a man about a dog/ to strain the greens.

Went for a Martin. A Martin Amis.

Fuck me I think I have missed a trick in the last four years. Blogging has truly passed me by. What do you write? how do you write it? Who do you write it for?

Do you need pictures?

Do you need porn?

Monday, 1 February 2010

Obama Cancels Moon Project

This is a strange story. While it seems to be the standard "recession causes cutbacks" thing, there are deeper considerations at work here too.

Firstly, it's clearly a reversal of the 1960s policies. When JFK committed the US to reaching the Moon, the subsequent president (Nixon didn't have time to do much about it) followed it through. In part, this was because LBJ was consciously trying to capitalise on the JFK legacy and somehow therefore ensure his administration wasn't dominated by the escalating Vietnam crisis. In that, he was only partly successful. Obama of course is trying to undo the Bush legacy in almost every way. And this project, so long term and so expensive, was designed as a Bush legacy thing - something for people to remember him by in generations to come. It wasn't a real aspiration in the way that it was in the 60s.

And the reasons for that is the second point. We're just not interested anymore. Our scientific interests are entirely to do with our bodies. Biology - that's what we want. From that point of view, our range of inquiry has narrowed. We don't look outwards now. No-one wants to go back to the moon: the practical benefits look slight; the costs and risks immense; and the sense of achievement it would bring is irrelevant - we simply don't value that kind of achievement. We are much more likely to condemn it as wasteful and so on.

Thirdly, the whole project seemed somewhat uninspired. The rocket was new, but the delivery systems were entirely based on Apollo, just with updated computers and guidance and so on. NASA's argument was to the effect of "why rewrite a hit" but it made the whole idea seem derivative and as if they were just going through the motions - very expensive motions, at that. Is this unfair? Perhaps. But for a project intended to be concluded some fifty one years after the original moon landings, using the same designs is strange. Were there really no other ideas?

While I deplore the lack of imagination in this decision, and the fact that it's all too predictable in an era that is not interested in anything outside its own genitals, the project was definitely flawed. If Obama and his government can come up with anything more interesting, I'd be all for it. It does look as if they are going for something they are condemning elsewhere -a private sector, private finance set of initiatives.

Who'd a thunk it?