gone to great lengths to gain acceptance by those who secretly despised him: his employers. So that when I started putting together my little bestiary of suspects, I made sure that there were at least two of them—Bland and Esterhase and perhaps Jim Prideaux also—who were alienated by birth from the class structure that they served.
So much for the documentary background. The rest is an informed fantasy. The origin of my use of the word “mole” to describe a long-term penetration agent is a small mystery to me, as it was to the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary, who wrote to me asking whether I had invented it. I could not say for certain. I had a memory that it was current KGB jargon in the days when I was briefly an intelligence officer. I even thought I had seen it written down, in an annexe to the Royal Commission report on the Petrovs, who defected to the Australians in Canberra some time in the Fifties. But the OED couldn’t find the trace and neither could I, so for a long time, I thought perhaps I had. Then one day, I received a letter from a reader, referring me to page 240 of Francis Bacon’s Historie of the Reigne of King Henry the Seventh, published in 1641:
As for his secret Spialls, which he did imploy both at home and abroad, by them to discover what Practices and Conspiracies were against him, surely his Case required it: Hee had such Moles perpectually working and casting to undermine him.
Well, I certainly hadn’t read Francis Bacon on moles. Where did he have them from? Or was he just having fun with an apt metaphor?
The other bits of jargon—lamplighter, scalphunter, babysitter, honey-trap and the rest—were all invented, but they too, I am told, have at least in part since been adopted by the professionals. I made no particular cult of them as I wrote: I wished merely to underline the fact that spying for those who do it is a trade like any other, and that, like other trades, it has its little bits of language. The Russians were always more imaginative in