« | Home | »

Normally First Class

Tags: | | |

The BBC has released some papers relating to the hiring and the employment of Guy Burgess. One of the more amusing details is Burgess’s habit of writing memos on the back of the expense forms; another, his fondness for first-class travel and his justifications for it:

If you will refer to your papers you will see that in the past I successfully established the principle of travelling first class when at work, under war-time conditions, on Corporation business. I think you will find this on your predecessor’s minutes. I normally travel first class and see no reason why I should alter my practice when on BBC business particularly when I am in my best clothes to attend a Service.

Other papers make you wonder whether Burgess travelled first class less because he wanted to protect his suits and more because he considered himself inherently first class. Plenty of other people, after all, had said he was. In letters written in support of his candidacy for a job at the BBC, Burgess is always first rate. Cambridge’s Appointments Board wrote to the corporation:

He is a somewhat highly-strung fellow, too, but gets on uncommonly well with people, including being notably successful with a number of stupid pupils whom he supervised for his College during his last year here. He really seems a most versatile fellow. He seems to have a real gift for friendship in quite a wide circle, including a close friendship with an ex-miner here. He has done a good deal of journalistic work. Burgess is a man of considerable self-assurance and a fellow for whom it is easy to feel both admiration and liking.

And from G.M. Trevelyan:

I believe a young friend of mine, Guy Burgess, late a scholar of Trinity, is applying for a post in the BBC. He was in the running for a Fellowship in History, but decided (correctly I think) that his bent was for the great world – politics, journalism, etc. etc. –and not academic. He is a first rate man, and I advise you if you can to try him. He has passed through the Communist measles that so many of our clever young men go through, and is well out of it. There is nothing second rate about him and I think he would prove a great addition to your staff.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • name on Who is the enemy?: Simply stating it is correct doesn't make it so, I just wish you would apply the same epistemic vigilance to "Muslim crimes" as you do to their Hebrew...
    • Glen Newey on Unwinnable War: The legal issue admits of far less clarity than the simple terms in which you – I imagine quite sincerely – frame them. For the benefit of readers...
    • Geoff Roberts on The New Normal: The causes go back a long way into the colonial past, but the more immediate causes stem from the activities of the US forces in the name of freedom a...
    • sol_adelman on The New Normal: There's also the fact that the French state denied the mass drownings of '61 even happened for forty-odd years. No episode in post-war W European hist...
    • funky gibbon on At Wembley: If England get France in the quarter finals of Euro 16 I expect that a good deal of the fraternity will go out the window

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Stephen W. Smith:
    The French Intervention in Mali
    7 February 2013

    ‘Depending on what counts as military intervention, France changed the course of history by force in sub-Saharan Africa about thirty times between 1945 and 1990.’

    Bruce Whitehouse:
    What went wrong in Mali?
    30 August 2012

    ‘The Republic of Mali has long been seen as the exception to the dictatorships or civil wars that have seemed the rule in West Africa since the end of the Cold War.’

    Jeremy Harding: Algeria’s Camus
    4 December 2014

    ‘Camus liked to hector the settlers, whose behaviour reflected the structural injustices of colonialism. All the same, he felt that certain misconceptions in metropolitan France needed straightening out.’

    Hugh Roberts: The Hijackers
    16 July 2015

    ‘American intelligence saw Islamic State coming and was not only relaxed about the prospect but, it appears, positively interested in it.’

Advertisement Advertisement