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Messages in the bottle: inside the louche, liqueured-up world of the Cambridge Spies

Forget Freudian theories about father issues. The main thing the Cambridge Five had in common was drinking—as two new books, and my mother's memory, attest

The Cambridge Spies hoodwinked the Establishment by hiding in plain sight. Photo: © GETTY IMAGES

Friday 25th May 1951 was Donald Maclean’s 38th birthday. He celebrated by taking his oldest friends to lunch at Schmidt’s in Charlotte Street, notorious for its heavy German food and its surly German waiters. There he bumped into two other Fitzrovia cronies, the writers Cyril Connolly and Humphrey Slater, an ex-Communist who had been Commissar of the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, during which he had changed his name to Hugh because he…

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