Inspiration: ‘The Honey Trap’
The piece I wrote for Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog Flash Fiction Fridays, ‘The Honey Trap,’ came to me late at night just before I fell asleep. I had to write a story (maximum word count 1,000 words), as I had promised to get it to her within a week and nothing was coming into my head.
I toyed with using an older story and revamping it but nothing grabbed me, so I lay in bed wondering what to write as I listened to the Radio – I always read a little and listen to the radio before going to sleep.
There was a discussion about the great British Double Agents of the 20th century and they got round to mentioning Philby, McClean and Burgess – famous agents whom I had learned about when I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), back in my younger days – I won’t say how far back! Bells began to ring and as I listened my mind began to wander and gradually ‘The Honey Trap’ began to take shape.
When I worked at the FCO spying was a huge story everywhere. The Soviet Union’s Ambassador to Britain had been called into see the Foreign Secretary to hear that 50 of their spies (‘Embassy Officials’), had been uncovered at the USSR Embassy and were being kicked out. About a week later the British Ambassador to the USSR was called into their Embassy and was told that 50 British Embassy officials were being deported back to the UK in a tit-for-tat reprisal for ‘spying’.
Last year there was a big scandal about the Chinese party official whose wife had apparently murdered a British businessman and as a result he had lost his chance at becoming the next leader of China. There was talk of spying and blackmail and I guess the seed was planted, my story started to take form.
Russia and The Cold War came flooding into my mind, China and the tale of murder and blackmail must have gone round and round in my head as I slept that night, because when I woke up I rushed to the computer to write the story.
The main Foreign and Commonwealth building in Whitehall was just across the road from the building I worked in, Curtis Green building which was once Old Scotland Yard.
Recalling all my experiences whilst at the FCO helped with the story no end, although my main character is stationed overseas at a British Trade Mission when the story takes place. When I worked at the I was familiar with the workings of Trade Missions, Embassies and those working inside them in whatever capacity!
It was a fun time, the late 1960’s, and London was swinging. I had been out in Germany working for the MOD (Min. of Defence), and I had been living in a small village which had been one of those which flooded following the raids by The Dam busters on the Ruhr Valley munitions factories in WW2. The locals were nearly all elderly, the young having moved to the towns for work (Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Koln), and so things had been very sedate and boring for me whilst there.
London exploded every day. Whether I went into Whitehall by bus or by tube, the place heaved and thudded with life and excitement. Fashion, music, culture, you name it. I thought that the FCO would be like it as well, but it was nothing of the sort.
Guys with long hair and cravats and tight bell-bottom trousers worked there alongside girls in min-skirts, long boots and see through blouses (we had burned our bras by then)….of course there were still bowler hatted men with umbrellas and matronly spinsters working there….but I soon found the place rocked.
After work sherry parties for people being posted abroad, parties for people coming back, parties for birthdays, promotions, well, you name it. We partied.
The work was exciting and no two days were ever the same. Life happened all around us and all over the world and we were in the thick of it.
But I think I will leave the story of my time at the FCO for another day. Meanwhile, The Honey Trap is a short story (Flash Fiction) born from those times….I hope you enjoy it.