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The dad who came in from the cold

John le Carré, who died a week ago, had a fraught relationship with his father Ronnie, whom he describes as a “conman, fantasist (and) occasional  jailbird.” He said his father sometimes beat him and would take him and his brother to Switzerland for vacations, then sneak out of hotels without paying.


In the 1960s I was reading “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” while waiting for a flight at Beirut airport when a dapper elderly gentleman stopped, pointed at my book and said, beaming: “That was written by my son.”


Le Carré may not have been proud of his dad but his dad was certainly proud of him. ■