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Saturday At The Movies: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Chapter 5, Smiley Investigates

by Flyovercountry Comments Off on Saturday At The Movies: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Chapter 5, Smiley Investigates
Filed under Headlines at December 8th, 2012 - 12:24 pm

We start chapter five with Jim Prideaux working as a teacher in the West Country. He is busy teaching his students, without their knowledge to be lamplighters, so to speak. He has established a network that will be capable of alerting him to the presence of any of his former workmates, so that he might have fair warning. During Smiley’s investigation, we learn from a character that did not appear in the Hollywood version of the movie, Sam Collins, that he was duty officer the night that operation Testify went so horribly wrong. There are three very important pieces of information that Collins provides. One, they knew that Prideaux was a British spy far earlier than he could have been identified as such. Two, that Bill Hayden knew that the operation had taken place in Czechoslovakia before he should have known. Three, the Prideaux shooting involved more then a simple arrest, but heavy military movements of the Czech army along the entire Austrian border.

Smiley’s next stop is to debrief Jim Prideaux, who we learn was never actually debriefed by the Circus, which is in itself quite extraordinary. From Prideaux we learn that Karla not only knows of Control’s mole theory, but is reasonably well supplied with exactly how far he’s gotten in his search for the truth. Part of the horrible truth not discussed in movies is the fact that everyone caught talks, eventually. Prideaux’s technique of attempting to control the flow of information, however slowly is something that is taught. His idea was to give up useless pieces of knowledge, and to draw a final line of defense around a private theory that he would claim credit for about a mole in the service. There are three valuable pieces of information provided by Prideaux. One, that the Soviets were involved, in the personage of Karla no less, which tells us that Testify was most probably orchestrated on behalf of Merlin. Two, that Karla’s interrogation began exactly where Prideaux planned on ending, that Karla was not at all interested in the networks that the Brits had established in Czechoslovakia, or anywhere else in the East for that matter. Three, that Toby Esterhase had not only known of the code Tinker Tailor, established only for Prideaux and Control, but that he offered Prideaux a hefty bribe to, “forget it.”


Agent – A spy recruited by a foreign government to spy on their own country. This term should not be confused with a case officer, the intelligence service member who recruited and then handled the spy.

Babysitters – Bodyguards

Circus – MI6, the British intelligence service.

The Competition – MI5, British counter espionage service. Also referred to as the, “security mob.”

The Cousins – The CIA or any American intelligence service.

Distress Rocket – An emergency signal to a logistical support structure that a crash meeting or other prearranged measures are necessary, often involving new identities and emergency legends.

Ferrets – Tech people who find and remove bugs, cameras, or an attempt to spy on the good guys.

Honey Trap – A sexual trap intended for black mail or murder.

Housekeepers – Internal auditors or accountants who are used to insure discipline within the service.

Inquisitors – Interrogators who debrief agents or defectors.

Janitors – Headquarters staff and guards of internal secure areas.

Lamplighters – Watchers, surveillance staff, couriers.

Legend – A false biography and accompanying documents for a covert operative, be they a control officer or a mole.

Mole – A recruited agent who does not begin spying on his target for a long period of time. Usually they have worked their way up through an organization until such time as a preset target has been reached, and then activated after a period of years. In, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” for instance, Gerald was recruited in 1955 and not activated until 1972.

Mothers – Secretaries, researchers, clerical staff, most trusted by case officers.

Nuts and Bolts – Logistical support.

Pavement Artists – Specialized surveillance teams who can follow without getting caught.

Priests – The Legislative overseers of MI6. (Intelligence oversight committees etc.)

Scalp hunters – Professional thugs, handling assassinations, bribery, break ins, beatings, kidnappings etc.

Shoemakers – Forgers, they provide false identities in the form of passports, drivers licenses, etc.

Wranglers – Intelligence analysts, cryptographers, the people who look at raw reports, documents, photos, etc., and pass on authenticity, meaning, scope, etc.


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