Blake’s birthday

NOTORIOUS double agent George Blake celebrates his 90th birthday in Moscow this week, telling an official Russian government newspaper: “I’m a happy person, a lucky person, exceptonally lucky.”

He fled the UK after escaping from Wormwood Scrubs prison on a rope ladder in 1966, five years into a 41 prison sentence for betraying the government. His spy story was written across north London. After his escape, he first hid in a flat in Hampstead for example; accomplices came from Paddington and Kentish Town.

A few years ago, government files were released which showed the search for him became so desperate that ‘map diviners’ offered to help. The Institute of Psychical Studies said in a letter to the Home Office: “It would be of interest to our research into a process of locating individuals by a method of map divination (akin to water diviners) if we might include the case in our current programme of readings. Should you feel disposed to give the method a trial we could forward us the necessary sample (a few hairs from the man’s hairbrush or a well-worn shower cap).”

Needless to say, map diviners did not find the fugitive and Blake made his way to Moscow.

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