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Casino Royale

Summer of Spies 7

Last night saw John le Carré talking about his latest and (allegedly) last Smiley novel, A Legacy of Spies, at the South Bank Centre, and broadcast live to cinemas across Europe.

I met a Twitter friend under the clock at Waterloo, and we went for pizza before claiming our signed copies from the Foyles desk in the Royal Festival Hall foyer, grabbing a drink and proceeding into the auditorium.

First we were shown a short film in which figures who had been associated with le Carré's works on big or small screen talked about Smiley, then the author himself spoke for 45 minutes about his literary and espionage careers and his characters, reading a few extracts from the new novel. He came across as both literate and articulate, which not everyone can manage, and as a nice old man content with his achievements.

After an interval, there was a short section of conversation with Jon Snow and some preselected questions tweeted or Facebooked by the audience.

Then he thanked us all for reading and listening, and for our support of Doctors Without Borders (he donated his appearance fee in its entirety) and it was over.

Afterwards I went for drinks with the host of the excellent Spybrary podcast and other fans of the literary spy, several of whom had flown in from the USA for the event. (I found myself in the position of Person With Local Knowledge and took everyone to the Archduke.)

It was a lovely night of geeking about books and films, and I was generously gifted a bootleg SPECTRE ring. I even said a few words for the podcast.

They were "DON'T TELL HIM, PIKE!"

Don't ask.

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