Quiller + more things

8 minutes estimated reading time


Quiller came out of the cold war. The Quiller series were written under the name Adam Hall by Elleston Trevor who had actually been born Trevor Dudley-Smith. Elleston Trevor like most of the other writers had either served in the second world war or in the national service afterwards. Quiller features in 19 novels written from the mid-1960s to the last one in the mid-1990s.

The books go into a lot of technical detail about spy craft. While he is a man of action, he doesn’t live the high life like James Bond, but has to worry about filing expenses and grim and grey atmosphere of London and Warsaw Pact countries. He has a nervous tick when under stress and has to deal with ‘office politics’ of difficult personalities.

The Quiller Memorandum (1966)

Like Bond Quiller appeared on film, The Berlin Memorandum was re-made as the Quiller Memorandum. Quiller was also made into a TV series by the BBC in 1975 for one season. I knew nothing about it until YouTube.

Spy novel industry

There was a veritable industry of British spy writers. Ian Fleming had James Bond which has been continued like some bizarre literary science zombification experiment long after Fleming himself had died. Post-Fleming’s death there has been 32 new James Bond novels written.

Len Deighton had the unnamed protagonist of his first set of books (though they would be given the name Harry Palmer in the film adaptations):The IPCRESS File, Horse Under Water, Funeral in Berlin, An Expensive Place to Die, Spy Story, Yesterday’s Spy and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Spy. As this wasn’t enough Deighton wrote ten books about the jaded intelligence protagonist Bernard Samson.

Anthony Price wrote 19 novels featuring Dr David Audley and, or Colonel Jack Butler.       

All of these characters had more ‘derring do’ than John LeCarre‘s George Smiley. Deighton’s Bernard Samson’s character has the jaded aspect of Smiley. Anthony Price’s stories are best described as as somewhere between George Smiley and Robert Hannay with the past and ‘present’ woven together.

For the love of books

I picked up the bug of reading these books from my Dad. He used to go and buy these books along with Alistair McLean novels from a florid man in the local market. (Alistair McLean novels were basically the same book and same character with different names and locations).

My Dad left school at 13, he can’t spell but at that time he loved reading novels, engineering books and history. They were around the house at home, so usually after my Dad had read them, I started to read them myself. My childhood reading was a weird mix of ‘children’s books’, fantasy novels which were considered suitable for children (J.R.R. Tolkien and Ursula LeGuinn), spy novels, text books and classic science fiction. My Mum made sure that I had a smattering of Irish folklore books in the mix as well.

One person’s literature is another person’s trash

Nowadays, alongside the weighty tomes of James A. Michener, you would be hard pressed to get an Oxfam shop to take many of these books off your hands.

While Le Carre & Fleming have their dedicated followers, the Quiller books, Len Deighton and Anthony Price will be overlooked.

The war on terror didn’t fire the imagination in quite the same way, yet as we go into a new cold war we might see a renaissance in Quiller-type archetypes in escapist fiction of our current times. Mick Herron’s Slough House series ground us too much in reality sometimes.


Skincare giant L’Oréal buys Aesop, cosmetics brand with cult following – it will go into their luxe portfolio.


Britons should brace for more travel chaos | The Economist and on the flipside Europeans don’t want to come to Britain due to obstacles and more: French and German tourists turn their back on Brexit Britain | Brexit | The Guardian


‘Sinophizing’ Russia’s Far East – Asia Sentinel – next step will be disputing ownership of the land

Macron fails to move Xi Jinping over Russia’s war on Ukraine – POLITICO – like as if that was going to happen

China is getting comfortable with the Gulf Cooperation Council. The West must pragmatically adapt to its growing regional influence. – Atlantic Council 


ROSEN-X Aeon Jacket – The Inspiration & Design Background of a Cyberpunk Technical Jacket – Shell Zine – ROSEN-X are a Shanghai-based fashion brand that borrow from technical fabrics and cyberpunk influences


Black Americans are more likely to be working than white Americans for the first time on record – while a welcome development, expect some voices to turn this into a discrimination / great replacement narrative. Meanwhile, this is a much bigger issue: Half of universities have fewer than 5% poor white students – BBC News

Industrial policy doesn’t have to succeed right away | Noahpinion


“Mafia Methods”: Viktor Orbán Ups the Pressure on German Companies to Leave Hungary – DER SPIEGEL – well that’s screwing German industry’s ‘go East’ policy


Why we’re putting ads for our Body Program on the subway | by Ro | Ro.co | Mar, 2023 | Medium – Ro is a telemedicine startup prescribing Wegovy to Americans. This raises several issues around abuse

Abbott curated this interesting discussion on sports health. In my lifetime we’ve gone from football coaches giving players Guinness to bulk them up to this detailed scientific approach which I previously would have only associated with serious bodybuilders like my college friend Carsten who looking for marginal advantages.

Hong Kong

Brain-drained HK workforce marks historic decline – Asia Times – a few things here. The Chinese visa applicants (less than 15,000) coming in won’t plug the gap: 95% of Hong Kong Talent Visa Approvals Are From China – Bloomberg. Though this might not cover mainland Chinese graduating from Hong Kong universities. Secondly, once growth takes off Hong Kong will lose its relative attractiveness for Chinese from an economic point of view. Secondly, the brain drain of teachers, medical staff, social workers and middle class professionals is starting to become significant from the Hong Kong government’s perspective; but a rounding error from Beijing’s viewpoint.


Repost: Weebs! – by Noah Smith – NoahpinionWhile I was in Japan over the last two weeks, I asked some local startup founders, VCs, consultants, and random friends whether they had ever heard the word “weeb”. Not a single one had. I was pretty stunned, because Japanese cultural products have given rise to a whole worldwide subculture, and people in Japan itself are barely aware that that subculture even exists. It’s not like it’s a fringe thing, either — the latest volume of the anime Spy X Family was the bestselling book in North America this week, and soldiers at the front in Ukraine do Pikachu dances to relieve stress. Japan became a cultural superpower almost by accident – this was a new one on me. I thought otaku was still the label. NHK World on famous ‘Weeb’ Steve Jobs.


Wanted: people who can learn to make €22,000 handbags | Financial Times – add in the aging population in Europe as well…


China Plans to Ban Exports of Rare Earth Magnet Tech – The Japan News – attack particularly against Japan, the US and EU


Risk of ChatGPT personal data leaks to be monitored, Hong Kong’s privacy watchdog says in wake of Italy’s ban | South China Morning Post – expect right to be forgotten mechanism

Brands increase TikTok spending despite threat of US ban | Financial Times 


Full article: When the Medium Is the Message: A Meta-Analysis of Creative Media Advertising Effects – Creative media advertising is a specific type of unconventional advertising in which a regular physical object serves as a medium to carry an advertising message


An Anonymous Critic Played Cat and Mouse with Beijing for 12 Years. Then He Got Caught. | Vice

pearº – The World’s Biggest Social Experiment – Pear Ring – imagine if Match.com as well as extending into events for singles decided to allow people to have a badge that said ‘I’m single, date me’. That’s the premise of Pear, except that the badge is actually a ring that looks like fake jade…

We don’t have any viable way of countering conspiracy theories | New Scientist 

It is getting even harder for Western scholars to do research in China | The Economist

Boys and the search for a non-toxic masculinity | Financial Times – the comments section makes of interesting reading


Exclusive: Leaked Files Show China And Russia Sharing Tactics On Internet Control, Censorship

On Finland’s move to join NATO


Targeting U.S. Chip Firm Micron, China’s Cybersecurity Reviews Continue to Evolve | DigiChina