May I have a word about… Richard Sorge and Courtney Lawes

May I have a word about… Richard Sorge and Courtney Lawes

first_imgI am romping through an eye-opening book called An Impeccable Spy, the life of Russian super-agent Richard Sorge, described by Ian Fleming as “the most impressive spy in history”, who was at the height of his audacious powers in pre-war Japan. In between tales of his espionage work are accounts of his reprehensible sexual pursuits (cuckolding his best friends, having an affair with a geisha while his wife was back in Moscow, pregnant with their child) and heroic drinking binges.In describing one of his circle, the book’s author, Owen Matthews, calls the agent a “five-bell liability”, a delightfully redolent phrase quite new to me. The internet offers no clues – plenty of Five Bells pubs and ship’s time, but nothing else that I could find, though I think its meaning is admirably clear. I doff my cap to Matthews and, given that we all know such people, I think we should use it at every opportunity. comment Share via Email Read more Sign up to the Breakdown for the latest rugby union news Since you’re here… Share on Facebook Equally new to me was the phrase “dominant tackle”, which was being trotted out by the commentators during the Ireland v England Six Nations match last weekend. It smacks horribly of sports analysis and science and data crunching and has absolutely no place in coverage of the great game.When Courtney Lawes, a man of finely controlled malevolence, absolutely flattened Johnny Sexton and left the Irish fly-half chewing grass, a “that will have hurt”, à la Bill McLaren, would have been quite sufficient a description of Lawes’s monumental hit.I’m sure that everyone is heartily sick of unicorns by now, whether alive, dead or mortally wounded. As for those bloody elephants in the room… enough already. But I’ve just spotted another blot on the horizon in the wake of the potential tie-up between the German and French train-makers, Siemens and Alstom. This deal is being referred to as a “wedding of elephants”. It’s high time they opened the gates of this menagerie of metaphors and let the beasts escape.• Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist Share on Twitter The shifting patterns of English Rugby unioncenter_img … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Topics Espionage Reuse this content Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Share on Messenger Support The Guardian Share on WhatsApplast_img

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