This article was originally published in the August 2007 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
Tom Sewell joined the army from school in 1940 as a private in the Royal Scots Regiment.
Sent to the Far East he was commissioned in the Indian Armoured Corps, serving two years in Burma. Mentioned in dispatches he was demobilised in 1946 as a Major. Following studying at Oxford, Lausanne and Stockholm Universities reading languages and economics he joined the Diplomatic service. He served in Moscow, Madrid and South America.
This book is a fascinating read of his personal recollections of his time spent in the British Embassy in Moscow at the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
In the authorís own words the book is not about Soviet policy, but is a more personal account of life for a British Diplomat and his family. This may not be a book for those with a deep interest in politics, but is well-written, funny and illuminating.
Knowing who to trust could be difficult, even the maid was caught copying private correspondence. More serious was a fire in the British embassy, caused by an incendiary device thrown into the heating duct. On a lighter note it was important to make sure there was a plentiful supply of loo rolls and other essentials, while caviar was in plentiful supply. In-house entertainment included dancing lessons and the pantomime performed by Embassy staff. Under difficult circumstances Tom managed to travel around the Soviet Union even if it meant being followed, as on one occasion by seventeen plain-clothes agents eager to trail his every move.
This book is an interesting and entertaining account of life in the British Embassy in the 1960ís.
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