MI5 and Me by Charlotte Bingham

Review published on May 9, 2018.

This is a light and amusing read – not quite what I was expecting from a memoir about working for MI5 in the 1950s, but an enjoyable book nonetheless.

Lottie thinks her father has a boring job at the War Office. When she is 18, he decides it is time she had a proper job and arranges one for her in the department where he actually works, MI5. The typing and filing are boring, but there are odd happenings too. Her parents take in boarders who are actors but also seem to be involved in undercover work. Her colleague at work, Arabella, becomes a good friend, but why is her mother’s flat full of caviar and vodka? Why so many strange phone calls about fish? And did you know that in a handbook on interrogation techniques the first rule is to remove the suspect’s shoes so he can’t run away? There are lots of humorous and entertaining anecdotes and incidents all written in a delightfully flippant and beguiling style.

If you are hoping for a serious look at espionage and Russian agents in the 50s then this is not for you. If you want a light-hearted story of debutantes in the MI5 typing pool, of rather amateur spies and spooks and a nostalgic view of the 1950s, then it is very enjoyable.

Berwyn Peet 4/3

MI5 and Me by Charlotte Bingham
Bloomsbury Publishing 9781408888148 hbk Mar 2018

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