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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Here's a Guardian obituary of spy thriller writer and former secret agent Ted Allbeury, who has died aged 88. It includes a brief reminiscence, at the end, from Len Deighton, which includes an interesting data point for anybody interested in Cold War espionage.

Just keep reading until you get to the squick. Put your sandwich down first.

buymeaclue, you may wanna skip this one.


Aaagh! *shuddering*
At the sharp end. Literally.

I'm assuming he rescued his children? They do mention children surviving him.

What a life he led.
I wish Deighton had mentioned whether or not Allbeury actually got his kids back in one piece. Now I want to go off and do Google searches for some peace of mind.

Lest we forget, some very nasty shit went down in Germany after 1945, especially in the east prior to 1953. (The Stasi -- who softened up a bit after Stalin's death -- wer particularly ruthless; their way of dealing with dissidents tended to involve a guillotine in th basement of a former school, and death certificates that rather mendaciously described the cause of death as "heart failure" or "blood loss". And then there's the recent stuff that's come out this year about the British concentration camp and its use of torture ...)

This seems to have been a part of that brutal post-war game.
Oh, yeah, the Stasi were just legendary ick. And I agree with your estimation.

I's a particular, er, technique I hadn't stumbled across before. Ow.
The only similar family stories I have have even less happy endings, involving meathooks and a branch of the Swedish side of the family that were Nazi resisters by way of Finland.

I generally try to avoid telling those, though.
I did warn you.

Now, that's telling detail.
Not to denigrate the reactions of others here, but I got to the end of it and wondered "What squick?" Did you mean the table thing? Really, given who and when we're talking about, that seemed rather mild. Or did I miss something?
*g* You are insufficiently kinesthetic, I suspect. Some of us, when we read something like that, have an acute empathic reaction.

Wait, they just made him eat a succession of not very well cooked russian dishes, didn't they? Is there some other meaning of "nailed to a kitchen table"?
[Don't read if you really are easily squicked on this subject.]

Oh no, I actually have a very good imagination for what that would feel like. I can imagine what having the nails through my hand would be like and what it would feel like to pull against them and how much it would hurt to have them rip through my hands pulling each of them free. And the feel of the broken/missing bones in my hands afterward.

It's just not squickful to me.
*g* I wasn't assuming it was just the hands, mind you.
Neither was I, I just stopped there in my written comments.
Fair enough. I still think you're conflating empathy and naivete unfairly, though.
And some of us squick on different things. The nails were just a "oh, sounds unpleasant", but I literally can't look at your icon. I know the machinery it came off of. I know of farmers who've died or lost limbs that way. It makes my scalp crawl just seeing it.
Um, that one's my fault. The original came from one of those pieces of machinery owned by the family business.

I spotted one on the frame of a dumpster-hauling truck last year that was apparently the "new enahanced, even more graphic" pictogram of why you don't want your body anywhere near a spinning shaft under power. <ugh>
Reminded me of "found her cruicified, rather near an ant hill I hear."
I stole that for Carnival. *g* FYI.
Clever Bear! :-)
If you can't rip off T.S.Eliot, who can you rip off?
That part didn't bother me. What got me was this part "No one knew Ted very well. I saw him only now and again. And yet Ted was one of my close friends."


Nailed to a table. Painful. Not something I'd want to undergo, but a lot less so than lots of other things I know about, both modern and ancient. But then again, I probably have a skewed sense of those sorts of things.

See, the sentence you quoted makes perfect sense to me. I suspect it's that Yankee thing again, as I just kind of nodded and went, oh, yeah, I know that: in my birth culture, you can like somebody a hell of a lot, trust them a hell of a lot,and not know them very well, in some ways.

Kind of like I like and trust you, but don't actually know you all that well. *g*

And, I mean, I've written worse things than nailing somebody to a table. But that doesn't make me wince any less.

The fact that I know that a kidney infection hurts more than a migraine (from personal experience) and that both hurt more than a (modern-day) root canal doesn't keep me from flinching in sympathy when somebody tells me they're having halo effects or that they just got home from the dentist. If you see what I mean?

I think it's a specific empathic reaction that some people have and others don't. I actually deal better with present pain--my own or somebody else's--than with hearing about past pain.
I understand the didn't know him, (I have several people I like, a lot, whom I wouldn't say I know, but I'm also not sure I'd count them as close friends.

The torture thing... perhaps I'm a trifle numb. I certainly have a lot of empathetic responses, one of the reasons I can't be a medic. I can't do painful things to people in cold blood... not if I don't hate them... perhaps cold blood isn't the right word; in any case the problem there isn't that I can't patch people up. I can, have, but the training to do things like stick an IV, nope. I squick.

But this... doesn't bother me, in the abstract; in the actual, I'd be livid, but not squicked.

*g* And I can do the IV (have done, veterinary anyway) but god, don't tell me about tripping and tearing a toenail. eeee!
Yep. And the stated objective of writing with uderstanding for the operatives on both sides.

Sounds like a human being, doesn't he?
He sounds like he led an incredible life. Wish I'd had the opportunity to know him.

Oh, and I'll be scrubbing my mind's eye of the "nailed to a table" image for the next week, thankyouverymuch. *shudder*