"The Oldie is an incredible magazine - perhaps the best magazine in the world right now" Graydon Carter, founder of Air Mail and former Editor of Vanity Fair

Subscribe to the Oldie and get a free cartoon book


I once made a cup of tea for George Blake – Sylvia Kent

Blog | By Sylvia Kent | Dec 28, 2020

George Blake in 1953 (Associated Press)

Sylvia Kent remembers making a cuppa for the traitor, who’s just died at 98

There I was, a teenager at the start of my own career working as a junior shorthand typist transcribing my Pitman's squiggles into court notes on an enormous black manual typewriter from dictation from our chief barrister-at-law in Great Marlborough Street.
Suddenly, the morning’s activities were disturbed when a man flew through the door. Much later, I discovered this was double-agent George Blake who came in from the cold desperately needing the loo. Police and noisy reporters were causing a hullabaloo outside the office door. I was asked to put the kettle on and offer refreshment to the visitor. I brewed a nice cuppa,, found some biscuits and we sat companionably for a while, for which he most courteously thanked me.
Thereafter, the world learnt about Blake’s trial, that 42-year sentence, his 1966 escape from Wormwood Scrubbs, all outlined in his 1990 autobiography No Other Choice.
Within (page 206), he made mention of his barrister’s kindness during the trial at the Old Bailey, but there was no mention of the cheeky little blonde who had been so handy with that tea-strainer!.