Eureka moment in a Dartmoor tea shop

Laura White
Laura White

Two years ago a man walked into the Gateway Tea Room in Moretonhampstead on Dartmoor; he sat down at table, alone, away from the windows. He ordered tea and a slice of cake which was duly served to him.

The man at table three was deep in thought but after some minutes, he smiled, drank his tea, finished his cake, paid and left. A few months ago the man returned to the tea rooms but this time he talked to the owners Samantha and Laurie Collard. Over tea and more cake he told the owners that on his first visit to the tea room he had had an ‘Eureka!’ moment, an idea that was to become his new book and when it was published he would send them a copy.

Last week a package arrived at the tea rooms with the author’s new book ‘Agent Running in the Field’; inside the front cover the author had written a personal note: ‘For Samantha and Laurie with my best, John Le Carré. and thanks for providing a setting for my Eureka moment.’

John Le Carré, 87, whose real name is David Cornwell, was a former intelligence officer for both Britain’s MI5 and MI6 during the Cold War of the late 1950s and 60s. He is one of the world’s greatest novelists, often writing about the intelligence service, and his books have sold millions around the world.

Le Carré’s books include: The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, The Constant Gardener, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Night Manager, along with twenty other novels and four non- fiction books.

Ten books have been adapted for television series’ and films, with notable characters such as spymaster George Smiley, played by Alec Guinness on television, Gary Oldman playing Smiley for the film and Richard Burton as the hard drinking protaganist Alec Leamas in the Spy Who Came In From The Cold.

John Le Carré has recently been involved a spate with Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, who said that Le Carré’s book were ‘so corrosive’ over MI6 and that the service staff at MI6 were ‘pretty angry with him’. The author admitted that Sir Richard’s comments were good publicity for his new book and said he would have paid ‘good money’ for Dearlove to ‘loose off a full frontal on me and my work’. John Le Carré’s new book ‘Agent Running in the Field’ is out this week, published by Viking.

Local Life