Mr.and Mrs. B. have been imbibing BBC version of John Le Carré's, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. That would be the 1979 mini-series with Alec Guinness, not the current movie (that comes later). And I'm struck by the general air of grunge, of seediness that haunts the whole enterprise. Some it surely is intentional, deriving from the novel itself. Some is, I suspect, a tad more accidental. The almost comical amateurishness of the sets, for example, like the stuff they used to market as self-parody in the old Bullwinkle cartoons (and the telephones have cords, bleah). But I suspect part of it just derives from the larger atmosphere. Though this is 1979, we're still at the end of the long and debilitating case of the grippe that swept over England when it woke up to the fact that was broke, without an empire, and generally an also-ran in the competition for national greatness. And it brings you up short to reflect that we're actually functioning after the Beatles, the Swinging Sixties, the Carnaby Street revolution: crushingly, almost none of these characters seems to grasp the fact that his entire career has been a total waste of time.
Humiliation enough right there, had you known what was happening to you--and George Smiley, at least, for one does appear to know. He also know that he's being shamelessly cuckolded by one of his nearest and dearest. To watch it, to enjoy it all, you pretty much have to share his own bleak sense of his own disgrace. This theme of humiliation, not bye the bye, is also the theme of my true favorite post-war British flic: Sunday, Bloody Sunday, where we see Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch both having their nose rubbed in the fact that they're not the lover they wanted to be.
1979: way past the pull date for the post-War malaise. Meanwhile, the clattering you here at stage right would be that rough beast herelf, her hour come round at last.