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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
We came to London yesterday. Marguerite went to Newcastle to stay with the Shufflebothams. Swinnerton, Playfair and A. E. W. Mason dined with me at the Garrick. Mason told us some of his secret service adventures in Mexico. He was very good as a raconteur, and evidently has a great gift for secret service, though he said he began as an amateur.
For more on Mason see 'Lost in Venice'
Mason said that practically all the German spies and many of the Zeppelin men carried a packet of obscene photographs on their persons. He did not say why. I fully expected that he would laugh at the reputation of the German Secret Service for efficiency, and he did. I felt sure the German temperament is not a good secret service temperament. Too gullible and talkative. Mason said their secret service was merely expensive. Money chucked away idiotically.
Additionally for March 5th., see 'A tall tale'
He was extremely witty and fine about the attitude of Keir Hardie and so on (but not sufficiently sympathetic). He told a really astounding tale of a dinner given by Cust to about 20 men, including Balfour and himself, when the house got on fire over their heads. Talk so interesting that dinner went on, though Cust was obliged to absent himself once for a few minutes. Perfection of menservants who offered bath towels with the port to protect from firemen's water coming through the ceiling. Talk to accompaniment of engine throbs, swishing, tramping etc. Guests obliged to move table further up room out of puddles. Dinner lasted till midnight in Dining Room, when they went to Drawing Room to view the place gutted. One of the finest social recitals I have ever heard.