Simon Heptinstall puts on his trilby to meet spy expert Professor Andrew. It’s early evening. A forbidding mist hangs over west Wiltshire. An unfamiliar dark car screeches away on the wet cobbles. Under the streetlight, a tall figure appears from the gloom, wearing a trilby and dark overcoat. The stranger hands me a briefcase. “The rabbit is in the haystack,” he says, confirming the secret password...

But just then the phone rings, waking me from my Cold War spy fantasy. It’s time to interview, not a mysterious double-agent from the world of Le Carré or Fleming, but someone who is much closer to the real thing. Christopher Andrew is a tall, dark, spy expert; maybe not a furtive undercover operator but certainly a world expert on the murky world of espionage.

Wiltshire Life is sponsoring Andrew’s talk at the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival. The country’s largest history festival is at Broad Chalke near Salisbury, June 25 to July 1.

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