I have occasionally muttered in exasperation when the world o’ Hooting Yard is described as “surreal” or “weird”, given that the so-called real world is often so much stranger. Just the other day, there was that business about the (all too real) Valeska Gert anticipating the (wholly fictional) world-famous food-splattered Jesuit.
Neil Armstrong (no, not that Neil Armstrong) reviewing Secret Pigeon Service: Operation Columba, Resistance and the Struggle to Liberate Europe by Gordon Corera in the latest edition of Literary Review:
Among others, we meet Viscount Tredegar, an occultist and friend of Aleister Crowley. He was for a time in charge of the section of the army that supplied MI14(d) with birds but was eventually court-martialled for gossiping about Columba’s work. His defence cited his unhappy childhood and the fact that his mentally ill mother had built herself a large bird’s nest in the living room and sat in it wearing a beak.