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A very 'Mallorcan' spy

Cumberbatch plays Wynne

benedict cumberbatch

A new soon to be released film starring Benedict Cumberbatch tells the story of Greville Wynne, a British businessman turned spy, Wynne had been recruited by MI5 and became involved with Oleg Penkovsky, a Soviet spy who was selling arms and weapons secrets to the British during the Cold War in the early 60's.

Shopped by a KGB double agent, both men were arrested by the Russians, Wynne was imprisoned and Penkovsky shot by a firing squad. In 1964 Wynne was released in an exchange deal for another spy, Gordon Lonsdale, and the two men walked past each other in the no man's land dividing East and West Berlin during the swap. Very Le Carré!

Years later Greville Wynne moved to Mallorca to semi-retire and run a business selling and exporting flowers. He lived in the El Terreno suburb of Palma and would spend a lot of time boozing with other expats at the Plaza Gomila.

Nothing unusual in that but the man who ghost wrote a couple of books for Wynne about his spying exploits has a funny anecdote about one of his drunken episodes.

Robert Latona, in an article entitled “The Spy Who Stiffed Me” tells the tale;

When Spanish workmen once interrupted his afternoon nap, he hurled an oath down on them from the balcony of his fifth-floor flat and unwisely accompanied it with an empty plastic bottle crate. The Guardia Civil was summoned. Now Greville had been given a confidential number to ring if ever found himself in trouble in Spain, and ring it was what he did. Unfortunately, his tantrum coincided with the start of a three-day holiday weekend. He had not imagined (few would) that the Spanish secret service keeps regular office hours, and so had to wait until Monday to be let out of the lockup”

Wynne's story clearly demonstrates that you should never get involved with a KGB double agent, nor try to accomplish anything in Spain during fiestas, siestas and weekends. Only one of these mantras will be featured in the film which doesn't cover any of Wynne's time in Palma. I need to mention that Benedict Cumberbatch has grown a moustache for his portrayal of Wynne so will be completely unrecognisable from the photo above by Gage Skidmore.

(Esta imagen fue publicada en Flickr por Gage Skidmore en https://flickr.com/photos/22007612@N05/28352082280. La imagen fue revisada el 13 de febrero de 2017 por el robot FlickreviewR y confirmó tener licencia bajo los términos de cc-by-sa-2.0.)