Friday, March 26, 2010

Baroness Park of Monmouth

Regular readers of this blog will know that, besides my obsession with obits, there is a particular subgenre to which I am drawn as a moth to the flame: the spy obit. There's something about all the skullduggery and/or derring-do suddenly being revealed that makes those obits particularly appealing.

Such a one is the life story of Baroness Park of Monmouth, which is an excellent name to begin with. On my reader feed, I then saw, "Highest-ranking female spy ever to work for MI6 who operated in Africa, Cold War Moscow, Hanoi and even Outer Mongolia," and I knew I had a total winner.

Born Daphne Park and raised in Africa, "Her drink of choice was Earl Grey tea, 'stirred not shaken', as she put it." Oh, lovely.

The quotes are probably the best part of the obit. A few highlights:

She was realistic about her capacity to conduct "honeytrap" operations, noting: "Do I look like Mata Hari?"

On one occasion, when living alone [in the Belgian Congo], she chased off an intruder by leaning out of her window and shouting: "I am a witch! And if you don't instantly go away your hands and feet will fall off!"

On another occasion she was driving a Land Rover when she saw a machete-wielding mob coming towards her. She jumped out, stuck her head under the bonnet and told her potential attackers: "Thank goodness you've come along – I think I have a problem with my carburettor." The men laid down their weapons and offered their assistance.

"I always looked just like a fat missionary, which was very useful," she said in later life. "Missionaries get around, you know."



Lorin said...

Love it! Sounds like a lady with an amazing sense of humor.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Wonderful, glorious...a perfect
and rightsized human found one! Mil Gracias

Leonardo Ricardo