No artefact were more important to Burgess than his Old Etonian tie. It crops up again and again in reports of his post-exile life. Stained and frayed, he clung to it like a lifeline to his previous existence. Terence Lancaster from the Daily Express interviewed Burgess in Moscow in 1957, finding himself awkwardly put upon to buy half a dozen Old Etonian ties upon his return. As Andrew Lonnie writes in Stalin’s Englishman, “Entering the shop, embarrassed by the bizarre request, the newspaperman, not a frequenter of such outfitters, explained ‘They’re for a friend’. ‘That’s what they all say’ the assistant replied acidly.”
There’s a certain pathos to all this. It is undeniable that ideologically, Burgess (and Bennett by default) remained committed communists in the ideological sense, until the bitter end. Practically, however, there remained an inescapable bond to all the trappings of privilege they elected to leave behind that just could never be shaken off.