10 MARCH 1939, Page 14

I have learnt from experience not to criticise domestic politics

in other countries. I replied that I knew nothing whatsoever about Monsieur Sudan, but that I hoped that the Belgian Ministerial crisis would be settled without an elec- tion. He snorted at this (a loud Walloon snort) and for the space of forty minutes he spoke to me about the selfishness of all party leaders in Belgium. "Fortunately," he con- cluded, "we have our King." "Yes," I answered, "you are most fortunate." He was pleased by that, and for some three minutes he remained silent. And then he took an enormous breath and embarked upon world affairs.

"England," he began, "is doomed." I replied that, as yet, I had myself failed to derive any such impression. He made a dismissive gesture with his gloved fingers, symbolic of inside knowledge dismissing outside ignorance. He ex- plained that he knew for a fact that the anti-comintern pact contained several secret annexes. At this stage he leant for- ward and placed his glove upon my knee ; he glanced appre- hensively towards the corridor ; "And one of them," he hissed rather than whispered, "contains a map." He flung himself back in his seat and looked across at me in triumph. " Une carte," he repeated, nodding heavily with inside knowledge.