Guy Burgess, though he preferred the company of the able to the artistic, also moved on the edge of the same world. He was of a very different physique, tall-medium in height, with blue eyes, an inquisitive nose, sensual mouth, curly hair and alert fox-terrier expression... He swam like an otter and drank, not like a feckless undergraduate, as Donald was apt to do, but like some Rabelaisian bottle-swiper whose thirst was unquenchable. . . . With all his toughness, however. Guy Burgess wanted intensely to be liked and was indeed likeable, a good conversationalist and an enthusiastic builder-up of his friends. Beneath the terribilita of his Marxist analyses one divined the affectionate moral cowardice of the public schoolboy.
What was common to both Burgess and Maclean at this time was their instability: both were able and ambitious young men of high intelligence and good connections who were somehow parodies of what they set out to be. Nobody could take them quite seriously: they were two characters in a late Russian novel.
Donald was seldom heard to talk politics. Guy never seemed to stop. He was the type of bumptious Marxist who saw himself as Saint Just, who enjoyed making the flesh of his bourgeois listeners creep by his pictures of the justice which history would mete out to them. Grubby, intemperate and promiscuous, he loved to moralize over his friends and satirize their smug, class-conscious behaviour, so reckless of the reckoning in store. But when bedtime came, very late, and it was the moment to put the analyses away, the word 'preposterous' dying on his lips, he would imply a dispensation under which this was one house at least, tills family, these guests, might be spared the worst consequences, thanks to the protection of their brilliant, hunger-marching friend whose position would be so commanding in the happy Workers' imminent Utopia.
During the Spanish War, I saw much less of Guy Burgess who had joined the BBC in Bristol. A terrible thing had happened - he had become a Fascist! Still sneering at the bourgeois intellectual, he now vaunted the intensely modern realism of the Nazi leaders: his admiration for economic ruthlessness and the short-cut to power had swung him to the opposite extreme. He claimed to have attended a Nuremberg Rally.