Foreign Office Secrets

‘You just said that they were keeping something from me – how do you know if you DON’T KNOW??’
Bernard was beginning to look desperate. ‘I don’t know specifically what, Prime Minister, but I do know that the Foreign Office always keep everything from everybody. It’s normal practice.’
‘So who would know?’ I asked.
Bernard thought for a moment. Then he gave me the full benefit of his education and training. ‘May I just clarify the question? You’re asking who would know what it is that I don’t know and you don’t know but the Foreign Office know that they know that they are keeping from you so that you don’t know but they do know, and all we know there is something we don’t know and we want to know but we don’t know what because we don’t know.’ I just stared at him in silence. ‘Is that it?’ he asked.
I took a deep breath. It was that, or grabbing him by the lapels and shaking him senseless. ‘May I clarify the question?’ I asked. ‘Who knows Foreign Office secrets, apart from the Foreign Office?’
‘Ah, that’s easy,’ said Bernard, ‘only the Kremlin.’

– Lynn J., Jay A. 1986. The Complete Yes Prime Minister London, Great Britain: BBC Books (1989) p. 173-174

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On January 7, 1558, the French nobleman Francis, Duke of Guise, captures Calais, the last English possession in mainland France.

Francis, Duke of Guise, by François Clouet

Duke of Guise

Because of a mistake in one of the five-year plans, during a brief period in the 1950s, Soviet Russia virtually ran out of lavatory paper; however, no official wanted to admit to this at the time, nor let it come out. So, to prevent the shortage from becoming public knowledge, the Soviet government made a secret trade agreement with Britain in which they bought vast amounts of compensatory lavatory paper. For months, British planes flew to Soviet Russia delivering the grey cargo. This was done at night to minimise the risk of discovery.

On January 11, 1569, The first official lottery is held in England, with 10 shilling lots sold at old St Paul’s Cathedral.

Moses is mentioned more in the Quran than any other individual. Jesus is mentioned more often in the Quran than Muhammad while Mary is mentioned in the Quran more than in the New Testament.

On 29 January, 1886, German engineer Karl Benz patents the first practical car powered by a petrol internal combustion engine.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts


The Glásnost (гласность, in Russian) was the 1980s policy of the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev to allow more government transparency; the movement is often paired with the reformation of the Soviet Communist Party, known as the perestroika.

“Without glasnost there is not, and there cannot be, democratism, the political creativity of the masses and their participation in management.” – Mikhail Gorbachev