As shown in the title, I read this in the very early 1980s. I think it was a Brit author. I thought of it yesterday after the BBC controversy about 'Last Night of the Proms'.

Somewhat like SS-GB in that it gives the story from the viewpoint of a conquered country desperately trying to get the USA involved as an ally.

I can't recall exactly how but Britain is overrun and being assimilated into the Iron Curtain, I think it was set in the 1990s but obviously the writer (in the early 1980s) never envisaged the collapse of the Soviet Union.

There were scenes describing a liaison attaché who has to cooperate with one of the conquerors. The Russian is very interested in how the Open University works and they intend to set similar up in the USSR.

During the occupation there is a dockworkers strike, I think it was at Liverpool, the Russians do a 'conquered Berlin' reprisal where they send in the shock troops. For a few days they run wild, shooting men at random and raping females. I remember the weeping with rage liaison guy shouting at the Russian officer about they'd never forgive him for all those wives and daughters.

The Russian high ups attend the Last Night of the Proms and get very irate at all the Union flags being waved and everyone singing Land of Hope and Glory. Video footage of previous years convince them it's a long standing tradition.

Another scene, liaison attaché and Russian officer .... This could still be at the Proms. As they talk two oldish men walk past them unrecognised, it's George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

I don't recall anything else, a vague feeling that somehow the Russians are forced to leave - maybe a UK nuke sub skipper ignores orders to hand over his vessel, instead he threatens to launch (this faint memory might be a different story).

  • I found When the Kissing Had to Stop by Constantine Fitzgibbon, but I don't have a copy and I can't find any detailed reviews that would confirm a match. It does mention Russian troops crushing a general strike. Sep 3, 2020 at 7:50
  • I found a summary that describes the character Patrick Clonard trying to get the USA to help. Does this ring a bell? Sep 3, 2020 at 7:59
  • Preview available on Google Books. tinyurl.com/y4rof4t9 No matches found for 'Open University', 'Ringo', 'Hope and Glory' or ''Proms'. It doesn't look like this is the one.
    – Pete
    Sep 3, 2020 at 11:36
  • When the Kissing Had to Stop doesn't seem to have any mention of the Beatles or any mention of the Proms, so if you're sure these are key points it isn't the book you're looking for. Sep 3, 2020 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


This sounds like Golgotha by John Gardner. A secret phrase has been implanted into various sleeper agents around the country in the event of a Soviet takeover. The hero has to track them down and piece together the clues that will lead him to the location of the weapon that will help to overthrow the invaders. After being led by the clues to the National Theatre, he sees various actors and stars including Ringo Starr and George Harrison.

The two men still looking spry for their own advancing years. Unlike many others they were quite recognisable: Ringo Starr and George Harrison.

  • Downloaded now and after a quick skim Golgotha is confirmed as the correct answer. Cheers
    – Danny Mc G
    Sep 16, 2020 at 15:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.