Matthew Parris opens classified Foreign Office files to discover valedictory despatches from behind the Iron Curtain. British diplomats used the traditional last telegram home from a foreign post to recount the strains of life under Communism - and its occasional upsides.
The programme reveals landmark despatches from Britain's last ambassadors to the Soviet Union, released for the first time under Freedom of Information, as well as a wealth of earlier material from the depths of the Cold War.
This episode also looks at the perils of forecasting; the valedictory was a place where ambassadors would chance their arm with predictions about the direction of future events abroad.
Producer: Andrew Bryson.