Growing up on the other side of the Iron Curtain, there were primarily two attitudes towards espionage among kids and adolescents that I can recall: mockery if they belonged to the proletariat, and a mixture of loathing and sheer bloody terror if they belonged to the intelligentsia. Hero-worship was reserved exclusively for those involved in espionage during The Great Patriotic War, and even that usually turned to mockery as soon as one heard enough jokes about Schtirlitz, the indomitable spy against the Nazis and a sort of Soviet analog to James Bond. In universities in the 1980s, the word seksot ("secret agent" or "secret colleague") were scribbled on walls as the worst sort of profanity. To be approach by the state and asked to assist in a secret operation would be just about the most shameful commentary on your character as could be. The only two options after such an offer would be to either agree and live in horrible disgrace from that point on or refuse and kill yourself to avoid having to fear everything and suspect everyone for the rest of your life.
I understand of course that the Britons attitude towards their government had nothing in common with that of the Soviets' attitude towards theirs, but still... such an odd thing to read. Even after spending half my life in the West I still can't get rid of a bone-deep feeling that all government mysteries and secret operations are essentially morally reprehensible and at *best* legally questionable.