The opening line to this 1964 novel rings so true to me.
'Wilfred Kittering's desk was in the back row, which made it easy for him to read Lolita during Religious Instruction.' In my case it was 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'.
Wilfred is a fifteen year old living with his widowed mother who runs a sweetshop in London's East End. Every weekend, before he died, father and son would go for walks in the countryside. It is something that Wilfred misses. Until the day he decides to catch the Green Line bus and venture out on his own. He walks along the river where he meets public schoolboy Andrew Rose-Pearson. They form a friendship and end up falling in the water. He accompanies Andrew home where he meets his mother, Carol, who is thirty four and very attentive to Wilfred who returns home wearing some of Carol's husband's clothes. Back in the East End Wilfred begins a new relationship with a girl his own age, Jill Dennison. A doomed relationship when he returns the clothes to Carol.
Dianne Doubtfire pushes boundaries in this novel. Growing pains are there and Carol latches on to the fact that Wilfred yearns to become a writer. She indulges him by giving him a place to write and buys him a typewriter. Carol is a well drawn picture of the deperate housewife. No husband and a son who only comes home in the holidays. Wilfred alleviates her boredom and fills her loneliness. On the other hand Wilfred comes of age too quickly for his own good and finds it difficult to understand when Carol finds someone her own age.
A brilliant novel - though a subject that is rather taboo in this new Victorian era.
First published 1959 by Robert Hale Ltd Corgi edition published 1961
The orders were simple - the road past the fort at Ma-Kouie must be denied to the enemy artillery for five days. Time is essential for planes to bring in reinforcements urgently needed at Dien Bien Phu otherwise all Laos falls to the Viet-Minh. The problem is that by the time these orders arrive at Captain Renoir's HQ he has just eighteen men left alive. But these men of the French Foreign Legion are a tough bunch and prepared to carry out their orders. After all there is very little choice though the mission is totally suicidal. The plan is simple. First destroy the bridge over the Ma-Kouie River. Second hold the fort for twenty four hours after the enemy arrive. Third pull back to a grassy knoll where Renoir will place mortar positions. The fort is placed under the command of Sergeant Steve Brent, a tough uncompromising 'Limey'. With him is the American Corporal Bud Galland who loves hard as he fights; Johnny Hellwig, a young German deserter who becomes a man. Others are memorable like Me'n Fou with a fly tattooed on the end of his nose and Mohaffy the Irish American with a grudge against the sergeant. Then there is the big built Marie with a hatred for the Viet-Nimh who killed her husband and son - a woman determined to go down fighting. And Ly-Lin, a prostitute hopelessly devoted to Bud Galland who stands by his side through thick and thin.
Derrick Wright has written a character driven book about men and war that still stands up today. The reader gets involved with the story and as the numbers begin to dwindle you feel the loss. The battle scenes are well described - in such a way that you can see it happen as though it was a movie. This was one of those books that went around my class at school and I still have it.
What a weekend coming up. Saturday sees the scooters coming down to the beach followed, on Sunday, by the motorbikes. A touch of deja vu here but Brighton it is not. Friday and Saturday the 24th and 25th June sees the Coasters Scooter Club celebrate it's 50th Anniversary at Trimley social club. Money raised goes to the Air Ambulance. Formed back in 1961 as the Felixstowe and District Scooter Club they can be found holding court every Wednesday at The Steam Boat Tavern in Ipswich, Suffolk. Live bands and DJs will supply entertainment and there will be a ride out to Felixstowe on the Saturday morning.
Then on Sunday 26th June Hamilton Road in Felixstowe plays host to the second Motorcycle Show. There will be a ride in from Stonham Barns near Stowmarket to raise money for St.Elizabeth Hospice.
In 1967 Adam Diment was about to rewrite spy fiction. There had been many contenders for Ian Fleming's and James Bond's throne. 'Boysie' Oakes in John Gardner's 'The Liquidator' (Gardner would take over the Bond franchise) and Doctor Jason Love in 'Passport To Oblivion' (filmed as 'Where The Spies Are'). Add to the list John Sanders with Nicholas Pym, the 'James Bond' of Oliver Cromwell's Secret Service.
So, enter Philip McAlpine. Tall, good looking and a love of fast cars, fast living, pot, sex and all manner of things mod. Truly a sixties child. Suddenly his creator, Adam Diment, was the 'big thing'. Both he and his creation were hailed as the true successors to Fleming and Bond.
'The Dolly Dolly Spy' is told in the first person and appears to be a slow starter. McAlpine is coerced into working for British Intelligence department 6(NC/NAC) by the head Rupert Quine who is nothing like M. Quine is camp and prone to calling people 'luv' but this is just window dressing for a man who has a nasty, sadistic streak and can resort to blackmail with a smile on his face. Recruited McAlpine is sent to work for the International Charter Inc a company that British Intelligence are interested in. On the surface the company runs package holidays for tourists to the Mediterranean island of Dathos. Underneath there is gunrunning and other clandestine activities going on. As a perk for this McAlpine is well paid and has the privelege of having his girlfriend, Veronica, live with him. But the easy living comes to an end when he has to start earning his money and has to kidnap a former member of the Waffen SS. The only trouble is that the Americans want him too and McAlpine is not a subscriber to any 'special relationships'.
What makes 'The Dolly Dolly Spy' stand out from the crowd is Adam Diment's delivery. His hero says exactly what he thinks and that goes all the way to make McAlpine real - like you were reading an autobiography. There were three more books 'The Great Spy Race', 'The Bang Bang Birds' and 'Think,Inc' the latter in 1971 after a gap of three years. But that was the end as Adam Diment just disappeared from the scene.
There was talk of a movie with David Hemmings but it came to nothing. Though, I do wonder if the McAlpine novels insired Austin Powers though that character does not compare.
This is something of a first - being able to review a CD before it's commercial release. It has been eight years since the release of 'The Curse Of Blondie' and still Blondie moves on with a kind of re-invention. The Blondie style is always there flipping through trends and styles and mixing it all up. The opening track 'D-Day' is all that. Not the usual toe-tapping, pop arty single type opener but something dark and brooding that creeps up on you. And anyone could mistake 'What I Heard' as the next in line as the sure fire hit single. 'Mother' was the actual single release. On the surface it is about a club the Debbie Harry frequented called Mother. Dig a little deeper into the lyrics and it turns into what you want it to be. As I have said all the Blondie styles are there including a touch of Reggae - 'Girlie Girlie' for example. Although this is a CD of new material there are some tracks that have been around for a while as part of Blondie's live gigs. All in all I enjoyed the 'Panic Of Girls' CD - but then I am biased as I like Blondie and Debbie Harry (er - singing solo - I mean). Blondie's 'Panic Of Girls' is released on the 4th July next.
As 'Riders Of The Range' finished so Jet Morgan and his crew took a 'Journey Into Space'. The series ran from 1953 to 1956. Series 1 had various titles 'Journey To The Moon' and 'Operation Luna'. Series 2 'The Red Planet'. Series 3 'The World In Peril'. Although the first episode pulled in a large listening audience the earthbound storyline saw the number of listeners dwindle. However once the spaceship 'Luna' took off the figures rose with it. The cast consisted of Andrew Faulds as Jet Morgan; Alfie Bass as Lemmy (though David Kossof played the role in the early episodes); Guy Kingsley Poynter as Doc and Don Sharp as Mitch.
In 1954 Charles Chilton, writing his first novel, brought the first 'Journey Into Space' series to the reading public. In a change to the radio show Charles Chilton began the book as Jet Morgan and his crew are preparing to return to earth from the moon. Something is wrong as both oxygen and fuel are running out and there doesn't seem to be any logical explanation. Fortunately Doc, one of the crew, has been keeping a journal and the revelations has heads spinning. Set in 1965, the year Charles Chilton thought that man might land on the moon, it is very close to the real thing. Suspense increases as radio contact with Earth is lost and the radio operator, Lenny, hears strange music that none of the others can hear. Yet there is nothing wrong with the equipment. All the ingredients of the sci-fi series are there including a fleet of UFOs and alien beings. Although the first book was published in hardback in 1954 it was not until 1958 that Pan issued this title in paperback. Although I never missed an episode it was great to relive the series through the written word.