Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Story Time - Spy Fiction - Larner

This was a Fleming-esque one shot I did a few years back....


He presumed at first as he entered the bar that she was a lesbian. But after the usual flirtations - feeling the build up of charm and chemistry, sensing what is working and what is failing like carefully orchestrated moves on a chessboard - it was safe to say she wasn’t and that his luck was in. Hastily finishing their drinks they went up to his room, each of them opening that little secret door to the animal inside.

They kissed deeply, sighing through their nostrils with pleasure. Their tongues explored as they fell further back onto the bed and lost themselves to the moment. He snaked an arm across her waist as she put her weight on one side, offering up a buttock for him to fondle. They moaned in unison as his hand explored the soft fleshy rump that was delightfully rounded and full for such a slim figure as she possessed. 

Afterwards as they both lay there and smoked a cigarette in silence, listening only to the night sounds and feeling its interminable heat coming in through the balcony, he did a spot of character examination. She wasn’t a lesbian, that was by now very obvious, but she was in a man’s game, not many female photographers reporting in one of the world’s hotspots, and if there were they took care not to drink in the town’s roughest bar. He’d met her sort before, during the war, the partisans and resistance fighters he had to liaise with were quite similar. Plus she was French, of the sort who probably had penis envy because her brother or her childhood sweetheart could join The Legion and she could not. 

Morning came and she was gone, with a discreet note placed up against the alarm clock on the rickety bedside cabinet. Swinging a leg over onto the floor he read the note which simply said ‘Merci be coup M. Larner’. So she had known who he was all along, he thought to himself and with a wry smile scrunched up the note and popped it into the bin. With a stretch he walked out onto the balcony and felt the warm air hit him like a heavyweight punch. It was still only 0900 hours but God didn’t make weather concessions in this country, and already the little scooters with their put put engines left the heavy scent of petrol in the heat. Up above in the low sky, a helicopter rumbled. 

First cigarette of the day; Robert Larner always felt better after that first smoke, it helped the nerves and in the game of being an asset for the Bureau, nerves were everything. Last night’s coitus relaxed him and the smokes and coffee that were to come, coupled with the inevitable alcohol - in moderation of course - kept him alive to the point that he could feel the blood run through his veins. All those things together made for a successful mission he had come to find in his years of experience. He moved across to the small bathroom and showered, first with blisteringly hot water then with ice cold. Stepping out, he towelled himself briskly before taking a tortoise shell brush to his thick thatch of salt and pepper hair that was once jet black, combing the parting in well and sending the hair in a broad sweep to one side across the forehead. With a brief snort he moved out from the bathroom and changed into fresh vest and shorts and then into his cream beige suit and light powder blue shirt. Clipping his gold Rolex watch onto his well browned wrist he was ready. 

He wanted to feel the street.

He was about to open that little door to the animal once more, but this time the animal was not one of love.

He knew exactly the day’s movements of The Target, he knew that at 0940 hours he would be smoking in the cafĂ© and then he would spend an hour meeting and greeting various market traders on the main drag across the township. He spotted him on several occasions, tailing the target from a distance. As he smoked his pipe, Larner smoked his cigarette. As he drank his apple tea, Larner drank his whisky; his eyes shifting from across the street and down to the condensation dripping down the rim of the glass as the chunks of ice slowly surrendered. As he chatted away without a care in the world, Larner read news from home and attempted the crossword. He even saw photographs of last week’s bombing taken by the plucky French girl and a memory ghosted across his mind of her writhing eager young body from the previous night. She was a clever thing not to let on that she knew he was a professional. He mildly cursed himself however for not recognising her bluff; perhaps he was getting old, after all whilst he was at the top of his game in the war the world had changed in nearly twenty years that had passed. It was still a world that was warring, but the flags were less hard to distinguish and the enemy had become a lot more subtle. After all, they didn’t wear jackboots that one could hear from thirty paces now. But they’d become a lot dirtier too in some respects and didn’t mind chucking bombs off in populated streets. Larner wanted to take a stand against such acts of cowardly malice and the Bureau would still let him, so that made him happy to serve.

He turned the pages of The Telegraph and read that it was one of the wettest June’s England had had for years. He could almost picture himself there now; walking to the paper shop for cigarettes, dodging the puddles, a cup of tea in a greasy spoon and an afternoon drink at the club. Living a life yet being technically dead. Not for him, that’s why he kept his time in England with his flat in London and his little cottage on the cliffs of Cornwall to the bare minimum. Instead, since his days in the regiment and his five years in The Legion, he was effectively doing the same as ever but on a freelance basis; a spot of mercenary work out in the Congo; the odd wet job for the Bureau who valued him highly as an asset; and general criminal activity such as smuggling out of Morocco, his favourite haunt. It was his life and it kept him alive knowing that a real death could be just around the corner for him. He never had a problem with a wet job - that is to say a sanctioned killing - and The Bureau used his deadly talents regularly and in a variety of ways. He never had a problem with it because he was a man who could curtail the average emotions of compassion and morality that other men had. He was an adapt sniper and hand to hand man and his most specialist dispatch was a year earlier, lacing the president of some Banana Republic’s personal toilet roll with a deadly poison supplied by Bureau boffins; a definite sting in the tail on that assignment. 

He looked at his watch, it was now 1300 hours, and his gaze met his tanned arms. He could barely recall when his skin had its natural pale hue; probably somewhere between puberty and the drop into Arnhem, though that was a ridiculously short time span if he thought about it. The hairs standing up across the broad forearms were greyer now, some alarmingly white.

Getting old, the taunt came back. 

Quickly and noisily he folded up the paper, paid for the drink, tipped and returned to the street. 

The Target was on the move.

Down cobbled road, through stinking alleyways, brightly coloured flags waved as people jabbered loudly, throwing their stinking rubbish out into the gutters. He wasn’t keeping much distance now but he didn’t care as each turn led into a further Escher like alleyway, he could smell he was nearing the prize and nearing the end of The Target’s life.

Finally, a dead end and the target moved to the white wall, its paintwork crusting and peeling with heat stroked age. Slowly he pulled out a crumbling brick and Larner could hear him gasp with pleasure as his hand retrieved the hidden cylinder containing the microdot that was hidden inside. The microdot a British agent had secreted before being murdered at the hands of one of The Target’s men.

Larner had reached inside his jacket for his Beretta when The Target turned to face him. This time neither man made to move or pretend they weren’t looking. The Target’s brown wrinkled face and long white bearded features were taken in by Larner as impassively as his own features were being read by the Target. Finally after a second or two pause that felt like a lifetime The Target’s still features broke out with a quick cry of “Now!” and two men leapt down from the roofs that closed in on the alleyway. 

Larner was cut off and outnumbered and cursed himself for not noticing the trap, The Target must have known all along that he was on his tail. He needed to act fast and his training did not let him down, he swiftly put a bullet between the eyes of The Target, his pupils momentarily looking up at the small red hole below his turban as he slumped heavily to the floor. One attacker kicked the gun from Larner’s hand whilst the other swished a knife across his face, slashing a cheek. With a roundhouse kick Larner dropped the man who had taken his weapon and, in double time, caught the wrist of the knife wielding attacker. He applied pressure and twisted down hard causing the younger man to squeal in pain as he brought his forehead down onto the bridge of his nose. As the knifeman fell down with blood, tooth and bone spattering out, Larner brought the knife deep into the guts of the other man just as he was ready to lunge at him. He dragged the blade upwards with a hideous ripping, tearing sound as it eviscerated flesh and organs on its way. The air escaped from punctured lungs as the man gasped his last breath, and his blood and guts spilled out onto the cobbles. Releasing the knife, he landed in a heap, dead.  

Larner shifted his weight, tired, and placed a hand to his cut cheek. It wasn’t too bad and wouldn’t scar but it showed he was getting slow. The man who had caused the cut groaned and cried at his feet. Larner lumbered slowly to the alley floor and picked up his discarded Beretta. In that moment the man stopped crying and groaning and instead he started to back away. He scurried across the floor like a cornered rat, a hand held to his broken nose and whilst other was out in front of him pleading in his own tongue for his life. Like a vet putting a dog out of his misery Larner squeezed the trigger in an instant and the man cried no more as the bullet tore through the heart. Stepping over him he reached down to The Target and took the microdot from his dead hand, pushing down his eyelids to hide the still upturned pupils as he did so.

Larner turned a little unsteadily from the alley to find her stood at the end holding her camera. In all the action he hadn’t noticed her or the clicking of several photographs being taken. Worse still he hadn’t noticed her follow him. “Look, I’m a journalist, this is a story, you’re a British subject hired by your Government to kill, this is a story” she said in her thick French accent, a trace of panic reaching into her words. He stood still for a second and breathed heavily through his nostrils before pacing up to her. Quickly he grabbed her wrist as he did the knifeman’s and, ignoring her pained requests from him to let her go, he snatched the camera. Dropping it to the floor, he stamped upon it before picking up the film and pulling it out into the daylight. He looked down at her examining her response to his actions. She was wincing like a scolded dog and crying fearfully. Yet through the tears in her eyes he could see a touch of something; excitement? 
“My place?” he asked and she nodded submissively to say yes. He may have been getting old, too old to not spot a French girl following him, and that was a bad thing, but he had got the job done, and he still managed to recognise what kind of girl she was.

The End

(c) Fiction and fan art; Mark Cunliffe 2010/2012

Baby Boom

Baby Boom is an atypical upwardly mobile 80s comedy that sadly over eggs (over fertilises?) the pudding by having not one, but two fish out of water situations; businesswoman becomes parental guardian in the film's most successful and sweetly funny first half, and heading out to the sticks and struggling to adapt and conform in the flagging second half.

So uneven is the two  situations that it makes it feel like you're watching two different movies; the cinema equivalent of a cut and shut. 

I'd give the first half three stars and the second half two at a push.

Still Diane Keaton can do this sort of thing with a winning charm in her sleep, but she's beaten in the utterly adorable stakes this time round by the baby of the title who has far less screen time after the first hour, again another reason why this sadly outstays its welcome.

Directed by Charles Shyler, a man whose entire catalogue of work seems to be a litany of missed opportunities and ill advised projects.

'You Remind Me Of The Babe'

Just Bowie In Labyrinth, playing with his balls

Out On Blue Six : Eddi Reader

The fabulous Eddi Reader live from Aberdeen's Beach Ballroom in 1996 and the beautiful song 'Medicine'

*Loves her*

End Transmisson

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Girls With Guns

First it was Lindsay Lohan...

Now it's Lady Gaga...

I loved the sheer Grindhouse daftness of Machete, I hope the sequel Machete Kills lives up to the first one.

RIP Geoffrey Hughes

Yet another sad and premature loss as Geoff Hughes has passed away aged 68.

Wallasey born Geoff is most famous for his role as binman Eddie Yeats in Coronation Street and Onslow in Keeping Up Appearances, but he had a long and illustrious career with credits including the films Yellow Submarine (as Paul McCartney), The Virgin Soldiers, Adolf Hitler; My Part In His Downfall, Smashing Time and TV such as The Likely LadsDoctor Who and Spender. He also played Twiggy in The Royle Family and Vernon Scripps in 1960s Yorkshire set Heartbeat. The last thing I recall seeing him in was 2007's (rather ill advised and corny) live musical A Liverpool Nativity in which he played the Angel Gabriel on the streets of his hometown.

Away from the cameras, Hughes lived on the Isle Of Wight and served as the Deputy Lieutenant for the county. He was a keen admirer of English folk music and an Honorory Squire of The Dartington Morris Men.

He had suffered from prostate cancer for some time.


Olympic Opening Ceremony : A Personal Review

Well I'm pleased to say Danny Boyle can hold his head up high.

It was a brilliant opening ceremony to the 2012 Olympics and London should consider itself proud...but I'm so glad a Northerner made it happen for them! Haha

Highlights; well the first hour alone was just brilliant. Truly awesome and innovative visions and design. The depiction of The Industrial Revolution, the green and pleasant land creating towering chimneys before our very eyes was jaw droppingly beautiful and to have Kenneth Branagh surveying the scene as a The Tempest reciting Isambard Kingdom Brunel was the cherry on the cake.

Things went decidedly prog thereafter too, as an NHS and Peter Pan/children's fairytale theme with hundreds of (real life) Great Ormond Street nurses and children was accompanied by the great Mike Oldfield centre stage performing a medley of Tubular Bells and Il Dulce Jubilo before a Pink Floyd The Wall style giant buffeting puppet of Voldermort arrived on the scene

Then there were laughs, provided by Daniel Craig's James Bond as he escorted The Queen, his latest Bong Girl!, to Stepney from the Palace via helicopter and then spectacularly out of the copter via parachute! Hilarious!

The laughs continued with Rowan Atkinson's Mr Bean appearing in the orchestra for a rendition of Vangelis's Chariots of Fire by Sir Simon Rattle and The LSO

This was followed by a celebration of British music from the 60s onwards and the digital age, as Boyle told the tale through song and dance of a young couple falling in love on a night out. The music was first rate, the performers clearly very talented, but this still fell a bit flat for me, as essentially we were just watching recorded music and people dancing to it. It didn't have the vibrancy and vitality of the previous stunts. Still it showed Boyle's canny eye for the visual as he dropped several film and TV references into the scenes with clips and snippets of things ranging from Gregory's Girl, Four Weddings and a Funeral, A Matter Of Life and Death, the infamous 1987 weather forecast by Michael Fish, his own Trainspotting and a brief sound of Doctor Who's Tardis!

Then came the arrival of the athletes and, man that takes a long time! I was fairly convinced they were just making up countries, islands and principalities before the end! For someone less interested in sport and more interested in the Cultural Olympiad such as I, it dragged. But it's hard not to feel so happy for the grinning happy to be there hopefuls eager to represent themselves to the fullest and do their nation proud.

Then came more visual spectacle, accompanied by The Arctic Monkeys as the house band (thank God it wasn't Muse, whose absence whilst thankful was odd -they're the official band with their God awful anthem to the Games, I did expect them to appear) Alex Turner looked rather like a Hamburg era Lennon with his leather jacket and well oiled quiff and the band provided their own hit I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor before a great rendition of The Beatles Come Together.

David Beckham fresh from a motorboat handed the torch to Sir Steven Redgrave who ran into the arena to pass it to the next generation of sponsored young athletes (I still think Daley Thompson should have been the torch holder, not Redgrave) before the torch was lit...and beautifully so too; a laid out set of copper petals ignited and slowly rose to produce one giant cauldron.

I hate saying this, but did we have to have the great Mohammed Ali there? It's just so tragic to see how ill and infirm he is now. I had tears in my eyes. I want to remember him how he was, not as a shaking old man, unsure of where he is, being told severeal times over to wave and being unable to do so. That really put a pall on the proceedings for me. As did Paul McCartney closing the ceremony with a decidedly off key rendition of Hey Jude Hate to say it Paul, but your are past it! You cannot sing any more and I really hate how since 1985's Live Aid it seems to be in his contract that he closes every event of note. There comes a time when people have to retire, and Macca's time is long overdue. Like Ali, I want to remember you how you were, not a pale and embarrassing tragic shadow of that person.

All in all though, it was a great night!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Broken Skin

As regular readers of this blog will know, I'm a big fan of Ian Rankin's Rebus novels. However, since Rankin chose to retire Rebus off, I've not managed to get on board with any of his subsequent novels, and his new protagonist of a (so far) two book series, Malcolm Fox, has left me cold. So, in need of some more 'Tartan Noir' (for want of a better term) I've been reading Denise Mina - who is very good - and have recently chosen to follow Stuart MacBride, and scour the charity shops for some good second hand copies of his work, all in the hope these will plug the Rebus gap.

MacBride has written several Aberdeen set policiers featuring DS Logan Macrae. A quick look on MacBride's informative and friendly website advises a potential reader that as the first in the series, Cold Granite, was written in the vein of a mid series novel ie with several events previously alluded to and never fully or formally explained, it doesn't necessarily matter which order you read the subsequent novels in. Now, as this is something of a bad habit of mine, I was rather happy to hear this and meant that my first purchase, book 3 in the series, Broken Skin, could be read straight away.

Broken Skin is a very darkly humourous gritty policier in which multiple story strands - an eight year old child wanted for murder, GBH and robbery, a kinky BDSM accidental death, a serial rapist and a paedophile ring all converge together in a neat satisfactory way before the final page (and that's some neat trick!) MacBride isn't just a skilled plotter, he also has a brilliant ear for the ordinary everyday dialect (especially the coarse language and gallows humour of people doing a rather thankless job like policing) and he's clearly got the hang of what makes a book readable; chapters are short and with punch, making a book of over 500 pages fair lick along as if they were a good deal less.

There are some faults though, and crucially it's at the book's centre. I do feel his central character Logan is a bit of a blank canvas/empty void. After 500 plus pages I knew as little about him as I'd done from page one. He's devoid of tricks, quirks and interests (unlike Rebus, a heavy drinking loner with a penchant for The Rolling Stones and a stubborn dogged streak) and the reader has no description of him to rely on for their own mind's eye (which is actually like Rebus in fact, Rankin never really elaborating on describing his hero beyond big and dark haired) Now, I may be the one at fault here, having not read from book one in order, but then if MacBride himself says that's not necessary....

Incidentally I have just commenced reading book one, Cold Granite, and a 100 pages in there isn't much description of Logan. He's still somewhat elusive, an everyman almost. The quiet man of the cricket game, focal to the action whilst seemingly keeping strong and calm while the others around him get the action. And it's those characters around him that are the most interesting, and gain the best lines; characters like DI Steel, a chain smoking, unkempt, totally un-PC 40 something lesbian or DI Insch a fat, bull in a china shop, sweetie chomping am drammer. Having a quiet man at the fore of your crime series isn't necessarily a bad thing; Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo's Martin Beck is the epitome of this. However, Beck is the lead in a police procedural in which his entire department, another ill assorted bunch of unique personalities, share the spotlight during each novel. Alas, I didn't really get such a sense of an even handed deal here. 

But it is a good book and a promising series. Like I say, I've started the first book, and I've one more waiting on the shelf for me, so they can't be bad. I think the thing MacBride is especially good at is the dark humour (and that probably says a lot about my own skewed sense of the comic too) It was certainly a nice touch to have the characters on the BDSM scene carrying copies of Ian Rankin's Black and Blue to identify themselves, and the end (not that I want to give much away) has the most unique and blackly comic armed response/hostage stand off I've ever read, yet still manages to be gripping and dramatic. A book which can have you laughing one minute and squirming at the cruel crimes depicted the next? Now, they are always worth a read :)

Art For Art's Sake : My Drawings and Painting

After Columbo yesterday, I thought I'd share another drawing of a TV detective, Kurt Wallander as portrayed by Kenneth Branagh, in charcoal.

Branagh's 3rd series as Wallander came to a close on BBC1 at the weekend, and I'm sad to say it was rather weak. The gorgeous cinematography, bold identity and strong adaptations of Henning Mankell's books that made the first series such a delight have faded, as film upon film, series upon series has gotten progressively dull. The angst of the character, once so relevant in some key books, have become the sole characteristic of Branagh's depiction and it's totally erroneous. Thankfully, BBC4 have decided to buy more of the original Wallander from Sweden depicted by Rolf Lassgard and will commence airing on Saturday night. The real deal is clearly the best option to take. 

All Eyes On London

Apropos of nothing, just had to cram that cute 60s postcard in.
 Brilliant eh?

It's the Olympic Opening Ceremony in London today. It'll either be an amazing, glorious tribute to all things English that Danny Boyle can be proud of or a cringeworthy load of old tosh that will totally throw his career off track.

The music schedule is certainly interesting...

Captain Algernon Drummond, William Johnson Cory - Eton Boating Song 
Elgar, AC Benson - Land of Hope and Glory 
The Jam - Going Underground 
Muse - Map of the Problematique 
Big Ben Chimes 
Sex Pistols - God Save the Queen 
The Clash - London Calling 
Simon May - EastEnders Theme 
The Shipping Forecast 
Sir Hubert Parry, William Blake - Jerusalem 
Elgar - Nimrod 
Handel - Arrival of the Queen of Sheba 
Eric Coates - Dambusters March 
Handel - Music for the Royal Fireworks 
Monty Norman - James Bond Theme 
Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells 
Mike Oldfield - In Dulci Jubilo 
Vangelis - Chariots of Fire 
BBC News 1954 
Arthur Wood - The Archers Theme 
Winifred Atwell - Black and White Rag

Sugababes - Push the Button 
OMD - Enola Gay 
David Rose - The Stripper 
Lionel Bart - Food Glorious Food 
Irwin Kostal, Richard Sherman, Robert Sherman - Bedknobs and Broomsticks 
Rizzle Kicks - When I Was a Youngster 
Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight 
Colin Tully - Gregorys Girl Theme 
William Pitt - City Lights 
The Who - My Generation 
The Rolling Stones - Satisfaction 
Millie Small - My Boy Lollipop 
The Kinks - All Day and All of the Night 
The Beatles - She Loves You 
Mud - Tiger Feet 
Led Zeppelin - Trampled Under Foot 
The Specials - A Message to You Rudy 
David Bowie - Starman 
Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody 
Sex Pistols - Pretty Vacant 
Duran Duran - The Reflex 
New Order - Blue Monday 

Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Relax 
Soul II Soul - Back To Life 
Happy Mondays - Step On 
Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) 
The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony 
Prodigy - Firestarter 
Underworld - Born Slippy 
Jaan Kenbrovin, John William Kellette - Im Forever Blowing Bubbles 
Blur - Song 2 
Dizzee Rascal - Bonkers 
Tigerstyle - Nacnha Onda Nei (contains Michael Jackson - Billie Jean, Queen & David Bowie - Under Pressure and Ilaiyaraaja - Naanthaan Ungappanda) 
Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor 
Mark Ronson & Amy Winehouse - Valerie 
Radiohead - Creep 
Muse - Uprising 
Kano & Mikey J - Random Antics 
Tinie Tempah - Pass Out 
MIA - Paper Planes 
Coldplay - Viva La Vida 
The Chemical Brothers - Galvanize 

Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out 
Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict a Riot 
Roll Deep - Shake a Leg 
Adele - Rolling in the Deep 
Oasis - The Hindu Times 
Oasis - Wonderwall 
Emeli Sande - Heaven 
William Monk/Henry Francis - Abide With Me 
Pink Floyd - Eclipse 
The Beatles - The End 
The Beatles - Hey Jude 
David Bowie - Heroes 
Eric Spear - Coronation Street Theme 
Ron Grainer - Doctor Who Theme 
John Philip Sousa - Monty Python Theme/The Liberty Bell 
David Bowie - Absolute Beginners 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

OK Computer

Vintage visuals - computers in the 60s and 70s



Art For Art's Sake : My Drawings and Paintings


RIP Mary Tamm

I've posted way too many of these RIP posts this week. It's been a terrible time for tragic, and premature, losses to the world of entertainment. But sadly I have to post another to mark the passing of the Doctor Who star Mary Tamm

Mary, who played the first Romana alongside Tom Baker in the 70s, has died after a long battle with cancer at the all too young age of 62.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

For No Other Reason Than I Adore This Photo


Kiss from Cavalier Magazine, 1963

Saintly Matinees care of BBC2

Big thanks to BBC2 this week who are doing double bill matinees of the old late 30s and early 40s The Saint movies. Yes, long before Roger Moore, Leslie Charteris's famous adventurer was Louis Hayward, George Sanders and Hugh Sinclair. These are delightful old B+W movies perfectly evocative of the era they were made. Some may be a little corny and threadbare, but it's a hard heart who fails to be enchanted overall.

I don't think I've actually seen them since I was a child during the summer holidays way back then, so it's splendid to return to them now - I wonder if there are kids out there, on their school holidays, discovering them too, just like I did some twenty years or so ago?

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Take Three Girls : Victoria

This was my short but very sweet (188 pages) paperback for my train journey to and from Blackpool yesterday.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I've recently sourced three episodes of Take Three Girls but none of them featured Liza Goddard's character Victoria in a central role. I was very happy therefore to get this paperback and become more acquainted with the 'elusive' girl created by Terence Brady and Charlotte Bingham.

The book has a publishing date of 1975. The blurb on the back makes it suggest like this is a new story detailing the life of Victoria after the series (and before Take Three Women) but it swiftly becomes apparent that this is a TV-Tie In in which the scripts and characters previously used for the Victoria episodes of the series have been adapted for the novel form. Especially given the original publishing date was 1972, just after series two aired.

It's a delight to finally see what Victoria's story was like in the show and her character comes across as a wonderfully jolly hockey sticks debutante with an ability to be very ditzy and, as she admits 'cack handed', as well as suffer some of life's oddest and comically unfortunate twists and turns; such as being chatted up by a lesbian at a weekend country party, courted by an inverted self made snob, being fired or failing at several jobs she undertakes, including her ambition to be a cellist, charring at a cafe, nannying and working as an escort for an agency called Birds. In the last role, she has  a sweet old man she's booked to dine with for the evening die on her in his flat!

It's a book very much of its time and comes complete with some dubious attitudes and actions; Victoria's upper class snobby mother is terribly racist, worrying about Victoria's brother Jamie, a pot smoking artist and bemoaning how he has been led astray by 'black people' who 'smell differently to us' (unaware the smell is pot rather than any form of distinctive ethnic body odour she supposes) Whereas Victoria's main love interest in the novel slaps her several times in one scene giving her a black eye and no one seems at all concerned. He's also quoted as having done this to a previous girlfriend too. And then there's the brief inclusion of a lesbian for comic effect.

One intriguing bit in the book is the fact that Victoria's flatmate is eluded to as 'Jane' throughout. I can only presume they're referring to Jenny, Carolyn Seymour's character from series two, though quite why they had to change the name I don't know. I can only presume the writers who created Jenny held copyright to her name?

All in all a wonderful light read which was a pleasure to finally get to know Victoria.