Phantoms over Potsdam - Robert Vacha
The Right Stuff - Tom Wolfe
Uneasy Rider - Mike Carter
Hour of the Wolf - Nick Carter
A Killing for the Hawks - Frederick E. Smith
For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond - Ben MacIntyre
All's Well That Ends Well - National Theatre
Hairspray - Shaftesbury Theatre
Films seen at the cinema:
The Right Stuff - BFI Southbank
It seems a very long time since I saw All's Well That Ends Well on July 4th, with tkb and several of his lovely friends. Over pizza before the performance we swiftly established that none of us were familiar with the play, but we thought it would probably be funny. We weren't disappointed, from the moment Bertram came on fighting imaginary enemies to the puzzling and gratuitous furry-interest scene. The set was beautiful and very clever, the backdrop reminding me of Jan Pienkowski's illustrations for Joan Aiken.
Hairspray the Thursday before last is a much more recent memory. It also boasts lovely, witty sets with particularly good lighting, plus a bloke in a dress, an evil PE teacher, Nigel Planer, and a feelgood factor of about a zillion. See it.
I got through a lot of trash fiction last month, much of which is destined for a speedy return to the charity shop whence it came.
Phantoms over Potsdam opens with some hilariously purple prose describing the titular aircraft but doesn't live up to its promising beginning. It's a sub-Bond offering about an evil plot to reunite East and West Germany, which our ex-Secret Service journalist hero has to prevent by sending Phantoms disguised as MiGs to raze an embassy. While he's inside retrieving a secret document. Oh, and one of the Phantom navigators is his own son. The suspense!
New depths of trash were plumbed by Hour of the Wolf. The blurb on the back promised secret documents hidden in the pelt of a white wolf. In the very first chapter our hero outruns a couple of MiGs in a Citroen 2CV, and by the end, having rescued a party of Hungarian peasants by flying them to Italy in a DC-3, he's enjoying a threesome at an Italian resort (while someone else looks after the wolf). What's truly astounding is that this is number 79 in the 'Killmaster Spy Chiller' series.
I picked up A Killing for the Hawks at Biggin Hill, since the cover promised First World War aviation action. According to the blurb, the young American hero is 'captivated by the charm of his commanding officer', which made me wonder if this was gay interest aviation fiction - surely not, if it was first published in 1966?
Now, I'm not the kind of person to go seeking hidden homoerotic subtexts where there are none, but I'd like to share this line from a scene in which McConnell is 'bunking down' with his new friend Johnson, who likes to address him as 'dear boy':
McConnell was removing his heavy woollen socks. A good forehead and strong chin gave him a face that was essentially masculine.
Is that charged with sexual tension or what?
Uneasy Rider was a bit of a disappointment. I lap up motorcycle travelogues and had high hopes of an Observer journalist and newbie biker touring Europe with no particular aim other than to get out of his middle-aged rut and over his marriage. Unfortunately, as far as I was concerned there was way too much about getting drunk in bars all over Europe and not nearly enough about bikes.
I was rescued from the trash mountain by the book and film of The Right Stuff, which I've already raved about. This month I have more Tom Wolfe on the go in the form of The Bonfire of the Vanities, so that will probably be most of August taken up...