After Heath Lowrance's excellent entry to the psycho-noir canon, The Bastard Hand, I'm taking a short break from fiction as I've recently started Jennet Conant's The Irregulars. It's all about Roald Dahl's work as a British spy in America during WW2. I'm only 75 pages or so in but thus far it's an interesting - if occasionally a little over-wordy - and informative book that has already taught me plenty about American isolationism and the major players who brought the US belatedly to the war.
Okay, back up a bit. Yes, I said Roald Dahl. Author of James and the Giant Peach. Famed creator of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Big Friendly Giant and more. That Roald Dahl. He was a British spy. A proto-Bond figure bedding society lovelies and seemlessly inserting himself into Washington's inner circle. Roald Dahl. Willy Wonka. James Bond. Go figure.
If that seems a bit of a strech, I at least recall hearing about him as an RAF pilot during the war. So, you know, there's a connection. But the preface mentions a few of his fellow secret Intelligence operatives and co-conspirators.
Sir Ian Fleming. Okay. You would've had a hard job convincing me otherwise.
David Ogilvy, advertising executive and Fleming's friend Ivar Felix Bryce. Okay. Never heard of them, but apparently Bond's CIA friend Felix is named after Bryce.
And Noel Coward.
Yes, this guy. One of the most flamboyant, witty and - let's be honest - camp public figures of the 20th century. Singer, song-writer, dramatist and all-round dispenser of quotable nuggets, yes. A man of many talents, certainly. Very Wildean, in every sense. A British spy? This man? This man right here?
Well I never did...