I love to read, and what I love to read is fairly eclectic. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy reminded me that I used to read a lot of what might loosely be called ‘boy’s’ fiction. I started with Ian Fleming falling in love with everything Bond. I moved on through Alistair MacLean, Geoffrey Jenkins, Clive Cussler and Leslie Thomas to John Le Carré, Len Deighton, Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum. When I find a ‘new’ author I look out for them at the library and work my way through their oeuvre. But tastes and interests sometimes move on before this has happened. So, while I think I’ve read every James Bond book, as well as the Charlie Higson Young Bond stories, for instance, I find on looking back that my Le Carré reading has been patchy. I have started again at the beginning! His first book, Call for the Dead, introduces us to George Smiley. I plan to work my way through the Smiley stories.
Another knock on my door came in the form of the schedule for BBC Radio 4 Extra. They are rebroadcasting Len Deighton’s Bomber on Friday. This was a heart wrenching but fictional account of a bombing raid on Germany on 31st June 1943, a day that has never happened in that or any other year, and told from every angle and in minute detail. So we hear the aircrew being briefed about their task, meet the civilian population in a small town in Germany, follow the flight, watch the bombs fall, are bombed on the ground, shot at in the sky and hope to get out of the book alive. It is a standout novel. But so is the BBC production: it is striped over the day’s drama slots in ‘real’ time. It will be a poignant listen for Remembrance Day.