Bernard Samson, book 7
[Bernard Samson is off on a mission concerning a possible KGB defector]
I’d caught sight of the signal [Bret] sent to London Central telling them that I was no longer suited to field work, particularly in East Germany. He’d asked them to chain me to a desk until pension time rolled round. It sounded considerate, but I wasn’t pleased. I needed to do something that would put me back in Operations; that was my only chance of being promoted and getting a senior staff position in London. Unless my position improved I would wind up with a premature retirement and a pension that wouldn’t pay for a cardboard box to live in….
I smiled mirthlessly. The airline girl ripped my boarding pass in half and before I went down the jetty I turned back to wave to them…At this moment Fiona looked like a photo from some English society magazine. Her old Burberry coat, its collar turned up to frame her head, and a colourful Hermès scarf knotted at the point of her chin, made her look like an English upper-class mum watching her children at a gymkhana. She held a handkerchief to her face as if about to cry, but it was probably the head cold she’d had for a week and couldn’t shake off.
observations: This is the mysterious Fiona, wife to Bernard Samson, in the seventh book in the series. The small print of the picture shows that this particular combo of Hermes scarf and Burberry coat would set you back more than $1100.
I’m still anxious about spoilers, no matter what Deighton himself says, so need to be careful what I say about the plot – so I am offering double value today, with another picture and another excerpt from the book: this is possibly the funniest and best clothes moment in all nine books:
He tugged his coat so it fitted more snugly upon his shoulders. I’d always wanted to wear an overcoat like these Germans and Frenchmen do it; without putting my arms through the sleeves. But when I tried it once, coming out of the Schiller Theatre with Gloria, it fell off and Frank Harrington’s wife tripped over it and fell full-length in the street.I’m happy to say that the photo shows Emilio Largo from the film Thunderball, and comes from a quite splendid website called The Suits of James Bond.
There is yet another wonderfully awful dinner party in this one, including this priceless exchange:
‘And this is your family home?’ Bret asked, pointing at a colour photo of an extensive neo-Gothic mansion, framed by oak trees and with a well-kept front lawn.
‘No,’ said Dicky. ‘That’s my son’s boarding school.'
‘Is that so,’ said Bret, looking at it with even more interest. ‘Yes, I can see the kids now – quite a lot of them.’Len Deighton wrote introductions for the editions of the books I am reading, and they are fascinating – you wish they were longer. He tells us that he was certain, in the early 1980s, that the Berlin Wall would not last much longer, and he wrote the books predicated on that. Many people thought he was wrong, and that the books would go haywire, but of course history proved him right.
This is one of the modern-day memorials of the Wall - picture taken in Berlin last year by Audrey Stafford.
And on to the next book….