‘A plan to brain-wash the entire framework of the nation,’ said Jean, over the coffee and croissants. ‘It’s hardly credible.’
After a long hiatus, Tim and Lloyd are back with the (unlucky-for-some) 13th Curiously Specific Book Club podcast.
They start the new series with something that comes easy to them both – a leisurely stroll around Soho. Who knew Len Deighton’s classic 1962 spy novel The Ipcress File was the perfect excuse for a long lunch and a general loaf?
They head down to Gerrard Street to the supposed location of the fictional coffee bar ‘Lederer’s’ where talk turns to Buddy Holly, the Kray twins and Princess Margaret. On to another legendary coffee bar, the Moka (there are a ridiculous number of references to coffee in The Ipcress File). The talk is now of Gina Lollobrigida and William Burroughs.
An argument ensues on Old Compton Street about the precise dating of the book – does the action take place in 1959/60 or 1961/62? On Dean Street, they use the site of Franco and Mario’s La Trattoria Terrazza restaurant (much loved by spies, movie stars and ad execs) to continue the argument. Princess Margaret and The Beatles feature.
They have their actual lunch in a trattoria just off Charlotte Street, a few metres from Dalby’s offices of WOOC (P). Whilst munching on spaghetti and Milanese in the heart of 1960s London adland, Lloyd offers insights into the serious business of brainwashing. George Blake is mentioned.
Fuelled with chianti and pinot grigio, they trundle back on a bus to south London on the trail of both Deighton and Michael Caine (the star of the film). Discussion is had about the Cold War, nuclear testing in the Pacific and the shocking details of how the Americans (with the support of the British) ruined atolls and the lives of those who lived on them. Somehow they still manage to shoe-horn in references to James Bond and garlic sausage.
Each month we road test a work of fiction that appears to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey times credible, dates and days all in order. Along the way, we learn things, about the book, and its author.
Sources & Credits
The Ipcress File brainwashing scene – https://youtu.be/4wwQpACwcoM
Golden Wonder crisp advert – https://youtu.be/k6SchrCyr1Y?t=34
Interview with Len Deighton – https://youtu.be/XJun7546t_s
The Shadows, Bongo Blues – https://youtu.be/JtVkTESeXAo
Fairey Band – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairey_Band
Paul McCartney, Summer of 59 – https://youtu.be/hpnCoK6ixJA
Atom Bomb Explosion Aka Atom Bomb Test At Eniwetok (1956) – https://youtu.be/FltHbYJj-tA
Cadburys Drinking Chocolate advert – https://youtu.be/uO96gv1i0mY
Candid Caine – A Self Portrait of Michael Caine (1969) – https://youtu.be/b8s7S65YlDo
Theme Tune to The Ipcress File – https://youtu.be/pBCqP7R42K0
Len Deighton wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Len_Deighton
Len Deighton London Dossier – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Len_Deighton%27s_London_Dossier
Town: A Day in the life of Len Deighton: https://deightondossier.blogspot.com/2010/04/town-day-in-life-of-len-deighton-3.html
Look at Life Coffee Bar 1959 – https://youtu.be/_nsRHHcq1P8
Flamingo Club – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Flamingo_Club
William Burroughs and the strange demise of London’s first espresso bar – https://greatwen.com/2011/11/09/william-burroughs-and-the-strange-demise-of-londons-first-espresso-bar/
La Trattoria Terrazza – https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/48-la-trattoria-terrazza/1160721
William Sargant – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_SargantCommunist
Psychological Warfare: ‘Brainwashing’ – http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/globalism/Congress.htm
George Blake – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Blake
Etinawok atoll /US nuclear testing – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Proving_Grounds
Johnston Atoll – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnston_Atoll