Sunday 20 January 2013

Another side of Len Deighton ...

"Another Campari, darling?"
His backside, that is.

Not backside, but his back ... side!

What am I talking about? I’ve recently got hold of an extremely rate copy of Town magazine from Christmas 1965 – forty-eight years old but in fantastic condition. The front cover is a photo by James Mortimer that straightaway makes a serious statement about the style and verve of the swinging sixties.

The stunningly beautiful, winking woman is model Patti Boyd, later to become the wife of ex-Beatle George Harrison and blue guitarist Eric Clapton.

She is the woman who was subsequently purported to be the the inspiration for George Harrison's 'Something', 'I need you' and 'Isn't it a pity', plus Clapton's 'Layla' and 'Wonderful Tonight'. She was clearly in the sixties the ultimate hip 'It Girl' and lucky was the man who go to spend a morning in her arms.

The lucky man? Well, that’s Len Deighton of course, hence why it's on this blog. The image it conjures up gives a clue to the way in which men's expectations were changing: a pretty ‘bird’, sexually liberated, up front, enjoying drink-fuelled partying fun, with a handsome man on her arm, who clearly thinks he's struck lucky.

It's perhaps the ultimate fantasy for Town’s male readers of the to subscribe to, as the staid, buttoned-up 'fifties gave way to the 'sixties and men had to learn how to deal with greater personal independence and wealth.

Why is this picture interesting? Well, for a start, it’s the reverse image of the cover of Drinks-man-ship, edited by Len and produced by the same team working on Town magazine, which came out at the same time (in time for Christmas).
"Absolutely - make mind a double!"
An early example of integrated product marketing and advertising. Indeed, at the back of the magazine is an advert (right) in the form of an invitation to join the fun and purchase a copy of the book.

The book, now reasonably collectable, is a bawdy, alcohol-soaked paean to every manifestation of booze in all its forms, with contributions from some of London’s finest writers and reconteurs of the time.

However, it’s also interesting because it demonstrates Len’s status – three years after publication of The Ipcress File – as a writer and … well, nowadays one would refer to him as a “celebrity”.

One would think that a clinch with one of the most beautiful women in London would stay long in the memory.

But Len Deighton today has little recollection of this shoot: he was at the time, he recalls, very busy (with what he doesn't recall) and he remembers a car coming to collect him, going to a studio somewhere where some pictures were taken with the "delightful" Patti Boyd before he was whisked away.

Not a bad way to spend a morning!

[Thanks to blog reader Nick Flindall for his detective work on identifying Patti Boyd]

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