Friday, 12 December 2014

Winding back the clock - cookstrips are back in The Observer

Readers who enjoy the feel and simplicity of Len Deighton's cookstrips - which first emerged as serialised items in The Observer between 1962 and 1966 are to appear in this Sunday's edition of The Observer magazine, and thereafter monthly in the magazine. The cookstrips of course subsequently morphed into the Action Cook Book, and famously appear in the coffee making scene in The Ipcress File!

The interview can be found here (hat-tip to Terry).

It features a great reproduction of the famous photo of Len showing Michael Caine as Harry Palmer how to make an omelette in a production still from The Ipcress File. Many of the anecdotes are familiar but there's plenty new in the article of interest to readers, such as the fact Len kept terrapins in his airing cupboard (!).

Here's an extract from the article by Robin Stummer:
'In the film, as Harry nonchalantly cracks eggs into a bowl with one hand while the woman pours out two large whiskies, you can see a cluster of newspaper cuttings pinned up near the copper pans and string of garlic. They are from the Observer’s food section. Not words, but drawings – like prison-cell treasure maps dotted with arrows, numbers and scraps of staccato text veering, slightly insanely, into bold and italic. Those cuttings are some of Deighton’s famous “cookstrips”'.


  1. See

  2. Interesting these cook strips are. Because, in software design (computing), it is very often to draw a "rich picture", a kind of Deighton cookstrips to elucidate specification requirements-that is what are needed to get the end software product functionalities, and how to go about achieving it., emphasising "a picture speaks a thousand words". This is a very important step in software design. Shows, Deighton in 1960s demonstrated that he was ahead of his time!