& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.


With reviews of books that cover these topics


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Brize 2010 Reds 3

By psmiddy, Feb 10 2020 09:29AM

By way of diversion I read Nicholas Coleridge’s autobiography over the weekend – the well-reviewed The Glossy Years. Highly entertaining. He drops names as though delivered by JP233s (check it out). And to ram the point home, most names have an accompanying footnote telling you their profession, their films, their books. Even in the case, for example of Joan Collins. A little naff. He even lists the entries in the visitors' book of his country gaff acquired later in life – Wolverton Hall, in Worcestershire.

Coleridge, like his employee Betty Kenward, is very particular about punctuation. So I should point out one error: the visitors' book entries read (mid-flow): "Mr Simon Thurley and Miss Anna Keay [ex- English Heritage & English Heritage], Mr & Mrs David Shaughnessy [Eton mate], Lord Rose of Monewden [M&S etc]; Miss Kate Reardon [Tatler etc], Mr & Mrs Charles Moore [Telegraph]….”

The semi-colon after “Monewden” is superfluous since Rose and Reardon were an item!

There are some great stories, related with dry and great wit – entertaining.

By psmiddy, Feb 7 2020 11:34AM

Always good to hear another author talking about his book, and watching their presenting style. Last night I saw Andrew Lownie give a riveting account of his biography of the Mountbattens, Dickie & Edwina. As in my talks he said several things which I don’t think make it into the book. One can be a little more ‘illuminating’, shall we say, in a talk. My wife was sufficiently entranced to buy the book – my reading pile is too large at the moment.

But I was particularly taken by his recounting that Mountbatten’s personal protection office in 1979, an ex-SAS trooper, had quickly identified the weaknesses in his boss’ security when at his Irish residence in Mullaghmore. As soon as his report was submitted to his superiors, he was effectively dismissed. The contents of the report were shared with the Irish Garda, who promptly leaked them to the IRA. Thus was his barbaric assassination facilitated.

Mountbatten sounds an awful man, and it was interesting to hear how, whilst some elements of his descendants were happy for Lownie to draw out the truth, the majority sought to close files, refused to co-operate, and stick to burnishing his increasingly tarnished image. It was also interesting to hear how many files have suddenly had their release dates postponed. There is clearly much more mud about the man which will, in due course, emerge.

Given his moral turpitude, which was recognised to an extent by the Royal Family, it is surprising the degree to which he became moral advisor, and in some ways, in loco parentis, to Prince Charles in the latter’s earlier years.

Andrew is President of the Biographers’ Club, and founder of a very successful literary agency.

By psmiddy, Jan 27 2020 11:19AM

So today is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. A time for reflection as extremism rears its ugly head around our 21st C world. You will find several books on the Holocaust reviewed on this site; but, possibly because of my useless memory, the one that sticks in the mind just now is Jack Fairbrother's spellbinding The Volunteer. Read the review, click on the button, and buy it.

By psmiddy, Jan 13 2020 12:08PM

MI5 by renowned espionage author, Nigel West. Covers the period up to the end of WW2. Review is here.