Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Few Words on George McDonald Fraser

Well - in the continuing, ever more mysterious absence of The Master (whom I now envisage entirely encased in a plaster cast with his outspread limbs attached to winches, while saucy nurses scurry around and Sir Lancelot Spratt sweeps though the ward), I had better say a few words about the death of George McDonald Fraser (whom The Master no doubt interviewed). The strange picture that goes with that BBC News story recalls one of many amusing Fraser documentaries and interviews, in which he would delight in making his interlocutor blench with the violence of his reactionary views (in TV profiles, they'd mostly end up on the cutting room floor). I've read a few of the Flashman novels over the years, admiringly, but never became hooked. The book of his I most cherish is his memoir of fighting through Burma, Quartered Safe Out Here - vivid, moving, truthful and gloriously 'incorrect', it is, in its way, a great book, which I'd recommend to anyone who hasn't come across it.

9 comments:

  1. We were discussing GMF over Christmas, and Quartered Safe Out Here got top thumbs up from a former Gurkha officer and veteran of that same, very brutal campaign in Burma. Not so well known, perhaps, is GMF's The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers. It's a history but full of tales told with relish about a bunch of hard men who make today's hooligans look like nancy boys. As it says of the reivers on my old Harvill edition, "If Jesus Christ were amongst them, they would deceive him".

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  2. We need more chaps like that, pity he's dead. Imagine how he would have sorted out that PC weasel Blair.

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  3. Sad news. This year isn't starting out at all well.

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  4. I suspect, Nepal, Bryan was on about it earlier.

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  5. Ah yes, Vince - Nepal. Trying its hand at democracy isn't it? And giving up on monarchy. Doesn't seem a terribly good move in the light of what's going on in Kenya and Pakistan. If I was an homme serieux like Bryan, I'd have posted thoughtfully on the future/usefulness of democracy by now - seems to be the hot topic. Whither Democracy?

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  6. Susan B., seeing a long year ahead,January 03, 2008 4:16 pm

    If you're in America, it's "withered Democracy." Ask those worn-out folks in Iowa.

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  7. Just knowing GMF was alive made life in modern Britain a little less bleak - there was always some hope - but now a light has gone out of my life and, as Richard Madeley says, it's a bad start to the year to lose him.

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  8. I worked for a blind organization for some years - and I loved the talking book version of 'Flashmans Lady' - esp the scene with the snake...

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