She’s here! The Glimmer Girl

On Halloween 31/10/20, The Glimmer Girl crossed the threshold, claiming its place amongst the vast pantheon of spy-fiction . Published initially via Kindle

and now part of the outside world and everything in it. The words on the page, just like any other novel, are free to paint pictures in the mind of the reader.

In the Glimmer Girl’s case taking you to the earliest days of WW1 with Commander Smith-Cumming, the first chief (C) of the Secret Intelligence Service. To the early 1920s in London and Ireland as following an ominous order, C assembles Operation BARBELL as a means of atonement and revenge.

You’ll find yourself in the midst of a mid 70s deniable mission in the arid mountains of Libya, and to a London of the near future where you’ll meet GLIMMER herself, Siobhan Uhuru-Behan, as she undertakes her first MI6 mission with a reactivated Operation BARBELL, as she tracks the Eighth Day cult.

GLIMMER’s pursuit will take you from the Crystal light and waves of Cote d’Azure to the wilds of Iceland.

Can the long-mothballed BARBELL project a century in the planning really meet the threats of tomorrow?

GLIMMER has eight days to prove it.

Review: The Internecine Project

The Internecine Project. The rhythm of syllables in the three word title lets us know that we’re in for: An espionage thriller from the golden age of such outings.

Poster by Gary Mills

It’s the ingredients that make this one special. Starting with the cast headed by that Icon of Cool, James Coburn, portraying a cold-hearted economics professor and former spy, who is also a partner in a powerful international corporation and has been offered a position as a close advisor to the US President.

In order to take the job Coburn plans a domino-effect elimination of a group of four individuals with knowledge of his espionage past. They’ve all served him as agents in the paid supply of intelligence.

Michael Jayston plays a scientist who in return for funding has provided weaponised chemicals and technology, Harry Andrews as a big-eared masseur reporting loose-lipped conversations held in an exclusive spa, Ian Hendry as a senior civil servant passing on UK Government secrets and Christiane Krügeras a high-class prostitute who hands over recordings and films of her clients. Outside of his targets Coburn has a perfect ‘gorgeous-in-your-50s’ pairing with the stunning Lee Grant as American journalist and old flame who has watched his immoral ascent to power.

Lee Grant

Almost a decade earlier James Coburn had two outings as spoofer-spy Derek Flint and his own iconic style and charisma inspired The Glimmer Girl’s St John Bradley. Michael Jayston would later add to his spy chops in the roles of both Peter Guillam in the TV adaption of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Adam Hall’s Quiller and as a narrator of John Le Carre audio books. Harry Andrews also appeared in, amongst many much more notable outings, the spy movies The Mackintosh Man with Paul Newman and Modesty Blaise. Ian Hendry had an earlier key role in alongside Michael Caine in Get Carter, which shared another key ingredient of this film: the music of Roy Budd. Intrinsic to the spy movie formula, Budd lets-off big time with the free jazz score of percussion and double bass solos to ratchet up the tension in key scenes, most notably a confrontation in a shower.

James  Coburn
James Coburn (sans ‘tache)

Next the setting- London,1974 in and around Mayfair, seen largely by moonlight. The nearest we get to gadgets that qualify The Internecine Project as spy-fi are the sonic assassination weapon that Jayston supplies and Coburn’s opulent office with a back-lit map of London hidden behind a glass art screen. All in all it makes M’s gaff look like a corner of cardboard city.

As it was in the era, everyone who walks through Coburn’s door is served a stiff drink and he puffs on a cigar as his intrinsically planned hits are carried out across one night, signified by coded rings of various length on his red telephone.

One final part of the formula ticks the box for me. Obscurity. I was unaware of The Internecine Project until I stumbled upon it on a You Tube Channel whilst researching something else. My only criticism would be some of the sound production is muffled, particularly some of Lee Grant’s lines to James Coburn. They share an exchange toward the end of the movie which has proven largely prescient regarding non-elected aides close to power.

So if those almost perfectly prepared ingredients wet your spy-fi appetite search out and enjoy The Internecine Project.

For the love of the Space Man…

It was Christmas 1972, probably…

Mum had taken me to the Co-op for the first time. It was a big occasion, someone called Santa arrived on what I remembered to be a big red sledge on wheels, along with a young woman festooned in red glittery clothes and white fur. It made complete sense to me, that she was called Mary Christmas and was so beautiful that Santa kept shouting out her name, ‘Mary Christmas, Mary Christmas, everybody!’

When I sat on his knee and told him what I’d like (not, as Mum had instilled in me, what I wanted) the kind voice from behind a slab of cotton wool said, ‘I’ll see what I can do.’ Adding that I must to be good and he’d know if wasn’t.

Mary handed over a wrapped present, when I got back to Mum and opened it I was thrilled. See what he could do? Santa and Mary Christmas had hit the jackpot for me, there it was: my very own spaceman!

Andy Onyx- Beatles on the Moon

Almost half a century later, following the anniversary year of the moon landings, I wonder how many ‘made in Japan’ spacemen the Co-op had purchased back then, in anticipation of our demands, or at least our joy in seeing a face behind a blue/gold fish bowl helmet when we pulled the wrapping off. 

As we grew through the seventies the spaceman became old news in the grown-up world. All things have their rise, curve and descent, just like those Jupiter rockets sent to the moon. Times had changed, socio-economic blowback from Vietnam and the oil crisis led the USA to knock the space programme on the head, quietly, without telling us kids.

Poster for play “Escape from Planet Trash”

The stark gleaming purity of the spacesuit against blackness of space still represents aspiration beyond worldly concerns. The marketeers understood it: Want to sell to kids? Put a spaceman on it, or at least the helmet. This extended to dental health campaigns, records and toys.

Vinyl album cover of ‘Space Funk’ compilation

One of the most popular toys of the era was the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. Adorned in white suit, space helmet and Stars and Stripes, Knievel was a combination of Elvis and Gene Cernan (the last man on the moon), fixed to a gravity defying Harley Davison.

Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle-One of the best selling children’s toys of the 1970s.

In the age of diversity the retro fantasy spaceman is safely anonymous; behind the gold visor, could be any gender, age or ethnicity. It remains the marketeers ‘go to’ image, like a dogwhistle of optimism, whether relating to social distancing and PPE in the Covid-19 crisis or troubled Presidencies low on hope and benevolence.

Covid-19 social distancing hash tag #together

When the spaceman appears one giant leap becomes thousands of clicks, a quick glance lingers a few more seconds more, transforming our attention span into positive data and metrics.

title unknown by artist Guang Yuan Yu

So thanks to Mary Christmas I guess I’m hooked for life and now most weekends I look forward to the posting of: a crash course for the ravers it’s a #spacemansaturday