Since I and a perceptive commentator have been going on about how this Penguin book jacket has achieved iconic status in our lives, I thought I'd better get it out and show it off. For those whose cogniscant lives didn't start until 1976, this is a brilliant, and accurate, pastiche (designed by Tony Meeuwissen) of a Wills Woodbine cigarette packet, at least until it was deemed necessary to make it look like a bus side. Billy Liar is an exceptionally funny novel, very well worthwhile reading, and the source material for an equally great film directed by the late and sadly missed John Schlesinger. (Far from the Madding Crowd, Marathon Man.) The film has a bravado performance by Tom Courtenay, and a fledgling appearance by the trouser-enlarging (for me at any rate) Julie Christie. For a sixties teenager like me, the book was a signpost to a life, or at least an attitude, outside my first job in a public library. In Billy Liar's case it was perhaps half a rite of passage to a life beyond the undertakers he worked for, stuffing calendars he should have posted (having pocketed the money) down the office toilet whilst his erstwhile colleague Stamp mouths obscenities through the door. These formative, life-enhancing experiences should never be ignored. Bring 'em on.
Prince Albert Road, London
17 hours ago