Friday, 4 April 2008

Action Stations


I can't keep away from Len Deighton for long. You will all know him as a thriller writer, but lesser known is his superb expertise as a cook, and indeed as a designer. Deighton contributed a weekly Cookstrip (his word for the comic strip style of presentation) in The Observer from 18 March 1962 until August 1966, and they were so popular with readers that they demanded them as teatowels and wallpaper. The style is very compelling, and when staring at a lump of meat and wondering what to do with it I will always see what Deighton has to say. At least he keeps it simple, as he says "Why write the word 'egg' when a simple oval drawing tells the story?". Sharp-eyed afficianados will have noticed a selection of strips pinned to Michael Caine's kitchen wall for an early scene in the film of Deighton's The Ipcress File, cleverly added-to later on. When Caine prepares a meal he hopes will be enjoyed by Sue Lloyd, he appears to break two eggs into a bowl with one hand. But the actor struggled to do it, and Deighton, who was on set, offered to help. So it's the be-spectacled master cook's hand that is seen in the film, and in the year of its release the Cookstrips were gathered together in Action Cookbook. Now, what does he say about corned beef...

5 comments:

Fred Fibonacci said...

Peter, how on earth do you know all that stuff about the eggs? We should be told.

Peter Ashley said...

Ah well, you see Fred, me and Len...

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

There's a whiff of Tim Hunkin and Wilf Lunn about Len Deighton's pictograms. Very nice.

Ditaur said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris Wild said...

Yes, but can Len Deighton open two tins of corned beef with one hand? Michael Caine can.