Sunday, 5 April 2009

Road Tale


Some books I just go back to again and again. Three Men In A Boat, Billy Liar. I've just finished Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male for the second time, his tale of a very single-minded hero going to ground in remote Dorset after a breathtaking chase on the London Underground. All in order to escape both a villainous tweeded-up representative of a dictatorial government (it's the 1930s so we can guess which one, although Household doesn't say) and slow-moving policemen with flash lamps. You can virtually follow his footsteps on a good Ordnance map, and Roger Deakin and his mate in Notes From Walnut Tree Farm even go and camp out in not quite the same style at the exact spot. Clive Donner made a superb film of the book for television in 1976 with Peter O'Toole, and left us in no doubt as to who the dictator was. I would think it's ripe for turning over a Panavision Reflex again in an overgrown Dorset trackway, but the trouble is I fear it would get re-set in the Appalachians or somewhere, with rednecks hee-hawing in the back of a pick-up. Anyway, where's the Optimus stove and my dad's pre-war binoculars...

6 comments:

Paul Williams said...

How wonderful to be reminded of Geoffery Household; the film of Rogue Male made a big impact on my adolescent self. At a time of seemingly out of control collectivism its self-contained heroic individualism was I thought almost shocking. I have read Rogue Male, Rough Shoot and Watcher in the Shadows many times; lean and mean, my favourite holiday reading.

Philip Wilkinson said...

A great book (and glad to see you have it in that early Penguin edition!). Thanks to Paul for mentioning the other Households, which I'll explore.

Peter Ashley said...

Rogue Male has the distinction (I'm sure probably repeated for other titles) of appearing in both green and orange Penguin covers. Green came first.

Sue said...

Any mention of which brand of cigs the hero smokes? Essential equipment for anyone on the run...

Peter Ashley said...

As you might expect Sue, I scoured the pages thoroughly. Alas, no. I don't think fags were even mentioned, oddly.

CMS said...

Rogue Male was on my CSE English Lit. syllabus but I never finished it at the time as it was decided by the powers-that-be that I was in fact good enough to do the 'O' Level after all. I hated it at the time and was glad to be dragged away from it. It is one of my favourite books now - one which I often re-read. Good to see a classic Penguin design too.