Mark Kermode Hatchet Job!

I’m reading Mark Kermode’s latest book ‘Hatchet Job’ at the moment.  I really like Kermode’s film reviews which are lucid, well-informed and well thought-out, even when I strongly disagree with them (for example, he liked the Gary Oldman/Benedict Cumberbatch ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ which I thought was mediocre and missed the point of the source material) and I make a point of listening to his Friday afternoon BBC 5live film review show with Simon Mayo which is always thoroughly entertaining.

But blimey his books need editing!  This is the second of them I’ve tried to read and golly it’s hard work.  He really needs someone to tell him that long-form writing is not just an excuse for drivelling, blather and padding, but an opportunity to set out thoughtful ideas and opinions of real depth.  If he reviewed a film as flabbily edited as this, he would rightly rubbish it.  Ironically, it’s a rumination on the roles and responsibilities of the film critic.

I’ll blog again if I manage to finish it but if you’re really desperate to see what I’m on about, you can buy it here

Updated to add:

Nope, I’ve given up on this: it’s unreadably discursive.  The lovely Mrs Weale had a go last night too, but cast it aside after fifteen minutes with a disgruntled – though elegant – snort.

Christmas is Coming!

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So if you’re stuck for a last minute present for that special person you want to really impress, you could do worse than delving into the Adrian Weale back catalogue:

Howzabout the ‘Arrse Guide to the British Army’ by my very close friend Major Des Astor?  It’s an hilarious, knockabout guide to what the British Army is all about in the 21st century which will teach you everything you need to know about bulling boots, walting with confidence, naked bars and skiffing.  It’s a perfect Christmas present for anyone with the remotest interest in the military,  humour and la conditione humaine.

The Arrse Guide to the British Army

The Arrse Guide to the British Army – Kindle Edition

If you aren’t worried about hilarious military antics and anecdotes, you might prefer a bit of practical help in getting yourself fit for the long year ahead, in which case I recommend ‘Fighting Fit’.  More than 100,000 satisfied customers can’t be wrong!

Fighting Fit

And finally, if you know someone who needs a serious historical blockbuster, then look no further than ‘The SS: A New History’.

The SS: A New History

The SS: A New History – Kindle Edition

Did the SAS kill Princess Diana?

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Short answer: no.

The interesting point about this is how much public money was wasted as the result of the Metropolitan Police’s ludicrous ‘scoping exercise’ examining whether the SAS was involved in any way in the death of Princess Diana and Dodi al Fayed (and indeed, Henri Paul, the drunken employee of Dodi al Fayed’s father who was actually responsible – nice bit of misdirection there, Mo).  My understanding is that this was one of a number of allegations made by the ex-wife of an SAS NCO sentenced to detention for illegal firearms possession, who was also responsible for shopping her ex-husband and, ultimately, Sgt Danny Nightingale.

You can see the police minds at work here:  she knew her ex had an illegal weapon therefore she must be a credible source on a ‘murder’ which took place sixteen years ago before – I strongly suspect – her husband had even joined the SAS.  What a farce.

What people always seem to forget about the SAS is that it is part of the army, it has budgets it has to justify and it gets its tasking through the normal military chain of command.  It isn’t a question of the Duke of Edinburgh (or the Prime Minister) phoning the CO and asking a quick favour in return for a case of retsina and a large doner with extra chill sauce.

They also forget that a big secret like this would be almost impossible to keep.  One of the great disappointments about working in intelligence was how mundane and unsurprising most secrets are.  Think about it: we know that MI6 recruits spies in foreign countries; we know that MI5 has informers planted amongst potentially subversive groups in the UK. If Anjem Choudhary isn’t actually an MI5 controlled provocateur*, then virtually everybody else he spends his waking life with will be.  When stories like this emerge, they simply don’t surprise us: the devil is in the precise detail.

What’s the biggest secret in the UK? I’d guess it’s the current location of the Trident deterrent patrol submarine – the ultimate guarantee of our national security.  Big secret eh?  Except it isn’t: we all know it patrols in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans.  The precise latitude and longitude are very well protected but the generality of the secret is utterly commonplace.

If the SAS had offed Princess Di, it would have required the Commanding Officer at the time to select a team who would accept such a grossly illegal order, plan a mission and execute it, and then not tell a soul.  Let’s not forget: this is a Regiment with a rich and lucrative ‘literary’ tradition.  Would everyone involved have remained quiet? Not in my experience.

‘Aha’, you might respond, ‘but someone obviously has talked, hence the investigation’.  When the only source is an embittered divorcee, seeking to throw the shit into the fan for her ex-husband and his regiment, a credibility test needs to be applied. By any standard of common-sense these allegations would have failed. That test wasn’t applied, the Met did their investigation, public money was wasted and the non-story gets reported as if it was news.

Actually, Princess Diana was once slightly hurt by the SAS.  During a hostage rescue demonstration at their training area in the Welsh Marches her hair got set on fire and had to be rapidly extinguished whilst Prince Charles and his entourage giggled, but that was it.  There certainly used to be a photograph of her in the Officers’ Mess in Hereford, when she was young and beautiful, wearing a combat smock and sitting in an SAS ‘Pink Panther’ patrol Landrover.  I think they rather liked her.

‘No evidence the SAS killed Diana’, wow, amazing.

*Updated to add this link: Telegraph Blogs  Come on: someone’s protecting him!