Arts and Entertainment

Private Alex Stringer, of the Royal Logistic Corps, was 20 when he was blown up in Afghanistan: "The reason I lost my left leg so high up is because the burning paint cooked my left leg all the way down to the bone. But if I hadn't set myself on fire, I would have bled out and died – as a result of it, all the arteries became cauterised".

BOOKS / Absolutely fabulist: 1994 is the centenary of Robert Louis Stevenson's death. Ian Thomson assesses his place in English literature

Robert Louis Stevenson died in 1894, a fortnight before Christmas. He had gone to fetch a bottle of wine from his cellar when he was cut down by a stroke. Word of his collapse (on a coral island in the South Seas) came over the wires like the worst of news. Henry James refused to believe it; Rudyard Kipling was so devastated that for a month he could not write. RLS had been kidnapped by death at the age of 44.

Travel: An oldie hits the tracks: Bearing backpack and notebook, Humphrey Carpenter joined the Inter-Rail trail at the age of 47

I should have done it at 18. Now, at 47, I felt ridiculous. I seemed to be the only person in the P&O ticket queue at Dover who was over 25. All my fellow middle-aged travellers were lining up to get on to the boat in their cars. Here was I with a backpack, trying to blend into the crowd of teenagers filling the months between school and university by freewheeling around Europe by rail. I wished I had a hat to hide my greying hair.

BOOKS / Easy money, tough life: Walter Mosley, whose thrillers cross racial boundaries, talks to Andrew Holgate

HOWEVER equivocal his political convictions, it's hard to begrudge Bill Clinton his choice of reading matter, especially his enthusiasm for Walter Mosley, the black Jewish novelist whose Easy Rawlins books are currently cutting a swathe through American crime writing. Taking the hard-boiled tradition of Raymond Chandler and transporting it to the streets of Watts and South Central, Mosley has written a sequence of rich and compelling thrillers, set between 1948 and 1956, which say more about racism in America than almost any contemporary novel you care to mention.

BOOK REVIEW / Hard sell and sour aftertaste: Hotel Pastis - Peter Mayle: Hamish Hamilton, pounds 15.99

PETER MAYLE escaped from Madison Avenue in 1975, the dust-jacket declares. Not true. You can take the boy out of Madison Avenue, but . . .

Cardinal shot dead in Mexico

MEXICANS took to the streets to demand justice yesterday after Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo and six others were shot dead at the busy airport at Guadalajara. After initial conflicting reports, police said Cardinal Posadas, 65, had been a chance victim of a gunfight between rival groups of drug traffickers in and outside the terminal building.

Then & Now: Gifted losers

1938: Graham Greene published 'Brighton Rock' and immortalised the English seaside treasure hunt in which the public challenged newspaper representatives with a precise form of words to receive a free gift.

BOOK REVIEW / Bookshop Window:: A world of my own: a dream diary - Graham Greene: Reinhardt Books, pounds 12.99

Graham Greene dreamed that the Queen was tucking into a bun. As Prince Philip approached in a scoutmaster's uniform, she confided to him that she couldn't bear her husband's smile. Nearly every sleeper in the land dreams about royalty some time or other, especially now, but Greene took the trouble to write down the details the moment he awoke. It's just one of a number of odd and disjointed little fragments in this selection. The dreams cover 20 years and are narrated as if they had really occurred. Psychoanalysts may revel in it, but for most of us it is only mildly interesting as a quaint curiosity. It adds nothing to Greene's stature to know that in his private world of fantasy the Cuban revolution was taken over by magnificent-looking suffragettes, or that he nearly killed Goebbels by thrusting the end of a poisoned cigarette into his nostril. There are no nightmares. Lucky man: maybe he never had one.

TELEVISION / Big, beautiful and they live for ever

IN 1968, I was raiding my grandmother's cupboard for dressing- up clothes when I found a red sateen book. Picked out on the cover in gold letters was the title, Hollywood Album. Inside, a craggy khaki sahib called Stewart Granger reclined on a zebra rug with his wife Jean Simmons in their charming Bel Air home. Jennifer Jones tossed her blue- black curls away from her amazing cheekbones, only to afford a better view of her sensational throat. A nymph by the name of Diana Dors posed among classical statues, defying you to distinguish one marble goddess from another. The photographs had a molten sheen, as if bathing in a shallow lake of mercury. Their subjects had big heads and small white teeth; all appeared to be lit from within. On one picture of an older man with merry, scrunched eyes, I recognised my aunt's faded handwriting: 'The King, RIP.' It was eerie. Who was Clark Gable, and why had a grown-up bothered to record his death? I didn't give it much thought, I was busy making plans. I would grow up to be Jennifer Jones, I would marry the one called Gary Cooper, we would live in a canyon, whatever that was, and recline graciously on a variety of endangered species. We would be famous.

TELEVISION / Greene concerns and party politics: Giles Smith on Arena's Graham Greene profile and Marti Caine's Your Best Shot

One of many good things about Arena's Graham Greene profile (BBC 2) was its preparedness to enter a few reservations about Greene's writing - no small feat when you're simultaneously trumpeting him to the heavens by alloting him a three-part hellzapoppin' biographical special (Part 2 tonight, Part 3 on Sunday). Even amid the patient and admiring attention to the details, there was still someone to speak up for those who, given Greene, see red.

TELEVISION BRIEFING / The complete Greene

ARENA (9.30pm BBC2) is firing its biggest gun in its opening programme of a new season, a three- part assessment of the life and work of Graham Greene, showing on consecutive evenings. For this meticulous account, director Donald Sturrock has tracked down footage from all over the world - including a leper colony in the Congo - and collected interviews with William Boyd, John Le Carre and Anthony Burgess, as well as Greene's childhood maid. The first part, 'England Made Me', charts the author's upbringing in Berkhamsted, where his father was headmaster of the public school, and his nascent career as a writer. His widow, Vivien, reluctant to appear on screen, voices her recollections of their first years of marriage. Despite the success of his early adventure novels, Greene never escaped the wish to escape, amusing himself with visits to prostitutes and dangerous foreign travel (not to mention his penchant for games of Russian roulette).

BOOK REVIEW / Pinkie: out on the dangerous edge of things: John Carey considers the background to the enduring popularity of Graham Greene's novel Brighton Rock

'THE BABY is crying & I have ten books accumulated for review and this damned thriller to write,' Graham Greene complained to his brother Hugh in a letter of 31 October 1936. The thriller was Brighton Rock, and Greene's slighting reference to it confirms that, like Stamboul Train (1932) and A Gun for Sale (1936), it was meant as a money-spinner, not serious art. It turned out, though, to be his first masterpiece. It was also - a fact vital to its stature - his first novel seriously to engage with Catholicism. Looking back, he speculated that the Catholic theme had entered the novel because of two developments in world affairs - the persecution of Catholics in Mexico, and Franco's attack on Republican Spain. These two events 'inextricably involved religion in contemporary life', and his novel, though utterly remote from such news items, pursued the same involvement. 'The first fifty pages of Brighton Rock are all that remain of the detective story,' Greene recorded: after that it became something more complex.

Leggatt ends an era in art: One of the world's oldest and most respected galleries is to close. Dalya Alberge reports

SOME 172 years since one of his ancestors founded Leggatt Brothers, Sir Hugh Leggatt has been forced to cease trading.

The agreeable world of Wallace Arnold: A literary friendship

AND STILL I grieve for my old friend and quaffing partner Graham Greene, that veritable master of the written word. A true friend, a terrific admirer of my life and works, an obsessive reader of the many letters and books I sent him, his affection for me will live on in my mind.

WRITING / Driven to the edge of the page: Graham Greene did it; so did Coleridge, Blake, Beerbohm and Pound. Kevin Jackson considers a solitary vice

Earlier this week, Private Eye's 'Books and Bookmen' column claimed that there was trepidation in literary circles at the news that Graham Greene's personal library will shortly be coming up for sale. Anxiety may seem like an odd response to such a bland announcement. The alleged object of concern, however, is not so much the words printed in Greene's books as the words scribbled in them - that is to say, their marginalia. For example, Greene's copy of Evelyn Waugh and His World is said to inscribed with rude remarks about Malcolm Bradbury's contribution: 'How E W would have shuddered at the style]', ' Does this mean anything?' and so on.
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