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".

BOOK REVIEW / Some red-hot gossip and disgusting beds: Fingered as a pervert or followed with doglike devotion: Ian Thomson on the Graham Greene industry

Even in life, the grand old man was handsomely defamed. In 1968 a spooky pamphlet was published by Papa Doc Duvalier: Graham Greene - Finally Exposed. The Haitian dictator did not pull his punches, 'I have been warned that Mr Greene is some sort of private detective'. Furthermore, the 'shame of proud and noble England' is a 'negrophobic benzedrine addict' and 'habitue of leper houses'.

Captain Moonlight: Those Greene revelations in full

CAPTAIN'S compliments: Graham Greene, confused? Three biographies, serialisations, sales of letters and papers, revelation upon allegation. Need a little help to get by? Let me try to sum it all up for you in one semi-magisterial Moonlit sentence: Graham Greene, a writer with four nipples, a homosexual inclination, a tendency to borrow plots and an unhealthy interest in trunk murders, attempted to make love behind every altar in Italy with a woman not his wife during one period of a lifetime of travel in which he occasionally spied for any intelligence service you might care to name while always secretly accompanied by a teddy bear called Ted, a cuddly symbol of his sexual repression and confusion. Impressive extra fact to throw in as evidence of just how au fait you are with it all: the nanny of the children of the woman not his wife was called Twinkle. Captain's cultural trend note: Marlon Brando was cited last week as yet another example of excessively heterosexual activity prompted by worries about homosexual urges. I was wondering about Bill Clinton when I came across a picture of him meeting a 6ft 7in basketball player with the North Carolina University basketball team called Gwendolyn Gillingham. 'All my life I have been looking for a woman as tall as I am,' he said. So that explains it.

Biographer reveals Graham Greene's life with bear necessity: New book tells of the confused sexuality and secret companion of literary legend. David Lister reports

GRAHAM GREENE, novelist, spy, adventurer and seducer, never travelled anywhere without his teddy bear.

Kim Philby's widow in from the cold

KIM PHILBY'S Russian widow, Rufina, with her telltale bright red hair, sat in the front row at Sotheby's yesterday, head bent over a catalogue as her husband's books and manuscripts were sold to the highest bidder, writes Geraldine Norman. She emerged some pounds 120,000 richer. 'I don't feel happy because I hated the whole business,' she told me. 'But I had to go for it and I am satisfied with the result.'

Letter: Greene giant

IS POPULAR culture a contradiction in terms? Geoffrey Wheatcroft ('Behind the jolly Greene giant', 10 July) clearly thinks so. He says Graham Greene was guilty of 'incurable frivolity' and doubts he was ever entirely serious or sincere about anything. These are simply extensions of the well-worn theory, put about by Anthony Burgess, among others, that Greene could never be a great novelist because he was popular. There are many historical precedents, Dickens being the most obvious example.

Behind the jolly Greene giant: Geoffrey Wheatcroft says one of our greatest writers was only playing games

ALTHOUGH Graham Greene's lengthy liaison with Catherine Walston has been known for a long time - as has his other lengthy liaison, with the secret service - we have waited until now to learn some of the more lurid details of both. What adultery and spying had in common was the way they illustrated Greene's chief characteristic, his incurable frivolity.

Bunhill: From our mailbag

WELCOME to the corner reserved especially for you, the reader. And, following my interest in the BBC's political editor, this from John Webb of Tottenham: 'Re: this Robin Oakley chappie. Am I the only person who thinks that he is actually Harry Enfield?' Next, a Mr C D Powell of Southsea contacts me about Graham Greene's four nipples: 'Your comments remind me of the character Scaramanga in the James Bond story, The Man with the Golden Gun, whose extra nipple was supposed to suggest great sexual potency. Does anyone know if Alan Clark is thus endowed and what colour weapon he uses?' Thank you, Mr Powell] And keep those letters coming, everyone]

Underrated / Spies like us: The case for Eric Ambler

To be honest, it's a moot point whether Eric Ambler really is underrated - Graham Greene called him 'the master' and himself 'one of his disciples'; John Le Carre said he was the well into which all other thriller writers had dipped. His books have been filmed (the 1942 version of Journey into Fear is practically worth an Underrated in itself), given awards and endlessly reprinted. But the sad truth is that few people read him nowadays, and a disturbingly large number haven't even heard of him.

Captain Moonlight: The matter of Greene's breast taken to heart

LET ME come to the point. How many nipples do you have? The Captain has the regulation two. But Graham Greene? Four, it would seem. A letter, part of a forthcoming sale by his family of Greene papers, written by him to Auberon Waugh, and published in the current London Review of Books, reads: 'Dear Bron, I was painfully reminded by your Diary in the 500th issue of Private Eye of the fact that I have four nipples.' Waugh had claimed that a leading lady of broadcasting had a multiplicity of nipples; he wrote back to Greene promising that his secret would be safe. A joke? Waugh now doesn't seem disposed to think so. Greene's nephew, Graham Carleton Greene, remembers hearing about it, but isn't sure. Norman Sherry, the Greene biographer, would not deign to share his thoughts with the Captain. Extra nipples are said to be commonplace; but they have also long been considered a mark of the devil (cf Anne Boleyn, three nipples, six fingers). Could be a chunky thesis in this.

BOOK REVIEW / High wind that subsided into gentility: 'Richard Hughes' - Richard Perceval Graves: Andre Deutsch, 20 pounds

DESPITE a professional life that extended over half a century, Richard Hughes (1900-76) produced only four full-length novels. Two of these, A High Wind in Jamaica and The Fox in the Attic, separated by a gap of 30 years, were considerable best-sellers. In between came a piecemeal living on the dreariest kind of hack work, even extending to unfilmed scripts for Ealing studios. The chief paradox of Hughes's career rises inexorably to dominate Richard Perceval Graves's painstaking biography: how a man who exulted in the 'life sentence' of the writer's calling could find the act of writing such perpetual torment.

Greene's library of revealing scribbles for sale

DIARY ENTRIES, skeletal plots, word counts for novels in progress and draft dialogues that Graham Greene scribbled on the pages of thousands of his books are to be revealed for the first time. His library of 3,000 books is being sold by his family this summer.

BOOK REVIEW / Innocence deserted: 'Burning Bright' - Helen Dunmore: Viking, 15 pounds

THIS IS a story of terrible innocence, of lost children out in the snow: the worst thing is that they all believe they know the score. Nadine is a 16- year-old who suddenly finds in the sixth form that she can't read any more: Not university material, writes the headmistress. Her parents have left the country in search of help for her disabled sister, quite happy to leave her to live 'with friends'. She falls in with Finn Kai, a wide-boy who, with his friend Tony, has taken over an old house in the provincial city where the novel is set. On the top floor, like the witch in Sleeping Beauty, lives Enid, haunted by the dreadful death years ago of her lover, Sukey. Before long, Nadine is tripping up the stairs to visit her.

Postcard from Turin: The stranger's hand: Ian Thomson met Mario Soldati to learn more about Primo Levi. Instead, the conversation was entirely dominated by a third man

TALKING to Mario Soldati is a struggle these days. Almost 90, the veteran Italian novelist and film director suffers from a language disorder called nominal aphasia. Periods of lucidity are sabotaged by difficulties in finding the right word.

Blood will out in peasant revolt: In the 50 years since Graham Greene wrote of hunger and hopelessness in Mexico, little had changed - until now

'CHIAPAS was forgotten in Mexico City: it was so far away Mexicans didn't know it existed.' The words were written by a sometime foreign correspondent by the name of Graham Greene, in 1938, in his book The Lawless Roads. It was an account of an odyssey to this southern Mexican town that inspired his novel The Power and The Glory.

INTERVIEW / First among incorrigibles: It'll be a good year for Lord Archer: every year is. Another book is sure to sell, who knows what politics will bring . . . and if it's disappointment, he might just bounce back

IT'S BEEN a good year for Jeffrey Archer, but then every year is pretty good if you are as eager and enthusiastic, bouncy and boyish as our Jeffrey, smiling and whistling, even when faced with financial ruin, as has happened, or a court case, as also happened. Out of which he bounded, triumphantly.
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