MEMORIES by Naim Attallah (Quartet £15, 278 pp)
by Naim Attallah (Quartet £15, 278 pp)
From a reluctant young apprentice in bleak postwar England to publisher, author, impresario, boulevardier and giver of parties at which his well-bred, young female employees wafted around in rubber dresses — Naim Attallah’s career has been the stuff of legend.
Now, he writes, ‘I’ve almost reached my ninth decade and it is tough going.’ To celebrate the ‘charms and follies’ of his heyday, he’s compiled a memoir: Attallah met everyone from Dame Margot Fonteyn to Paula Yates, and has relished almost every encounter.
Alongside the fizzy social life, this memoir reminds us that as a publisher, Atallah was a fearless supporter of high-minded literature. And while his protegees may have been posh and pretty, they responded with flair to what one, the author Rebecca Fraser, remembers as his ‘wonderful ability to give responsibility to the young.’
Gone Fishing by Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse (Blink £8.99, 352 pp)
by Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse (Blink £8.99, 352 pp)
Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse’s BBC2 series, Gone Fishing, is a glorious celebration of friendship, comedy and fish.
Both have suffered serious heart problems, and fishing proved an ideal way to take gentle exercise in beautiful countryside. It also provides endless opportunities for jokes. Revealing that the first ever book on fishing, A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle, was written in 1496 by Dame Juliana Berners. Paul explains that ‘angle’ meant a hook — ‘that’s why we’re called anglers instead of hookers’. An entrancing mix of sound advice and the pair’s inimitable whimsy, this is a book you’ll buy for the angler in your life, and end up keeping for yourself.
by Tom Marcus (Pan £8.99, 320 pp)
Spy by Tom Marcus (Pan £8.99, 320 pp)
‘Tom Marcus’ is the pseudonym of a former soldier and physical training instructor who once put the Colonel of his regiment on remedial PT for failing to complete 50 sit-ups.
Recruited for special operations in counter-terrorism, he drew on the skills he had learned during a tough childhood on the streets, hiding in plain sight as a surveillance officer for MI5.
His gritty memoir recounts the many atrocities he helped to foil, including the petrol-bombing of a school by a white supremacist, an Islamist terrorist plan to shoot into a crowd of 400 people, and a sophisticated Russian cyber-warfare plot.
The attacks never stop coming, he warns, but people like him are our invisible shield against them. ‘You could be walking your kids to school or nipping to the shop and not realise that you’re surrounded by MI5.’