I shall banish it from my memory

I wonder how many times I have read my favourite book – I know I first read it when it was dramatised and a friend and I followed the TV series and the book at the same time as it was so complex, so clever, so intriguing, that we had to have a reference to follow it. The book it was based on was published in 1974 but I didn’t read it until five years later when the BBC series was shown. I think I started watching it because it starred Alec Guinness (does that give you a clue) but I was soon impressed by the truly stellar cast.  I have a feeling that once the series finished, and I had finished reading the novel over the weeks it was shown, I read it again straight away, all the way through.  I think that was the first time – despite studying English literature through O-levels (yes, I’m old) A-levels, and my degree – that I really understood what great writing was. A few years later, I went through a very difficult period for a number of reasons, and I read this novel again and again, it took me away from all the unhappy things I was struggling with. Since then, now I’m in happy times, I still read it frequently, for the sheer pleasure, and in fact I’m rereading it now, and I am still discovering things I’d never noticed or realised before.

The book? It’s ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ by the incomparable John le Carré. A film was made in 2011 and I was very excited at the prospect of seeing it, although I did wonder how it might be condensed into a few hours as the story-line is so complicated and intricate. I went along, taking my daughter, assuring her that she would enjoy it – but good grief! What a crashing disappointment!!! It was a travesty!!! Essential and key aspects of character, plot, intrigue were changed for no real reason which made the whole thing ludicrous and just plain silly! It had good reviews, I cannot imagine why, it was praised and awarded and highly acclaimed… It was a completely different plot, with different characters, set somewhere else but with the same title. It was embarrassing!!! How could Gary Oldman possibly be George Smiley? Too young, too slim, two-dimensionable!  I shall banish it from my memory.

So, I’m rereading Tinker, Tailor, for no reason other than for sheer enjoyment.

By the way, here is the stellar cast to which I referred:

Alec Guinness as George Smiley / “Beggarman”
Alexander Knox as Control
Michael Jayston as Peter Guillam
Anthony Bate as Oliver Lacon
Bernard Hepton as Toby Esterhase / “Poorman”
Ian Richardson as Bill Haydon / “Tailor”
Ian Bannen as Jim Prideaux
Hywel Bennett as Ricki Tarr
Michael Aldridge as Percy Alleline / “Tinker”
Terence Rigby as Roy Bland / “Soldier”
George Sewell as Mendel
Beryl Reid as Connie Sachs
Joss Ackland as Jerry Westerby
Siân Phillips as Ann Smiley
Frank Moorey as Lauder Strickland
Nigel Stock as Roddy Martindale
John Standing as Sam Collins
Thorley Walters as Tufty Thessinger
John Wells as Headmaster
Patrick Stewart as Karla
Mandy Cuthbert as Molly Purcell
Warren Clarke as Alwyn
Joe Praml as Paul Skordeno
Susan Kodicek as Irina
Alec Sabin as Fawn
Hilary Minster as Boris
George Pravda as Polyakov
Duncan Jones as “Jumbo” Roach

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