Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated June 2016

Letters to the Editor

FROM John Page

Here is something I think Mr. Shute would have appreciated. 

FROM Richard Michalak

I am reading Steve Job's (co-founder of Apple) biography. Very interesting and many parallels with Round The Bend. Steve Jobs wanted parts of the Mac people would never see to still look neat and tidy like Connie said work hidden from view must be perfect. Also, the real life possible model for Connie was an obsessive aero maintenance guy who was very particular that work was done perfectly. Connie was shown as a placid guy but Jobs and the possible (to me very likely) model for Connie could both difficult to get along with at times because of their obsession with precision.

FROM Mike Cunningham

Being a confirmed Shute-ist for over fifty years, as well as being one of England’s most unsuccessful authors, with the lack of book sales to prove it; I have often hoped to view the film allegedly made from the Nevil Shute’s novel ‘Lonely Road’ and was forever frustrated by the British Film Institute’s reluctance to digitise or release the copy which they possess. I can now understand the BFI’s reluctance, as they quite rightly assumed that a modern audience just would not understand the truly awful job perpetrated upon the minor masterpiece which was Shute’s  novel, ‘Lonely Road’.
If I might expand and explain my comments.
   Neville Shute’s central figure of ‘Lonely Road’, a reluctant hero, whose complex character is the result of inherited wealth, a love of the sea, and of the ships which sail on the waves; as well as a longing for adventure in his youth; a man who massacred all the crew of a surrendering German submarine who had previously killed, mainly by machine-gun, all but two others of his Q-ship’s crew; a man unused to feminine companionship: drives home whilst very drunk, runs off the road in his car; but ends up unconscious after being slugged by an unknown assailant.

 I shall not delve too deeply into the book, as most Shute devotees probably know the novel, it’s intricacies and sub-plots, possibly better than I; but, having just viewed the DVD film, purchased through Amazon: I would attempt to list a few of the areas where the film deserts the theme, plot and rich storyline of that novel.
   The book details the time when Malcolm Stevenson, a Royal Navy Lieutenant served on board a Q-ship, and of the action against a German U-boat. The Q-ship was attacked, taking several direct hits after the ‘panic party’ had departed in a lifeboat; leaving just one gun available for action, and the officer in charge was Stevenson. The sub surfaces, Stevenson aims and fires at the submarine, and holes her, causing the crew to surrender. But the Lieutenant, knowing that his friends lay dead in the lifeboat, fires again and again, until the U-boat submarine sinks and all the Germans are killed or drowned. Everything before that action was, in Stevenson’s mind, just ‘fun’. Everything afterwards, from awaking on a morning to drinking too much and too often, was simply getting through his day!
   In the film, Stevenson states that he surfaced his (British) submarine directly in the path of a large ship, and the resultant collision killed all but he.
   The novel takes great care to establish the intricate thinking, philosophy and motives behind the political thinking which encouraged the importation of dozens of sub-machine guns, explosives; the discovery of which, adjacent to a strike-hit section of the Welsh coalfields would, of necessity; devastate the Socialist dreams of the Labour Party who would be blamed for the importation of revolutionary equipment just before a General Election: of which they were, naturally, entirely blameless.
   The film gives the viewer a ten-second set-piece of some wild-eyed idiot, whose political ambitions are detailed in a single poster, pinned up on a wall: who is presumed responsible for the plot to import the weaponry.
   The novel goes into some detail of the importance to Stevenson of his fleet of small coaters and how he maintains, runs and cossets both the crews and the vessels.
   The film gives the viewer a thirty-second clip of the leading lady mopping the deck of a yacht, and that is it!
   The book travels a winding road to establish a close friendship between Stevenson and Sir Phillip Stenning, his cousin’s husband, a WW1 fighter pilot and flying-boat enthusiast; this friendship allows the plot to import illegal weaponry to become known and reported to the police. The naval man’s friendship with the aviator stemmed from his cousin’s decision to marry ‘outside of her class’, and Stevenson’s defence of that marriage with his wider class-besotted titled family.
   Stenning does not appear at all in the film.
   The novel ended with the murderous attack by Stevenson on the small vessel which held three of the conspirators, two of which were responsible for the machine-gun attack on his home, where his new-found love had been mortally wounded!
   The film gives a ‘happy ending’, with the promise of true love, flowers and sunsets in the distance.
   & on, & on, & on!

 In ending, I wish that Mr. Derek Hill and M.P. Richard Spring had left well enough alone, and not badgered the British Film Institute to allow them to release this thoroughly flawed travesty through commercial interests. I have watched several of Nevil Shute’s works which have been made into movies, citing ‘No Highway’, ‘Landfall’ and of course ‘On the Beach’; but wish that I had not learned that I might buy and watch the DVD which featured ‘Lonely Road’, as I had some paint which needed watching instead!

FROM John Anderson
UK Shute Reunion weekend 7th-8th May 2016.

The sun shone as we boarded the Southampton to Cowes car ferry at the start of the UK Shute reunion weekend. There in Southampton water were the landmarks that feature in Shute’s books, Hamble Spit buoy, Hythe and Calshot Spit. Once docked at East Cowes we met the two Island residents, Angie Groves and David Henshall to cross on the chain ferry to West Cowes. There was Flanagan’s Yard, mentioned in Pilotage, sadly recently damaged by fire. Lunch was at the New Inn at Shalfleet then on by various tracks to the coast to see the beach, still with its concrete ramps, where tank landings were practised and feature in “Requiem for a Wren”. Then on to Newtown River, a tranquil anchorage and the setting for one of Shute’s short stories.

Having missed this tour, I headed to Yarmouth, featured in “In the Wet” and “What Happened to the Corbetts”. Although now a very busy harbour, popular with Solent sailors from dinghies to floating “Gin Palaces” it still retains much of its character and would still be recognisable to Shute.
Our base was the Premier Inn at Newport. After checking in we walked down to the Bargeman’s Rest for a convivial Saturday dinner complete with live music.
On Sunday morning we gathered in a meeting room at the Newport Community Centre. There I presented some of the recent research findings provided by Richard Thorn. These included Shute’s introductory chapter to a book about the wartime exploits of Australian forces on East Timor, and a fascinating file of correspondence with Dick Casey, Australian Minister for External Affairs, who became a friend of the Norway family.
Laura then outlined plans so far for the conference next year in the USA. The favoured location at the moment is Rhinebeck about 100 miles north of New York city. It had good conference facilities and transport links (bus and rail) to New York. Further details be will made available as planning progresses.
Lunch was taken at Medina Quay restaurant before we dispersed, some to look explore the island further and, in my case, to catch the ferry back to the mainland.
Many thanks to Alison Jenner for organising this weekend and to Laura Schneider, Andy Burgess, Joost Meulenbroek, Bettina Neezen, Angie Groves and David Henshall for making it such a memorable event.

FROM James Fricker

The airshipmen: a novel based on a true story: a tale of love, betrayal and political intrigue and Book

by  Dennington, David.
Publication Date  2015
ISBN  9781518642524
Excerpt:  and / Dennington, David.

is available at Eastern Regional Library now (specially added at my request).
A riveting story that plays out against the background of one of the most intriguing chapters in aviation history. David Dennington weaves a fascinating web of romance, courage, tragedy and shattered dreams and gives the reader a front row seat to eye-opening, high-stakes political battles on two continents. A real page turner with the constant feeling that something new and unexpected is about to unfold.
David Wright, former journalist with the Daily Mirror.

Dennington studied and attended workshops on fiction and screenplay writing and created two screenplays. He carried out many years of research on the subject of the British airship program (which had fascinated him since reading Nevil Shute's Slide Rule as a teenager) through books and on-site visits in the UK and U.S.A.  In the end, he had enough material to write two novels. This is the first. He had thought of changing all the names of real people in the story, but in the end, decided he wanted to honor the real characters--each heroic in his, or her, own way in the struggle called 'life'.

Good read.

FROM Mike Berliner

Scott McConnell’s interview with Henry Crawford has been published (in three parts) in Filmink, the premier online Australian film magazine.  Although it contains no new copy, there are numerous photos supplied by Mr. Crawford for this publication, and I think that the newsletter readers would be interested in seeing them.  Here are the links:

FROM Paul Spoff

Neat video about Pan Am's Pacific Clipper and WWII. 

Some history most people know nothing about:   

FROM Richard Michalak

This may be old news but I just read, in Wikipedia,  about Sir Alan Cobham:
On 25 November 1926, Cobham attempted but failed to be the first person to deliver mail to New York City by air from the east, planning to fly mail from the White Star ocean liner RMS Homeric in a de Havilland DH.60 Moth floatplane when the ship was about 12 hours from New York harbour on a westbound crossing from Southampton. After the Moth was lowered from the ship, however, Cobham was unable to take off owing to rough water and had to be towed into port by the ship.
I would guess that Shute used this incident as the basis for one of the stories of Pilotage. 


It seems, that summer has arrived here in the Netherlands.           Loving it.
    See you all next month.