Here’s my book of the year. Well any year really and despite appearances it isn’t a fact and stat based history of the boxy Bertone designed version of the British Leyland Mini. The author, Frank Kirtley, does know his cars, but not to the extent that it would bore someone who wasn’t into vehicles.
The book itself looks great on your bedside table, not least because the cover features has a period (1980s) Dutch registered Innocenti 120 with a moon roof and added wing damage, pictured on a dusty European mountain pass. This suggests, as you read a few chapters in, that the story inside may well be ‘based on a fairly true story’.
The protagonists are a girl (Diana) and boyfriend (Jensen), what a wonderfully old-fashioned term that is. Indeed, driving around Spain and France in a boxy mini whilst involved in a straightforward cold war spy plot is a massive plus point. It is straightforward, there are some twists, but it is delightful to be able to get into the back seat of the Inni with them and go along for the wild ride.
Anyone who wasn’t around in the early ‘80s will be amazed to learn that there were no mobile phones to help prise you out of a tight spot and you had to think on your feet. Also, passport control was a lot more flexible and London was the place to really enjoy life.
I look forward to the film version. Trouble is there are no British actresses pretty, or versatile enough to play Diana and they stopped making no-nonsense Jensens a very long time ago.