Never Judge a Man by his Umbrella by Nicholas Elliott - review by Francis Wheen

Francis Wheen

His Lips Are Sealed

Never Judge a Man by his Umbrella

By

Michael Russell Publishing 202pp @14.95 order from our bookshop
 

‘Anyone of no public eminence of whom the world in general has never heard (and I come into both these categories) is presumptuous in thinking he can write a book which people will want to read.’

Thus the mock-modest opening words of Nicholas Elliott’s autobiography. I say mock-modest because he must know very well that plenty of people have long hungered to know more about his adventures. He may have no public eminence, but in certain circles he is a legend. Consider:

In 1956, the Russian leaders Khrushchev and Bulganin arrived at the Royal Naval dockyard in Portsmouth aboard the cruiser Ordzhonikidze – a visit that is now remembered largely because of ‘Buster’ Crabb, the naval frogman who disappeared while secretly diving to inspect the Soviet ship’s propellers. The Conservative government, which

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