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DAVID GURNEY
The 'F' Certificate


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Mayflower, London, 1970
(price: 7/-; 192 pages)
first published by Bernard Geis, London, 1968


The blurb on the back:

England run wild...
Suddenly, one bright summer day, the same inexplicable phenomenon occurred simultaneously on the beaches of England's crowded seaside resorts: sexy, lithe young girls and handsome, bronzed men walked naked together in full view of the holiday crowds. At the same time, inside the studios of a large and prestigious film company, plans were already well advanced for completing the boldest stroke in the history of cinema: a film for general release showing the sexual act in full detail. All that was needed to get the film on thousands of screens was - the 'F' Certificate.
This is the England of the immediate future - sex-mad, drugged, and overrun by swarm of silent, brutal youths called Drummers who indiscriminately destroy, maim and kill.
Where would it all end?


The underlying (indeed the overlying) theme of this one is the traditional where-on-earth-is-all-this-permissiveness-taking-us, with a particular emphasis on what-on-earth-will-these-young-people-get-up-to-next. That question from the sleeve-notes could stand as a motto for the entire genre: 'Where would it all end?' (With the revenge of the right in the shape of Thatcher, as it happens.)

The only original angle here really is the focus on a film company. Struggling with the advent of mass TV, the firm is torn between its founder - a decent traditional upholder of standards - and his partner, a thrusting permissive type, who sees the future as being financially secure only if pornography is forced into the mainstream. Extensive reference is made to the Lady Chatterley trial, with the implied interpretation that the publication of that novel was used as a Trojan horse to smuggle 57 varieties of smut into Britain: a similar test case on a naturist film, it is suggested, could do wonders for the porn industry.

So far, so good, but it's fairly familiar territory and the level of inspiration ain't very high. Better is the post-Clockwork Orange strand about a tribe of quasi-psychopathic teen outsiders known here as the Drummers. And luckily we get an early account of these people:

'What is a drummer, Mr Saxby?' A learned judge had asked a prosecuting council [sic] only a day or two before....
'A Drummer, my Lord,' Mr Saxby had replied with a patience he did not feel, 'is one of the less attractive phenomena of our time. It is an expression widely used to describe a human being of either - or often, of no apparent - sex, who displays certain well-defined characteristics. Among these are a form of dress which I feel sure your Lordship must have noticed on your Lordship's way to and from the court. An addiction - if I may use the word, and I think its use advisable - to the wearing of black tights which emphasize the shape of the lower limbs and lower torso, and a loose black top that some have described as a sort of short maternity jacket, some as a shapeless jerkin, and some as a tunic. The hair is worn long, my Lord, greased and twisted into thin ringlets.' (p.17)

Yeah, okay, it's not particularly fascinating stuff, but there's a certain something that makes it tolerable. Not as good as Drummer itself, though.

David Gurney - according to the British Library catalogue - was a pseudonym of Patrick Bair, which means nothing to me, and he was also responsible for The Conjurers and The Evil Under the Water (see below), and for The Devil in the Atlas: A Study of Modern Satanism. Any further information would be greatly welcomed.

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an alternative edition

Additional Note: Mr Ian Covell, who has so often provided information about the books on this site, tells me that, under his own name, Patrick Bair was the author of Faster! Faster! (1950), Gargantua Falls (1951), The Gympsum Flower (1959), Open Your Hand and Close Your Eyes (1964), The Coming Together (1968) and The Tribunal (1970).


ARTISTIC MERIT: 2/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
4/5


from the author of
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The Evil Under The Water
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The Conjurors

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