Two Gentlemen Sharing
Pan, London, 1966
The blurb on the back:
Roddy Pater works in the slick world of advertising. One night he comes home to his sub-Hampstead boarding-house to be told by his landlady that he is to share his room - with Emjo Brown, a cricketing law student from Jamaica.
Under normal circumstances, a forgotten social comedy from 1963 would scarcely be worth mentioning. But this one has the added factor of race, which might make it worth your consideration if you're interested in the evolution of attitudes towards racism in Britain.
David Stuart Leslie was best known for his novel In My Solitude, which was filmed by Roy Ward Baker in 1963 as Two Left Feet with Michael Crawford and Nyree Dawn Porter. And he was undoubtedly an acute observer of social mores; here he is on the forerunners of what would, twenty years later, be known as Sloane Rangers:
Good stuff, you see? I'm therefore prepared to accept his remorseless portrayal of the racism of the metropolitan middle class. And it's bloody uncomfortable reading. Obviously we're not talking full-on Alf Garnett racist abuse here: rather this is a patronising sense of superiority, combined with an unquestioning conviction that black people are objects rather than subjects. The characters are given enough rope to hang themselves, but I'm not convinced that Mr Leslie's position is all one might wish it to be: the underlying assumption seems to be that there's an ideal of cheerful common sense, as embodied in young, well-educated, white men.
To be honest, I wouldn't recommend this for pleasure. But as a record of its times, it's invaluable. This apparently is how a man would convey to another that he finds a young lady attractive: 'Nice bit of tit.' Charmed, I'm sure.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 1/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 1/5