The New Pornography

A comment by Margo under Funeral in Berlin caught my attention:

Fantastically good read! Is this the new pornography? (An example of how if you ban something its appeal immediately doubles?)

Yes, I replied, it is. And carried on thinking about that for much of the rest of the day.

I could see a book beginning to take shape. There’d be a lot of the new pornography in it. In fact, it would be almost all pornography, held together by some sort of flimsy plot.

The hero would be a smoker, and his name would reflect this. He’d be English, and he’d be called Cloud. That seemed like a good smoky name. And he’d work for Big Tobacco in an undercover capacity. And the Bad Guys would be the antismokers working for Control. And the big shot in Control would be called Gland: Stanford Gland. It would be exactly the same format as a Bond book – or a Len Deighton spy story -, but with different forces pitted against each other. There’d be equivalent figures for M and Miss Moneypenny.

Cloud’s mission would be to go to San Francisco, and help to set up a smokers’ resistance movement. Or maybe to infiltrate Control. Or both.

And along the way he’d meet up with the girl. Or maybe several girls (after all, there used to be lots in Bond books). I haven’t managed to think of a girl’s name yet. But it’s got to be a smoky name. Like Nadia Tabac or Go-go Puff.

Cloud walked along the corridor of the Hyatt hotel to the door of the broom cupboard he’d noted earlier that day. He tried the handle, but it was locked. He took out a piece of plastic and slid it through the gap between the door and the jamb until the lock slipped open. In another second he was inside, and had closed the door behind him, and switched on the light.

It was much as he expected. There were brooms and mops and a couple a vacuum cleaners. Along the walls hung a set of smocks on coat hangers, with boots and overshoes under them. A small cupboard on the wall contained detergents and soap and spray cleaners.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out the cigarette packet and the lighter, slipped a cigarette into his mouth, and brought up the lighter to its tip.

The lighter flashed as he flicked it, but no flame came. He tried again and again, but it was obviously out of gas. He felt in his pocket for his emergency matches, but couldn’t find them.

‘Would you like to use my lighter?’ a voice from behind him breathed.

He spun round to find that one of the smocks on the wall was extending a long slim arm towards him, with a gold lighter between its bright red fingernails.

‘Why, thank you,’ he replied, taking the lighter and lighting his cigarette.

‘Aren’t you going to light mine too?’ she said, stepping forward out of the smock.

‘Why, certainly,’ he said, and flicked the flame back on, and held it to the tip of the long slim cigarette that hung from her languid, full lips.

There was hardly any space in the broom cupboard, and they were inches apart. Cloud hunted around for something to say.

‘Do you come here often?’ he eventually asked…

It wouldn’t just be broom cupboards. It would be fire escapes, alleyways, toilets, empty buildings, anywhere. And they’d be at it all the time.

‘How about a quickie on the back seat?’ Nadia asked, arching one eyebrow and grinning impishly, as Cloud steered the Prius round a sharp bend.

‘No, not here,’ Cloud said. ‘There are too many buildings overlooking us. We’d be seen. Wait until we reach the trees up ahead.’

They got out of the car under the tall junipers, and slid down the bank beside the road. There was a culvert at the bottom, with a big stormwater pipe that ran under the road. They squeezed inside.

Nadia was panting slightly as Cloud slipped a cigarette between her lips and lit it.

‘Boy, I needed that,’ she eventually said, exhaling long and slow.

Endless possibilities here. In these circumstances, it would be very hard to avoid getting physical. Far too hard. But the inevitable encounter might be delayed for a long, long time, ratcheting the tension slowly up to breaking point.

There would be encounters with antismokers from Control, of course. There might even be a car chase through the streets of  San Francisco, a bit like in Bullitt, except in slow electric cars that tell  their drivers when they’re speeding.

It might even be possible to get Steve McQueen in somewhere. Or Humphrey Bogart. Or Marilyn Monroe.

And there’d be lots of factual stuff as well, about eugenics and the Nazi origins of Control.

But the main thing would be the smoky pornography. Cigarettes and smoke are very sexy things. And perhaps that’s what the antismokers really hate about them.

But could I write a book like that? I’m not sure I could. I’m probably not sufficiently disciplined. I tend to write when I’m inspired, and inspiration usually doesn’t last more than a few hours. Okay for essays or short stories that can be written in an hour or two. But an idea that’s exciting one day very often seems tired and drab the next.

But maybe a book could be written very quickly? Funeral in Berlin struck me as a book that had been written in haste. I wonder how long it took Len Deighton to bash it out on a typewriter?

Anyway, does it sound at all promising? Would anyone want to buy it?


About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to The New Pornography

  1. “long slim cigarette that hung from her languid, full lips…”
    Fifty shades of grey smoke, eh?
    I like a man that smokes, too. Same reasons…

  2. timbone says:

    Michael Caine always had a cigarette on the go, and so did Sean Connery, and they were plain cigarettes, normal size when king size were taxed more heavily, Park Drive, Players Weights, those were the days.

  3. Scot says:

    Caine – not as Harry Palmer, at least in the movies, though he did have a one big cigar in Billion Dollar Brain…

    Connery always had a fag at the ready at the casino tables though…

  4. Jim says:

    Well they get around to making the film version may I suggest Lana Del Rey for the part of Moneypenny?

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Yo uh Frank you need Lana as a Bond/Cloud girl and you as Agent Cloud……When the end of the movie comes your making love in a tobacco patch growing in UCLA as Glands is seen making his escape in a giant big pharma blimp……..You have a remote control in your pocket you switch on and the Pharma Blimp suddenly turns into a giant cigarette and the end ignites sending glands into freefall str8 into ALCATRAZ!

        • Best laugh of the week, Harley. I can see it oh so clearly!!

        • Frank Davis says:

          I’m not handsome enough to play the part of Cloud. And I haven’t got enough tattoos, for starters. In fact, I haven’t got any.

        • Margo says:

          Somewhere before this, Gland has Blue Cloud cornered in a museum:

          There was nothing else for it. Cloud reached for the Ultimate Weapon.
          ‘Ha ha,’ mocked Gland, dodging behind a pillar; because it looked like a (relatively) harmless Colt 38.
          It was nothing of the sort.
          As Cloud pulled the trigger, dense clouds of second, third, fourth and even fifth hand smoke filled the entire room.
          Gland gave a strange, high-pitched shriek and collapsed. He lay prostrate, seized by an imaginary and near-fatal asthma attack.

  5. Tom says:

    Actually, seriously, this idea for a book/movie-script isn’t all that bad. In fact I think it could work – also having “quickies” here and there while trying to be out of sight to smoke a cig could really drive home the point of what it’s like in SF and elsewhere. It could even be a major big seller too, not minor, but major since it’s timely and on topic with everything that anything mainstream (media, publishing, broadcasting, film, stage, etc.) has thus far failed to realize. So while mainstream goes around in circles congratulating itself based on nonsense, a book/script like this one could turn the world upside down and end up being one of those forever-talked-about books well into the future.

  6. Margo says:

    Oh, I love it!
    ‘Hi,’ she breathed, lifting the gold lighter close. ‘They call me Go-go. Go-go Puff.’
    He drew in hard. ‘Cloud,’ he said. His lips parted slightly, in the shape of a kiss. ‘Blue Cloud.’
    And hanging in the air between them, she saw it, a perfect ring.

  7. I love it. I’d definately buy it! Go for it Frank

  8. reinholdfrombavaria says:

    I’ll proofread the German translation of this magnificent work (and hope to get a free copy therefore).

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank your gonna love this:

    Man who tried to ban smoking narrowly escapes further punishment
    At a fraught meeting last night, a controversial town councillor was allowed to keep his honourary title of Alderman by the narrowest of margins.

    Paul Bartlett, who proposed a smoking ban on the streets of Stony Stratford, is currently suspended from the town’s parish council following a Standards Board ruling that he had broken a councillors’ code of conduct.

    But last night (Wednesday) there was a heavy atmosphere in the chamber at Milton Keynes Council as its 51 members discussed whether to impose an extra sanction of removing his honourary Alderman status, which was given to him for his work in the community.

    It was found by the Standards Committee that Mr Bartlett had used his title when signing off an e-mail, addressed to the brewery bosses of a landlady with whom he was having a dispute.

    It was thought, with many people not understanding the title of Alderman, this was used to add extra ‘weight’ to his communication.

    In a highly rare step, there was no ‘party whip’ for the meeting, meaning councillors did not have to vote along party lines and could each make their own personal decision on the issue.

    Eventually 18 councillors voted against removing his title, with 17 voting in favour and 14 abstaining from the vote.

    Mr Bartlett could not attend the meeting for personal reasons, but speaking this morning he said: “I feel much better now.

    I was hoping it could have been held when I was there, but I think it’s a fair result, and common sense and fairness have prevailed.

    “I’m thankful to the people who have stuck by me throughout this affair.”

    Many of the Conservative councillors who know Mr Bartlett personally, and many others who do not, expressed their personal difficulty and unease at having to make such a decision.

    The vote split parties, and even Conservative brothers Peter and Andrew Geary voted differently.

    Many others, particularly within the Liberal Democrats, expressed their anger that the motion had even made it to the meeting, claiming the Standards Committee should not have been able to make such recommendations.

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    Smoking Banned Inside Santa Monica Residences
    The city council voted 4-2 on Tuesday to expand a smoking prohibition in the coastal city

  11. prog says:

    “‘Do you come here often?’ he eventually asked…”

    You’ll need to work on the chat up lines Frank…

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