- Marks out of 10 for Cover
Russ looks understandably smug after his season in the sun - his bags are packed but the obligatory semi-naked Blonde (who looks vaguely familiar) is giving him those bed-me eyes. She knows that there's always time for one last bout of TOBIN before the Plane leaves...
Take off Tobin, and see how it feels. "Oh this is terrible!" she gasped, collapsing against the pillow. "Awful" I agreed, fighting for breath. "We can't keep this up - we'll KILL ourselves". "At least" . "We'll probably fall down dead in the street. Too much lovin'." "I can see it now. Russ Tobin, star of hit TV commercials, was found in a crumpled heap in Oxford Street today. Post-mortem revealed a strain equal to running up Mt. Everest six times carrying a fully grown bullock!"
Take it all off, Russ, and have yourself a ball - you have nothing to lose but your genes!
- Brief Description of the Plot
The story opens on Friday 4th November (NB the 4th November fell on a Friday in 1966 - the leap year in 1972 meant that it didn't fall on a Friday again until 1977! So either a)Stan is having a little joke with us b)Stan wasn't really paying all that much attention or c)The story is maybe set in 1966 (doubtful)....maybe Russ was just so tired from the summer's non-stop shagging that he got it wrong!) Anyway - maybe we're taking this all a bit too seriously. If you like time-line weirdness - check out the review of Tobin Down Under...
Back to the plot. Russ decides to try for the Safari Courier job, spends his last night in Majorca in Jail and eventually arrives back in London with Patrick on 5th November. (NB The first quarter of the book is still set in Majorca, which means there is almost as much Majorca action as in "The Courier") Once in London, they stay at the Phoenix Hotel just off the Bayswater Road (this appears to be a real place. The Phoenix Hotel is near Bayswater Station and looks very nice!) and they meet up with Tony Dane again who drags them along to a party held by the latest pop-sensation, Albert Chutney (real name: Horatio Death!).Albert is a true scouser and Russ bonds with him over this, doing "translation" of his thick accent during an interview. Anyway - Russ gets the Safari job starting 1st December - so with time to kill he takes a cruise down to Africa, leaving November 11th (Trivia alert! That's the day after Stan's birthday) and arriving in Durban on November 28th. I've always thought it odd that he doesn't actually "Take Off" therefore - the book should, by rights, be called "Tobin Sets Sail". But then that doesn't have quite the same figurative significance, and technically he does fly from Durban to Nairobi after he docks, so we'll let Stan off I think.
Other points to note. Russ sails to Durban on RMS Windsor Castle, a luxury liner that ran a regular service between Southampton and Durban via Las Palmas and Cape Town between 1960 and 1977. The description of the journey as a First Class passenger is very detailed and a wonderful historical document of the steamliner era. Russ stays in 1st Class B Deck Cabin 60
On Page 38 Russ encounters an aggressive gorilla which is very reminiscent of those in Stan's Michael Morgan book "Octopus Hill".
On Page 118 when Russ is discussing his love-life philosophy with Tania, he yet again states how much he respects the women he is intimate with. "I have never flown at the first light of dawn. If I felt it was likely, I wouldn't go to bed with the girl in the first place". While this is clearly true of most of his relationships, it's fair to say that his brief fling with the wild thing Ellaleen on Page 174 doesn't exactly tick that box. He seems to know before, during and after that it's a very bad idea! See also his quickie with Clarisa at the party in "Come Again Courier" (he allows her to believe that he's someone else deliberately so she can't track him down afterwards!) and Caroline Courtney in the same book. He clearly doesn't especially like either of these women at all..
- Page at which Russ Tobin first eyes up a lady
On Page 8 Russ idly fantasises about all the ladies he met in Majorca. Not till Page 15 does he cast an eye over a REAL woman...and she's the Air Hostess!
- Page at which Russ Tobin first gets to know a lady in the biblical sense
A barren patch for Russ (he surely needed the break?) - on Page 92 he says it's been ONE WHOLE WEEK since he last got Herc involved. Not until Page 124 does he get back amongst the girls. He certainly makes up for it after that though.
- Page at which Russ Tobin first drinks a Vodka Tonic
Russ is on the Scotch and Soda at the start of the book, and tries a Brandy on Page 13 - not until Page 93 does he get a taste of the vodka, whilst at Albert Chutney's party.
- Page at which Russ Tobin first reminisces about a previous adventure
Immediately! The story opens with a thorough recount of the story so far..
Take some time to see the world and don't be in a rush to get to where you need to be. Also the experience of travelling First Class is not all it's cracked up to be. In fact it's pretty tedious and stuffed full of dull old bores!
- Rating on the MORGANOMETER
Quite honestly this isn't a GREAT Tobin book plot-wise, but by any standard it's still a good read and its primary purpose is to act as the transition piece between life in Majorca and life in Nairobi. Stan could have skipped straight from "Come Again Courier" to "Tobin On Safari" and we'd not have noticed. Describing the boat journey is the only real reason for the book to exist. 7/10