Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

A while ago, I wrote a post about a rumoured long-lost manuscript that my Father may or may not have been writing shortly before his death in 1973.

The end of that post was also the end of the trail. Though several people had vague recollections of its existence, there was no sign of it anywhere and it was destined to remain an unanswered quest(ion).

Well, it turned up!

An email arrived from a distant relative, whose daughter had come across some old papers in a drawer in a clear-out of stuff in their house in London and who had come across parts of a manuscript of a novel by Desmond Dalton, entitled “The Brandenburg Contingency”. Did I want it? You bet! I fidgeted for a few days waiting for it to be delivered and was almost too nervous to open the package when it was. Nearly forty years old, would it amount to anything?

What I received was really not what I was expecting. It’s a novel – a sort of crime thriller. There are three completed chapters and a synopsis outlining the rest of the story. It takes place during and after World War Two and is quite a caper – one could easily imagine it being both a best-seller and a movie.

But it is not complete. His legacy was the germ of an idea, not its fruit. It feels oddly as though there is something else going on here – to have started something like this, but not complete it (he was not a Completer Finisher!), to discover its possible existence, but lose trace and then to regain the scent – and now it has re-surfaced, it is crying out for completion. So, one day, I will. And that is why, dear reader, I really can’t give the story away just yet. I’d love to – it’s a humdinger – but you’d only feel it necessary to go away and finish it yourselves.

Suffice it to say, for now, that the plot twists and turns its way from the Nazi High Command to corrupt US Politics, via a devilishly clever scheme to heist some jewels…. but I say too much already. Watch this space.


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The Internet may be infamous as platform for gibberish, ungrammatical monologues and semi-meaningless self indulgence amongst the young (I may be being only a little harsh), but it does also allow the middle-aged to indulge in intrigue and a kind of archaeology which occasionally makes connections with the past.
A few of my earlier posts have featured my own family in one way or another, from battling and revolutionary grandparent (which, coincidentally, revealed a cross-connection with the antecedent of one of the Personal Tutors at Henley), to passing mention of my father’s epic crossing of the Atlantic in 1950 in a small boat, the Ituna. So here’s another one…
I have a relative, by marriage, named Robin Dalton. Robin is a fascinating story in her own right, and is now in her 80s. An Australian by birth, she has published two volumes of memoirs, been a writer and producer of Hollywood film and West End stage and seems to maintain, even now, boundless energy that is divided among many ventures in the arts. However, a meeting with her last year threw up a gem from the past.
Robin mentioned that my father, Desmond, a month or so before his premature death in 1973, had given her a manuscript – the opening chapters and synopsis of a novel – with the request that, being so much better connected in the publishing world, could she pass it on to a likely publisher for consideration. If you want something done, always ask a busy person, and Robin duly did as she had been asked. Nothing came of this, the story could not be developed because the author died, and there is no way of knowing whether it would have gone any further.  Sadly, too, there was no sign of the manuscript itself and, with so many years passed, by the time I heard of this tale Robin could not recall where it might be, even in the unlikely event that it had been returned from the publisher, Ernest Hecht, that it was sent to.
Mr Hecht is still alive and his Souvenir Press in London is still in business, but not active in publishing since he is now a second-hand and rare bookseller in Great Russell Street opposite the British Museum. I managed to get an answer from him but, regretfully, he also had no record of having received a manuscript from Desmond Dalton.
I do know his story was provisionally titled “the Brandenburg Contingency”, but not much else. That is an intriguing title – spy story? music murder mystery? Who knows?  I do rather think, though, that it would reveal something of the character of my Dad, so it would be great to dig it up one day.

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