Naked and glistening

Dan Jacobson

  • The Diamond Underworld by Fred Kamil
    Allen Lane, 244 pp, £6.50, November 1979, ISBN 0 7139 1086 0

There is an ‘Africa’ one revisits every time they show certain kinds of old movie on television: the Tarzan films, for example. It is a rather strange part of the world, inhabited for the most part by white men in jodhpurs and pith helmets, with revolvers strapped around their waists, who are followed about by hordes of half naked porters carrying bundles on their heads. These bundles seem to be used for one purpose only: they are to be thrown down on the ground whenever the porters fall into a panic and run off jabbering into the jungle. By the look of it, the jungle consists chiefly of a few square yards of rhododendrons, but it can give way suddenly to vast tracts of sand under a blazing arc-lamp, or to high mountains of paster-of-paris, some of which conceal lost cities, or prehistoric creatures, or other revolver-toting, pith-helmeted whites. From the way they frown and scowl and talk English with a foreign accent, the latter can clearly be seen to be up to no good.

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