keiron pim flashJumpin' Jack Flash. David Litvinoff and the Rock'n'Roll Underworld
by Kieron Pim (Penguin Books)

Who? Exactly. Except, here's a character who knew (to his cost) the Kray brothers (and many of their associates), introduced a very stoned Richard Clapton to The Queen Mum, and pretty much was the writer/inspiration for that enigmatic, brutal film “Performance” (starring Mick Jagger - he was in with the Stones as well).

Oh, and he had a very nasty spat with artist Lucian Freud too, which appears to have been the cause of his facial scars - on either side of his mouth, like Hugo's “The Man Who Laughed”.

David Litvinoff. Half-brother of Emanuel Litvinoff (who famously read a poem calling out Eliot's pre-WW2 anti-semite poetry - at a gathering at which Eliot was present), thief, shoplifter, gangster, thug, procurer, fantasist, culture influencer, prankster and fascinator par excellence.

Keiron Pim has gone tumbling down and impossible historical rabbit-hole, “where wet lamplight glistened on the wet pavement as snowflakes met their swirling shadows ... unnoticed when I slipped cross-current through a crowd, they rhythm of footsteps inculcating the notion that I was floating”.

If you've ever wondered what it's like to write a book about someone who left little physical trace save exaggerated and legendary memory, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" is the book you need to read. 

At no time, however, does Pim's self-conscious obsession obscure the actual topic at hand, this multi-metamorphosing man, whose braggadocio and street-knowledge got him damn near killed on several occasions. I mean think of it, he's homosexual, knows more about the blues than most of the r'n'b musicians in London in the 1960s, is a conflicted Jew who's a borderline anti-semite, borderline radical Israelite. 

As with Steve Jones' autobiography, but MORE SO, half the time I'm wetting my pants with laughter, the other half I'm in awe, and the other half I'm hooked and horrified. He was a dead-set prick and a wildly generous man, seer, philosopher, raconteur and utter fucking madman.

'Thank God', you'll think, 'that I never ever knew this bastard.'

Do you have an interest in the 1950s London crime gangs?

"Jumpin' Jack Flash." 

Do you have an interest in the 1960s London music and culture?

"Jumpin' Jack Flash."

Do you have an interest in the 1970s Sydney art and underground?

"Jumpin' Jack Flash."

Last thing I'll say is that he resembles no-one else than Neal Cassady with serious issues. Neal was far less flamboyant, while Litvinoff was ... full-tilt, a Jack Kerouac series waiting to happen.

Weirdly, some of the funniest moments, and the most poignant and tragic, are those we encounter as Pim crosses countries and oceans in pursuit of his elusive will o'the wisp subject. The scene with the Sydney taxi driver is arguably worth the price of admission alone.

Don't argue with me, ya prick. Just get it.

three mcgarrett