The Virgin Soldiers
Talking of smutty books written by Welsh people, here’s a cool edition of The Virgin Soldiers (1966) by Newport’s own Leslie Thomas. I was somewhat startled the other day to hear culture critic, Tony Parsons, referring to Thomas’s sex and soldiering comic novel as “the British Catch-22”. He then went on to place it in the same bawdy tradition as Chaucer and Benny Hill! I’ve never actually read the book myself so I can’t unfortunately attest to the veracity of TP’s analysis. However, I have seen the film version which was kind of a cross between a Carry On flick and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. One curious factoid about the film is that David Bowie appeared in it very briefly as an extra. You can see the amazing clip on YouTube here. In 1975 Thomas wrote a sequel, Stand Up Virgin Soldiers, which was also filmed. David Bowie actually auditioned for a leading part and even underwent a radical haircut to improve his chances. Unfortunately for The Thin White Duke his trip to the barber’s was in vain as he failed to land the role.
*The above book cover is from a 1967 reprint.