The Disappearance of the Author Adam Diment

The author Adam Diment in 1967 with two lovely ladies.

The author Adam Diment in 1967 with two lovely ladies. In the distance, at 120 King’s Road is the Thomas Crapper shop. It had just closed down.

The October 1967 edition of Michael Heseltine’s Town magazine featured an interview with the fashionable twenty-three year old author Adam Diment. The introduction said that he was:

“Hoping to move from his Fulham Road flat to trendy King’s Road, where his tight pink trousers and matching floral shirt will be more appreciated.”

In the late sixties moving a few hundred yards from one area of west London to another was like travelling to a different country. Diment knew he could afford the expensive move because after the publication of his first novel The Dolly, Dolly Spy, Diment suddenly became the most talked-about author in town. That year Publishers’ Weekly wrote about the novel:

A kinky, cool mod flare that is outrageously entertaining….If you appreciate clever plotting, plenty of excitement, sex at its most uninhibited, a dollop or two of explicit sadism, Adam Diment is a name to remember.

Except he wasn’t, and Diment is almost totally forgotten about these days. He wrote three more books – The Spying Game and The Dolly, Dolly Birds which were both published in 1968 and a fourth novel Think Inc that was published in 1971. After which, suddenly, he completely disappeared from public view.

His four novels, although entertaining romps through the swinging sixties, are hugely dated these days and are peppered with the era’s casual sexism and racism that make the James Bond novels appear as if they were written by Andrea Dworkin.

“Despite her lovely body it was her face which had me hooked. I do not belong to that philistine philosophy which propounds the ‘put a sack over their heads and they’re all the same’ nonsense. I like to watch something pretty and interesting when collecting my oats, and her face is certainly that. At present she was doing a languorous chameleon change from perplexed to pout.” - The Bang Bang Birds

“She was wearing her latest acquisition, bought in a boutique in King’s Road which is a cross between an Eastern bazaar and a rugger scrum. It was very short and covered with overlapping blue and yellow flowers. Over her heart, which was almost visible because it was as low at the breast as it was short at the thighs, was a bright pink heart…as she was so brown, she had given up wearing stockings. Veronica was about as naked as you can get these days without being nicked for indecency.” - The Dolly, Dolly Spy

The Bang Bang Birds published in 1968

The Bang Bang Birds published in 1968

The Dolly, Dolly Spy published in 1967

The Dolly, Dolly Spy published in 1967

The books were all thrillers featuring a reluctant spy called Philip McAlpine. The sex-hungry hero was suspiciously similar in appearance to the writer and Diment, it seems, was very happy for this blurred confusion to continue. Especially, the marijuana smoking and the preponderance of girls. Fleet Street seemed genuinely intrigued with the similarity between hero and author and Atticus in the Sunday Times wrote:

Adam Diment is 23; his hero, Philip McAlpine, is based on himself. That is to say he’s tall, good-looking, with a taste for fast cars, planes, girls and pot.

While the Daily Mirror wrote:

McAlpine is the most modern hero in years. He’s hip, he’s hard, he likes birds and, sometimes, marijuana.

Adam Diment smoking a 'hashish cigarette'.

Adam Diment smoking a ‘hashish cigarette’.

More hashish with companion Suzie Mandrake in 1967

More hashish with companion Suzie Mandrake in 1967

Adam with the artist Tim Whidborne, Anne McAuley and Victoria Brooke. 1967

Adam with the artist Tim Whidborne, Anne McAuley and Victoria Brooke. 1967

Adam with Tim Whidbourne and a modelling Suzie Mandrake

Adam “I’ve got my eyes closed I promise” Diment with Tim Whidbourne presumably pretending to paint Suzie Mandrake.

On the inside cover of the 1969 edition of The Bang Bang Birds it says that “At present THE DOLLY DOLLY SPY is being filmed with David Hemmings as Philip McAlpine. A Stanley Canter/Desmond Elliott production for release by United Artists”. It’s worth noting that David Hemmings was at the height of his career at this stage – the premier of Blow Up was in October 1967 and both The Charge of the Light Brigade and Barberella were released in 1968.

The film came to nothing and whether filming ever took place or was halted half way through nobody seems to remember. Although there are pictures of Adam seen with David Hemmings and one of the producers Desmond Elliott.

Adam with David Hemmings in 1967.

Adam with David Hemmings in 1967.

Adam with Desmond Elliott and Suzie Mandrake.

Adam with Desmond Elliott and Suzie Mandrake.

Adam Diment published his final novel Think Inc in 1971 and then completely disappeared without trace. Except for one thing. Last year a few documents relating to Adam Diment (F.A. Diment) were released by the National Archives and amongst them were two anonymous letters written in March 1969 to the department of Exchange Control of the Bank of England.

Both the letters seemed to accuse Adam Diment of some kind of currency swindle involving the export of 2400 dollars which had been paid by the film producer Stanley Canter and one letter even mentions that there were suspicions that it may have been some kind of drug-deal.

anon-letter-one

anon-letter-two

Whether the currency swindle was anything to do with the non-completion of the film of The Dolly Dolly Spy or was the cause of Diment’s disappearance, there seems to be no clue. One of the letters, however, imparts the important piece of information that Adam Diment, despite telling Town magazine otherwise, never seemed to have made the move to The King’s Road as he was still living in the tight-pink-trousers-fearing Fulham at 28 Tregunter Road.

Adam with Victoria Brooke and a Tiger Moth

Adam with Victoria Brooke and a Tiger Moth

full-cover-of-the-bang-bang-birds

Ray Charles – Let’s Go Get Stoned

Muddy Waters – Champagne and Reefer

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89 Responses to “The Disappearance of the Author Adam Diment”

  1. Peter Fenton says:

    Thanks for compiling what must be the most comprehensive account {with photos too !} of a sadly overlooked & virtually forgotten cult author.
    The buisiness with HM Revenue & his subsequent vanishing could almost be the plotline for that fith novel that never happend !

  2. Alan Hill says:

    I remember Adam Diment at Hillcrest. He had an elder brother and a cousin at the School.

  3. Minka S. Koren says:

    “I read Adam Diment years ago and like many others on this web site I’ve never forgotten him and always wondered what happen to him. The only thing I knew until coming across this information was that Adam Diment was working on his next novel.”

    “I’ve had a quick glance at his last book and it does seem as if there would be a follow on book. Question is were any chapters ever written for the fifth book.”

    “While looking at Adam Diment’s books I noticed that they were dedicated to ‘M’, Camille (who in one of the posts is named as someone Adam Diment disappeared with) and a couple of ladys. Anyone have any idea who they where? I don’t have “The Great Spy Race.”

    “Can anyone tell me if when Adam Diment disappeared was there a hue and cry from his family or did he just fade away?” Apart from his parents where there any brother’s or sister’s?

    Thank for the information and pictures in this site.

  4. zab says:

    I am not sure what Adam will make of this, but I will bring it to his attention, although Nicholas, who really is his brother, has probably already done so.
    To me his books are a reminder of how we spoke, what we wore and just how cool we thought we were. And judging from the kids today – they still think we were pretty cool.

  5. gary says:

    adam diment must be a goner

  6. Jay says:

    Adam is a cousin. Alive and well.

  7. ktm says:

    i knew adfam and his wife j (2003+). we spent many a good time together.

  8. christer nygren says:

    Swedish connection here. If you let me put my nickel in, authors are not dead because they stop publishing their work. They might just (as many writers should have reflected on) had the wits to quit before they became parodies of themself, as artists.
    Adam Diment is still out there somewhere, all right; probably quietly laughing at it all, looking back down the McAlpine roads.
    Christer Nygren
    (author of eight published crime novels and once, when he was a tender 17 years young and started digging into the literary threnches, greatly inspired by “The Dolly, Dolly Spy”.)

  9. Hu Chi says:

    I don’t know if Adam has ever seen this site or not. He certainly gives one the impression that he’s not interested in reliving his former fame. I know Adam from the Far East which is a favourite retreat of his. As far as I know, he resides in Kent most of the year.

    To Mike Ripley, I did forward your request to Adam some time ago. But I have not spoken to him personally since then. With a bit of luck, I may run into him in the next few weeks in which case I will have the opportunity to bring the matter of a reprint to his attention. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath. I’m pretty sure I know what Adam’s response would be. The past belongs in the past.

    I’ll keep all interested parties posted.

  10. bub the decorater says:

    i met Adam about 15 years ago,lovely person,just wants Peace and quiet in a garden.

  11. d.t says:

    I’ve just read the Bang Bang Birds for the first time after finding it in my late father’s book collection. I find the way of talking, referred to casual sexisim and racism in the article, amusing and the character rminded me of a cross between james bond and austin powers. Its best taken with a large pinch of salt and not to be sneered at in comparison with our now modern way of talking, which is the impression i get from the tone of the writer of this article. A highly entertaining piece of literature. I was also wondering about the film referred to on the inside of the sleeve and also the dedication to ‘Camille’. Does anyone know who Camille is?

  12. Andy says:

    I remember the Dolly Dolly Spy from when it first came out. I thought it was terrific and I bought the sequels. I was very disappointed when there were no more.
    You have to remember that this was the height of the Cold War and we now know that Governments were quite close to pressing the button. There were a number of heavyweight spy novellists going at the time, publishing grim and merciless faction about what really went on in the corridors of power. So along came Philip McAlpine and his ruthless boss, gliding through various escapades in a haze of hash and loose women. Rather good!
    The thing is that it was a send-up at a pretty grim time and when send-ups were only just becoming fashionable. It basically poked fun at the whole ruthless business of spying just as the Italian Job poked fun at organised crime. I loved it. I thought it was great original writing. I hope the author is alive and well, such a shame he didn’t write more.

  13. Zokko says:

    It would be nice to see ‘The Dolly Dolly Spy’ filmed ( along with the other McAlpine books ) after all these years, and Diment’s work brought to a new generation.

  14. Jim B says:

    I loved the books at the time thery were published – and re-reading them, I loved the tongue-in-cheek humour. I spent YEARS waiting to find out what happened to the hero and his badly-injured girlfriend after the cliffhanger ending of Think Inc… wish the fifth book had been written.

    If anyone knows Adam, please thank him for me!

    Jim

  15. alex boyle says:

    Have just got hold of copy of “DollyDollySpy”,first read this in about 1969,had forgotted how well written & fun it was.I was living in W Hampstead at time & driving Mini Cooper S;really brought back memories of period.Am now trying to locate other titles he wrote;in meantime Mr Diment,come out of hiding;nostalgia ain,t such a bad thing you know!!

  16. rob wallser says:

    There is a story here more worthy than the easy option box office fodder of the moment I would like to tell it .Anyone else

  17. rob wallser says:

    There are people who achieve and pursue greatness who then wish to stop.These figures will alwys have legend on their side and preserve what they did.Jerry Dammers ,Bobbie Fisher,Harper Lee.If anyone knows the wherabouts of Mr Diment tell him id like to speak to him he may not want to but perhaps he could think about it .His ghost seems to be back there in Cheyne Walk waiting to be set free .Why dont we try??

  18. rob wallser says:

    They say nothing stays buried forever .I would like to write an article on Mr Diment as a platform for him to say whatever he damn well likes about the books ,The 60,s ,Ibiza ,The Far East and anything else If there is the slightest chance this might happen then can someone get in touch.It seems unfair that a slice of a well documented swinging London has been erased leaving only speculation and rumour .I live in Plymouth and support Q.P.R and those are my credentials .Ciao!

  19. Liz berardinelli says:

    Camilla was a very good friend of mine in Rome.he brought her to my house and asked me if I was a Scorpio.when I said yes he said I can’t sleep with you and I said I don’t want you to.anyway they hired a villa near Rome and one day they were sunbathing on the roof and a helicopter was up above and asked Camilla to join them but she was so in love with Adam that she declined.anyway I would love to get in touch with my friend again so Camilla get in touch

  20. Liz berardinelli says:

    Why r u not accepting my report .?

  21. robert wallser says:

    Senorita Berardinelli i trust you had a good christmas.Like you i am keen to meet Mr Diment .Perhaps all three of us could meet for lunch in the spring.Do you know the fountain in Sloane Square.Adam seems very reluctant to re emerge but i feel his story is worthy of a wider audience and acclaim.Camilla i imagine was very beautiful and if you are as beautiful as your name sounds then it must have been a very beautiful world back then.I write mostly football and pop but know a good story when i see one and i will persist in trying to contact Mr Diment .Maybe you could help me . speak soon Robert.

  22. Liz berardinelli says:

    I am willing to meet and speak.what a wonderful era it was.of course I know sloane sq.lets meet up.my daughter lives in central London and I will be meeting up with her mid jan.over and out.i really want to meet Camilla again so hopefully we can make it a foursome with your help.i know Camilla would love to see me again. ….with your help

  23. robert wallser says:

    Than you for your reply.This is an almighty task but you are the first person who has met dam i have been in touch with .Ive looked at previous posts and have noticed a few people who have tried to contact Mr diment for an interview/article/book etc etc but to no avail.perhaps for now we could try to contact Camilla(sometimes Camille)who was from Cuba i believe.This is new to me i do have a writer friend who is much more practiced in research than me but i believe just creating a small amount of energy around something makes it grow so nothing to lose after all i wrote something ,you saw it now we are speaking!.March is when i will be in London againto see some football but please please stay in touch speak soon Buena sera

  24. Liz berardinelli says:

    Ok.hope something will turn up soon.yes Camilla was from Cuba.she escaped through marrying an English journalist a lot older than her and bore him 3sons.i would love to meet up with her again.we had such a laugh together.hopefully she will see this.ciao 4 now

  25. robert wallser says:

    Im sure it will i hope somebody ,somewhre will pass this on.I contacted a guy who works for a company who are trying to re issue Mr Diments books and he did pass a phone number on to me which may or may not be valid .I just hope peole keep reading this and add to the interest.Thanks for staying in touch .Where are right now ?

  26. Liz berardinelli says:

    I’m at home but will meet up when u want.awaiting news……..

  27. mike says:

    what’s the status of the reissue?

  28. rob wallser says:

    i cant get that N of THE W LINK BUT I CAN IMAGINE WHAT ITS ABOUT .i SWEAR ITS THAT ENERGY THING AGAIN.i DONT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THE RE ISSUES BUT IT WAS FROM A COMPANY THAT SPECIALIZE IN THAT SORT OF THING.sO WHATS HAPPENS NEXT???
    iM CURRENTLY WRITING A BOOK ABOUT THE Q.P.R. SIDE OF 1975-6 anybody help

  29. [...] You know I like a punch line. So here is a photo of another cult figure and Chelsea resident the author Adam Diment. His story is worth telling but I can’t do it as it has already been done. You can further details and pictures like this one at the excellent London website Another Nickel in the Machine.  http://www.nickelinthemachine.com/2009/08/the-disappearance-of-the-author-adam-diment/ [...]

  30. Liz berardinelli says:

    I would be interested to know what happened to Adam.i was a good friend of Camilla and they stayed with me in Rome.I would also like to trace Camilla so hope someone can help here.

  31. I like this website because so much valuable stuff on here : D.

  32. Clay Caughman says:

    I knew Adam from the Blue Lake Lodge in Pokara, Nepal. A very funny guy. We would greet the “ganga man” each and every morning together!
    In his parody of a popular tune: “You’re out of touch my baby/ My poor F****d-up baby/ Baby, baby, baby you’re so F****d-up!” You could hear him sing boldly from all the way down the road.

  33. gary says:

    he most likely drugged out. that seems the only possible reason for his vanishing. because what about money?

  34. Carolann Smith-Dorrien says:

    Dear Adam,

    I have been contacted by Clare Alexander who would like to be in touch with you in regard to re-publishing some of your previous work.

    You may remember that I was working with Desmond Elliott when we published your first book and arranged your first publishing party from Arlington Books. We also organised your first U.S. tour with Desmond.

    I quite understand your wish for privacy, however this is a completely genuine approach (there is absolutely nothing in it to my advantage) and I would be very happy if you would contact me,entirely to your own advantage.

    With best wishes,

    Carolann

  35. I was at a wired boarding prep school in Swanage, Dorset (Hill Crest), with Adam, his younger brother Nicholas and their cousins Hugh and Peter. He has a scar on the bridge of his nose, got there after he was hit by a bit of clinker, I think.
    He had a talent for drawing, his speciality being the Giles characters; he did them so well, you might not have known which were his and which were done by Carl Giles.
    I have a photo of him in dungarees. We’d been stopped from going on the annual choir outing because of some misdemeanour or other (mine was to have consorted with boys from the local grammar school during a cricket match; we were “public school” material, and I ought to have known better, apparently). The punishment Adam and I were given was to pick cabbage white caterpillars off the headmaster’s cabbages. I think we each collected about a jam jar full, but I can’t remember if we trod on them or force fed them to one of the juniors.

  36. (That should have been a “weird” prep school – not a “wired” prep school)

  37. John Hall says:

    The Lancing Club Magazine would be interested in featuring Adam if he would agree to this. Fifty years on, he is still remembered and Seconds House still stands!

  38. John Hall says:

    It would be good to have some reaction to my earlier request please! If anyone can help.

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