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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

'Behind The Text’ 26 Support Team

Behind The Text’ Part 26_ Support Team

A Magnificent Two


A few individual individuals appear in more than one book in the 'Jonas Forbes Saga’. Let’s forget some such Sir Jeremy Smith (aka ‘The Nameless One’). Others, like Tim Ripley, don’t exercise a powerful influence. This Post will describe the two people essential in the life of Jonas Forbes – John Wyatt and Vanessa Holmes née  Clarke.

John Wyatt is the character in the series most like myself – in appearance, mannerisms & attitude. He first meets Jonas when he's a humble sergeant at Scotland Yard just about to be promoted to Inspector ( see ‘Dare Call It Treason’ – Book 2). He has his doubts about Jonas – not helped by him bending the rules (e.g. sex with a GRU lieutenant) and flouting diplomatic convention ( ‘arrest’ of a suspect). But he successfully closes the case (albeit being saved by a Russian sniper). So the policeman sticks by the ‘Enquiry Agent’, despite being often there just to pick up the pieces, appreciating how Jonas gets results, often by luck. Occasionally he’s moved to swear about Jonas or lie to superiors or bureaucrats as he climbs the ladder to Detective Chief Superintendent (both helped & hindered by Jonas). One wife (Anne Mavis Filligrew) is killed by a lunatic driver (Book 14) but he then marries Jane Penelope Henshawe (Book 16). The first wife is a psycho-therapist: the second a police inspector – both useful careers when your husband works with Jonas Forbes. As he could never tell who was best for him that should explain some of his character. For Jonas he isn’t a conscience, mentor nor dog’s-body, except at times. He’s just a good friend.

Vanessa Clarke (born 13 July 1934) meets Jonas while working in Whitehall (see Book 2). Initial amusement turns to admiration (after being saved from teenage thugs) and then to love (suppressed with great effort). She breaks off a brief affair in 1957 because ‘he was definitely NOT ‘Mr Right’ –
being naturally unfaithful, too prone to put his life on the line and with too much machismo.’(‘The Awkward Package’ – Book 5). Really to save herself from herself she marries the dull Simon Holmes (1960) and they have 3 daughters – Sam (1962), Lou (1964) & Sharon (1967). Simon, wracked by jealousy, increasingly resents her working for Jonas. The marriage is near breaking point when he’s murdered in 1968 (‘Californian Nightmare’ – Book 14). Then the obvious happens; Jonas and Vanessa marry (1 April 1969) but she superstitiously retains the name ‘Holmes’ – especially as Jonas doesn’t change, disappearing for weeks and suspected of womanising (‘So Few Come Out’ – Book 15). She’s widowed a second time on 20 March 1973 (‘Endgate at Watergate’ – Book 16).

Vanessa is friendly, outgoing, kind, forgiving - almost a saint in contrast to Jonas. In most of the books she stays in Britain, sometimes defending him from critics (‘Southern Scramble’ – Book 3) but usually, keeping the ‘ship afloat’ while just worrying (‘Find Bormann’ –Book 8). On odd occasions she becomes a key player in the mission. Sometimes this may mean she needs rescuing (Books 6 & 11): but actually she saves Jonas’s life twice (Books 5 & 11). Friends wonder why she sticks by Jonas – and often so does she. At his funeral: ‘She’d expected several women to be there because, in life, Jonas had definitely been one for the ladies – even herself when she was trying to be loyal to poor Simon. Had Jonas been faithful to her? Probably not, but her mind tried to shut out the very idea.’ Loyal to the end – and beyond.

Did Jonas deserve the support of  two such people? Probably not – but then he’d argue he never REALLY asked for it.

Bob Hyslop

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