on 17 January 2006
I was a little disappointed about this biography about Bindon. Apart from his debut in 'Poor Cow' here was not enough insight into his film and TV career despite the fact he appeared in numerous 70's productions with many people who are still alive today. The ending of the book was particularly poor, Bindon's decline in health is covered in less than a page - his death is described in one sentence. It left me asking more questions than before I started.
His friendship with Princess Margaret and his trial for murder were the only interesting parts
on 27 December 2008
Am afraid i have to echo several of the previous reviews in that parts of the book feel rushed, in particular the last stages of Bindons life are barely covered. Early-to-mid stages of his life are covered more thoroughly & portray a tough but loveable rogue who has one foot in the London underworld of the 60's & 70's and the other in the parties & nightclubs frequented by a mixture of royals, actors, politicians, hangers-on & low-lifes.
What the book does mangage to do well is to document an all but forgotten era of London , one in which a charismatic fella from the wrong side of the tracks could use his charm to open doors. It often feels as though you're reading a particularly good version of 'The Sweeney' ! If you're interested in this particular time you'll find much to like here though you may be left wanting a more thorough piece of work on someone who undoubtedly deserves one.
'Moody' by Wensley Clarkson is a better piece of work & more conclusive.
on 23 September 2012
This was a pretty informative and insightful book, detailing many aspects of an interesting and infamous man. The beginning chapters, covering Bindon's early years, are quite thorough and give a good account of his upbringing in Fulham. His school days however are glossed over, and there could be more on this (despite him leaving school quite early). He is portrayed here as a vigilant type, who stands up for the bullied kids, and this is a theme which runs through the book. As in later chapters, this is not altogether believable, and seems to be aimed at portraying Bindon in a positive light. While the book doesn't shy away from his many violent encounters, he is not portrayed as a man who starts fights, rather one who reacts to trouble makers and puts them on the floor with a single punch. Again, not very believable. Despite his "charming" persona, he does seem a bit of a thug. His early forays into the film world are covered, but there is precious little of his overall acting work, which is a shame (even though he didn't have many big roles). The writer seems obsessed with portraying Bindon as the tough guy hero, protecting the weak, and making everbody laugh. The size of his penis is also regulary brought up, and this gets pretty tedious. The most detailed aspects of his life in he book are his trip to the island of Mustique, where he encountered, and allegedly charmed, princess Margaret, and his role in the death of John Darke at the Yaught Club, and the subsequent trial. The years following the trail (the 80's and early 90') are covered, but don't seem to match other reports I'd heard/read. Certainly his acting career dried up, but the book does not tell of a washed up reclusive man, who turned to heroin, but rather the same jovial tough guy character, looking out for the vulnerable and getting into scrapes. The most disappointing section was the very end of Bindon's life. Other sources claim Bindon took to selling himself for sex, and became addicted to heroin. The book does not even hint at this, and the theme throughout is that Bindon never tried any harder drugs than pot. His death, which I'd been led to believe from other sources was from aids, is covered in a few sentences. It makes no mention of him having had aids. All in all, quite an entertaining read, but I can't help thinking Bindon has been made to look more noble than he really was.
on 21 September 2007
Wensley Clarkson starts his account of the life of John Bindon anxious to convince us that the princess-pleasuring actor-cum-hardman is a worthy subject for biography. And to be sure, Bindon's comparatively short life had its share of incident and adventure - the `highlights' being his manslaughter of London villain Johnny Darke, and an encounter with Princess Margaret during one of her Mustique sojourns.
But as the book winds on the detail gets less and less, and Bindon's demise is scarcely documented at all. "Researching Bindon's life...," Clarkson writes, "I realised I had a great deal of material I couldn't use because the sources had shady, ulterior motives, and my aim has always been to show Bindon in the light he truly deserved." Perhaps he should have been less self-censorious.
Anyway, that said, what we have is a diverting read, and nicely illustrated with many private photos.
However, Clarkson has been ill-served by the editors at publishers John Blake - the text would have benefited from a better sub-edit to trim it of repetitions. And for no obvious reason the biography has no index, and no detailed 'ography of Bindon's screen and stage appearances.
on 25 June 2010
"Get Carter" gets one sentence,John Bindon's sad decline is over in two pages or so,
all the author seems interested in is the infamous Bindon member which gets mentioned with tedious regularity every couple of pages,reducing John Bindon to an almost joke figure with just one party trick which i'm sure he wasn't.
a very VERY dissapointing book.
on 6 January 2006
The title of this review says it all. Whilst Bindon himself was no doubt a great subject for a book the way the author has written it lets it down no end. The book just jumps from point to point with no flow or feel of the guy. Perhaps the author uses too many sources but i didnt enjoy this book at all. I have read many criminal type auto biographies and this is by far the worst, in fact if it hadn't been based around an area of london i know fairly well i probably wouldnt have made it to the end.
on 10 May 2016
I've seen John Bindon in a few minor parts in film and TV productions, and was always struck by how very wooden an actor he was, so when I came across this biog I bought it to see what all the fuss was about. It was an interesting, if usually very unpleasant, read - unpleasant mainly because he seemed to be such a very repugnant character who surrounded himself with people of a similarly loathsome nature.
It became very clear to me from pretty early on that Bindon was (pace David Niven) a five-star, silk-lined, ocean-going psychopath. From the earliest age he displayed violent, highly anti-social behaviour, bunking off school and displaying no regard or respect for any authority other than his father. He never had a steady job, or undertook any training for such, but instead lived from hand-to-mouth, getting cash payments or goods in kind for torpedo work of one sort or another. Despite his violent tendencies he was often highly popular - the sort of person who meets someone and instantly becomes their best friend for life (provided they helped him out with a bit of the readies or gave him a place to crash/hide from the Police). He constantly proclaimed his determination to leave his life of crime and become a full-time, professional actor - except that he always went back to his criminal roots and, once he'd done a bit of acting for a while, got bored with it and left it alone for a while, until someone wanted a convincing heavy to fill up the screen for a bit-part in some "Sweeney" or "Get Carter" type of thing. He developed a good line in chatting up the ladies, mainly because of his total self-confidence (and his 12" schlong, of which he was very proud), and had a string of girlfriends who, though superficially glamorous, were in the main little better than prostitutes and almost always addicted to one drug or another. As he got older he became more ruthless and violent (Clarkson describes several occasions when people who hired him to be a bouncer or peace-keeper described him as becoming "a liability", implying strongly that he was prone to causing the trouble that he'd been hired to prevent) until he was involved in a particularly nasty gangland killing. Though acquitted of murder (mainly, it seems, because Bob Hoskins appeared as a character witness and charmed the jury in to believing how cuddly and affable Bindon really was), his acting career was over. If Clarkson's account is accurate, it seems probable that he was only guilty of self-defence against someone even nastier than him; but the mud stuck, and afterwards nobody wanted to know him. He was dead by the age of 50.
He displayed all the hallmarks of the psychopath - unable to learn from his mistakes or plan ahead, poor impulse control, superficially charming, manipulative and plausible when he wanted to be but with zero concern for the feelings of others, and with no compunction about inflicting violence, justified or not, as and when it suited him. Clarkson, although he doesn't shy away from uncovering this side of Bindon's character, usually tries to show him more as a sort of misunderstood Robin Hood, which he quite clearly wasn't (unless it suited his book so to appear). He skates over the circumstances surrounding Bindon's early death (he states abruptly that he died of liver cancer and leaves it at that, though other sources point at AIDS or heroin addiction as being the real culprit) and goes into hardly any details of what passed for an acting career. He is also quite careless about details, for instance consistently calling the Irish Police the "Guarda" (it is GARDA), and with a photo included of the criminal "Mad" Frankie Frazer (but absolutely no mention of him in the text, which makes me wonder why there was a picture of him there in the first place). Written in the style of a blokesy nod-and-a-wink, the book has no auxiliary information such as an index or filmography, and an implication that he can't/won't go into too much detail because, if he does, he'll end up wearing a pair of concrete wellingtons at the bottom of the Thames - all of which leads me to believe that the book is light on veracity, heavy on sensationalism and written for a quick buck.
Overall, this book is an interesting if repellant glimpse into the savage reality of the South London underworld during the 1960-70s, and into the empty soul of one of its more unpleasant denizens. It left a nasty taste in my mouth, and I won't be reading it again. Be warned.
on 4 August 2012
Having skimmed through this book a couple of years back and deciding not to buy it I was recently given a copy so it would have been rude not to read it.Despite my misgivings I've now read it in its entirety.
John Bindon was a larger than life character in more ways than the one the usually excellent Wensley Clarkson seems obsessed with,and sadly this book doesn't do justice to that story. I say to the story rather than the John Bindon himself as Clarkson seems enamoured of his subject to the point of losing objectivity.The sentence which says it all to me is one another reviewer has also picked up on.
"I realised I had a great deal of material I couldn't use because the sources had shady, ulterior motives, and my aim has always been to show Bindon in the light he truly deserved."
Hardly objective and having spoken to people who actually knew Bindon their memories at least are of him being a loud-mouthed bully who surrounded himself with sycophantic cronies,Dennis Stafford in his excellent book,"Fun Loving Criminal" calls him a "bit part actor with an inflated opinion of himself".
The worst thing about the book is that there's nothing new,the bits of the Bindon story that Clarkson spends most time on has been comprehensively covered in the excellent "The Princess and the Gangster" documentary,which is still available to watch for free online if you want to Google it.
Basically the bit most fans of London Gangland books will already know takes up most of the book while Bindon's later life is skipped over in a few pages.
For anyone who has never heard of Bindon it's an o.k. read,for those of who already know the story of the Ranelagh Yacht Club incident and its aftermath there's not much new about Bindon in this book.
As an avid reader of books about London Gangland in this era and one who usually greatly enjoys Wensley Clarkson's work I felt this was a pretty poor effort.
Last week I read "Killing Charlie" by the same author,about Great Train Robber Charlie Wilson,a truly excellent read.I just wish "Bindon" had been even part way as good as that,maybe if Clarkson had been more objective and shown the side Bindon some not in his crowd remembered rather than telling us that his intention was to show the man "in the light he truly deserved." it might just have been a more rounded book.Not everybody loved the bloke Wensley,just as many loathed,feared and reviled the Krays despite the Robin Hood myth some like to portray.
Bindon was a fascinating person who did a lot in his life.Sadly this book dosn't do the story justice and an author telling his readers that there was other information to hand giving different opinions but he wasn't going to use it hardly enhances his credibility.
on 12 May 2010
This is the biography of the notorious John Bindon, who became a minor staple of the tabloid gossip columns in the late 1970's thanks to his relationship with a model thought of and written up by the gossip people as "upper class" (because her father was a baronet, the lowest rung of the faked-up British "aristocracy"). Bindon was also, it was hinted, not unknown to Princess Margaret. Bindon is often mentioned in memoirs of the 1960's and 1970's such as A Diamond Fell Into My Pocket, by Morris Spurling (a cracking book, much better than this one, by the way!). He was a villain, Fulham hard man and general roisterer whom some people thought of as having had a good heart, others thought of as a thug and most feared.
Bindon was cast in a number of big screen and TV films, in "villain" roles: Poor Cow, Get Carter, The Sweeney, etc.
The book details the Margaret connection and makes it clear that Bindon did bed her (and smoke marijuana with her) on various occasions, even at Kensington Palace. MI5 enforcers were the only people, as a group though, able to put the fear of God into Bindon. He did not talk (much) about the Princess and her little peccadilloes.
The book notes that bindon had affairs or flings with a number of women now "respectable...even wives of top politicians" and "a sporting superstar" of the 1960's or 1970's. Unnamed those these be, I think one can guess at some identities. Sporting superstar? Think British tennis, I would guess. As to the politician's wife, maybe a former model? Maybe (screwing up face and thinking really really hard...) Conservative Party? In the end though, these are only guesses.
The problem with this book is that it was written some years after the subject's death (the cause having been liver cancer, says the author; others cite AIDS) at the age of 50. Unlike film stars or politicians, villains tend to lead most of their lives without their deeds and words being recorded.
I am sure that the author could have ghosted an interesting autobiography about Bindon, had Bindon lived longer. In the event, he falls back on anecdotes which are interesting up to a point but bore in the end, as, I suspect, did Bindon, whose "party piece" was to hang 5 or 6 halfpint beer mugs on his erect member. Like a dolphin balancing a beachball on its nose, that might (frankly, not to my mind) be interesting the first time, but it must have become boring in the end (Bindon was eventually abandoned by his "friends" and died alone). Bindon rated a Daily Telegraph obit, which is contained in one of the Daily Telegraph Obituaries books.
In the end, this book, as written, is about a man with a huge dong and that is not enough.
on 26 August 2013
There is a great book waiting to be written about John Bindon but this is not it!
Author seems to whitewash a lot of facts to make him be seen in a good light, should have just printed the facts warts and all!