Tobin Down Under - click for a bigger version

  • Marks out of 10 for Cover

 Lots of cleavage and a wetsuit if that’s your cup of tea, and she’s holding a big harpoon in the usual phallic manner. There aren’t any harpoons featured in the story as we recall – but I suppose she had to be holding something. 8/10

  • Cover Notes

 TOBIN DOWN UNDER BUT WILL HE COME UP FOR AIR? Tobin visits the land of Surfers Paradise, Foster’s and his greatest challenge yet – the Australian female! To earn a bit of spending money he takes employment as a "male escort", easy enough for Tobin to handle until he meets the lovely but aggressive Mrs Lavinia Steel, the horrible but eager Ruby…the luscious Andrea (writing a piece about male escorts – and what a piece it turns out to be!)…and acres and acres of home-grown Australian womanhood stretching from the sunny beaches of Palm Beach in the north to Cronulla in the south. CAN TOBIN COPE? WILL HE SURVIVE THE RIGOURS OF AUSTRALIAN LIFE OR BE PUMMELLED TO DEATH BY SOME STATUESQUE AND LUSCIOUS EXAMPLE OF SUN-TANNED AUSSIE SHEILA?

  • Brief Description of The Plot

 Once again we join Russ & Buzz on a plane – Russ thinks he’s about to walk into his dream job. Which he is. The women are provided for him, they all want his...ahem...company, and he’s getting PAID! The Escort agency is called Glamorous Knights (run by Billy Kydd). Stanley had his book of puns well and truly out for this one.

The Escort Agency set-up certainly took the pressure off Stan having to come up with new and plausible ways for Russ to keep on stumbling into one-night stands with beautiful women, although it does relegate Buzz to a fairly minor character as a result. No real shared buddy-escapades to speak of I'm afraid.

Apart from the three actual Escort bookings that Russ gets, as with Tobin In Tahiti, there really isn’t much plot compared to the likes of Tobin In Trouble or Tobin Las Vegas. Russ gets sunstroke playing Cricket and has yet another dalliance with a woman he can't stand the sight of, as Ruby the hotel receptionist refuses to take no for an answer. That's pretty much it.

In terms of the timeline, Tobin Down Under breaks the run of 4 books where the action continues immediately from the previous book. We never do find out what happened in Tahiti during the week of their enforced overstay. Also some of the chapters are dated – and with Russ confirming that he is still 26 years old (with a birthday in November, like Stan) - it allows us to place the year definitively as 1975.

Russ claims that they arrive in Australia on January 10th - which doesn't quite line-up with amount of time they were planning to overstay in Tahiti - but close enough. They must have finally left Tahiti on 8th January - a good 12 hour flight, plus the crossing of the International Date Line to skip a day and land on 10th in the early afternoon. However, on Page 93 at 7:35am on 12th January, Russ claims to have been in Australia for a strangely specific "62 hours" - which would have meant his arrival was on the 9th. Go figure. We have to remember that Russ seems to have had about 4 hours sleep and multiple intense bedroom workouts already since he touched-down and therefore we can't really rely on anything he says. If you need any more proof of that - just bear in mind that this book has TWO Chapter Sixes!(see pages 114 and 149 ...)

Curiously, if you work the backwards from here, this would makes the first Tobin novel 'The Sewing Machine Man' (which also starts in a January - Russ claiming to be 22 ) set in 1971. This is weird as the book was written in 1968! Which makes it almost sci-fi. Sort of.

I think at the time, Stan realised that if Russ was ageing at the same rate at which he wrote the books (at this point he was writing two Tobin novels per year), he would be heading into his thirties pretty quickly and probably not so fresh-faced and fun (no one was going to buy 'Tobin Is A Bit Tired And Has An Early Night', or 'Tobin Sorts Out His Pension'). To be fair, Stan wasn't too precious about the timeline, shifting it forward 2 years in Hard Up (even though only 6 montsh of storyline had elapsed) and then pulling off the ultimate trick when Tobin Goes Cuckoo was released 26 years after the final book of the 1970s and, despite being set in 2005, Russ had not aged a day!

Upon arrival at Sydney Airport, the Customs Officer makes it clear that Russ only has a 2 week Tourist Visa so the plan all along is for Russ to stay until Thursday January 23rd. "No paid employment" either...oops. Good job Russ gets all his payments in a brown envelope.

Once again Russ stays in an iconic hotel The Boulevard which is where Frank Sinatra had not long since been under a 3 day siege from the Australian press in 1974! Other real places mentioned that did or still do exist are Doyle's Fish Restaurant, Watsons Bay and the Pink Panther Strip Club. Also the Lady Northcott ferry and the Emerald Star ferry (now sadly shipwrecked it seems)

Like in the previous book where Stan explains the "modern concept" of in-flight movies, there is another funny bit here on Page 30 where Russ gets his mug shots done for the Agency, and Stan explains the new fangled idea of a Polaroid Camera "that develops before your very eyes"!

Russ spends his first night in Australia on his debut escort assigment with Lavinia, and doesn't return to the hotel until later the next day. He has a short nap before heading out again, where he ends up chasing The Temptations across town with Lenny and the band - before arriving at the same beach party he'd refused Ruby's invite to. Arriving back at the hotel the following morning, he seems to manage virtually no sleep before he's off to learn how to throw a boomerang and join in with the aforementioned game of cricket. The sunstroke is so bad that he ends up in bed until Tuesday 14th - whereupon the story resumes and he takes his second assignment with Andrea. After that, the story yet again skips forward a few days to Wednesday 22nd where Russ confirms he's had no more escort bookings and has spent the week doing more sight-seeing. His flight back to the UK is 10am the following day, so when a final escort job comes in for 8pm, you know there is bound to be one more twist before he's done. Of course it comes in the guise of another "unexpectedly returning husband", but all is not quite what it seems. After a close call with the Police, he finally makes it to the airport on time.

The mystery of Buzz's Tennis tournament continues, as he tells Russ on Saturday 11th January that it starts "next Saturday" (ie the 18th January) despite originally saying way back in Toronto that it started on 2nd January. Could it be that Buzz is not a Tennis player at all but just a massive bullshitter? Maybe not, as Russ explains that he watched Buzz getting knocked out in the first round. More likely that Buzz is just far more interested in the ladies than he is his tennis career. Towards the end of the book, Russ receives a letter from old pal Patrick Holmes offering him a job in a stately home over in Co. Kildare, Ireland. Of course Russ accepts as Patrick hints that it is full of beautiful ladies.

  • Page at which Russ Tobin first reminisces about a previous adventure

 Page 6 (second page in)

  • Page at which Russ Tobin first eyes up a lady

 Page 7 (albeit on the pages of an Aussie Porn mag that Russ reads on the plane. Which begs the question "when was it ever acceptable to read a porn mag on a plane??")

  • Page at which Russ Tobin first gets to know a lady in the biblical sense

 Page 53

  • Page at which Russ Tobin first drinks a Vodka Tonic

 Page 39, Russ gets the round in quick – obviously he was pretty desperate for a V&T after going two days without in Tahiti

  • Serious points raised

 That it IS possible to be a sex-worker and still respect the people that you are getting paid to sleep with, because after all they are just human beings with their own personal reasons for spending their money that way.

  • Rating on the MORGANOMETER

 Still lacking in any tangible plot but the escort agency angle is pretty funny – given that by this point in his travels Russ must be absolutely KNACKERED from non-stop sex. 6/10