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MrNemo
Aug 26, 2010

"I just love beeting off"



I've always meant to but never got around to reading the Bond books. Thank you so much for this and fort presenting them with a level of research and background information that really enriched the experience.

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The_White_Crane
May 10, 2008


This has been a fantastic thread, Chitoryu.
Your read-throughs are always excellent, but your attention to detail and to providing background context really puts this one above and beyond.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012
:gas;


Easy move to the Goodmine once we're done, I'd say.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



I also want to give thanks to what you guys provided. This thread would have been mighty dull without people like Epicurious, Trin Tragula, and the rest of our goon cast giving even more detail than I ever could.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



https://twitter.com/007/status/1235248760260874241

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



I'm pretty sure that's because they are afraid that the coronavirus will scare people away from theatres, not because of any problem with the movie itself.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014





Chapter 1: Crackpots

quote:

Most motor-cars are conglomerations (this is a long word for bundles) of steel and wire and rubber and plastic, and electricity and oil and petrol and water, and the toffee papers you pushed down the crack in the back seat last Sunday. Smoke comes out of the back of them and horn-squawks out of the front, and they have white lights like big eyes in front, and red lights behind. And that is about that — just motor-cars, tin boxes on wheels for running about in.

But some motor-cars — mine, for instance, and perhaps yours — are different. If you get to like them and understand them, if you are kind to them and don’t scratch their paint or bang their doors, if you fill them up and top them up and pump them up when they need it, if you keep them clean and polished and out of the rain and snow as much as possible, you will find, you may find, that they become almost like persons — more than just ordinary persons: magical persons!

You don’t believe me? All right then! You just read about this car I’m going to tell you about! I believe you can guess its name already — her name, I should say. And then see if you don’t agree with me. All motor-cars aren’t just conglomerations of machinery and fuel. Some are.

After reading 14 books and plenty of short stories, Fleming's style of prose immediately jumps off the page. While this book may lack the complexity of his adult works, it's undoubtedly his voice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFSE-BeOEVo

This is an interview from 1963 with him in which he talks about various Bond subjects, such as The Spy Who Loved Me. He really does sound exactly like you would imagine from his pictures, and I can easily hear him reciting this story to a young Caspar at bedtime.

quote:

Once upon a time there was a family called Pott. There was the father, who had been in the Royal Navy, Commander Caractacus Pott. (You may think that Caractacus sounds quite a funny name, but in fact the original Caractacus was the British chieftain who was a sort of Robin Hood in AD 48 and led an English army against the Roman invaders. I expect since then there have been plenty of other Caractacuses, but I don’t know anything about them.) Then there was the mother, Mimsie Pott, and a pair of eight-year-old twins — Jeremy, who was a black-haired boy, and Jemima, who was a golden-haired girl — and they lived in a wood beside a big lake with an island in the middle. On the other side of the lake, M20, the big motorway on the Dover road, swept away towards the sea. So they had the best of both worlds — lovely woods for catching beetles and finding birds’ eggs, with a lake for newts and tadpoles, and a fine big road close by so that they could go off and see the world if they wanted to.

Along with reusing his own rank of Commander once again, "Jemima" was the name of a daughter of Fleming's previous employer, Hugo Pitman.



Adrian Hall, who played Jeremy, spent a short time continuing film and West End theatre acting in the 1970s and is currently the principal of the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. Heather Ripley, who played Jemima, hated the harassment by paparazzi that led to her parents splitting and ran away from home. She's now an environmentalist and activist who was arrested in 1999 while protesting nuclear weapons outside HMNB Clyde in Scotland.

quote:

Well, almost, that is. But the truth of the matter was that they hadn’t got enough money between them to buy a car. All the money they had went to necessities — food and heat and light and clothes and all those boring things that one doesn’t really notice but families have to have. There was only a little left over for birthday and Easter and Christmas presents and occasional surprise outings — the things that really matter.

But the Potts were a happy family who all enjoyed their lives and since they weren’t in the least sorry for themselves, or sorry that they hadn’t got a motor-car to go whirling about in, we needn’t be sorry for them either.

I wonder if this is the kind of childhood Fleming wanted. Poor, but happy and loving.

quote:

Now, Commander Caractacus Pott was an explorer and an inventor, and that may have been the reason why the Pott family was not very rich. Exploring places and inventing things can be very exciting indeed, but it is only very seldom that, in your explorations, you discover a really rare butterfly or animal or insect or mineral or plant that people will pay money to see, and practically never that you discover real treasure, like in books — gold bars and diamonds and jewels in an old oak chest.



As for inventions, much the same troubles apply. People all over the world, in America, Russia, China, Japan, let alone England and Scotland and Wales and Ireland, are inventing or trying to invent things all the time — every kind of thing from rockets that fly to the moon to ways of making India-rubber balls bounce higher. Everything, everything, everything is being invented or improved all the time by somebody somewhere — whether by teams of scientists in huge factories and laboratories or by lonely men sitting and just thinking in tiny workshops without many tools.

Just such a solitary inventor was Commander Caractacus Pott, and I am ashamed to say that because he was always dreaming of impossible inventions and adventures and explorations in the remotest parts of the earth, he was generally known in the neighbourhood as Commander Crackpott! You may think that’s rude, and so it is, but Commander Pott was a humorous man and he knew his own shortcomings very well, so when he heard that that was his nickname in the neighbourhood he was not at all cross. He just roared with laughter and said, “I’ll show ’em!” and disappeared into his workshop and didn’t come out for a whole day and a night.

And then he made a nuke to destroy London!

quote:

During that time, smoke came out of the workshop chimney and there were a lot of delicious smells, and when the children put their ears to the locked door, they could hear mysterious bubblings and cooking-poppings, if you know what I mean, but nothing else at all.



When Commander Pott came out, he was so hungry that first of all he ate four fried eggs and bacon and drank a huge pot of coffee, and then he asked Mimsie to call Jeremy and Jemima, who were getting in an awful mess digging out a water-rat’s hole on the bank of the lake.

(They never caught the water-rat. He dug down faster than they did.)



Caractacus Pott was played by the wonderful, amazingly still alive Dick Van Dyke (I will be very mad if he dies as I write this). Despite being 43, he had just finished his leading role on The Dick Van Dyke Show and had showcased his film musical chops as Albert J. Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie and Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins. After being promised a ton of money and allowed to change the role to an eccentric American so he didn't have to relive his awful Cockney accent experience, he accepted the role. Despite his dislike of the director, he did an admirable job. He continues to be an amazing man, publicly endorsing Bernie Sanders in the 2020 election.

quote:

The twins came and stood side by side looking at their father, wondering what his invention had been this time. (Commander Pott’s inventions were sometimes dull things like collapsible coat-hangers, sometimes useless things like edible gramophone records, and sometimes clever things that just, only just, wouldn’t work, like cubical potatoes — easy to slice and pack and peel but expensive to grow, each in its little iron box — and so on.) Commander Pott, looking very mysterious, dug in his pockets and produced a handful of what looked like round, coloured, sugar sweets, each a bit bigger than a marble, wrapped in paper. And, still looking mysterious, he chose a red one for Jeremy and a green one for Jemima and handed them over.


No surprise that much of Pott's inventions involve food.

quote:

Well, sweets are always sweets, thought the children, even though they don’t look very exciting, so they unwrapped them and were just about to pop them in their mouths when Commander Pott cried, “Wait! Look at them first — very, very carefully!”

The children looked at the sweets and Commander Pott said, “What do you see? What’s different about them?”



And Jeremy and Jemima said with one voice, or almost, “They’ve got two small holes drilled through the middle of them.”

Commander Pott nodded solemnly. “Now suck them.”

Not a word. This is a children's book.

quote:

So Jeremy and Jemima popped the sweets into their mouths and sucked busily away, looking at each other with raised eyebrows, as much as to say, “What do you notice? And what do you taste? Mine tastes of strawberry. Mine tastes of peppermint.” And both pairs of eyes seemed to say, “They’re just sweets, round boiled sweets, and our tongues can feel the holes in them. Otherwise they’re just like any other sweets.”



But Commander Pott, who could easily see what they were thinking, suddenly held up his hand. “Now stop sucking, both of you. Twiddle the sweets round with your tongues until they’re held between your teeth, with the twin holes pointing outwards, then open your lips and BLOW!”

Well, of course, the children laughed so much watching each other’s faces that they nearly swallowed the sweets, but finally, by turning their backs on each other, they managed to compose themselves and fix the sweets between their teeth.

The book just ends right here with both kids accidentally choking on candy.

quote:



And then they BLEW!

And do you know what? A wonderful shrill whistle came out, almost like a toy steam-engine. The children were so excited that they went on whistling until Commander Pott sternly told them to stop. He held up his hand. “Now go on sucking until I tell you to whistle again,” and he took out his watch and carefully observed the minute hand.

Ian Fleming made a children's book that combines some of his great loves: cars, trains, and food. We just need to find a way for these kids to get some scotch.

quote:



“Now!”

This time Jeremy and Jemima didn’t laugh so much and managed to get their sweets, which of course were much smaller than before, between their teeth, and they BLEW like billy-ho.

This time, because their sucking had hollowed out the holes still more, the whistle was a deep one, like one of the new diesel trains going into a tunnel, and they found that they could play all sorts of tricks, like changing the tone by blocking up one hole with their tongues and half closing their lips so as to make a buzzing whistle, and lots of other variations.

But then, what with their sucking and their blowing, the bit between the two holes collapsed and the sweets made one last deep hoot and then crunched, as all sweets do in the end, into little bits.

Much like James Bond's relationships.

quote:

Jeremy and Jemima both jumped up and down with excitement at Commander Pott’s invention and begged for more. Then Commander Pott gave them each a little bag full of the sweets and told them to go out into the garden and practise every whistling tune they could think up, as after lunch he was going to take them to Skrumshus Limited, the big sweet people at their local town, to give a demonstration to Lord Skrumshus, who owned the factory.

And as they ran out into the garden, Commander Pott called after them, “They’re called Crackpots — Crackpot Whistling Sweets. And you know what, my chickabiddies? They’re going to buy us a motor-car!”

But the children were already dancing away into the woods making every kind of whistle you can think of, at the same time sucking like mad at their delicious sweets. There really seemed to be something special about Commander Pott’s invention — just a little touch of genius.

Well, anyway, I can tell you this, Lord Skrumshus thought so. After he had heard Jeremy and Jemima whistling in his office, he sent them out into the factory and they danced around among the workers, sucking and whistling and handing out sweets from their packets, so that very soon they had all the workers in the factory sucking and whistling, and everyone laughed so much that all the Skrumshus sweet-machines came to a stop. Lord Skrumshus had to call Jeremy and Jemima away before they brought the whole production of Skrumshus sweets and chocolates to a grinding halt.



Lord Scrumptious (the film was less subtle) was played by James Robertson Justice, a well-educated polyglot who had worked as a journalist at Reuters alongside Ian Fleming in the 1920s. He lived an exciting life as a lumberjack, gold miner, rugby player, hockey team manager, race car driver, police officer for the League of Nations in the Saar Basin, Republican fighter in the Spanish Civil War, and RNVR sailor before receiving a shrapnel wound to the leg in 1943. It was only after all of that that he became an actor, appearing several times alongside Gregory Peck in films like The Guns of Navarone and Moby Dick. He suffered a stroke shortly after filming Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and was forced to retire, going bankrupt before dying in 1975.

quote:

So Jeremy and Jemima went back into Lord Skrumshus’s grand office, and there was their father being paid one thousand pounds by the Skrumshus company treasurer, and signing a paper which said he would get an additional one sixpence on every thousand Crackpot Whistling Sweets sold by Skrumshus Limited. Jeremy and Jemima didn’t think that sounded like very much, but when I let you into a secret and tell you that Skrumshus Limited sell five million every year of just one of their sweets called Chock-a-Hoop, you can work out for yourself that perhaps, just perhaps, Commander Caractacus Pott wasn’t making such a bad bargain after all.

At the time Fleming began writing this in 1961, a thousand pounds would be over £22,400 and that sixpence would be about £0.52. Assuming they really did sell 5 million of his sweets a year, that would be an income of £5000 (or over £112,000) a year. This man is gonna be loaded.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1bk5a_jaEA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUr7fu-LXj4

In the film, it doesn't go quite so well. The "Toot Sweets" are discovered to be perfect dog whistles, resulting in Pott being rejected by Lord Scrumptious. He instead gains the money needed by accidentally getting stuck in a morris dance routine while fleeing an angry customer for his hair cutting machine at the fair, earning enough money in tips to buy a car. Despite being a heavy smoker in his 40s, Van Dyke successfully filmed the entire one-take dance sequence.

quote:

So then everyone shook hands, and Lord Skrumshus gave Jeremy and Jemima each a big free box of samples of all the sweets he made. The three of them hurried off back to Mimsie to tell her the good news, and straight away the whole family hired a taxi and went to the bank to deposit the cheque for a thousand pounds and then — and then they all went off together to buy a car!

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 19:21 on Mar 23, 2020

Yond Cassius
May 22, 2010

horny is prohibited

chitoryu12 posted:

Despite being a heavy smoker in his 40s, Van Dyke successfully filmed the entire one-take dance sequence.

Dick Van Dyke is a song-and-dance machine. This was him at 89.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoPugqYMISM

I remember reading somewhere that Arlene (who appears in the video!) says that living with him is pretty much like the video suggests; he just has that kind of incorrigibly playful performing spirit all the time.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Yond Cassius posted:

Dick Van Dyke is a song-and-dance machine. This was him at 89.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoPugqYMISM

I remember reading somewhere that Arlene (who appears in the video!) says that living with him is pretty much like the video suggests; he just has that kind of incorrigibly playful performing spirit all the time.

At 1:55 in "Me Ol' Bamboo" you can actually see him run off to get water and rest. He had only learned how to dance for Bye Bye Birdie 8 years before, but by then he'd already mastered the talent of being able to perform all of the choreography perfectly yet very slightly out of time to legitimately look like he got caught up in the act and is making it up as he goes.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Chapter 2: All Rusty and Mildewed

quote:

Now, I don’t know if you’ve got it into your heads yet, but the Pott family wasn’t a very conventional family — that is, they were all rather out of the ordinary. Even Mimsie must have been rather an adventurous sort of mother, or she wouldn’t have married an explorer and inventor like Commander Caractacus Pott, R.N. (Retired), who had, as they say, no visible means of support — meaning he was someone who doesn’t do regular work that brings in regular money, but depends on occasional windfalls from lucky explorations or inventions.

Maybe he could become a journalist!

quote:

So when it came to buying a car, they were all determined that it shouldn’t be just any car, but something a bit different from everyone else’s — not one of those black-beetle saloon cars that look much the same back and front so that, in the distance, you don’t know if they’re coming or going, but something rather special, something rather adventurous.

Not like those cars James Bond keeps angrily speeding around on the motorway when they dare to drive the speed limit!

quote:

Well, they hunted all that afternoon and all the next day. They looked at brand-new cars and they visited the second-hand showrooms, where smart salesmen offered Commander and Mrs. Pott cigarettes and Jeremy and Jemima sweets just to try and tempt them to buy. But Commander Pott knew pretty well all there is to know about cars, having been an engineer officer in the Navy and being an inventor as well, and one look under the bonnet and one trial, listening carefully to the sound of the engine, was generally enough for him — even if he didn’t notice that the speedometer had been disconnected or that the chassis was bent because of some crash whose scratches and dents the salesman had carefully painted over. (You have to be very cautious buying anything second-hand. You never know how careful the last owner has been. And anyway, whatever the thing is, if it is in good order, why does the person want to get rid of it?)

And yet you had so many mistresses...

quote:

And then at the end of the second day, they came to a broken-down little garage run by a once famous racing-driver. It was really only a big tin shed with a couple of grimy petrol pumps outside, and inside, the concrete floor was slippery with oil, and everywhere there were bits and pieces of old cars that the garage man had been tinkering with, really, as far as one could see, just for the fun of it.

But he was the sort of enthusiast Commander Pott always had a warm corner in his heart for. The two of them went on talking for a long time while Mimsie and Jeremy and Jemima, who were pretty tired by then, grew more and more impatient.

Suddenly they were surprised to see Commander Pott follow the garage man round to the back of his shed, where there was a long, low object hidden under a tarpaulin. The garage man looked Commander Pott and the family, each one, carefully up and down, and then he went to one end of the tarpaulin and slowly rolled it back.

Well, I can’t tell you how disappointed Mimsie and the children were. From the way the garage man had behaved, they thought there must be some splendid treasure of a car under the tarpaulin. But what did they see? A wreck — that’s all. Just the remains, rusty and broken and bent, of a very long, low, four-seater, open motor-car without a hood and with the green paint peeling off in strips.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYU7z6z3N14

quote:

“Well, there she is,” said the garage man sadly. “She once knew every racing-track in Europe. In the old days there wasn’t a famous driver in Britain who hadn’t driven her at one time or another. She’s still wearing England’s racing green, as you can see — that was from early in the thirties. She’s a twelve-cylinder, eight-litre, supercharged Paragon Panther. They only made one of them and then the firm went broke. This is the only one in the world. Doesn’t look much, does she? I’m afraid she’s due for the scrap-heap. Can’t afford to go on giving her living space. They’re coming to tow her away next week, as a matter of fact — take her to the dump, pick her up in a big grab and drop her between one of those giant hydraulic presses. One crunch and it just squashes them into a sort of square metal biscuit. Then she’ll go to a smelting works to be melted down just for the raw metal. Seems a shame, doesn’t it? You can almost see from her eyes — those big Marchal racing headlights — that she knows what’s in store for her. But there it is. You can see the shape she’s in, and it would need hundreds of pounds to get her on the road again — even supposing there was someone nowadays who could afford to run her.”



Chitty Bang Bang was not merely a turn of phrase Fleming created, but a series of racing cars built by Count Louis Zborowski and Clive Gallop in the 1920s. Four of them existed, with the one in the picture being Chitty 1. They were famously loud cars with gigantic engines; this one has a 23-liter 6-cylinder Maybach aircraft engine and was originally given a crude exhaust pipe that produced massive clouds of smoke, pushing it to nearly 120 miles per hour once. After a crash due to its poor brakes (which took 3 fingers off a racing official) it was sold to the children of Arthur Conan Doyle, after which it was sold for parts.

quote:



Commander Pott was looking curiously excited. “Mind if I look her over?”

“Go ahead.” The garage man shook his head sadly. “She’d appreciate a last look-over by someone like you who knows what real quality used to be.”

The whole family picked their way over and through the patches of oily ground. While Commander Pott looked under the bonnet, Mimsie and Jeremy and Jemima prodded the once-beautiful soft leather upholstery (moths flew out!) and looked under the carpets, front and back (beetles scuttled about!), and examined the knobs and switches and dials on the dashboard (there were dozens of them, all rusty and mildewed) and tried the big old boa-constrictor horn that worked with an India-rubber bulb. But nothing happened except that a lot of dust blew out of the end into Commander Pott’s face as he bent over the engine, peering and tinkering. The children looked at Mimsie, and Mimsie looked back at them, and do you know what? They didn’t just dolefully shake their heads at each other. They all had the same look in their eyes. The look said, “This must once have been the most beautiful car in the world. If the engine’s more or less all right and if we all set to and scrubbed and painted and mended and polished, do you suppose we could put her back as she used to be? It wouldn’t be like having just one of those black beetles that the factories turn out in hundreds and thousands and that all look alike. We’d have a real jewel of a car, something to love and cherish and look after as if it was one of the family!”

Ian Fleming was enough of a car enthusiast that he spent a lot of work restoring and modifying his personal vehicles. At the time of writing his daily driver was a 1959 Ford Thunderbird coupe, followed by a rare 1962 AC Aceca Coupe in dark blue and a 1963 Studebaker Avanti; Fleming loaned the last car for Sporting Motorist to do an article on shortly after he bought it.

quote:



Commander Pott took his face out from under the bonnet. He looked at them and they looked back at him, and he just turned to the garage man and said, “I’ll buy her. We all love her and we’ll make her as good as new. How much do you want for her?”

“Fifty pounds,” said the garage man. “She wouldn’t fetch much as scrap.”

That would be about $1400 today. My family once had a 1989 Lincoln Town Car that was bought in desperation for about that much when our previous vehicle got recalled; it promptly blew the radiator after a little over 200 miles, but was repaired and limped along for years until it could be replaced with something more modern.

quote:

Commander Pott counted out the money there and then, and said, “Thank you, and will you please have her towed along to my workshop just as soon as you can.”

And do you know? There were almost tears of happiness in the garage man’s eyes as he shook them all by the hand. As they climbed into their taxi to go off home, he said seriously, “Commander Pott, Mrs. Pott, Master Pott, and Miss Pott, you will never regret buying that car. She’s going to give you the time of your lives. You’ve saved her from the scrap-heap, and I’ll eat my hat — if I had a hat to eat — if she doesn’t repay you for what you’ve done today.” He was still waving happily after them when they drove out of sight.

In the film, it's actually the kids who find the car sitting in a junkyard. When they learn that it's being sold for scrap, they implore their father to raise the money to buy it.

quote:

As they bowled along in their taxi, Jemima whispered to Jeremy in the front seat next to the driver, “Jeremy, did you notice something very mysterious about the old registration number that was hanging from the back of our car?”

“There was nothing mysterious about it,” said Jeremy scornfully. “It was GEN ELEVEN.”

“Yes,” said Jemima excitedly. “GEN II. Don’t you realize what that spells? Genii — like magical people, sort of spirits, like that story about the Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson that Mimsie read to us once.”

“Hum!” said Jeremy thoughtfully. “Hum! Hum! Hum!” and they sat silently, thinking this odd coincidence over, until they got home.

Mouzer
May 9, 2006
Feed the fish!

Flipping between your three threads, it's amazing the difference an actual competent writer makes when telling a story. Truly going to miss reading more Flemming after this book.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Mouzer posted:

Flipping between your three threads, it's amazing the difference an actual competent writer makes when telling a story. Truly going to miss reading more Flemming after this book.

Fleming was a great writer with good education, but he also valued good editors. The Man with the Golden Gun is some of his most undiluted writing, which clearly comes off as half-baked compared to his other books (though his ill health certainly couldn't have helped). By comparison, if you go back to Twilight the first book was almost entirely self-edited and doesn't seem to have gone through more than a professional spellcheck process before publication, and while Meyer's later books had editors they were clearly aware of the profit in the series and had no intentions of improving the books even as their subject matter got creepier and the plots more crudely padded out. And William Control seems to have not only self-published without any editor at all, he didn't even go back and proofread for errors!

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


I've critiqued literal millions of words of terrible goon fiction and William control is up there with the worst of it. It's insanely impressive.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Chapter 3: The Most Beautiful Car in the World

quote:

Well, the next day Jeremy and Jemima had to go off to boarding-school, so they never saw the arrival of the new car, or rather of the ruins of it, as it came bumping and crashing down the lane behind the tow truck, but Mimsie wrote and told them of how it disappeared at once into Commander Pott’s workshop and how their father then locked himself inside with it and only emerged to eat and sleep.

For three months, the whole of the summer term, Commander Pott worked and worked secretly on the wreck of the old Paragon, and Mimsie said that much smoke came out of the chimney and often lights shone all night through the windows, and mysterious packages arrived from engineering factories all over England and disappeared into the workshop through the locked doors. Mimsie wrote that their father went through periods of gloom and impatience and frenzy and triumph and dejection and delight and unhappiness and nightmares and loss of appetite, but that gradually, with the passing weeks, he became calmer and happier until, as the holidays came nearer, he was smiling and rubbing his hands. Then at last came the great day when they fetched Jeremy and Jemima from school and the whole family assembled outside the workshop while Commander Pott solemnly unlocked the doors and they all trooped in to where the twelve-cylinder, eight-litre, supercharged Paragon Panther stood under the bright lights.



The character of Mimsie Pott does not exist in the film, as Caractacus Pott is now a widower. To add the requisite romance to the film, he instead meets and falls in love with Truly Scrumptious, the daughter of Lord Scrumptious. After Broccoli was unable to get Julie Andrews to return to team up with Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes was brought in; she had recently been nominated for a Tony for her role as Fiona in Brigadoon and reprised the role in the 1966 TV film adaptation. Her career on the screen is relatively limited due to the decreasing interest in musical films after Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and she's been much more prolific on stage.

quote:

Mimsie and Jeremy and Jemima stood and stared and stared and stared until Jemima broke the silence and said, “But she’s the most beautiful car in the world!” Mimsie and Jeremy just nodded their agreement and looked at the Paragon with round and shining eyes.

And she was beautiful! Every single little thing had been put right, and every detail gleamed and glinted with new paint and polished chromium, down to the snarling mouth of the big boa-constrictor horn.

Slowly they walked round her and examined her inch by inch, from the rows and rows of gleaming knobs on the dashboard to the brand-new, dark-red leather upholstery, from the cream-coloured, collapsible roof to the fine new tyres, from the glistening silver of the huge exhaust pipes, snaking away from holes in the bright-green bonnet, to the glittering number-plates that said GEN II.

And silently they climbed in through the low doors that opened and shut with the most delicious clicks, and Commander Caractacus Pott sat behind the huge driving-wheel with Mimsie beside him in her own bucket-seat with an arm-rest, and Jeremy and Jemima got in the back and sank down amongst the big, soft, red-leather cushions and rested their arms on their own arm-rest between them.



Now one of the most famous film cars, six versions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were made for the film. Only two could drive, being a completely custom car with a Ford Essex V6 engine. That one car was driven by its owner, Pierre Picton of Stratford-upon-Avon, until 2010. It was then auctioned for $805,000 to director Peter Jackson, who had it registered in New Zealand and uses it for fundraising events. The second road legal version is owned by the Dezer Car Museum in Miami. In addition to the gag cars for flying and boating, various replicas have been made by private individuals and for the stage production.

quote:

Then, without saying anything, Commander Pott leant forward and pressed the big black knob of the self-starter.

At first nothing happened. There was just the soft grinding from the starter motor. Jeremy and Jemima looked at each other with round eyes. Wasn’t she going to work after all?

But then Commander Pott pulled out the silver knob of the choke, to feed more petrol into the carburettor, and pressed the starter again. And out of the exhaust pipes there came just these four noises — very loud: CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG!

And there was a distinct pause after each noise, and it was like two big sneezes and two small explosions. And then there was silence.

Again Jeremy and Jemima looked at each other, now really rather worried. Had something gone wrong?

But Commander Pott just said, “She’s a bit cold. Now then!” He pressed the starter again. And this time, after the first two CHITTY sneezes and the two soft BANGS, the BANGS ran on and into each other so as to make a delicious purring rumble such as neither Mimsie nor Jeremy nor Jemima had ever heard before from a piece of machinery. Commander Pott put the big car into gear, and slowly they rumbled and roared out of the workshop into the sunshine and up the lane towards the motorway, and the springs were soft as silk and always this delicious rumble came out behind from the huge fish-tail exhausts.


Fleming put great stock in the sound of a car. As much as he messed with the vehicles he owned, he gave the most attention to their engines and exhaust.

quote:

When they got to the side road that joined the motorway, Commander Pott pressed the big bulb of the boa-constrictor horn and it let out a deep, polite, but rather threatening roar, and then, because he wanted to show everything to the children, Commander Pott pressed the electric-horn button in the middle of the wheel and the klaxon horn fired off a terrific blast of warning: “GA-GOOOO-GA!” Then he steered out on to the motorway and they were off on their first practice run.



Well, I can only tell you that the huge, long, gleaming, green car almost flew. With a click of the big central gear-lever, Commander Pott got out of first gear into second at forty miles per hour, with another click at seventy miles per hour he was in third, and as they touched one hundred miles an hour, he put the huge car into top gear and there they were passing the other black-beetle cars almost as if they were standing still.

Mr. Pott, you have children in the car! And they're probably not wearing seatbelts!

quote:

“GA-GOOOO-GA!” went the klaxon again and again as they swept down the big safe double-lane highway, and the drivers of the little family saloons looked in their rear mirrors and saw the great gleaming monster whistling towards them and drew in to the left-hand side to let her go by, and all the drivers said, “Cooer! See that! What is she? Smashing!” And then the green car was past and away, and they caught the hurricane howl of the big exhausts and made a note of the number, GEN II, and not one of the drivers noticed what the number really spelled, they just thought it was a nice short number to have and easy to remember.

I'm going to assume after all this that Ian Fleming was a terrible driver.

quote:

So CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG came to the end of the motorway and Commander Pott carefully swung the big car into the other lane and roared off back towards home, and Jeremy and Jemima clutched their arm-rest with excitement and looked over at the glittering dashboard and watched the needle of the speedometer creep back up to a hundred and stay there until they came to the turning-off for home. And Commander Pott clamped on the powerful hydraulic brakes until the car was only creeping along, and they turned off the motorway and bumped back down their narrow lane and back in under the bright lights of the workshop. And when Commander Pott switched off the engine, it gave one last “CHITTY-CHITTY,” let out a deep sigh of contentment, and was silent.

They all climbed out, and Commander Pott turned to them with a gleam of triumph in his eye. “Well? What do you think of her?”

And Mimsie said, “Terrific!”

And Jeremy said, “Smashing!”

And Jemima said, “Adorable!”

I bet Eon was hoping these would be the reviews.

quote:

And Commander Caractacus Pott said mysteriously, “Well, that’s good. But I’m warning you. There’s something odd about this car. I’ve put all I know into her, every invention and improvement I could think of, and quite a lot of the thousand pounds we got from the Skrumshus people, but there’s more to it than that. She’s got some ideas of her own.”

“How do you mean?” they all chorused.

“Well,” said Commander Pott carefully, “I can’t exactly say, but sometimes, in the morning when I came back to get to work again, I’d find that certain modifications, certain changes, had, so to speak, taken place all by themselves during the night, when I wasn’t there. Certain — what shall I say? — rather revolutionary and extraordinary adaptations. I can’t say more than that, and I haven’t really got to the bottom of it all, but I suspect that this motor-car has thought out, all by herself, certain improvements, certain very extraordinary mechanical devices, just as if she had a mind of her own, just as if she was grateful to us for saving her life, so to speak, and wanted to repay all the loving care we’ve given her. And there’s another thing. You see all those rows and rows of knobs and buttons and levers and little lights on the dashboard? Well, to tell you the truth, I just haven’t been able to discover what they’re all for. I know the obvious ones, of course, but there are some of those gadgets that seem to be secret gadgets. We’ll find out what they’re for in time, I suppose, but for now I’ll admit there are quite a lot of them that have got me really puzzled. She just won’t let me find out.”

Something I really like about this book is that it doesn't sound like it's talking down to its audience. Caspar was 9 when Fleming started writing it, so presumably this book was written for the 10-and-under crowd, but he uses a relatively mature form of writing that doesn't sound childlike at all. There are hundreds of adult books that aren't nearly as eloquent and often sound far more childish.

quote:

“What do you mean?” asked Jemima excitedly. “Is it a she?”

“Well,” said Commander Pott, “that’s how I’ve come to call her. It’s funny, but all bits of machinery that people love are made into females. All ships are ‘she.’ Racing drivers call their cars ‘she.’ Same thing with aeroplanes. Don’t know about rockets or Sputniks — somehow they don’t seem very feminine to me — but I bet the rocketeers and Sputnicators, or whatever they call the Sputnik experts, I bet they call their spaceships and things ‘she.’ Odd, isn’t it? I used to serve in a battleship. Gigantic great ship stuffed with guns and radar and so on. Called the George V. But we called her ‘she.’”

This confirms Commander Caractacus Pott as a World War II veteran, as the HMS King George V entered service in 1940. She participated in every naval theatre in the war and was one of the ships involved in the sinking of the Bismarck. Less gloriously, she crashed into the HMS Punjabi in 1942 when the latter captain attempted to dodge what he thought was a mine in the fog and sailed directly into George V's path, being cut in two and killing 40 crew members.

quote:

Jeremy said excitedly, “We’ve got to have a name for her. And I know what we ought to call her. What she called herself.”

“What do you mean?”

“What was that?”

“When did she?” they all cried together.

Jeremy said slowly, “She said it when she started — CHITTY-CHITTY, like sneezes, and then BANG-BANG! So we’ll call her that, her own invented name.”

And the others looked at each other and slowly they all smiled and Commander Caractacus Pott patted the green and silver car on her nose and said in a loud and solemn voice, “Now hear me, twelve-cylinder, eight-litre supercharged Paragon Panther. We hereby christen you . . .” and they all chorused: “CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG!” Then they trooped out of the workshop and went happily about all the things they’d forgotten to do for the whole of that exciting afternoon.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



quote:

the klaxon horn fired off a terrific blast of warning: “GA-GOOOO-GA!”

From the file marked "not a lot of people know that": a klaxon (the name is a genericised trademark) is very specifically the particular type of horn which makes that immediately-recognisable noise. Here's an irritating bellend on Youtube explaining how klaxons work, compared to other horns.

Runcible Cat
May 28, 2007

A post? Never!!

Pillbug

chitoryu12 posted:

Something I really like about this book is that it doesn't sound like it's talking down to its audience. Caspar was 9 when Fleming started writing it, so presumably this book was written for the 10-and-under crowd, but he uses a relatively mature form of writing that doesn't sound childlike at all. There are hundreds of adult books that aren't nearly as eloquent and often sound far more childish.

It has the definite ring of a car-geek-dad telling a story to a car-geek-kid.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Don't let Lowtax go down with the ship. Do your part for these dead gay forums.


Compared to Bond, this is disturbingly wholesome.

Proteus Jones
Feb 28, 2013





Hair Elf

Somebody Awful posted:

Compared to Bond, this is disturbingly wholesome.

It really is. I kind of wish he had written more children’s adventure stories.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



It's curious that both Fleming and Roald Dahl were friends who came from similar wartime backgrounds and both ended up writing beloved children's stories, though Dahl made that his primary reputation. Fleming had trouble getting success with his only other two non-Bond books, but I wonder if the strict schedule he kept himself to with Bond also kept him from writing anything more varied.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Don't let Lowtax go down with the ship. Do your part for these dead gay forums.


Imagine if it had been the other way around. Ian Fleming, author of children's adventures and the odd spy novel!

Muggeridge would probably still poo poo on him, though.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Chapter 4: To The Sea

quote:

The next day was a Saturday and the month was August and the sun positively streamed down. It was a roaster of a day, and at breakfast Commander Pott made an announcement. “Today,” he said, “is going to be a roaster, a scorcher. There’s only one thing to do, and that’s for us to take a delicious picnic and climb into CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG and dash off down the Dover road to the sea.”

This was, of course, one of Fleming's favorite places to be ever since he was a boy. Even after having a flat in London and a home in Jamaica, he still got himself a cottage out near the white cliffs.

quote:

Of course everyone was delighted with the idea and while Commander Pott and Jeremy and Jemima went to get CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG ready, fill her up with petrol, check the water in the radiator, verify the oil in the sump, test the tyre pressures, clean yesterday’s squashed flies off the windscreen, dust down the body, and polish up the chromium until it shone like silver, Mimsie filled a hamper with hard-boiled eggs, cold sausages, bread-and-butter sandwiches, jam puffs (with, of course, like all good jam puffs, more jam than puff) and bottles and bottles of the best fizzy lemonade and orange squash.

Just don't ask what Commander Pott has in his flask!

quote:

Then they all piled into the car, with the hood down of course, and, with CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s usual two sneezes and two small explosions, they were off up the lane to the motorway that led towards Dover and to the sea, some twenty miles away.

But, but, but! And once again but!!

Twenty-two thousand, six hundred and fifty-four other motor-cars full of families (that was the number announced by the Automobile Association the next day) had also decided to drive down the Dover road to the sea on that beautiful Saturday morning, and there was an endless stream of cars going the same way as the Pott family in CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG.


Commander Pott sighed and drew his Walther PPK.

quote:

Well, Commander Pott drove as cleverly as he could, overtaking when it was safe, weaving like a snake in and out of the traffic, and taking short cuts and side roads to dodge really bad queues of cars, but they made terribly slow progress, in spite of much polite mooing of the boa-constrictor horn and, I’m sorry to say, an occasional furious “GA-GOOOO-GA” on the klaxon when some booby in a black-beetle insisted on hogging it down the middle of the road and not leaving room for CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG to get by. As for doing a hundred miles an hour, there just wasn’t any question of it, and they crawled along at a miserable twenty. All of them, Commander Pott, Mimsie, Jeremy, and Jemima, were getting more and more hot and impatient, and even CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG began steaming angrily out of the top of her radiator, on which (I’d forgotten to tell you this) there was a silver mascot of a small aeroplane whose propeller went round and round in the wind, faster or slower according to their speed.

Tobe Hooper got the idea for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre when he envisioned cutting through the crowd in a busy hardware store. Presumably Fleming had a similar, milder thought.

quote:

And, although they couldn’t see them, CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s big headlamp eyes, that had been so gleaming with happiness and enthusiasm ever since the day before, began to get angrier and angrier and more and more impatient, so that the people who had gazed in admiration at her through the back windows of their cars became more and more nervous of this gleaming green monster behind them, beginning to look as if she wanted to eat up, with the silver jaws of her radiator, all the line upon line of black-beetle cars that were getting in her way and keeping her family from their picnic by the sea.

But all the same, they were making steady though very slow progress until, outside Canterbury, they came upon a solid jam of cars that must have reached for at least a mile. And there they were — stuck at the back of the queue; it really looked as if they couldn’t possibly get down to the sands and the sea in time for their picnic, let alone have a wonderful bathe before it.

Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Car That Was Pissed

quote:

Suddenly Commander Pott happened to glance at the dashboard, over on the left, opposite Mimsie, and he said excitedly, “I say, all of you, look at that!”

And Mimsie looked and Jeremy and Jemima peered over the back of the seat, and amongst all the knobs and instruments a light on top of a small knob was flashing pale pink! And it was showing a word, and the word was PULL!

“Good heavens!” said Commander Pott. “I wondered what that knob was for, but it’s one of the ones I haven’t had time to tinker with. What can it be for?”

“Look!” cried Mimsie. “The light’s turning red!”

And sure enough it was, and now another word was showing! And do you know what the other word was? It was IDIOT! So now the angry red knob read PULL IDIOT! And Commander Pott laughed out loud and said, “Well, I never! That’s pretty good cheek! Here’s CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG taking control and calling me an idiot into the bargain! Oh, well! Here goes!” And he reached over and pulled down the little silver lever.

The children, in fact the whole family, sat on the tips of their behinds, if you see what I mean, and waited excitedly to see what would happen.



quote:

And a kind of soft humming noise began. It seemed to come from all over the car — from the front axle and from the back axle and from underneath the bonnet. And then the most extraordinary transmogrifications (which is just a long word for “changes”) began to occur. The big front mudguards swivelled outwards so that they stuck out like wings, sharply swept back, and the smaller back mudguards did the same (it was lucky the road was wide and there was single-lane traffic, or a neighbouring car or a telegraph-pole might have been sliced in half by the sharp green wings!). The wings locked into position with a click, and at the same time, though the family couldn’t see it from behind, the big radiator grille slid open like a sliding door, and the big propeller of the fan belt, together with the fly-wheel underneath that runs the petrol pump and the electric generator, slowly slid forward until they were sticking right out in front of the bonnet of the car.

And then, on the dashboard, beside another little lever, a green light started to blink and this light said PULL DOWN, and Commander Pott, rather nervously but this time obediently, reached over and gingerly pulled the lever very, very slowly down.

Does this make Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang an official Bond car if it has gadgets?

quote:

And then, in heaven’s name, what do you think happened?

Yes, you’re right, absolutely right. The wings slowly tilted, and as Commander Pott, at last realizing what CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG was up to, pressed down the accelerator pedal, the big green car, which was now what I might call an aerocar, tilted up her shining green and silver nose and took off! Yes! She took off like an aeroplane and soared up over the car in front, just missing her roof, and roared away over the long line of stationary cars in the queue, while all the people stared out of their car windows in absolute astonishment and Commander Pott called out, “Hang on, everyone. For heaven’s sake, hang on!” Mimsie and Jeremy and Jemima clutched the arm-rests beside them and just sat, stiff with excitement and with their eyes and their mouths wide open, thinking, Heavens above! What is going to happen next?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wuer3mLqIxc

In the film, the reveal of Chitty's flying capability comes from Commander Pott being a horrifically negligent driver who accidentally drives off a cliff while chasing the villains. As you can probably tell from the video, it has a completely different plot!

quote:

Well, what happened next was that there came a shrill whine of machinery and a thump, thump, thump, thump from under the car, and automatically the four wheels retracted up into the bodywork, so as to be out of the way and let the aerocar go faster without the wind resistance of the wheels to slow her down.

Commander Pott sat gripping the wheel and chuckling with excitement and delight. “I told you so!” he shouted against the roar of the wind. “She’s got ideas of her own. She’s a magical car. Don’t worry! She’ll look after us!”

"And insult us in increasingly vulgar ways!"

quote:

He carefully turned the wheel to see what would happen. And sure enough, the bonnet of the car followed what he did, and after curving about a bit to get the feel of the steering, Commander Pott made straight for the tall tower of Canterbury Cathedral in the distance, soaring over the long line of cars in which the poor people were roasting in the sunshine and sniffing up the disgusting petrol fumes of the cars in front.

Gradually, as they got confidence, Mimsie and Jeremy and Jemima sat back more comfortably in their seats, and Jemima’s golden hair streamed out in the wind like a golden flag behind the car and Jeremy’s black mop blew about like a bird’s nest in a hurricane.

Over the solid line of cars they flew — altitude five hundred feet, air speed one hundred miles per hour, engine temperature one hundred and twenty degrees, outside temperature seventy degrees, revolutions of propeller three thousand per minute, visibility five miles — over the river that runs through Canterbury down to the coast, over the houses and over the fields where the cows and the horses and the sheep stampeded about at the roaring noise of this big green dragon they had never seen before, and the shadow of CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG chased after them over the ground.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 19:31 on Mar 23, 2020

Rockopolis
Dec 21, 2012

I MAKE FUN OF QUEER STORYGAMES BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH MY LIFE THAN MAKE OTHER PEOPLE CRY

I can't understand these kinds of games, and not getting it bugs me almost as much as me being weird


Okay, as much as the Bond franchise is chugging lately, they could make way worse films than having burnt out James Bond retire to go putter with classic cars.

Runcible Cat
May 28, 2007

A post? Never!!

Pillbug

chitoryu12 posted:

Does this make Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang an official Bond car if it has gadgets?

Well, duh. Of course.

Gadgets but no seatbelts.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Chapter 5: A New Member of the Family

quote:

Over Canterbury, Commander Pott insisted on circling the tall tower of the cathedral, so that the jackdaws and pigeons flew out of their nooks and crannies squawking and cooing with fright and excitement, and then they headed on over the trees and woods, taking a short cut away from the crowded Dover road, towards the distant majesty of Dover Castle, with its Union Jack flying from the topmost tower.

We've seen Dover Castle before, referred to as the "cardboard castle" in Moonraker.

quote:

And of course, at that speed, in minutes they were over the castle, and again Commander Pott insisted on circling round so that the family (and CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG for the matter of that) could have a good look, and all the soldiers drilling on the square inside the castle walls looked up, much to the rage of their sergeant-major, and the sentries too, and between you and me, I think CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG was lucky to get away without being shot at by the soldiers, because after all she had no proper aircraft markings, only her GEN II registration plates, and for all the soldiers knew, she might have been some new kind of foreign aeroplane come to attack the castle, or even a flying bomb, which was really quite what she looked like.

Dover Castle was actually used as a military command center in World War II; it was where the evacuation of Dunkirk was coordinated from. It was meant to serve as a fallout shelter for the Regional Seats of Government after the war, but it was realized that the cliffs didn't actually provide that much protection. Into the late 1950s it was still a military installation, so presumably that's when this book is set.

quote:



But all went well, and they flew on up the coast looking for a place to land to have their picnic beside the sparkling blue sea. But everywhere — St. Margaret’s Bay, Walmer, Deal, Sandwich, Ramsgate — all the beaches were crowded with families who had had the same idea as the Pott family, and CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s passengers became more and more gloomy as they saw the beautiful sands with their bathers and paddlers and shrimpers, and the rock-pools that were certainly crawling with exciting crabs and eels and valuable shells, all crowded with rival holidaymakers. And they all longed for a bathe and to unpack the bulging picnic basket full of Mimsie’s delicious goodies.

This is probably identical to Fleming's own experiences as a child.

quote:



Then a curious thing happened. The steering wheel twisted, actually twisted in Commander Pott’s hands, as if CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG realized their disappointment and was taking control herself, and do you know what? CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG turned away from the coast and soared away over the English Channel straight out to sea.


It's a suicide run! Chitty is taking everyone down with it!

quote:

The family held their breath with excitement and Commander Pott wrestled with the wheel and began to look rather nervous. But then the green light started to blink on the dashboard, and now instead of saying PULL DOWN, as it had said before, it said PUSH UP. And gently Commander Pott pushed up the little silver lever and gently CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG began to lose height and plane softly downwards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HFc6x_AtWs

quote:



“Heavens!” cried Mimsie. “She’s going to drop us in the sea! Now we really are in a mess! Get ready to swim, everyone. The cushions will float! Each one hang on to a cushion! The Deal lifeboat will see us and if we keep afloat we’ll be all right!”

“Don’t worry, Mimsie darling,” shouted Commander Pott against the roar of the wind. “It’ll be all right. I think I know what CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG has got in mind. Look there where we’re heading for. Those are the Goodwin Sands — acres of beautiful sand that get uncovered during a low tide like this. Why, in summer they even have a football match on the sands. Dover and Deal play each other and get the game over before the tide comes in. Then they row away in boats. And there’s the famous South Goodwin Lightship. It’s got one of the loudest fog-horns in the world and a great revolving light to warn ships away. See the masts of the sunken wrecks sticking up all along the edge of the sands? Probably more ships have been sunk on those sands — from Roman times on — than on any other dangerous rock or reef or sands or shoals in the world. All through the ages, it’s been a regular graveyard for ships.”

This definitely has to take place before November 26, 1954, possibly around the time of Moonraker, as it was covered back then that the South Goodwin Lightship sank then.

quote:

“Any chance of finding treasure?” asked Jeremy excitedly.

“I’m afraid there’s not a hope,” said Commander Pott sadly. “Whenever there’s a shipwreck on the Goodwins, particularly on dark or foggy nights, when of course most of the wrecks happen, wreck-burglars — they have been known as ‘wreckers’ since olden times — swarm out from the coast in their sailing-boats (they don’t use motor-boats, so as to be as silent as possible and not warn the men on the lightship, who might otherwise radio for a Royal Navy cutter or M.T.B. to come out from Dover and arrest the wreckers and put a guard on board the wreck). These wreckers come slipping softly out and steal everything they can find — they just simply strip the wrecked ship of all its cargo and everything movable and then silently steal away before dawn. So then, when the official salvage-craft and tugs put out from Dover in the morning to save what they can and perhaps even try and pull the ship off the sands, they find an empty house, so to speak. The wreckers — the sea-burglars — have stripped her as clean as a plucked chicken, and of course when the police go hunting along the coast for the wreckers, no one knows anything about it, and there isn’t a sign of the loot because it’s all been rushed off inland to hide-outs by the wreckers’ lorries that have been called up secretly. That’s how it goes. Just the same as in the bad old days when the wreckers used to shift buoys and warning-lights at night to guide ships onto shoals and rocks. That was centuries ago — but the rascals are still at it. Dangerous work, of course, putting out from the coast in a sloop or a cutter in a thick fog or a storm, but these wreck-burglars are tough, bad men and they’re ready to take a chance in exchange for a fat cargo of fine meat and butter from Denmark, or radios and television sets from Germany, or even sometimes bars of gold being shipped over to an English bank.”

This is completely true! Bella Bathurst has a book, The Wreckers: A Story of Killing Seas and Plundered Shipwrecks, from the 18th Century to the Present Day, that talks about the tendency of seaside village residents in this area to rush out and loot wrecked ships. The Goodwind Sands area is just one of many that have been notorious through the 20th century for plunder.

quote:

While Commander Pott had been telling these exciting things, CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG had been planing gently down towards the big expanse of beautiful golden sand lapped by the soft blue ripples of the English Channel and fringed by the masts and the half-sunken hulls of the wrecks that show up at low tide. The crew of the bright-red-painted lightship came up on deck and waved excitedly to them as they soared low overhead, and then, as the green light on the dashboard went on winking and Commander Pott gently took his foot off the accelerator, the wheels automatically lowered themselves into position again and they came in to land on the hard, flat, golden surface. The aerocar ran a little way on the sand and then, as Commander Pott put on the brakes, CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG came to a gentle stop at the edge of the sea. At once the red light on the dashboard showed again, and now it said PUSH UP (no IDIOT this time).



Commander Pott pushed up the little silver lever, and there came the same low hum as the front and back wings slowly folded back to become mudguards again, and the big propeller and generator out front slipped back until the two halves of the radiator closed over them. CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG gave a last two big sneezes and two soft bangs, then Commander Pott switched off the engine and there was a perfectly good, gleaming, green car sitting quietly on the huge sandbank in the middle of the sea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfMb1DeqrqA

quote:

The whole family let out a big “Pouff” of relief and excitement and piled out of the magical car on to the warm sand.

Then, even before they got into their bathing things and began exploring, all the family, of one accord, went up and patted CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s warm silver bonnet, just as if she’d been alive, and they all said, “Thank you, dear CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG. You’re a real marvel!”

And do you know, CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG seemed to let out a long sort of metallic sigh of contentment, which I expect was really only a little steam escaping from the hot radiator, and her big gleaming headlights seemed to dip slightly in modesty and shyness, just as Jemima’s eyes do when she’s complimented on doing particularly well at her lessons, or her dancing-class, or at singing a song, or Jeremy’s when he wins a prize for lessons or games.

And then Chitty sees an Aston-Martin and grows tire shredders.

quote:

Then the whole family made a dash to change into their bathing things. And after they had all swum about like dolphins and clambered about among the wrecks, where Jeremy found some quite interesting bits of machinery and Jemima discovered an old compass that Commander Pott said he could easily clean up and repair, they sat down round Mimsie’s hamper in the middle of the sands and between them they ate up every single hard-boiled egg, every single cold sausage, and every single strawberry jam puff. Then, happy and contented, they all lay down in the sunshine and, drowsy and full of good things and really quite exhausted with all the excitements of the day, one by one they dozed off for a little rest before doing some more swimming and hunting for treasures.

Well, that's great! Surely nothing can be a problem on this sandbar with constantly shifting existence due to the tides!

quote:

BUT —

BUT —

BUT —

No one noticed that the tide was creeping in over the sands.

No one noticed that the masts of the wrecks were getting lower in the water.

No one heard the glug-glug-glug as the sea quietly, softly, flowed into the half-sunken hulls of the wrecked ships.



And no one — not one of the dozing family — noticed that the wheels of CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG were slowly, inch by inch, being submerged by the incoming tide, and no one realized that soon, very very soon, the whole family, Commander Pott, Mimsie, Jeremy, and Jemima — and CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG, who by now was really a member of the family too — would be marooned out in the middle of the sea — threatened with mortal danger!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cphNpqKpKc4

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



It's nice to see that even in this heartwarming children's story, Fleming is still compelled to write protagonists who are thick as two short planks.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Don't let Lowtax go down with the ship. Do your part for these dead gay forums.


chitoryu12 posted:

And then Chitty sees an Aston-Martin and grows tire shredders.

Just wait until she crosses paths with a Reliant Regal.

Trin Tragula posted:

It's nice to see that even in this heartwarming children's story, Fleming is still compelled to write protagonists who are thick as two short planks.

It's at least a little more excusable here, what with everybody being awed by the literal magic flying automobile.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Chapter 6: Marooned

quote:

Being marooned on the Goodwin Sands in the middle of the English Channel is enough to frighten you — and the Pott family and CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG, except that they are all fast asleep, dozing in the sun — out of your and their wits!

To make matters worse, one of those summer mists came creeping across the sea, hiding the family and their magical car from the Goodwin Lightship, which lies anchored some way south of the Goodwins. To warn them and all shipping of the terrible danger of the sands, the lightship began sounding its great fog-horn, which is one of the loudest in the world, and blinking its dazzling white danger light.

Better weather than the ship would get soon!

quote:

It was CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG who first woke up to the danger. You see, she had got very hot flying out to the sands and sitting in the sunshine, and as the sea came creeping up, glug-glugging in the hulls of the wrecks and whispering softly over the flat sand, the water gradually submerged the wheels of CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG. When it reached the bottom of her radiator, she let out a loud warning hiss from the hot metal.

The family opened dozy eyes and then at once they were all on their feet and Commander Pott was running to the car. He jumped in and pressed the self-starter, and with a quick “CHITTY! CHITTY! BANG! BANG!” of relief, the big car, spinning her wheels in the wet sand so that the spray flew, crept up out of the incoming tide and was steered by Commander Pott up on to the dry centre of the rapidly diminishing sandbank where the rest of the family was waiting.

“Quick! Jump in!” he shouted. “We’ve just got room to take off.” But as Jeremy and Jemima piled into the back seats and Mimsie got in front, already the first little waves had run up the flat sands after them and the bottoms of the tyres were awash again.

Who could have ever foreseen this?

quote:

“My goodness!” said Commander Pott anxiously. “Now we’ve had it! CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG can never get up enough speed to take off through the water. The only hope is that the lightship will realize the trouble we’re in and send their rescue boat for us. But that’ll mean leaving poor CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG marooned out here alone, and she’ll gradually be covered by the sea. During the night, she may easily be washed off the sands into deep water and we’ll lose her for ever!”

They all sat there gloomily as the water glugged around them and the fog thickened and there was no sign of a rescue boat. They suddenly realized that they might all be drowned out there in the middle of the English Channel.

I really want to pretend this is happening in the James Bond universe at the exact same time as Moonraker. Bond is off trying to molest a poor girl at the cliffs of Dover while a magical flying car steers its family toward a dangerous sandbar for vacation.

quote:

All this while, CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s engine had been running steadily on, but very soon, any minute now, the level of the sea would be up to her electric generator; there would be the blinding blue flash of a short circuit and the engine would go dead.

Suddenly, amongst the many dials and buttons and levers on the dashboard, a violet light began to blink urgently showing the words TURN THE KNOB. And quickly, although Commander Pott didn’t know the secret of every one of the row upon row of gadgets on the dashboard, he turned the knob under the violet light, and from underneath the car there came a soft grinding of cog-wheels and a curious lifting and shifting of the chassis, so that the whole family peered out over the sides to see what was happening.

And do you know what? I bet you can’t guess! All four wheels, pointing fore and aft as all car wheels do, had turned and had now flattened out like a hovercraft! Being an inventor, Commander Pott realized what this meant and what the result would be, so he pressed slowly on the accelerator and, just as the waves came up level with the floorboards, all four wheels began to turn like propellers. There was a jerk and CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG began to move through the water, just like a motor-boat, with the four wheels whizzing round and round propelling her forward.




The film version was a separate car shell built over a commercial speedboat. It occurs under similar circumstances, albeit with a pirate attack as well. We'll get to the villains of this piece later, and they're very Fleming.

quote:

Well, that was all very fine, but she was a heavy car with four people in her and the only way to keep from sinking was to go so fast that they were almost skimming over the surface. So Commander Pott trod the accelerator into the floorboards, there was a great whirl of spray from the four wheels, and CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG fairly sped across the surface of the sea, kicking up a big bow wave like a speed-boat.

Commander Pott had quite a tricky time dodging the masts of the sunken wrecks on the Goodwin Sands, weaving in and out of the tall, rusty, iron spikes as if they were involved in some kind of watery maze — but a dangerous one, because if Commander Pott hadn’t whirled the wheel this way and that, they would have ended up as just another Goodwin wreck. The fog swirled around them, the fog-horn from the lightship gave its huge double hoot every two minutes, and it really was pretty dangerous and spooky.

That's a hell of an action scene for a children's book!

quote:

To tell the truth, Mimsie and Jeremy and Jemima held their breath and clutched tight to the arm-rests, expecting any moment to hear a grinding crash and find themselves swimming for dear life. But somehow Commander Pott and CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG between them managed to dodge all the obstacles and soon they were in clear water and swooshing along through the fog.

They had all let out a great “Pouff!” of relief when Jeremy, who had a good sense of direction, said, “But Daddy, aren’t we pointing the wrong way? There’s the hoot of the Goodwin Lightship fog-horn coming from down on the right. Oughtn’t we to sail towards her and then on past her towards Dover?”

Commander Pott said sternly, “You mustn’t say ‘down on the right.’ We’re all sailors now. You must say ‘to starboard’— that’s naval language for ‘right.’ And at sea ‘left’ is ‘port.’” He twirled the wheel to the left so that CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG swirled to the left. “Now we’re going to port.” He turned the wheel to the right. “Now we’re going to starboard. Quite easy to remember. ‘Port’ and ‘left’ both have fewer letters in them than ‘right’ and ‘starboard.’ Got it?”

“Well, yes,” said Jeremy, “that sounds easy. But still, Daddy, whichever way you’re going, to port or starboard, I bet you’re going the wrong way — away from England, I mean.”

"Dad please pay some loving attention!"

quote:

At this, Commander Caractacus Pott put on his secret face — the face he wore around Christmas time when Jeremy and Jemima asked if they were going to get what they had asked Father Christmas for, and the face he put on when, for instance, he was preparing the Easter-egg hunt. All of them, Mimsie and Jeremy and Jemima, recognized their father’s secret face and waited excitedly for what was to come, as CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG sped on through the fog, throwing up fountains of spray from her whirling wheels while the sound of the Goodwin Lightship’s fog-horn got farther and farther away.


Chitty produces a bone saw from the glove box.

quote:

“Well,” said Commander Pott in his surprise voice (he also had a particular voice for springing surprises with), “it’s the holidays, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” they chorused.

“So we’d all like to have a holiday adventure. Right?”

“Yes,” they said breathlessly.

“Well,” said Commander Pott, “CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG is going like smoke. The Channel’s as flat as a mill-pond. We’ve got plenty of petrol and the oil pressure’s fine, the engine temperature’s all right, and the fog will lift the farther we get away from land, and it can’t be more than about twenty-five miles now to the other side of the Channel, and we’re doing about thirty knots and a naval knot is 1.15 miles per hour, which gives a speed of about thirty-five miles per hour, so the whole trip would take less than an hour. And as it’s only just five o’clock now”— he paused for breath —“and as we’ve never been abroad, I thought it would be rather fun to go to France!”

This book is very educational!

quote:

“Good heavens!” said Mimsie.

“Gosh!” said Jemima.

“My hat!” said Jeremy.

And for a moment they all sat thinking about this colossal adventure. Then Mimsie said, “But we haven’t got any passports!”

And Jeremy said, “But don’t they have different money in France — francs, they’re called. What about francs?”

And Jemima said, “What about the language? I’ve only learnt ‘oui,’ which means ‘yes,’ and ‘non,’ which means ‘no.’ That’s not going to get me very far.”

"Daddy, we're going to be illegal immigrants! They're going to call us a blight on their economy!"

quote:

Commander Pott said firmly, “That’s no way to treat adventures. Never say no to adventures. Always say yes. Otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life. Now then, passports — we’ll make for Calais, which is dead ahead, and go to the British Consul, who represents all English people, from the Queen down, in Calais, and get provisional passports. Money? We’ve got pounds and we’ll change them into francs. Language — Mimsie and I both talk French a bit and if we can’t make ourselves understood, we’ll find someone who talks English. More people in the world talk English than any other language and we’ll soon find someone. Right? Then that’s settled. CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s going to take us right across the English Channel to France. Now then, we’ll turn on the radio and get the weather report for ships and we’ll steer a bit more towards the north, as there’s quite a current running down the Channel and we don’t want to be swept along with it and suddenly find ourselves in Portugal or even in Africa.” He chuckled. “Do we?”

And all together, and very loud and definitely, they said, “No, we don’t!”

"Never say no to adventures" was a saying Fleming himself had. I recommend it in general, but not in the sense of sneaking into a country illegally when you don't speak the language so you can have a vacation.

quote:

So Commander Pott fiddled with the dials on the radio and out came the familiar voice they had never bothered to listen to before. But now it was very important indeed. It said: “And this is the shipping forecast — North Sea and English Channel: dead calm. Patches of fog near the English coast. Further outlook, unchanged.”

"An unidentified aircraft has been spotted over Dover Castle. Fighters have been scrambled from RAF Manston."

quote:

Commander Pott switched off the radio. “Well, that’s all right. But now we’ve got to keep our eyes and ears open. The English Channel’s always crowded with shipping sailing up and down from London, which is the biggest port in the world, and from Belgium and Holland and Denmark and Sweden and Norway — even from Russia — on its way to and from Africa, India, America, and even as far away as China and Japan. Ships of every nationality use the English Channel, and we’d better watch out or we’ll be run down.”

And even as he spoke, they heard the giant beat of the engine of a big ship approaching, and Commander Pott quickly sounded the klaxon as a fog-horn, and it said “GA-GOOOO-GA, GA-GOOOO-GA” to warn the big ship. Back out of the fog came a series of huge MOOs, just like the noise a vast iron cow might make, and through the fog, coming straight at them, was the bow of a gigantic white liner.

Caractacus you idiot.

quote:

Well, all I can say is that she missed them by a cat’s whisker, and they just had a glimpse of lines of passengers a hundred feet above them, staring down with astonishment at the sight of a green motor-car, using its wheels sideways like propellers, in the middle of the English Channel. Then the huge stern disappeared into the fog, leaving them pitching and tossing in the choppy wake.

“Whew!” they all said, more or less together. “That was a narrow squeak!” And Commander Pott added, rather unfairly, the others thought, “CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG, for heaven’s sake, keep your eyes open and watch where you’re going!” This gave him an idea, and he switched the fog lights on and kept on making frequent GA-GOOOO-GAs on the klaxon.

You're the driver, dipshit!

quote:

Well, they heard many more ships passing in both directions, up and down the Channel, and once the periscope of a submarine came shooting up out of the depths to have a look at them and then quickly slid down under water again. They imagined word being passed round among the eighty or ninety men of the crew (yes, big submarines carry as many crew as that!), “Stone the crows! There’s a perishing motor-car overhead!”



Then suddenly the fog cleared and they were out in the sunshine with the big white cliffs of France showing up on the horizon, and they all let out a cheer that quite surprised the crew of a Dutch schuyt (a kind of small barge you see a lot of in the Channel, though when it’s at home it pronounces itself “skoot”) that happened to be passing. The Dutch crew let out a big “Hurrah” too as they gazed in amazement at CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG whizzing across the surface of the calm sea.

When's the last time a children's book taught you about traditional Dutch river vessels?

quote:

They sped happily on, getting nearer to France, and Commander Pott said it was now time to steer north so that they would arrive in the harbour of Calais. But this was easier said than done. The strong current kept drifting them southwards, and every time Commander Pott turned the wheel to steer north, CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG had to slow down because her wheels couldn’t go round and round like propellers and change direction at the same time. Commander Pott, and in fact all of them, began to get quite worried because there was no doubt that they were going to land on the beach at the base of the gigantic French chalk cliffs that are just as high and steep as the ones on the English shores near Dover. Sure enough, the water got shallower and shallower until they touched the shingle and the violet light on the dashboard blinked urgently and said TURN THE KNOB. When Commander Pott turned the knob, there came the same purr of machinery under the chassis, and the wheels straightened out and clicked back into the straightforward position and they bumped and churned their way up onto the beach.

Never say no to adventures, unless you have absolutely no idea what you're doing.

quote:

Of course everyone was very glad to be on dry land again, but nothing could alter the fact that they were stuck at the bottom of giant cliffs that soared up above them towards the sky, and the tide was still coming in and it was half past six and there would only be about three more hours of daylight. It really looked as if the whole family, and CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG, were in the most dreadful and dangerous situation.

Runcible Cat
May 28, 2007

A post? Never!!

Pillbug

chitoryu12 posted:

"Daddy, we're going to be illegal immigrants! They're going to call us a blight on their economy!"


"Never say no to adventures" was a saying Fleming himself had. I recommend it in general, but not in the sense of sneaking into a country illegally when you don't speak the language so you can have a vacation.

Don't be silly, man. They're British! All those dam' foreigners should be honoured they've deigned to visit and bring the benefits of REAL civilisation!

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Runcible Cat posted:

Don't be silly, man. They're British! All those dam' foreigners should be honoured they've deigned to visit and bring the benefits of REAL civilisation!

Caractacus Pott is a gammon!

The_White_Crane
May 10, 2008


Caractacus Pott posted:

"More people in the world talk English than any other language and we’ll soon find someone."

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice


That's true now, but was it in the 50s?

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Epicurius posted:

That's true now, but was it in the 50s?

The population of China in 1954 was about 602.6 million. Combined population of the US, UK, Australia, and Canada total was a tad over 300 million I believe.

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

chitoryu12 posted:

The population of China in 1954 was about 602.6 million. Combined population of the US, UK, Australia, and Canada total was a tad over 300 million I believe.

Right, but a lot of people speak English who aren't in those four countries. And even in places where English isn't the first language, it's the second for a lot of people.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Epicurius posted:

Right, but a lot of people speak English who aren't in those four countries. And even in places where English isn't the first language, it's the second for a lot of people.

I figured taking the four largest English-speaking countries would be sufficient since that still wasn't enough to get more than halfway to China's population. I'm not sure how prevalent English as a second language would have been back then.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


India.

Proteus Jones
Feb 28, 2013





Hair Elf


Runcible Cat
May 28, 2007

A post? Never!!

Pillbug

chitoryu12 posted:

I figured taking the four largest English-speaking countries would be sufficient since that still wasn't enough to get more than halfway to China's population. I'm not sure how prevalent English as a second language would have been back then.

By jingo, old chap! One would think you'd never heard of the jolly old British Empire!

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Chapter 7: Nasty Surprises

quote:

“Well, it’s no good just standing here making long faces,” Commander Pott said decisively. “We must split up into two parties and hurry along under the cliffs to right and left, and hope that we’ll find a little bay somewhere where we can shelter for the night above high-water mark. Right? Well now, Jemima, you come with me along to the left, and Mimsie and Jeremy, run off to the right, and let’s hope we find a safe place, because otherwise we’ll just have to put to sea again, and none of us wants to spend the night out in the Channel. All right then, off we go!”

It was Jeremy, running on ahead of Mimsie, who found it. Round a big headland, tucked right in under the cliff so that you couldn’t see it from seawards, was the mouth of a cave! The sideways opening was quite big, about as big as garage doors, which was the first and most important comparison that came to Jeremy’s mind. He called Mimsie and together they went in, over the tide-line of seaweed and washed-up cans and bottles and bits of plastic bags and all the other junk that gets carried in on the tide. They could see that, farther in, the cave widened out and got bigger.

Fleming providing insightful early commentary on ocean pollution.

quote:

But then it got a bit spooky and they both decided that the thing to do would be to bring CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG in with her tremendous lights before they went any farther. So they ran back, scrambling and rattling over the beach, and shouted and called for Commander Pott and Jemima, who presently came back to where Jeremy and Mimsie waited beside CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG, whose back wheels were already being dangerously approached by the rising tide.


Reenacting the disasters of Operation Sealion here.

quote:

When Commander Pott had heard what they had to say, they all climbed into the car, and with her usual two sneezes and two bangs, she turned and moved slowly, humping and bumping over the beach, towards the cave. At the noise of her great rumbling exhaust, the sea-gulls flew screeching out from the top of the cliff, and the vibration of her rumble even dislodged small pebbles and scraps of chalk that came tumbling down the gigantic high cliff and once or twice made them cover their heads with their hands and duck.

But they got to the hidden opening to the cave, all right, and Commander Pott turned the bonnet of the car into the opening. They nosed their way in, with a big bump, over the piled-up tide-line.

Seriously, this is just a child version of Moonraker.

quote:

“This is perfect,” called Commander Pott. (He had to shout because of the great BOOM-BOOM-BOOM of the exhaust inside the cave.) “It’s dry as a bone!” And he switched on the big headlights.

Excitedly they all peered forward into the cave, which seemed to widen out as it burrowed into the cliff until it came to what looked like a corner. “Come on,” called Commander Pott. He put CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG into low gear and they trundled forward over the pebbles, while the boom of the exhaust echoed back at them from the walls and the roof just over their heads.

They came to the corner, and round it, and now the cave opened out and became still bigger. There were the marks of pickaxes or chisels of some kind on the walls, which meant that humans had been at work making the cave broader, and there was a straight piece and then another corner and another, and CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG rumbled and boomed on and Jeremy and Jemima (and their parents too for the matter of that) were breathless with excitement.

Drax was building a secondary site!

quote:

Suddenly Commander Pott called, “Look out!” and there was a great squeaking whoosh, and hundreds and hundreds of bats, disturbed by the noise of the car, swept out over their heads towards the entrance! But the children weren’t particularly frightened by them, because they knew they were only little harmless mice with wings. They had often seen them flitting about in the evening at home. And they knew, too, that it was all nonsense about bats getting tangled up in your hair (which is an old wives’ tale), because, as Commander Pott had explained to them, bats have the most wonderful built-in radar that works in their heads with the help of the tips of their big soft ears, making it almost impossible for them to collide with anything — as you can see for yourself by watching them dart about among the trees in your garden, diving now and then to catch flies so tiny that the human eye can hardly see them.

Because we all can just go out in our yard and look at bats flying around!

quote:

So the children just watched with curiosity as the bats poured out over their heads, and soon their squeaking disappeared and CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG came to the next corner. Now they all realized that they were far from the entrance and deep, deep inside the cliff, and they wondered, all of them rather anxiously, what they would find as CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG nosed carefully round the bend between the smooth chalk walls.

As we've learned from Thailand, don't go into caves when the water is rising outside!

quote:

I must admit that what they found was such a shock that even CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s exhaust gave a kind of trembly gulp. And Commander Pott himself, who was a brave man, gave quite a jump in the driving-seat and at once put on the brakes and switched off the engine, so that there was dead silence in the depths of the cave. As for Mimsie and Jeremy and Jemima, to be quite honest, they went all goose-pimply with fright and just stared and stared at the dreadful thing in front of them — a skeleton, a human skeleton that hung down from the ceiling and swayed softly in the small breeze that blew down the cave!

It was probably only seconds, but it seemed like minutes, that they just sat and stared. And the empty eyeholes in the skull stared back at them, and CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s big lights showed up each separate bone and the rope that hung down from the roof of the cave and was tied tightly round the skeleton’s neck.



quote:

Commander Pott spoke first, and it was good to hear his strong, human voice. “This is ridiculous,” he said scornfully. “It’s nothing but a scarecrow. There are secrets in this cave and someone wants to keep them secret and frighten people away. I vote for going on. What do you all say?”

Mimsie said doubtfully, “If you think it’s all right, darling.”

And Jemima said, in a rather trembly voice, “After all, it’s only a lot of old bones.”

And Jeremy said, pretending to forget all about the skeleton, “It would be an awful bore to have to reverse the whole way back again. Besides, it’ll be jolly exciting to find out the secret of the cave.”

.......you guys are gonna loving die.

quote:

And Commander Pott said, “That’s the spirit!” (Which wasn’t a very good choice of words with the ghostly skeleton swaying there in front of them!)


This is officially the best art in the book.

quote:

“Now we’ll just have to push against his knees, so don’t be worried by his feet dragging across the car,” and he started the engine and moved slowly forward.

Well, as you can imagine, it wasn’t very pleasant pushing against the dangling skeleton, feeling its feet scraping over the bonnet of the car and up over the windscreen and flopping down almost into Mimsie’s lap and then over the front seat and scraping between Jeremy and Jemima. But they squashed up against the sides of the seats to avoid being touched by the bony toes, and with a last rattle on the boot, they had left the skeleton behind. Only the silly Jeremy and Jemima would look back, and I must admit that they both gave quite a gasp to see the back of the skeleton swaying to and fro and all lit up by the red tail-lights of CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG! Then it really did look at its very spookiest, and they quickly swivelled round and gazed firmly ahead.

This is verging on a black comedy.

quote:

Now there was no more sand and pebbles on the floor but just beaten-down earth, and there was quite a slope upwards as the cave wound on and on, but you can imagine that the whole family was absolutely agog to discover where the cave led to and what they were going to see round each bend.

Suddenly Commander Pott seemed to listen carefully, and again he stopped the car and switched off the engine. And now they could all hear what he had heard — a frightening, eerie moaning that rose and fell and rose and fell and sent shivers down the spine.

“What’s that?” they all asked, trying to keep their voices calm.

A landmine!

quote:

Commander Pott leant forward and undipped the spotlight beside the windscreen. It was one of the useful spotlights you can use at night as inspection lights and to read high-up road-signs. He shone the light carefully up and along the roof of the cave until the beam came to a sort of contraption strung with shiny copper wires that was fixed into the chalk.

Commander Pott laughed. “That’s an old trick,” he said cheerfully. “Someone really does want to scare people away from the cave. That’s a musical instrument called an Aeolian harp. It’s much the same as an ordinary harp, only the strings or wires are much thinner, so that even this small breeze blowing along them can make the strings sound this sort of moaning noise. It can get really spooky when the breeze varies and blows hard and soft in turns. I’ve seen them used before this — in ruined castles in Germany, to give the tourists a fright. Well, it hasn’t given these tourists a fright, has it?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmP5XaNYlkI

quote:

And the others all said, “Oh, no. Rather not,” a bit doubtfully, and Commander Pott started up the engine and on they went again, hoping that that was the end of the nasty surprises and wondering all the more who it was who was trying to guard the secret of the cave and what, for the matter of that, the secret could be!

You're driving a loving 1920s race car with an engine the size of a house inside the cave. At this point I wouldn't be surprised if the secret around the next corner was a man with a shotgun.

quote:

Round the next two bends they crawled carefully along, with the thunder of CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s exhaust echoing on ahead of them. And then, all of a sudden, on a perfectly straight stretch of cave, CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG stopped dead!

“Well, that’s funny,” said Commander Pott, examining the dials in front of him. “We’re a bit low on petrol, but there’s still five gallons. Oil pressure all right, engine temperature a bit high, but not more than it should be going up this sloping tunnel in third gear,” and he got out to open the bonnet and have a look at the engine. He walked round to the front of the car and suddenly stopped. “So that’s it!” he said softly. “She saw the trap!”

“What trap?” they all called, leaning out to see.

Commander Pott pointed to a very thin trip-wire stretched knee-high from wall to wall across the cave.

Oh my God the car is smarter than them.

quote:

He scratched his head and walked up and down the wire, looking at the ground in front in case there was a trapdoor to catch people in, and looking at the walls and the roof to see if there was some big rock or a concealed weapon waiting to drop on their heads as soon as they touched the wire. They saw him kneel down and examine where the wire joined the wall, and he finally stood up and said, “Aha! The devils! I’ve got it!” Then he walked back to the car and got out a pair of pliers and some rubber gloves he always carried for dealing with faults in CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s electrical system.

“What is it?” they asked rather anxiously, because by now the whole adventure was getting almost too exciting. Commander Pott said cheerfully, “Oh, nothing much. They’re only trying to electrocute trespassers and explorers who get this far into their cave. Probably not actually kill them. Just give them a powerful shock to frighten them away. But it wouldn’t have been funny if our front bumpers had touched the wire. Might easily have short-circuited the whole of CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s electrical system as well as giving us all a nasty shock.” He looked puzzled. “Funny the way CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG saw the wire and stopped just in time. There really is something almost magical about this car.”

Why would you keep going forward now?

quote:

(Well, of course, Jeremy and Jemima weren’t in the least surprised. They knew CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG was a magical car. Just look at the way she could fly like an aeroplane and skim across the sea like a speed-boat. And anyway, hadn’t they had their suspicions on the very first day, when they had noticed that the registration number GEN II could be read two ways? Do you see what they saw in the letters and numbers?)

Commander Pott put on his rubber gloves (electricity can’t go through rubber) and gave one short snip at the wire, and sure enough, as the pliers cut through, there was a bright-blue flash and a shower of sparks and the two halves of the wire fell dead.


Promptly detonating the 5 pounds of TNT stored in the loose rocks in the cave ceiling.

quote:

And now, when Commander Pott got back into the driving seat and pressed the starter, CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s engine at once roared into life again. On they went, climbing still up the wide tunnel of the cave with the big headlights searching ahead for more dangers, and I must say that Jeremy and Jemima in the back seat were quite trembly with excitement at where in heaven’s name this underground adventure was going to end.

Round the bends they went, on and on into the depths of the chalk cliff, and the odometer showed that they had now come a whole mile inland from the sea. The air was cold and damp, and the breeze, which got stronger and stronger, blew the cobwebs to and fro high up in the roof and made Jeremy and Jemima huddle up together to keep warm.

And then, round a particularly sharp bend, they were suddenly faced with a blank wall of chalk that completely closed the cave. They had come to the end — or at any rate, they seemed to have come to the end — of the long cave!

But Commander Pott got out of the car and walked carefully forward, looking at the ground and the walls and then examining, inch by inch, the chalk wall that blocked the cave. He seemed to find something that excited him very much, and he came back to the car and announced, “It’s not a wall. It’s some kind of a door, a sort of secret trapdoor. We must find the catch that opens it. Come on, everyone. We must just search every inch of the ground and the walls for it. It’ll be something very clever, I expect, and well hidden, so tell me if you find even the tiniest clue.”

How have they not had a single thought at any point that this might be a bad idea? That someone who's gone to all this effort to fill the cave with warning signs and traps might not be too happy with a bunch of nosy Brits showing up in their secret treasure stash or smuggler's cave? These knuckleheads would try to break into the Joker's hideout on the basis of "adventure".

quote:

So, inch by inch, the family, working in the bright glare from CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG’s headlights, began examining what seemed to be a solid wall of chalk blocking the cave — just as if the original cave-diggers had decided they couldn’t be bothered to burrow any farther. The only clue, which Commander Pott found very early on, was that there was the tiniest crack that wandered, zig-zagging, down the middle of the wall. It might have been natural, just a fault in the chalk surface, but again it might not, because through the crack a sharp draught was blowing from the other side.

Jemima had chosen to grub about in the right-hand corner, where the wall met the side wall of the cave. There were a lot of bits of flint embedded in the chalk. (There had been the whole way along the walls and roof of the cave, just like you find in the chalk of any chalk cliff. Some of them are fossils. It’s often worth digging them out to see.) Jemima found a jagged piece of flint almost as big as a football. Some instinct made her tug at it and go on tugging until it suddenly came away in her hand, so that she almost fell over backwards. She bent down and peered into the hole the flint had left in the chalk and at once she gave a squawk of excitement and called, “Daddy, come quickly!” And when Commander Pott knelt down beside her, he saw what she had seen — an electric-light switch!

So you're just gonna press it, right?

quote:

“By golly, you’re a clever girl, Jemima! I do believe you’ve found the secret.” He called to the other two. “Stand back, everyone. I’m going to press down this switch. Heaven only knows what’ll happen. Ready?” And he pressed down the switch.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


I'm guessing... Jewel thieves?

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Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

chitoryu12 posted:

Because we all can just go out in our yard and look at bats flying around!

I haven't seen them in a while, but when I was a kid, you could. If you went out at dusk, they'd be flitting around out there. We used to throw tennis balls up in the air and watch the bats dive after them.

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