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Apr 23, 2014

Hello there! You're likely coming over here from my previous thread where we read through the entirety of Ian Fleming's James Bond series (plus a stop at Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang). If not, welcome! You should really read that thread first!

After Ian Fleming's untimely death on August 12, 1964 from a lifetime of excessive smoking and drinking, the complex network of copyright had to be figured out. Glidrose Publications, the publishing company he bought out in 1952 to publish his work, maintained the broad control of the character....until 1967 when a Bulgarian author named Andrei Gulyashki suddenly published Avakoum Zahov versus 07, pitting his own Sherlock Holmes-esque spy character from The Zakhov Mission against James Bond. Glidrose protested, but the courts decided that they could not copyright the character of James Bond and other authors were merely not allowed to pass off their work as Fleming's. The book takes revenge at Fleming's portrayal of Bulgarians and Soviets and casts Bond as a lecherous pig who randomly molests maids and murders innocent civilians to get them out of the way. While the original Bulgarian version has Bond and Zahov part ways with Bond defeated, the limited run of an English translation from an Australian publisher spices things up by adding a sequence where Zahov seemingly kills Bond.

To keep control of Bond, Glidrose needed to get back to publishing new books without Fleming. James Leasor declined after he was asked, so the torch was passed to famed English comic novelist Kingsley Amis, whom Fleming had befriended before his death and who had provided input on The Man with the Golden Gun. Ann Fleming, Ian's widow, hated Amis as a "left-wing opportunist" and hated the very idea of continuing to write her late husband's character, but she had little choice but to allow it to go forward for her finances' sake. Amis's book, Colonel Sun, was released under the pseudonym "Robert Markham". Geoffrey Jenkins of South Africa also submitted a manuscript for a book called Per Fine Ounce that he claimed he and Fleming worked on in the late 50s, which was rejected; the only publicly released section is two pages detailing Bond's traditional meeting with M.

The Bond empire expanded from there, with Glidrose and the various trusts set up by or for Fleming profiting from the films and merchandise, but very little was done for decades with continuing to write new Bond books. John Pearson wrote James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007, a faux-biographical novel in which Pearson interviews the "real" James Bond about his fictionalized exploits and learns of more stories, and Christopher Wood wrote novelizations of the films The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. There was also a rather odd attempt at a children's book in 1967, The Adventures of James Bond Junior 003½ by an author under a pseudonym (believed to be Arthur Calder-Marshall) but otherwise new stories remained dormant after Amis. Well, except that one time a medium claimed to have transcribed Fleming's last work from beyond the grave.

This all changed in 1979, when Glidrose made the decision to fully restart publishing original Bond novels. English author and ex-42 Commando John Gardner was given the task, publishing 14 books between 1981 and 1996 in addition to novelizations of License to Kill and GoldenEye. He took more influence from the films of the time, making crazier plots involving characters with cartoonish names and putting Bond in a blocky Saab hatchback. Gardner retired after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer and was replaced by Raymond Benson, in a controversial decision to have an American write Bond.

The books have continued at a steady pace with even more authors, rarely staying for more than one or two books. The Bond character has been modernized more than once, adjusting his date of birth and the conflicts he fought in as needed, before suddenly being returned to the 1960s in stories that were meant to be direct sequels to Fleming's work, with the latest book (Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz) even acting as a prequel to Casino Royale. Every author generally picked and chose what they considered canon from other authors, or even took none of them and only accepted Fleming's canon. There's also been the Young James Bond and Moneypenny Diaries series, spin-offs covering Bond's childhood and the adventures that Moneypenny gets up to respectively.

This has consequently complicated Bond. The character was filled with Fleming's fingerprints in every nook and cranny of his scarred skin and navy suit. He had a unique writing style born of the time and his experiences, which is very difficult to imitate. Many authors (Gardner especially) were content to copy the basic aspects of Fleming's work (lots of food and tech references and worldwide travel) while writing in their own style, which rarely makes it to Fleming's level. The novelizations also suffer the problem of many action film novelizations of excessively describing the action scenes, which are never as exciting to read about as they are to watch. Still, I think it'll be valuable to continue our Bond education by seeing just what these guys could come up with. You might be surprised! Sometimes in a bad way!

What Books?

I generally use a Kindle copy for my excerpts, though I can handle a PDF if nothing is available on Amazon. Unfortunately, a number of books are not currently available on Amazon. These are:

* The Adventures of James Bond Junior 003½

Please let me know if you can find a PDF copy of any of these books, as transcribing from a used paperback would be incredibly clunky and I'm not sure if I'm dedicated enough to do that.

I'll be doing the books in publication order. I will also be doing an unofficial Bond book! In 1985, James Hatfield illegally published The Killing Zone by lying that Glidrose had given him permission. The book is out of print, but has graciously saved a copy on their website. Hatfield was a notorious publicity hound and convicted felon (he tried to car bomb his boss!) who published Fortunate Son, a controversial biography of George W. Bush that made numerous questionable allegations, and committed suicide in 2001 after his long criminal past got out and ruined him. Having read some of it, it's absolute garbage.

As usual, our spoiler policy is to use spoiler tags for everything except the film novelizations (as much of the films' plots have been spoiled in the last thread anyway) and try not to post spoilers even behind tags if you can help it. We'll be keeping up with all the references like before, as the Bond books become far more topical for your own lives the newer they get!

Without further adieu, let us begin our new journey.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 05:17 on Feb 5, 2021


Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005


chitoryu12 had the crawling sensation at the pit of his stomach he knew so well – the signal that he had probably made a dangerous and silly mistake.

Well, here we go again.

Apr 23, 2014

Many thanks to Polyakov, as I now have all of the novelizations and The Authorized Biography! We're able to do an almost complete set!

I'm finally looking at Benson's writing. It's seriously "90s thriller."

Dec 24, 2007

chitoryu12 posted:

Many thanks to Polyakov, as I now have all of the novelizations and The Authorized Biography! We're able to do an almost complete set!

I'm finally looking at Benson's writing. It's seriously "90s thriller."


Apr 23, 2014

Because when you're starting out, why not start out weird?

Sir Kingsley Amis was substantially younger than Fleming. He was born on April 16, 1922 to a Colman's mustard clerk in Clapham, a district in south London. He loved his grandfather dearly while hating his grandmother equally dearly; when he died, his grandmother only allowed him to inherit five books from his library under the condition that he write "From his grandfather's collection" inside each.

He was well-educated, graduating from St. John's College at Oxford, and spent 1941 to 1956 as a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (you can see why Ann Fleming was not amused by him taking over the role of author). He served in the Royal Corps of Signals from 1942 to 1945 before returning to his education, marrying Hilary Bardwell in 1948 after she accidentally became pregnant and they both refused a back-alley abortion. Of their three children, Martin Amis has become a prominent British writer almost of equal renown to his father.

Amis gained national fame through the 1952 publication of his first novel, Lucky Jim, which detailed the relationship struggles of a lecturer at an unnamed university. He quickly became noted for writing in virtually every field he could, from food and drink writing (though I am not fond of some of his opinions...) to sci-fi and poetry. He was a noted essayist whose criticisms of society were published widely in magazines and newspapers. His writing style is noted as witty, educated, and often rude and irreverent.

Much like his brief friend Ian Fleming, Amis was also a serial adulterer (Hilary would separate from him in 1963 because of his affair with author Elizabeth Jane Howard) and a massive alcoholic; whereas Fleming was a functional alcoholic who would down half a dozen drinks during his work, Amis was depressed by his mistreatment of people like his ex-wife and would regularly end up so drunk that he could barely stand to leave the bar. Unfortunately, he was also very anti-Semitic and even falsely accused Charlie Chaplin of being Jewish. His politics had also started a gradual right-wing shift by 1967, even co-signing a letter approving of US intervention in Vietnam, and he had become a full blown Thatcher conservative by the 80s. His memoirs, published in 1991, have been noted as incredibly mean and denigrating toward fellow authors such as Roald Dahl and JRR Tolkien.

Amis's part in the James Bond canon comes from his fascination with the Bond novels. In 1964, shortly before Fleming's death, he contacted him to write an article about the stories. He quickly became enthralled with the books' surprising complexity, holding the controversial opinion (which some of us may share after spending almost 2 years going through my previous thread) that they had as much value in them as most other books on the shelf rather than cheap thrillers. Amis had long believed that pop culture was as equally valuable and worthwhile to academics as high culture. His essay turned into a book, The James Bond Dossier.

After Fleming's sudden death, Glidrose Publications contacted Amis for feedback on the draft of The Man with the Golden Gun; it remains controversial to this day how much, if anything, from Amis ended up in it. His book was updated to include commentary on Fleming's unfinished final work and published in 1965 with it. He also published that same year The Book of Bond or, Every Man His Own 007, a tongue-in-cheek manual on living like Bond written from the perspective of Bill Tanner and hidden in a fake The Bible to be Read as Literature dust jacket.

When Glidrose decided that they needed a new Bond novel to keep control of the character, Amis ended up being the one to get it. He had recently published The Anti-Death League, a puzzling thriller based around a secret military weapon being developed and the ensuing psychiatric problems of the colorful cast of British soldiers, which gave him some practice for the genre.

Ann Fleming's exact words about him were:


Amis will slip Lucky Jim into Bond’s clothing, we shall have a petit-bourgeois red-brick Bond, he will resent the authority of M., then the discipline of the Secret Service, and end as Philby Bond selling his country to SPECTRE.

In spite of Ann's hatred of him, Amis had the novel finished by May of 1967 and it was published the next year.

Following the Fleming tradition, much of the book is based on a holiday Amis and Howard spent in Greece in 1965. Reviews of the novel are mixed and often highly confused, befitting Amis's wild oeuvre. It features Bond allying with the Soviets, even more racist caricatures than Fleming, a gruesome and protracted torture scene that was lifted almost in its entirety for the film Spectre (even the dialogue, to the point where Amis's estate was credited in the film), a Bond who is much more self-conscious and less sure of himself, and the replacement of gadgets with a character-driven thriller. A few other elements would be used for the Brosnan films, including the kidnapping of M and the original name of Colonel Tan-Sun Moon in Die Another Day.

Amis lived longer than Fleming. In his final years he returned to living with Hilary and Martin, dying at the age of 73 on October 22, 1995 after suffering a stroke two months before.

Ultimately, we begin our journey with what may be the most puzzling Bond. While later authors like Raymond Benson and John Gardner would have a more typical modern action style or grow content in their writing, Amis is a man of nearly the same generation as Fleming but an opposite trajectory. While Fleming was being shuttled around his life by his mother to make sure she raised a proper English gentleman, Amis was joining the Communist Party and penning sarcastic comedic essays. Fleming published very little outside Bond, while Amis was an extremely extensive writer in every genre and field he was interested in. Fleming was afraid of poor reviews of his work initially and often denigrated himself for writing thrillers, while Amis believed that all literature had merit in society. Their fingerprints are similar, but clearly distinct.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 02:31 on Mar 24, 2020

Lord Zedd-Repulsa
Jul 21, 2007

Devour a good book.

If you hadn't bought yourself that av, I would've made one for you next week when I got paid. My continued thanks for doing this because the only thing I love as much as a good thriller is a terrible one.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 1: A Man in Sunglasses


James Bond stood at the middle tees of the eighteenth on the Sunningdale New Course, enjoying the tranquil normality of a sunny English afternoon in early September. The Old Course, he considered, with its clumps of majestic oak and pine, was charmingly landscaped, but something in his nature responded to the austerity of the New: more lightly wooded, open to the sky, patches of heather and thin scrub on the sandy soil – and, less subjectively, a more testing series of holes. Bond was feeling mildly pleased with himself for having taken no more than a four at the notoriously tricky dogleg sixth, where a touch of slice in the drive was likely to land you in a devilish morass of bushes and marshy hummocks. He had managed a clear two hundred and fifty yards straight down the middle, a shot that had demanded every ounce of effort without (blessed relief) the slightest complaint from the area where, last summer, Scaramanga's Derringer slug had torn through his abdomen.

Amis immediately establishes that his Bond is the same one we left off with. The New Course at Sunningdale Golf Club (about 30 miles from London) opened in 1923 and has served as a major competition ground for British golfing. Funny enough, Amis detested golfing and had a friend fill in the details because he never wanted to set foot on the course if he could help it.


Near by, waiting for the four ahead of them to move on to the green, was Bond's opponent and incidentally his best friend in the Secret Service: Bill Tanner, M's Chief of Staff. Noticing the deep lines of strain round Tanner's eyes, his almost alarming pallor, Bond had taken the opportunity of an unusually quiet morning at Headquarters to talk him into a trip down to this sleepy corner of Surrey. They had lunched first at Scott's in Coventry Street, beginning with a dozen each of the new season's Whitstable oysters and going on to cold silverside of beef and potato salad, accompanied by a well-chilled bottle of Anjou rosé. Not perhaps the ideal prelude to a round of golf, even a little self-indulgent. But Bond had recently heard that the whole north side of the street was doomed to demolition, and counted every meal taken in those severe but comfortable panelled rooms as a tiny victory over the new, hateful London of steel-and-glass matchbox architecture, flyovers and underpasses, and the endless hysterical clamour of pneumatic drills.

As I said, similar yet distinct fingerprints. Amis was also a noted food and drink writer, even if I think some of his opinions are utter garbage (don't make his Old Fashioned recipe!), so it was easy for him to step into Fleming's detailed meal descriptions. He was also far more versed in wine in particular than Fleming; medium-sweet Anjou rosé was starting to become extremely popular at this point.


The last of the four, caddie in attendance, was plodding up to the green. Tanner stepped to his trolley – having some minor Service shop to exchange, they were transporting their clubs themselves – and pulled out the new Ben Hogan driver he had been yearning for weeks to try out. Then, with characteristic deliberation, he squared up to his ball. Nothing beyond a nominal fiver hung on this game, but it was not Bill Tanner's way to pursue any objective with less than the maximum of his ability – a trait that had made him the best Number Two in the business.

The sun beat down. Insects were droning in the little belt of brambles, rowans and silver birch saplings to their left. Bond's gaze shifted from the lean, intent figure of the Chief of Staff to the putting green a quarter of a mile away, the famous, ancient oak by the eighteenth green of the Old Course, the motionless line of parked cars. Was this the right sort of life? – an unexacting game of golf with a friend, to be followed in due time by a leisurely drive back to London (avoiding the M4), a light dinner alone in the flat, a few hands of piquet with another friend – 016 of Station B, home from West Berlin on ten days' leave – and bed at eleven thirty. It was certainly a far more sensible and grown-up routine than the round of gin and tranquillizers he had been trapped in only a couple of years back, before his nightmare odyssey through Japan and the USSR. He should be patting himself on the back for having come through that sticky patch. And yet …

Amis is wasting no time at all in establishing the mood of his Bond. We're barely on the second page and he's already wondering about if his life is going in the right direction!


With the sound of a plunging sabre, Bill Tanner's driver flashed through the still, warm air and his ball, after seeming to pass out of existence for an instant, re-appeared on its soaring arc, a beautiful tall shot sufficiently drawn to take him well to the left of the clump of Scotch pines that had brought many a promising score to grief at the last minute. As things stood he had only to halve the hole to win.

‘It looks like your fiver, I'm sorry to say, Bill.’

‘About time I took one off you.’

As James Bond stepped forward in his turn, the thought crossed his mind that there might be a worse sin than the cardinal one of boredom. Complacency. Satisfaction with the second-rate. Going soft without knowing it.

Bond doesn't need to worry, because he's being watched. As he goes up to the 18th hole, a man wearing very large sunglasses is walking across the putting green.


If any member had marked out the man in sunglasses as a stranger and approached him with inquiring offers of help, he would have been answered courteously in a faintly non-British accent – not foreign exactly, perhaps South African – to the effect that no help was needed. Any moment now, the stranger would have explained, he expected to be joined by Mr John Donald to discuss with him the possibilities of being put up for membership. (Mr John Donald was in fact in Paris, as a couple of carefully placed telephone calls had established earlier that day.) But, as it turned out, nobody went near the man in sunglasses. Nobody so much as noticed him. This was not surprising, because a long course of training, costing a large sum of money, had seen to it that he was very good at not being noticed.

The man strolled across the putting-green and seemed to be examining, with exactly average interest, the magnificent display flower-bed and its thick ranks of red-hot pokers and early chrysanthemums. His demeanour was perfectly relaxed, his face quite expressionless, as the eyes behind the glasses looked in the direction of the flowers. His mind, however, was racing. Today's operation had been set up three times already, before being abandoned at the eleventh hour. There was a date schedule on it so tight that further postponement might mean the cancellation of the entire scheme. This would have greatly displeased him. He very much wanted the operation to go through, not for any fancy idealistic or political reason, but simply out of professional pride. What was being undertaken would, if all went well, end up as the most staggeringly audacious piece of lawlessness he had ever heard of. To be associated with the success of such a project would certainly bring him advancement from his employers. Whereas to be associated with its failure …

The man in sunglasses drew his arms in to his sides for a moment, as if the approach of evening had brought a stray gust of air that suddenly struck chill. The moment passed. He had no trouble making himself relax again. He considered dispassionately the undeniable fact that the time schedule he was working to was even tighter than the date schedule, and was showing signs of coming apart. Events were running half an hour late. The man Bond and his companion had lingered hoggishly over their lunch in the rich aristocrats’ restaurant. It would be very awkward if they lingered over the drinks these people felt bound to consume around this hour.

I'm sure this isn't the first time a dastardly plot was messed up by Bond spending too long eating and drinking.


A casual glance showed that the two Englishmen had finished their round of infantile play and were approaching the club house. The man in sunglasses, his eyes invisible behind the dark lenses, watched sidelong until, laughing inanely together, they had passed out of sight. No further delay had occurred. Although he had not looked at his watch for half an hour, and did not do so now, he knew the correct time to within a minute.

A pause. Silence but for a few distant voices, an engine being started in the car park, a jet aircraft in a distant corner of the sky. Somewhere a clock struck. The man went through a tiny underplayed pantomime of somebody deciding regretfully that he really cannot be kept waiting any longer. Then he walked off at an easy pace towards the entrance. As he neared the road he took off his sunglasses and slipped them carefully into the top jacket pocket of his anonymous light-grey suit. His eyes, of a washed-out blue that went oddly with his dead black hair, had the controlled interestedness of a sniper's as he reaches for his rifle.

Amis is quite a long-winded writer by Fleming's standards, though not in a bad way. He's missing Fleming's unique rhythm, but still doing well establishing the scene.


‘Do you think I'm going soft, Bill?’ asked Bond twenty minutes later as they stood at the bar.

Bill Tanner grinned. ‘Still sore about ending up two down?’ (Bond had missed a four-foot putt on the last green.)

‘It isn't that, it's … Look, to start with I'm underemployed. What have I done this year? One trip to the States, on what turns out to be a sort of discourtesy visit, and then that miserable flop out East back in June.’

Bond had been sent to Hong Kong to supervise the conveying to the Red mainland of a certain Chinese and a number of unusual stores. The man had gone missing about the time of Bond's arrival and had been found two days later in an alley off the waterfront with his head almost severed from his body. After another three days, memorable chiefly for a violent and prolonged typhoon, the plan had been cancelled and Bond recalled.

This book takes place about a year after Bond's run-in with Scaramanga, so he actually seems to be right on time with his career!


‘It wasn't your fault that our rep. went sick before you turned up,’ said Tanner, falling automatically into the standard Service jargon for use in public.

‘No.’ Bond stared into his gin and tonic. ‘But what worries me is that I didn't seem to mind much. In fact I was quite relieved at being spared the exertion. There's something wrong somewhere.’

‘Not physically, anyway. You're in better shape than I've seen you for years.’

Bond looked round the unpretentious room with its comfortable benches in dark-blue leather, its decorous little groups of business and professional men – quiet men, decent men, men who had never behaved violently or treacherously in their lives. Admirable men: but the thought of becoming indistinguishable from them was suddenly repugnant.

‘It's ceasing to be an individual that's deadly,’ said Bond thoughtfully. ‘Becoming a creature of habit. Since I got back I've been coming down here about three Tuesdays out of four, arriving at the same sort of time, going round with one or other of the same three friends, leaving at six thirty or so, driving home each time for the same sort of evening. And seeing nothing wrong with it. A man in my line of business shouldn't work to a timetable. You understand that.’

One thing that has always set Bond apart is his individuality. Contrary to his perception as either a simple thug or a debonair gentleman (depending on who you ask and what their opinion of Fleming is), he's kind of a quirky guy. If he's your enemy, he'll be cold and give you the exact amount of dignity he feels that you deserve. If he's your friend, he'll show up to the club dressed all wrong ("Moccasin loafers and short sleeves under his suit? Preposterous!"), drink your champagne, and tear up everyone at the card table while chain smoking like a madman before going on to have an affair with a married woman.


It is true that a secret agent on an assignment must never fall into any kind of routine that will enable the opposition to predict his movements, but it was not until later that Bill Tanner was to appreciate the curious unintentional significance of what Bond was saying.

‘I don't quite follow, James. It doesn't apply to your life in England, surely,’ said Tanner, speaking with equally unintentional irony.

‘I was thinking of the picture as a whole. My existence is falling into a pattern. I must find some way of breaking out of it.’

‘In my experience that sort of shake-up comes along of its own accord when the time is ripe. No need to do anything about it yourself.’

‘Fate or something?’

Tanner shrugged. ‘Call it what you like.’

This book is also way more heavy on dialogue. Amis was an established and very famous writer long before he wrote Bond, giving him plenty of experience that Fleming lacked. Fleming's style seems to have been brought about by his natural way with words, developed over a lifetime of writing and corresponding but rarely publishing anything until he was middle aged, while Amis was a voracious reader who became equally famous around the same time as Fleming at a much younger age and leaped into every genre and format with abandon. Interesting dialogue is often one of the hardest parts of writing anything.


For a moment there was an odd silence between the two men. Then Tanner glanced at the clock, drained his glass and said briskly, ‘Well, I suppose you'll want to be getting along.’

On the point of agreeing, Bond checked himself. ‘To hell with it,’ he said. ‘If I'm going to get myself disorganized I might as well start now.’

He turned to the barmaid. ‘Let's have those again, Dot.’

‘Won't you be late for M?’ asked Tanner.

‘He'll just have to possess his soul in patience. He doesn't dine till eight fifteen, and half an hour or so of his company is quite enough these days.’

‘Don't I know it,’ said Tanner feelingly. ‘I still can't get near him at the office. We've taken to doing most of our confabulating over the intercom and that suits me fine. I've only to say it looks like rain for him to shout at me to stop fussing round him like a confounded old woman.’

It was a life-like imitation and Bond laughed, but he was serious enough when he said, ‘It's only natural. Sailors hate being ill.’

It usually means you'll die on the ship!


The previous winter M had developed a distressing cough which he had testily refused to do anything about, saying that the drat thing would clear up when the warmer weather came. But the spring and early summer had brought rain and humidity as well as warmth, and the cough had not cleared up. One morning in July Miss Moneypenny had taken in a sheaf of signals to find M sprawled semi-conscious over his desk, grey in the face and fighting for breath. She had summoned Bond from his fifth-floor office and, at the angry insistence of the headquarters M.O., M had been bundled half by force into his old Silver Wraith Rolls and escorted home. After three weeks in bed under the devoted care of ex-Chief Petty Officer Hammond and his wife, M had largely recovered from his bronchial congestion, though his temper – as Bond had amply discovered on his periodic visits – looked like taking longer to heal … Since then, Bond had taken to breaking his weekly return journey from Sunningdale by looking in at Quarterdeck, the beautiful little Regency manor-house on the edge of Windsor Park, ostensibly for an informal chat about the affairs of the Service but really to keep an eye on M's health, to have a sly word with the Hammonds and find out whether the old man was following the M.O.'s orders, getting plenty of rest and, in particular, laying off his pipe and his daily couple of poisonous black cheroots. He had been prepared for a characteristic explosion from M when he suggested the first of these visits, but as it was, M had growled an immediate, if surly, assent. Bond suspected he felt rather cut off from the world by being, among other things, temporarily condemned to a three-day working week. (The M.O. had only won that concession by threatening to send him on a cruise unless he agreed.)

I'm trying to imagine a surly M on a cruise. That man would be running the ship before the week's end.


Bond now said, ‘Why don't you come along too, Bill? Then I could give you a lift back to London.’

Tanner hesitated. ‘I don't think I will, James, thanks all the same. There's a rather important call from Station L coming through to the office later on which I'd like to take personally.’

‘What's the Duty Officer for? You're doing the best part of two men's work as it is.’

‘Well … it isn't only that. I'll give M a miss anyway. There's something about that house of his that gives me the creeps.’

"Too many swords."


A quarter of an hour later, having dropped the Chief of Staff at the railway station, Bond swung the long bonnet of his Continental Bentley left off the A30. Ahead of him was the pleasant, leisurely drive of ten minutes or so that would bring him, via twisting minor roads, to Quarterdeck.

The man who had been watching Bond earlier sat in a stolen Ford Zephyr, unobtrusively parked fifty yards from the turning. He now spoke a single word into his Hitachi solid-state transceiver. Four and half miles away, another man acknowledged with a monosyllable, switched off his own instrument, and emerged with his two companions from the dense woodland thicket where they had been lying for the past two hours.

This thread will also showcase the evolution of technology through Bond's history. When we began this series in 1952, a walkie-talkie was a military device the size of a breadbox. Over a decade later they've become commercial devices, costly but available.


The occupant of the Zephyr sat quite still for another minute. It was his nature to avoid unnecessary movement even at moments like the present when he was as tense as he ever allowed himself to become. The timetable of the operation was now fifty minutes in arrears. One more major delay would entail, not merely cancellation, but disaster, for the step his radio signal had just initiated was as irreversible as it was violent. But there would not be another delay. None was inherently present in the situation. His training told him so.

At the end of the minute, calculated after careful research as the optimum interval for following in the wake of the Bentley, he put the Zephyr in gear and started for the turning.

Bond is making the bad guys an hour late because he can't stop drinking.


Bond crossed the county boundary into Berkshire and made his unhurried way among the ugly rash of modern housing – half-heartedly mock-Tudor villas, bungalows and two-storey boxes with a senseless variegation of planking, brick and crazy paving on the front of each and the inevitable TV aerial sprouting from every roof. Once through Silwood village and across the A329 these signs of affluence were behind him and the Bentley thrummed down a gentle slope between pine-woods. Soon there were lush open farmlands on his left and the forest established in force on his right. Places like this would last longest as memorials of what England had once been. As if to contradict this idea, there appeared ahead of him a B.E.A. Trident newly taken off from London Airport, full of tourists bearing their fish-and-chip culture to the Spanish resorts, to Portugal's lovely Algarve province, and now, as the range of development schemes grew ever wider, as far as Morocco. But it was churlish to resent all this and the rising wage-levels that made it possible. Forget it. Concentrate on cheering M up. And on tonight's piquet session. Raise the stakes and gamble in earnest. Or scrub it altogether. A couple of telephone calls and a night out for four. Break free of the pattern …

That Hawker Siddeley Trident is one of the newest airliners in use at the time, having first entered service in April 1964. Remember when Bond was flying international on prop planes?

Spain is quite famous today for their massive number of British expats, with about 310,000 currently. While only a few live in "British ghettos", they're notorious for their refusal to integrate by learning Spanish or associating with Spanish residents. Spain has actually had a bit of a problem with the coronavirus epidemic because of all the old gammons refusing to quarantine and wandering around the streets like they own the place!


These thoughts ran into Bond's head as he carried out almost mechanically all the minute drills of good driving, including, of course, an occasional glance at his rear-view mirror. Not once did the Zephyr appear there. Bond would have paid no particular attention if it had. He had never seen it before, would not have recognized its driver even if brought face to face with him. Although he had been under close surveillance for over six weeks, Bond had noticed nothing out of the ordinary. When not on an assignment abroad, a secret agent does not expect to be watched. It is also much easier to watch a man who keeps regular hours and has a fixed domicile and place of business. Thus, for instance, it had not been necessary to set up any kind of checkpoint at Bond's flat off the King's Road, nor to follow him between there and Service headquarters in Regent's Park. More important, the operation involving him was regarded by its planners as of the highest priority. This meant a lavish budget, which meant in turn that an unusually large number of agents could be employed. And that meant that watchers and followers could be changed frequently, before the repeated presence of any one of them had time to register on that almost subconscious alarm system which years of secret work had developed in Bond's mind.

This is surprising carelessness from Bond, considering that in From Russia With Love he was suspicious enough of a television salesman showing up at his door that he briefly considered moving.


The Bentley slid across the Windsor-Bagshot road. The familiar landmarks came up on the left: the Squirrel public house, the stables of the Arabian stud, the Lurex thread factory (often a focal point of M's indignation). Now, on the right, the modest stone gateway of Quarterdeck, the short, beautifully kept gravel drive, and the house itself, a plain rectangle of Bath stone weathered to a faintly greenish grey, luminous under the evening sun, shadowed in parts by the dense plantation of pine, beech, silver birch and young oak that grew on three sides of it. An ancient wistaria straggled up to and beyond the tiny first-floor balcony on to which the windows of M's bedroom opened. As he slammed the car door and moved towards the shallow portico, Bond fancied he caught a flicker of movement behind those windows: Mrs Hammond, no doubt, turning down the bed.

In his 2006 book Spy, Ted Bell shamelessly ripped off Amis and even used Quarterdeck for C's home! An easy way to tell (apart from, you know, the name) is that as an American author he doesn't seem to understand that there's no "Windsor-Bagshot Road" as he capitalized it. Amis was referring to the A332, the road that goes between Windsor and Bagshot.

Amis is giving a very accurate description of the area here, accurate enough that either he spent a lot of time there or drove through it to take notes. Using Google Maps, you can find that he's traveling north from Sunningdale up the B383, turning right on Winkfield Road (there really was a Squirrel pub and Lurex factory on the left there, around the junction of North Street and Drift Road, both of which have closed). Presumably Quarterdeck is just off Winkfield.


Under Bond's hand, the hanging brass bell of a long-defunct ship of the line pealed out sharply in the stillness. Silence followed, unbroken by the least rustle of air through the tree-tops. Bond pictured Mrs Hammond still busy upstairs, Hammond himself in the act of fetching a bottle of M's favourite Algerian wine – the aptly named ‘Infuriator’ – from the cellar. The front door of Quarterdeck was never latched between sunrise and sunset. It yielded at once to Bond's touch.

That seems highly irresponsible!


Every house has its own normally imperceptible background noise, compounded it may be of distant voices, footfalls, kitchen sounds, all the muted bustle of human beings about their business. James Bond was hardly across the threshold when his trained senses warned him of the total absence of any such noise. Suddenly taut, he pushed open the solid Spanish mahogany door of the study, where M habitually received company.

The empty room gazed bleakly at Bond. As always, everything was meticulously in its place, the lines of naval prints exactly horizontal on the walls, water-colour materials laid out as if for inspection on the painting-table up against the window. It all had a weirdly artificial, detached air, like part of a museum where the furniture and effects of some historic figure are preserved just as they were in his lifetime.

Before Bond could do more than look, listen and wonder, the door of the dining-room across the hall, which had been standing ajar, was thrown briskly open and a man emerged. Pointing a long-barrelled automatic in the direction of Bond's knees, he said in a clear voice:

'Stay right there, Bond. And don't make any sudden movements. If you do I shall maim you very painfully.’

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 14:33 on Mar 24, 2020

Gats Akimbo
May 28, 2007

Ignoring this post

chitoryu12 posted:

As I said, similar yet distinct fingerprints. Amis was also a noted food and drink writer, even if I think some of his opinions are utter garbage (don't make his Old Fashioned recipe!), so it was easy for him to step into Fleming's detailed meal descriptions. He was also far more versed in wine in particular than Fleming; medium-sweet Anjou rosé was starting to become extremely popular at this point.

He's also doing the bitching-about-modern-architecture thing!

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 2: Into the Wood


In the course of his career, James Bond had been held up and threatened in this sort of way literally dozens of times – often, as now, by a total stranger. The first step towards effective counter-measures was to play for a little time and analyze what information was immediately available.

Bond set aside as profitless all speculation about the enemy's objective and what might have happened to M and the Hammonds. He concentrated instead on the enemy's gun. This was recognizable straight away as a silenced 9-mm. Luger. The impact of a bullet of such a calibre, weighing nearly half an ounce and travelling at the speed of sound, is tremendous. Bond knew that to be struck by one at the present range, even in a limb, would hurl him to the floor and probably shock him unconscious. If it hit anywhere near the knee, where the weapon was now aimed, he would almost certainly never walk again. All in all a professional's armament.

A typical 9mm bullet is more like a quarter ounce. Also, Lugers have been suppressed many times but are generally regarded as unreliable when fitted with them because of the need for sufficiently high pressure on the toggle lock to operate it; DWM actually tested a modified Luger with a short suppressor and found that it would jam on every shot with subsonic ammunition.

Fun fact: the need for high pressure is why Lugers have a reputation for unreliability! They're perfectly fine, but lots of soldiers bringing back war trophies were afraid of damaging them and loaded them with weaker ammunition. The problem was exacerbated as the guns aged.


The man himself had a thin, bony face and a narrow mouth. He was wearing a lightweight dark-blue suit and well-polished brogues. You might have taken him for a promising junior executive in advertising or television, with a taste for women. What Bond chiefly noticed about his looks was that he was as tall as himself, but slighter in build. Perhaps vulnerable in a physical tussle, then, if one could be engineered. What made him disquieting was the economy and force of the words he had just used and the businesslike tone in which they had been uttered, devoid of vulgar menace or triumph, above all without the faintest hint of that affected nonchalance which would have marked him down as an amateur and therefore a potential bungler. This was the surest possible guarantee that he knew how to use his gun and would do so at once if he felt it to be advisable.

All this passed through Bond's mind in three seconds or so. Before they were quite up, he heard a car turn into the drive and felt a flicker of hope. But the man with the Luger did not even turn his head. The new arrival was clearly going to lengthen the odds, not shorten them. Rapid footsteps now sounded on gravel and another man entered by the front door. He hardly bothered to glance at Bond, who had a fleeting impression of washed-out blue eyes. Smoothing his crop of black hair, the man drew what looked like an identical Luger from just behind his right hip; then, moving as if to some carefully worked-out and practised drill, he passed outside and well clear of his companion to the foot of the stairs.

Amis's writing style is far more analytical and businesslike than Fleming's. It almost has a sense of formality to it, a "proper writer".


‘Out here and up, slowly,’ said the first man in the same tone as before.

However difficult it may be to escape from a ground-floor room in the presence of armed enemies, the problem becomes virtually hopeless when the scene is shifted upstairs and there is a guard on the landing or in the hall.

Bond appreciated this at once, but simply did as he was told and moved forward. When he was three yards off, the thin-faced man backed away, preserving the distance between them. The second man, the one with black hair, was on the half-landing, his Luger grasped firmly in front of his belly and pointed at Bond's legs. These two were professionals all right.

Bond glanced round the incongruous normality of Quarterdeck's hall – the gleaming pine panels, the 1/144 scale model of M's last ship, the battle-cruiser Repulse, M's own antiquated ulster thrown carelessly on to the old-fashioned hall-stand. This thing was bad and big. Bad on all counts, not least his lack of any weapon: British agents do not go armed off duty in their own country. Big in that to be prepared to maim, probably even to kill, in such circumstances was unknown in peace-time – except for frighteningly high stakes. Not to know what these stakes might be was like an intolerable physical thirst.

Presumably the HMS Repulse that M served on was the battlecruiser that launched in 1916 and served until December 1941, when she was sunk by Japanese aircraft.


James Bond's feet mounted mechanically on the worn old olive-green Axminster stair-carpet. The two gunmen preceded and followed him at the same safe distance. Despite their total competence they were obvious employees, non-commissioned material. The officer in charge of whatever operation this might be would no doubt be revealed in a moment.


This time the black-haired man spoke. The other waited on the stairs. Bond crossed the threshold of M's bedroom, that tall, airy room with the brocade curtains drawn back from the shut balcony windows, and came face to face with M himself.

A gasp of horror tore at Bond's throat.

M sat in a high-backed Chippendale chair by his own bedside. His shoulders were hunched as if he had aged ten years, and his hands hung loosely between his knees. After a moment he looked up slowly and his eyes fastened on Bond. There was no recognition in them, no expression at all; their habitual frosty clarity was gone. From his open mouth came a curious wordless sound, perhaps of wonder, or of inquiry, or of warning, perhaps of all three.

Adrenalin is produced by the adrenal glands, two small bodies situated on the upper surface of the kidneys. Because of the circumstances which cause its release into the circulation, and its effects on the body, it is sometimes known as the drug of fright, fight and flight. Now, at the sight of M, Bond's adrenals fell to their primeval work, pumping their secretion into his bloodstream and thus quickening respiration to fill his blood with oxygen, speeding up the heart's action to improve the blood-supply to the muscles, closing the smaller blood-vessels near the skin to minimize loss in case of wounding, even causing the hair on his scalp to lift minutely, in memory of the age when man's primitive ancestors had been made to look more terrible to their adversaries by the raising and spreading of their furry crests. And while Bond still stared appalled at M, there came to him from somewhere or other, perhaps from the adrenalin itself, a strange exultation. He knew instantly that he had not gone soft, that at need he was the same efficient fighting machine as ever.

I think I know why Bond has his job now.


A voice spoke. It was a neutral sort of voice with a neutral accent, and it used the same practical, colourless tone as the earlier voices had done. It said sharply, but without hurry, ‘You need not be distressed, Bond. Your chief has not been damaged in any way. He has merely been drugged in order to render him amenable. When the drug wears off he will be fully himself again. You are now about to receive an injection of the same drug. If you resist, my associate here has orders to shoot you through the kneecap. This, as you know, would render you utterly helpless at once. The injection is painless. Keep your feet quite still and lower your trousers.’

The speaker was a burly man in his forties, pale, hook-nosed, nearly bald, at first glance as unremarkable as his subordinates. A second glance would have shown there to be something wrong about the eyes, or rather the eyelids, which seemed a size too large. Their owner was certainly conscious of them, for he continually raised and lowered them as he spoke. Instead of looking affected, the mannerism was oddly disturbing. If Bond's mind had been open to such reflections, he might have been reminded of the Black Stone in Buchan's Thirty-Nine Steps, the man who could hood his eyes like a hawk and who had haunted Bond's daydreams as a boy. But Bond's thoughts were racing all out in a more practical direction.

The Thirty-Nine Steps is an adventure novel by John Buchan published in 1915, which has had many adaptations in film, theatre, radio, and even a computer game. One can see how Bond got into this line of work if he grew up reading thrillers and adventure novels.


He had registered purely subconsciously the positions of his adversaries: one gunman facing him, the other somewhere on the landing or stairs covering the door, the man who was doing the talking stationed with his back to the windows that gave on to the balcony, a fourth man, a doctor of some sort, physically negligible, standing at the foot of the bed with a hypodermic in his hand. So much for that. What clamoured for solution were two problems, which Bond knew to be vital without understanding why. Where was the fallacy in what the man by the windows had just finished saying? And what was the tiny unimportant fact about those windows that none of these four would know and Bond did and could use – if only he could remember it?


The lids closed imperiously over the eyes and lifted again. The voice had not been raised in volume or pitch.

Bond waited.

‘You will gain nothing by this. You have five seconds in which to begin carrying out my instructions. Should you not have done so, you will be disabled and then given the injection at our leisure.’

Little does this man know, Bond specializes in attacking people while heavily surrounded regardless of how smart it is.


Bond did not waste any of his attention on the countdown. Before it was over he had the solution to the first of his two problems. He had found something contradictory in what was proposed. There is no point in giving an already helpless man an injection designed to render him helpless. Why not maim him immediately, which as things stood would be quick, certain and without risk, and forget about the injection, which was already turning out to be troublesome? So they wanted him not merely helpless, but helpless and undamaged. The chances were high that the gun threat was just bluff. If it were not, if there were some extra factor Bond had failed to spot, the penalty would be dreadful. But there was no alternative.

The voice had finished counting and Bond had not moved. In the silence M made another small inarticulate sound. Then –


Bond's arms were seized from behind and jerked backwards – he had not heard the approach of the thin-faced gunman from outside the room. Before the nelson grip was complete Bond had lashed backwards with his heel and made contact. One arm came free. It was instantly seized by the black-haired gunman.

Bond is fighting two-on-one again, and both of his opponents are at least as strong and good at fighting as him. Bond is quickly disabled by an elbow to the stomach that opens him for a pressure point hold on the back of the neck, both men falling on top of him.



Bond felt the arrival of the third man, the doctor, above him, and gathered himself for a supreme effort. In the next minute he proved how difficult it is even for two strong, skilful and determined men to render a third equally powerful man completely helpless if they are not allowed to inflict anything really violent and ruthless upon him. Bond used that minute. As he strove and sweated, with no objective beyond not allowing any favourable area of his body to become available to the hypodermic, dimly aware that some sort of argument was going on between the man with the hooded eyes and the doctor, he remembered what he had to remember. The windows, though closed, could not be fastened. The catch was broken. Hammond had mentioned it the previous week and M, tetchy as ever, had said he would be damned if he was going to let some carpenter johnny turn the room into a shambles – it could wait a couple of weeks, until the time of M's annual salmon fishing-holiday on the Test. So a sharp shove where the windows met would …

Perhaps the triumph of remembering this snatch of talk – to which Bond had not been consciously listening at all – made him relax for an instant. Perhaps one gunman or the other found an extra ounce of strength. Anyway, Bond's wrist was caught and held and the next instant he felt the prick of the needle in his left forearm. He drove off a wave of despair and loathing, asked himself how long the stuff was supposed to take before it worked, experimentally let himself go limp, found the pressure on him relaxing slightly but significantly, and moved.

Bond twists and smashes the nose of one man with both feet, then flings himself off the ground and hurls himself shoulder-first through the windows. He makes a perfect vault over the balcony to the lawn and sprints into the trees.


Those first scattered pines seemed to move past him only slowly, run as hard as he might. Now there were more of them. And brambles and wild rhododendrons. Making the going difficult. Very important not to fall. Not to slow down either. Keep up speed. Why? Get away from them. Who? Men. Man with eyes like a hawk's. Man who has done terrible things to M. Must save M. Go back and save M. No. Go on. Save M by running away from him? Yes. Go on. Where? Far. Go on far. How far? Far …

Bond really was hardly more than a machine now. Soon he had forgotten everything but the necessity to take the next stride, and the next, and the next. When there was nothing left of his mind at all his body ran on, as fast as before but without sense of direction, for perhaps another minute. After that it slowed and stopped. It stood where it was for a further minute, panting with slack mouth, the arms hanging loosely by the sides. The eyes were open, but they saw nothing. Then, impelled by some last flicker of intelligence or will, the body of James Bond took a dozen more steps, dropped, and lay full length in a patch of long coarse grass between two dwarf poplars, virtually invisible to anybody passing more than five yards away.

The four men begin following after Bond, but he's gotten too far. They get within about 60 yards of finding him, but their leader finally calls them back and they leave Bond to fall unconscious in the woods.


The room was small, but it was still not possible to decide what was in it or where it was, and there seemed no point in trying. Those men, two of them probably, or three, were talking again, first one, then another. Their voices were muffled by long tangled strips of grey stuff, vague and smoky at the edges, that hung in the air in front of them. The same grey strips made their faces hard to see. Or did they just make it hard to want to see their faces? What was really there? Did it matter? There was something, something like a book or a man or a secret or a telephone, that said it did matter, something a long time ago, round hundreds of corners, thousands of slow difficult paces back, that said there was no giving up, ever. Try. Want to try. Try to want to try. Want to try to …

Another man, much nearer. Face very close. Doing something with eye. Holding wrist. Doing more with eye. Grunting. Talking. Going away. Coming back. Doing more – what? Pulling, helping up from chair. Something with jacket. Something with shirt-sleeve. Little pain. Gone. Back in chair again.

‘Well, doctor?’

‘He's been given a massive dose of some drug or other, I couldn't say which at this stage. Could be hyoscine. I've given him something that should help him come round.’

‘Drug addict, is he, then?’

Not technically.


‘Possibly. I doubt it. We'll have to wait and see. How did you get hold of him?’

‘A motorist brought him in getting on for half an hour ago. Said he found him wandering about in the road near one of the entrances to the Great Park. Of course, we thought he was tight at first.’

‘There's a similarity. The quiet kind of drunk. I can't think of any better way of making a man docile. You know, sergeant, there's something nasty about this, whatever it is. Who is our friend?’

‘Name of Bond, James Bond. Business address in London, Regent's Park somewhere. I gave ’em a ring on the off-chance and they said to hold him and not let anyone but a doctor see him and they'd send a man down right away. The Inspector should be here soon, too. Went off just about two minutes before this chap arrived. Pile-up on the M4. It's getting to be quite a night.’

Bond awakens to find himself being monitored by a Dr. Allison, plus a Sergeant Hassett and Constable Wragg (because this book is very British).


James Bond looked up slowly. There was nothing left of the grey tangle that had obscured his vision and hearing. He saw a very English face with an inquisitive pointed nose and dependable dark eyes, eyes that at the moment were puzzled and concerned. In the background were two solid-looking men in dark-blue uniform, a battered desk with a telephone, filing cabinets, wall maps and charts, a poster announcing a Police Ball: recognizable, everyday, real.

Bond swallowed and cleared his throat. It was very important that he should get exactly right what he knew he had to say, the more so since he was not as yet quite sure what all of it meant or why he had to say it.

‘Put your feet up for a bit, Mr Bond. Bring that chair over, Wragg, will you? Could you organize a cup of tea?’

Tea? You fool!


Now take it slowly, word by word. ‘I want,’ said Bond in a thick voice, ‘I want a car. And four men. Armed. To come with me. As quickly as possible.’

Very convincing.


‘Mind wandering, poor chap,’ said the sergeant.

The doctor frowned. ‘I doubt it. You'd get confusion all right, but not actual fantasy.’ He leant down and put his hands firmly on Bond's shoulders. ‘You must tell us more, Mr Bond. We're all listening. We're trying to understand.’

‘Admiral Sir Miles Messervy,’ said Bond distinctly, and saw the sergeant react. Bond's mind was clearing fast now. ‘There's been some trouble along at his place. I'm afraid he's been kidnapped.’

‘Go on, please, sir,’ said the sergeant, who had picked up the telephone before Bond had finished speaking.

‘There were four men. They'd given him a shot of the same stuff as me. I don't quite know how I got away.’

‘You wouldn't,’ said Dr Allison, offering Bond a cigarette and a light.

Bond leaps to his feet as Hassett complains that he was just told the number for M is unobtainable. Of course it is.


‘Naturally,’ said Bond. ‘Give me that thing.’ When the police operator answered he said, unconsciously clenching his fist, ‘London Airport. Priority. I'll hang on.’

The sergeant looked at him once and left the room at a run.

While Bond was rattling off descriptions of M and the four enemy agents to his friend Spence, the Security Officer at the airport, the Inspector arrived, followed a minute later by Bill Tanner. Bond finished talking, hung up, drew in his breath to start explaining the position to Tanner, but just then the sergeant returned. His round, good-natured face was pale. He addressed himself to Bond.

‘I got a patrol car up to the house, sir,’ he said, swallowing. ‘They've just come through. I'm afraid it's too late for your armed men now. But we shall need you, Doctor. Not that you'll be able to do very much, either.’

Dec 21, 2012


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

This book seems to be getting to the swing of things. It's different but I'm liking it so far.

Dec 21, 2012


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

Related - Humble Bundle has a bundle of James Bond Comics.
Ever read any? Too outside your wheelhouse?

Apr 23, 2014

Rockopolis posted:

Related - Humble Bundle has a bundle of James Bond Comics.
Ever read any? Too outside your wheelhouse?

I haven't read them, but I will get them!

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

So far, so good.

chitoryu12 posted:

Fun fact: the need for high pressure is why Lugers have a reputation for unreliability! They're perfectly fine, but lots of soldiers bringing back war trophies were afraid of damaging them and loaded them with weaker ammunition.

There's high pressure and then there's high pressure. Some people took the received wisdom about needing stout loads as an invitation to ruin perfectly good Lugers with hot +P ammo.

Frankly the Luger is as unsuitable here as it was in Moonraker, and it's probably included for the same reason: to have a gun that the average reader might have heard of without making the author do any pesky research.

Apr 23, 2014

I have shot a Luger once. After all I heard, I ended up thoroughly unimpressed compared to modern pistols.

Apr 28, 2007

Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952

Lord Zedd-Repulsa posted:

...the only thing I love as much as a good thriller is a terrible one.

Well said, and a good thing too, because we're in for both !

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005

Amis really took a lot of care (or at least outsourced it to his friend) over the details of Bond on the golf course and the portrait of Bond becalmed and drifting; here's the details that make it for me.


Nothing beyond a nominal fiver hung on this unexacting game of golf with a friend...they had lunched first at Scott's in Coventry Street, beginning with a dozen each of the new season's Whitstable oysters and going on to cold silverside of beef and potato salad, accompanied by a well-chilled bottle of Anjou rosé...

Compare this to how Bond's regular golf-playing is described ten years earlier in Goldfinger.


But he was a real nine [handicap] – had to be with the games he chose to play, the ten-pound Nassaus with the tough cheery men who were always so anxious to stand you a couple of double kümmels after lunch.

The Nassau is a triple bet; £10 for the winner of the first nine holes, £10 for the winner of the back nine, and £10 for the match, a total wager of £30. In modern prices, he's gone from betting about £800 a match against players so serious he has to be careful about his drinking, to putting up a casual ton as he strolls round with a friend, for appearances' sake as much as anything, easy come easy go.

Apr 23, 2014

What's got me going here is I actually like this book so far. While Amis has a very different style from Fleming, he's still a very competent writer who can set a scene (albeit with far more words to that purpose). The detail is on par or greater than Fleming's and pulls you hard into the narrative. You lack the distinct poetic and metaphorical nature of Fleming's writing, but I can't find fault with it.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 3: Aftermath


The body of the thin-faced man lay on its back in the hall at Quarterdeck. There was not much left of the face. Parts of it and what had been situated behind it could be seen here and there on walls and floor. The Luger bullet was half an inch deep in one of the panels.

I feel like shooting your own man and leaving him at the scene of the crime is a mistake.


Ex-Chief Petty Officer Hammond had been shot twice, once in the chest and again, to take no chances, in the back of the neck. It was assumed that he had been disposed of immediately on answering the front door, and that the use of a small-calibre weapon in his case had been dictated by the necessity of not leaving any traces in the hall that would have alerted Bond on his arrival. The corpse had been dumped in a heap in the kitchen, where the third body was also found.

Mrs Hammond at least could have known nothing of what happened to her. The killer, using the same light gun, had got her with a single well-aimed shot through the back of the head as she stood at the stove or the sink. She was lying close to where her husband had been dropped, so close that the back of his outflung hand rested against her shoulder. It was as if he had tried to reassure her that he had not left her, that he was near by, as he had been for twenty years. Since Hammond had been demobilized just after the war and had come with his wife to serve M, the two of them had not spent a night apart.

In case you've forgotten, Hammond was M's Chief Petty Officer on his ship. When M retired, he followed and became his butler along with his wife. The Hammonds appeared in On Her Majesty's Secret Service when Bond visited Quarterdeck for the first time. He was played in the film by John Gay, an actor with only 10 credits who I can't find anything else about.


Bond thought of this as he stood beside Tanner and the Inspector and looked down on what was left of the Hammonds. He found himself beset by the irrelevant wish that he had listened more appreciatively to Hammond's anecdotes about pre-war naval life at the Pacific Station, that he had had the time and the kindness to thank and encourage Mrs Hammond for her self-dedication to M during his illness. Bond made a muffled sound between a sob and a snarl. This act, this casual sweeping aside of two lives just to save trouble – there were half a dozen ways in which the Hammonds could have been neutralized with the minimum of violence and without risk to the enemy – was not to be endured. The men who had done it were going to die.

‘It's a good job you didn't fall in with my suggestion about coming along here tonight, Bill,’ said Bond.

Don't worry, another continuity will take care of Tanner!


Tanner nodded without speaking. Then the two turned away and left the bodies to the doctor and the police experts. Not that any of them was expected to add to what was already known or self-evident. The Hammonds' fate was an open book. There remained, of course, the question of the shooting of the thin-faced man.

In M's study a minute later, Bond and Tanner decided to start with that. Each tacitly avoiding the straight-backed Hepplewhite armchair where M habitually sat, they had settled themselves on either side of the low stone fireplace that was bare and swept clean at this time of the year.

‘Perhaps his boss had him knocked off in a fit of rage,’ suggested Tanner. ‘By what you told me on the way here our dead friend didn't handle himself too cleverly in the scrap upstairs. Could be considered to have helped to let you escape, anyway. But then these people don't sound as if they're given to fits of rage. Of course, a man with a bloody nose is to a certain extent conspicuous. Would that have been enough to earn him a bullet? Rather frightening if it was.’

At least shoot him after you leave!


Before replying, Bond picked up his Scotch and soda from the silver tray that sat on a low table between the two men. He had to harden his heart to bring in the tray from the kitchen, where Hammond, as on previous Tuesdays, had had it ready for his arrival.

‘That would fit the airport theory.’ Bond drank deeply and gratefully. ‘It would be a big risk already to walk M through Immigration, passing him off if necessary as under the weather or whatever they had lined up. Presumably it would have been a still bigger risk if they'd managed to persuade me to join the party. Or would it? Anyway, we can leave that for now. The point is that, whatever the risk, it was one they'd been able to prepare for to the nth degree. But here was something they couldn't have taken into account. A man who'd clearly just been in some sort of serious fight would be just the thing to arouse that fatal flicker of official curiosity. Yes, it fits. And yet …’

Tanner glanced at him mutely and fumbled for a cigarette.

‘I can't help feeling there's something else to it. Some added point. After all, why leave him here? That's making us a present of God knows how much information. You'd have expected them at least to try to hide the body.’

Tanner theorizes that they may have just been rushing, killed their own man, and didn't have time to clean up. A police constable comes in and lets them know the Quarterdeck phone has been repaired and Spence is sending the info on the kidnapping to all the airports.


‘Thank you.’ When the man had gone, Bill Tanner put his glass of Scotch down with a slam. ‘It's all hopeless anyway,’ he said with a sudden violence. ‘Let's get moving, James. Every sort of important person has got to be collected and told about this, and fast. What are we hanging about here for?’

‘If we move we're off the telephone. And we've got to be sure there's nothing more this end. The police will find it if there is. That Inspector Crawford's a competent chap. What do you mean anyway, hopeless? With a call gone out to the seaports and – ’

‘Look James.’ Tanner got up and began pacing the faded Axminster rug. He studied his watch again. ‘They've had something like four hours' start now …’

Bond drew in his breath and bit his lip hard. ‘Christ, you don't know how I wish …’

‘Don't be a fool, man. Nobody could have done more than you did. Pull yourself together and listen to me.’

‘Sorry, Bill.’

Tanner accurately predicts that these men have timed their operation down to the minute, so they're likely anywhere within a 4 hour distance assuming they got him on a plane and took off immediately. He figures their plane is over the sea or within 80 miles of touching down somewhere in Europe, or they may have even not left the country at all. He doesn't think it's the Soviets or East Germans, as this is a point where the Cold War has been relaxing and they're much less inclined to just kidnap major government figures from their homes at gunpoint. They have no leads.


The telephone rang noisily from its alcove in the hall (M would not have the hated instrument where he could see it). Tanner jumped up. ‘I'll take it. You relax.’

Bond lay back in his chair, half-listening to the intermittent drone of Tanner's voice in the alcove. The muffled noises of the police at work, their deliberate footsteps, sounded false, out of key. The study where Bond sat – he noticed for the first time M's old briar pipe lying in a copper ashtray – looked even more museum-like than earlier. It was as if M had left not hours before, but weeks or months. A derelict stage-set rather than a museum. Bond had the uneasy fancy that if he got up and pushed his hand at the wall, what was supposed to be stone would belly inwards, like canvas.

Tanner's abrupt return brought Bond out of his daze – evidently traces of the drug still lingered in his system. His friend's face was tightly drawn at the forehead and cheekbones. He looked ghastly.

M and his kidnappers were identified getting aboard Aer Lingus Flight 147A to Shannon Airport in Ireland, then met a car and drove off. They could have gotten on anything from a boat to a seaplane. There's nothing much more to do but notify the Irish Coast Guard.


Inspector Crawford, a tall saturnine man in his forties whom Bond had immediately taken to, came up as they finished the last of three calls. He carried a large unsealed manila envelope.

‘We're about through here, gentlemen. If you want to get away I think you'll find all you'll really want in this.’ He handed Tanner the envelope, then gestured without looking at the body on the floor. ‘Contents of the man's pockets. Rather a surprise that there were any. I suppose, You'd have expected them to try to cover up his identity. Clothing labels, all standard, I'm afraid. No laundry tags. Three pretty good photographs of what there is of him, and a set of fingerprints. Height and approximate weight. Distinguishing marks, none. If he's on your files at all, though, I reckon you should be able to turn him up in no time without any of this clobber, Mr Bond having had a good look at him. Oh, and doctor's preliminary report, just for completeness. That's the lot. I'll have to ask you to sign for the dead man's effects, sir. And we'll be wanting them back when you've finished with them.’

Tanner scrawled on the proffered slip. ‘Thank you, Inspector. I'm afraid we must ask you to accompany us to London right away, to attend a meeting that may go on for the rest of the night. Most of it won't be your concern but somebody's certain to complain if you don't turn up to give the complete police picture. I expect you understand.’

Crawford nodded impassively. ‘I expect so, sir. Now if you'll just give me two minutes I'll be at your disposal.’

‘You realize of course that there's a complete black-out on this business? Tell the G.P.O. to put the telephone out of order again as soon as everybody's out of here. Thank you for all you and your men have done. We'll see you outside when you're ready to go.’

We're getting onto a proper detective novel here!


As they moved off, Bond glanced down at the corpse of the man whose death he had unwittingly brought about. It lay there waiting to be removed and disposed of according to routine, a piece of debris, totally insignificant. Bond hated and feared the half-unrevealed purpose that had brought the man to this house, but he could not repress a twinge of pity at the thought of the casual chance that had led to this summary removal. Was this how James Bond would end, shot in the head and flung aside like a heap of unwanted clothing to smooth out a kink in somebody's plan?

The immense blaze of starlight in the velvety late-summer sky outside drove away these thoughts. Good flying weather. Where were they taking M? Never mind that for now; no point in guessing in a vacuum. There was a faint chill in the air and Bond realized he was hungry. Never mind that either. There would be nothing to eat before London, if then.

At Tanner's side, Bond passed the dark bulks of the two police cars and made for his Bentley, still where he had parked it an age ago. Tanner put a hand on his shoulder.

‘No, James. You're riding with me. I'll see about your car tomorrow.’

"We need time alone."


‘Nonsense, I'm perfectly all right.’

‘And we can't be sure the thing isn't booby-trapped.’

‘That's nonsense too, Bill. They wanted me alive and uninjured.’

‘Then they did. Nobody knows what they might want now.’

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 4: Love From Paris


Sir Ranald Rideout, the Minister concerned, was not best pleased at being abruptly summoned from the late stages of a dinner-party given by an Austrian princess whose circle he had been trying to infiltrate for years. The telephone message stressed the magnitude of the matter requiring his attention without revealing anything about what it was. The underling who spoke to him had rung off before Sir Ranald had had the chance to protest at the impropriety of his being allowed no say in the arrangements for this meeting or conference or whatever. So he was to present himself at the offices of the Transworld Consortium, i.e. the headquarters of the Secret Service, was he? That confounded old admiral, notorious for his obstinate resistance to political guidance, was in trouble, then. The fellow should have been given the push long ago. It was a more than mildly irritated Sir Ranald who, at the horrid hour of one twenty in the morning trotted up the steps of the big grey building that overlooks Regent's Park, an agile little figure of sixty in perfect condition, this as a result not of any self discipline but of that indifference to food and drink which so often accompanies interest in power.

"Sir Ranald Rideout" is the name you give a character in a late 19th century British adventure novel.


The facts were baldly laid before him. He looked about with angry incredulity at the faces ranged round the battered oak table: the Permanent Under-Secretary to his Ministry, Assistant Commissioner Vallance from Scotland Yard, the man Tanner whose office this was and whose insignificance was shown clearly enough by the condition of its furnishings, the spy called Bond who seemed responsible for the mess, and some policeman or other from Windsor.

Good to see Bond is already taking the blame for something he showed up late to!


‘Well, gentlemen, really.’ Sir Ranald inflated his cheeks and blew out long and noisily. ‘A pretty kettle of fish, I must say. This will have to go to the Prime Minister. I hope you realize that.’

‘I'm glad to find you agree with us, sir,’ said Tanner in level tones. ‘But, as you know, the Prime Minister flew to Washington today – yesterday. He can't do anything about this from there, and I doubt if he'll be able to cut short his stay. So it looks as if we must push ahead ourselves.’

‘Of course we must.’ This time Sir Ranald sniffed emphatically. ‘Of course we must. The question is where. Push ahead where? You people seem to have nothing at all that can be called information. Extraordinary. Take this man you found shot. Not the servant, the gangster or whatever he was. All you appear to know about him is that he met his death by a bullet shattering his skull. Most helpful. Is that really as much as anybody can say? Surely something must have been found on him?’

Inspector Crawford, despite being the least senior and important person in the room, is the first to speak up to explain that his personal effects are mostly miscellaneous items without any indication of who the owner could be. He tries to explain the one item that's different, but Sir Ranald interrupts him.

Fingerprints are still being gone over, but it's unknown if he'll even be in the files. Vallance thinks that if his body was left so carelessly by the kidnappers, they must not have been concerned about MI6 finding out his identity.


‘I agree with Vallance,’ said Tanner. ‘We're in the same position here exactly and I'm sure we shall get the same results, or lack of them. No, sir – this chap'll turn out to be one of a comparatively new type of international criminal who's been turning up in rather frighteningly large numbers in the sabotage game, terrorism and so on. They're people without a traceable history of any sort, probably white Africans with a grudge, various fringe Americans – but that's all supposition because they turn up out of thin air. The lads in Records here call them men from nowhere. drat silly twopenny-blood sort of name, but it does describe them. What I'm saying, sir, is that it's a waste of time trying to find who this fellow was, because in a sense he wasn't anybody.’

Was there a big problem with white South African terrorists in the 1960s?


‘You're guessing, aren't you, Tanner?’ said Sir Ranald, crinkling up his eyes as he spoke to show he wasn't being personally offensive yet. ‘Just guessing. Educated guess work no doubt you'd call it but that's a matter of taste. I'm afraid I was trained to observe carefully, impartially and thoroughly before venturing on any theorizing. Now … Bond,’ the Minister went on with a momentary expression of distaste, as if he found the name unaesthetic in some way, ‘you at any rate saw this man when he was alive. What could you say about him that might help?’

Because this is definitely the time to start bragging about how much smarter you are than everyone else in the room.


‘Almost nothing, sir, I'm afraid. He seemed completely ordinary apart from his skill in unarmed combat, and he could have learnt that anywhere in the world. So …’

‘What about his voice? Anything there?’

Bond was tired out. His head throbbed and there was a metallic taste in his mouth. The parts of his body on which the dead man had worked were aching. The ham sandwich and coffee he had grabbed in the canteen were hardly a memory. Even so, he would not have answered as he did if he had not been repelled by the politician's air of superiority in the presence of men worth twenty of him.

‘Well, he addressed me in English, sir,’ said Bond judicially. ‘By my standards correct English. I listened carefully, of course, for any traces of a Russian or Albanian or Chinese accent but could detect none. However, he spoke no more than about twenty words in my hearing, which may have been too small a sample upon which to base any certain conclusions.’

I feel like this isn't exactly how Bond would talk.


At the other end of the table, Vallance went into a mild attack of coughing.

Sir Ranald appeared not in the least put out. He flicked his eyes once at Vallance and spoke to Bond in a gentle tone. ‘Yes, you weren't about the place very long, were you? You were anxious to be off. I congratulate you on your escape. No doubt you would have considered it ridiculously old-fashioned to have stayed and fought to save your superior from whatever fate was in store for him.’

Is this man trying to get killed?


The Under-Secretary turned away suddenly and stared into an empty corner of the room. Inspector Crawford, sitting opposite Bond, went red and shuffled his feet.

‘Mr Bond showed great courage and resource, sir,’ he said loudly. ‘I've never heard of anybody who could hope to subdue four able-bodied men single-handed and unarmed, let alone being full of a drug that incapacitated him a few minutes later. If Mr Bond hadn't escaped, the enemy's plans would be going ahead in toto. As it is, they'll have to be modified, they may even be fatally damaged.’

‘Possibly.’ Sir Ranald beat the air with his hand. With another grimace of displeasure, he said to his Under-Secretary, ‘Bushnell, get a window open, will you? The air in here isn't fit to breathe with three people chain-smoking.’

While the Under-Secretary hastened to obey, Bond was hiding a grin at the memory of having read somewhere that hatred of tobacco was a common psychopathic symptom, from which Hitler among others had been a notable sufferer. it?


Rubbing his hands briskly, as if he had won an important point, Sir Ranald hurried on. ‘Now just one matter that's been bothering me. There doesn't seem to have been any guard or watch on Sir Miles's residence. Was that normal, or had somebody slipped up?’

‘It was normal, sir,’ said Tanner, who had started to redden in his turn. ‘This is peacetime. What happened is unprecedented.’

‘Indeed. You agree perhaps that it's the unprecedented that particularly needs to be guarded against?’

‘Yes, sir.’ Tanner's voice was quite colourless.

They begin theorizing on who the kidnappers could be and what they want. An enemy spy agency is the most obvious bet, but Tanner doesn't think it's a ransom job if they're taking the risk of getting M (and potentially Bond) out of the country. With so little information, it's hopeless.


‘Yes, yes. So we know nothing. It looks as if we have merely to wait until the other side makes a move. Thank you, all of you, for your help. I'm sure none of you could have done more than you have. I'm sorry if I may have seemed to suggest that you, Mr Bond, could have acted in any other way. I spoke without thinking. Your escape is the one redeeming feature of this whole affair.’

The Minister spoke with what sounded very much like simple sincerity. The thoughts had occurred to him – belatedly, but then he had always been prone to let his impatience with lower-echelon muddle run away with him – that although he was not in fairness accountable for the abduction of the head of the Secret Service, his Cabinet colleagues as a whole held the view of fairness common to politicians. In other words, this business could be turned into a most useful weapon in the hands of anybody who might want to get him pushed out. Envy, spite, ambition were everywhere around him. These people here might not be the most satisfactory or effective allies, but they were the only ones immediately available. He turned to Vallance, whom he had several times in the past dismissed, as an overdressed popinjay, and said in a humble tone, unconsciously smoothing the front of his own frilled azure evening shirt as he spoke, ‘In the meantime, Assistant Commissioner, what about the Press? A “D” notice, do you suppose? I'm more than content to be guided by you.’

Vallance did not dare glance at Bond or Tanner. ‘I think not a black-out, sir. The Admiral has plenty of connections and we don't want them turning inquisitive. I suggest a short tucked-away paragraph saying his indisposition continues and he's being advised to take a thorough rest.’

‘Excellent. I'll leave that in your hands. Now – any more suggestions? However tentative. Anybody …?’

Crawford stirred. ‘Well, sir, if I may just …’

‘Go on, Inspector. Please go on.’ Sir Ranald crinkled his eyelids. ‘Most welcome.’

This guy could singlehandedly ruin any investigation through sheer rudeness.


‘It's this piece of paper with the names and numbers which we all had a look at earlier. We found it crumpled up in a corner of the man's wallet. I understand the cipher people are working on a copy of it still but are just about sure it's a waste of time, there being so little of it. I wondered whether we might perhaps take another look at it ourselves. Have we considered the possibility that these are telephone numbers?’

‘I'm afraid there's nothing in that, Inspector,’ said Tanner, rubbing his eyes wearily. ‘“Christiana” looks like Christiania in Norway, of course, and “Vasso” might be Vassy in north-eastern France, and we all know where Paris is, but it didn't take us ten minutes to establish that these numbers aren't possible for the exchanges at those three places, any more than, say, Whitehall 123 would be for London. If they are telephone numbers they're probably coded on some substitution system we've no means of cracking, so we're back where we were. Sorry to disappoint you.’

‘Might they be map references?’ put in the Under-Secretary.

Tanner shook his head. ‘Wrong number of figures.’

‘Actually, sir,’ the Inspector went on with quiet persistence, ‘I wasn't really meaning it quite like that. Take the one we haven't mentioned – Antigone. What does that suggest to people?’

‘Greek play,’ said Tanner. ‘Sophocles, isn't it? Code word for God knows what.’

Inspector Crawford, our faithful lower-class servant with a common background, sees the obvious: they're all Greek names. The numbers could easily be phone numbers without the exchange included, making this probably a list of contacts. Tanner immediately heads to the phone to check.


Sir Ranald frowned. ‘But Paris is a man's name. I hardly –’

‘Quite so, sir, the abductor of Helen of Troy, the man who started the Trojan War. But if you'll just take another look …’

Crawford passed over the small creased sheet of cheap lined paper. The Minister, still frowning, hitched over his ears a pair of spectacles with heavy black frames and peered at the ballpoint scrawl. He sniffed. ‘Well?’

‘Immediately above “Paris” there, sir … It's not at all clear, but it looks to me like “If supplies fail” or “fall”. If Antigone and the other two were away or he didn't like them or something then Paris was going to be able to fix him up.’

‘Mm.’ Sir Ranald took the spectacles off again and chewed at the earpiece. His eyes darted briefly to Tanner, who was still telephoning. ‘What did you say about our being supposed to think this?’

‘To me this looks planted, sir. If it's genuine it got into our hands as a result of at least three oversights. Not removing the body. Not emptying the pockets. Not at any rate searching the pockets. Well, now …’

‘You mean it's a red herring?’

‘No, sir, quite the contrary. It's a straightforward pointer to Greece, clear enough but not too clear.’

Tanner gets off his phone call with the British embassy in Greece. He's confirmed that not only is Crawford right about them being Greek names, but the numbers are plausible phone numbers in several cities there.


James Bond's head had been sunk in his hands since he had last spoken a quarter of an hour earlier. He had seemed half asleep. In fact he had been striving to keep his exhausted brain ceaselessly analysing and evaluating the course of the discussion. Now, as his voice sounded through the low-ceilinged, smoke-laden room, he sat up in his chair and gazed at Tanner.

‘Inspector Crawford is right. This is a plant. Or let's call it a lure. They were very anxious to include me in their plans. Clearly they still are. The names and numbers on that paper are a brilliant piece of improvisation designed to get me following in their track at full speed. Which of course I'll have to do. As far as that goes they could have written GREECE on that bit of paper and left it at that.’

Tanner nodded slowly. ‘Where would you start?’

‘Anywhere,’ said Bond. ‘Let's say Athens. It doesn't really matter, because I shan't need to look for them. They'll find me.’

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005

chitoryu12 posted:

Was there a big problem with white South African terrorists in the 1960s?

There were a lot of white African mercenaries knocking about the place doing people's dirty work until the end of the Cold War; their golden age was the 60s and 70s, and they were often to be found pissing firmly into the Wind of Change. Many of them were frightful Boers, but there were plenty of white Rhodesians and Force Publique veterans from the Belgian Congo (among others) mixed in there. Some of them successfully made the 90s switch from old-fashioned "white African mercenary" to new shiny "private military contractor" as world geopolitics changed; some took the perennial alternative path into the French Foreign Legion; a few old-timers popped up recently to have a crack at Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Anyone remember Hideo Kojima's original pre-Playstation plot hooks for the Metal Gear series? The first two games, insofar as they have a plot, are about white mercenaries without any real home just all loving off together to create their own little fortress country. Like many things in that series, it's a silly idea, but it's also a really good silly idea, and the best silly ideas usually end up having surprisingly deep and legitimate foundations.

Trin Tragula fucked around with this message at 17:50 on Mar 27, 2020

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

In other news, someone stole a collection of deactivated Bond movie guns from a house in London.

Apr 23, 2014


Back on the last day of 1953 Fleming had written to the Assistant Commissioner asking a small favour. He owned three guns and had suddenly realized that none of them was properly licensed. They were a twelve-bore shotgun which was kept permanently with Holland and Holland the gunsmiths, the Colt .38 given to him by General Donovan 'for certain services I rendered his Office of Strategic Studies [sic] during the war', and a Browning .25 'issued during the war to protect John Godfrey's life and my own. I take it with me each year to Jamaica,' Fleming added, echoing his mother, 'for defence against the Blackamoors.' He told his correspondent that he knew that theoretically he had been breaking the law by failing to get his guns properly licensed, but honestly it had always slipped his memory - could Ronnie Howe 'tidy up the situation, please'? Obligingly the Assistant Commissioner did so, and as a slight return and modest investment Fleming put Howe into his next book as Superintendent Ronnie Vallance.

That would be Sir Ronald Martin Howe CVO MC, a World War I veteran who became a barrister and then a police officer in the 1920s. From 1933 until 1957 he was a police commissioner of some sort, and also served as the British representative to Interpol from 1954 to 1957. His final job after retiring as a cop was heading up the Group 4 private security company until fully retiring in 1976 and dying the next year.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005

chitoryu12 posted:

From 1933 until 1957 he was a police commissioner of some sort

He was one of the last people to be directly appointed as a chief police officer in Britain based on previous legal and military service; he was brought in to oversee the Metropolitan Police's CID, first as deputy assistant commissioner and then as one of four assistant commissioners. He then succeeded John Nott-Bower as Deputy Commissioner in 1953; when he retired, he was replaced by Joe Simpson, who later became the first Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to have begun his career as an ordinary police constable.

May 6, 2008

Spare batteries are pretty key.

Jumping back to the previous thread, which I just found in the Goldmine, I want to chime in and say that the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie is an abomination and a mockery and that every copy of it should be destroyed. The book was one of my favorites as a young child, and I was absolutely horrified at how they had mangled it when we borrowed the movie from the library. They didn't even get the color right.

Also, I prefer the original illustrations to the modee ones you used, but I imagine they're not included with the ebook, and probably hard to find online.

Apr 23, 2014

Speleothing posted:

Jumping back to the previous thread, which I just found in the Goldmine, I want to chime in and say that the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie is an abomination and a mockery and that every copy of it should be destroyed. The book was one of my favorites as a young child, and I was absolutely horrified at how they had mangled it when we borrowed the movie from the library. They didn't even get the color right.

Also, I prefer the original illustrations to the modee ones you used, but I imagine they're not included with the ebook, and probably hard to find online.

Yes, the originals were very difficult to find. The current Kindle copy is the new American edition which has new artwork by Joe Berger; I think only the first of three volumes with original artwork is on Kindle because I can't find the rest.

Feb 25, 2011

I rewatched all the Craig Bond movies this weekend after reading some of the Casino Royale coverage in the previous thread. The movies sure ratchet up Bond abilities, and he never stops being a complete rogue. Literally every movie he’s disobeying M half the time. Did the books ever have him be that much of a renegade for dramatic purposes?
Also Spectre is pretty dire. Such a great cast but more like a Mission Impossible film without any of the humour. Hope the new film in November is better.

High Warlord Zog
Dec 12, 2012

It's still wild that Casino Royale managed to get a faithful version of that torture scene into theatres under a PG-13 rating.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 5: Sun at Night


The Island of Vrakonisi lies midway between the coasts of southern Greece and southern Turkey; more precisely, near the middle of the triangle formed by the three larger islands of Naxos, Ios and Paros. Like its more distant neighbours, Santorini, thirty miles to the southwest, Vrakonisi is volcanic in origin. It is what remains of the crater walls of an immense volcano extinct since pre-historic times. Ancient upheavals and subsidences have given it a ragged profile, with a misshapen semicircular backbone of hills rising in places to twelve hundred feet. From the air, Vrakonisi looks like the blade of a sickle drawn by a very drunk man. The tip of the blade has broken off, so that a hundred shallow yards of the Aegean lie between the main body of the island and a tiny unnamed islet off its northern end. The islet is inhabited, but apart from a couple of fishermen's cottages there is only a single house, a long low structure in brilliantly white-washed stone situated among palm and cactus at the farthest corner. The owner, a Piraeus yacht-builder, lets it to foreign visitors in the summer months.

While Vrakonisi is a fictional island, it's located between the real islands of Naxos, Ios, and Paros smack in the middle of the southern Aegean Sea. They're part of the Cyclades island group, which were historically an important destination for stopover during travel within sight of land; only 33 out of the thousands are inhabited and they were commonly fought over by the various warring powers in the region before being incorporated into the modern nation of Greece in 1832 under King Otto.

During the Metaxas dictatorship of 1936-1940, over 1000 political undesirables were exiled to the islands and forced to make a living for themselves. The islands' population has a disconnect from the government centered in Athens, as they continued to drag their feet on modernizing the islands; at the time the book takes place, most roads are still dirt and electricity is limited. Tourists usually stick to visiting Delos, which was mythologically the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis and a major archaeological center today.


This particular summer month the house had been occupied by two men whose passports said they were French; morose, taciturn men, their complexion suggesting little acquaintance with life in the sun. Their behaviour suggested the same thing. Pallid and uncomfortable-looking in gaudy bathing shorts, they could sometimes be seen sprawled in canvas chairs above the little private anchorage empty throughout their stay so far or splashing grimly and very briefly across it. For long periods they were not to be seen at all. They had the air of men filling in the time until they could start to do whatever they had come all this way to do.

Their identity and purpose, and very much more, were well known to Colonel Sun Liang-tan of the Special Activities Committee, People's Liberation Army. The two men on the islet were out of sight of the colonel as he sat at the window of a smaller and even less accessible house than theirs, situated on the main body of the island. For even the chance of a look at them he would have had to go outside, make his way up an overgrown hillside to a point perhaps two hundred and fifty feet above sea level, and look down across the farther slopes, the stretch of water and the eighty-yard length of the islet, about a kilometre in all. But, ever since arriving here by water the previous night, Colonel Sun had not gone outside for a moment. The immediately recognizable Oriental facial type has in itself seriously hindered the expansion of Chinese infiltration and espionage in the Western countries, except for those, like the United States and Great Britain, where Orientals are not uncommonly seen. They are excessively rare in the Greek islands. Nobody on Vrakonisi, nobody outside China, come to that, must even have cause to wonder whether a Chinese might not be present here and now.

Greece doesn't collect demographics on ethnicity, so I can't say how many people of Asian descent live there even today. I can say that 93% of the population has Greek citizenship, with the rest being classified as "foreign citizens", and most immigration is from neighboring countries so a Chinese person would probably stand out even now.


And nobody catching a glimpse of the colonel would have had to wonder about his origin. He was tall for a Chinese, nearly six foot, one of the northern types akin to the Khamba Tibetan, big-boned and long-headed. But the skin colour was the familiar flat light yellow, the hair blue-black and dead straight, the epicanthic eye-fold notably conspicuous. It was only when you looked Sun straight in the eyes that he seemed less than totally Chinese. The irises were of an unusual and very beautiful pewter-grey like the eyes of the newborn, the legacy perhaps of some medieval invader from Kirgiz or Naiman. But then not many people did look Sun straight in the eyes. Not twice, anyway.

For Die Another Day, the final Brosnan film, the studio almost used Sun as the villain. When the Fleming estate insisted that royalties be paid for it, they changed it to Colonel Tan-Sun Moon.


The colonel continued to sit on his hard wooden chair while darkness fell outside. Normally he was a voracious reader, but tonight he was attuning his mind and feelings for what lay ahead. Twice he smoked a cigarette, not inhaling, allowing it to burn away between his lips. They were British cigarettes, Benson & Hedges. Sun did not share his colleagues' often-expressed contempt – in some cases, he suspected, routine rather than sincere – for everything British. He was fond of many aspects of their culture and considered it regrettable in some ways that that culture had such a short time left.

My God, it's a Brexit villain!


The men themselves (he had met none of their women) had often aroused his admiration. He had first encountered the British in September 1951, at a prisoner-of-war centre near Pyongyang in North Korea. There, as a twenty-one-year-old subaltern attached, in the capacity of Assistant Consultant on Interrogations, to Major Pak of the North Korean Army, he had had the opportunity of getting to know the British soldier intimately. After September 1953, when the last of them had been repatriated, his experience of Westerners had been confined almost entirely to Frenchmen, Australians, Americans: interesting types in many cases, but not up to the British – ‘his' British, as he mentally referred to them. He had to content himself with the odd spy captured inside China and the occasional US Army prisoner taken in South Vietnam who turned out to be a recent immigrant from the ‘Old Country’. Fortunately, his reputation as an expert on, and interrogator of, the British was well known to his Service superiors and had even reached the ears of the Central Committee, so it was rare indeed that any British captive was not passed over to him. But the last of these occasions had been nearly six months ago. The colonel could not repress a gentle thrill of anticipation at the thought of tonight's reunion with his British and of the seventy-two hours of uninterrupted contact which were to follow. In the darkness, the pewter-coloured eyes grew fixed.

This villain is kinda weird, not gonna lie.


There was a tentative knock at the door. Sun called amiably in English, ‘Yes, please come in.’

The opening door let in a shaft of light which illuminated the outline of a girl. Also tentatively, also in English, a naturally harsh but not loud voice said, ‘May I put on the light, Comrade Colonel?’

‘Just let me close the shutters … Good.’

The instant blaze of the unshaded bulb fell on a stone floor without covering, four white-washed walls, a cheap nondescript table and an equally cheap and nondescript unoccupied chair. The interrogation-room atmosphere soothed the colonel, and at a time like this put him on his mettle too.

Now his eyes blinked neither at the sudden glare nor at the sight of the girl, which although he had seen her a dozen times since arriving, they might well have done.

The Albanians, as a race, are not noted for their beauty. They are, of course, much less a race than the end-product of successive admixtures with the native stock – Latin, Slavonic, Greek, Turco-Tatar. Now and then this cocktail of heredities produces an individual physically remarkable even by the high standards of the eastern Mediterranean. Doni Madan, aged 23, citizen of Korce in south-eastern Albania, strictly temporary holder of a Greek passport (forged in Tiranë with unusual competence, thanks to Chinese supervision), was physically remarkable.

Strong words coming from a guy who looked like a sculpture of a Hollywood actor made of pudding.


She wore a pair of serpent-green Thai-silk trousers, close-fitting and low-cut, with a plain turquoise jacket of the same material and Ferragamo slippers in embroidered leather. Nothing else: even within twenty yards of the open sea, fine September nights in these latitudes can be hot and humid. Although this outfit had been selected purely to do its part in proclaiming Doni to be one of a standard house-party of well-off cosmopolitan holiday-makers, it did more for her than that.

She was above middle height, within a couple of inches of Sun, but slender and light of frame, narrow in the waist, richly rounded above and below. Her wide hips and ever-so-slightly protuberant belly strained at the stuff of the pants; the swell of her breasts made the casually-buttoned jacket fall straight, well clear of her midriff. Asia was in her cheekbones and the strong planes of her jaw, Asia Minor in the all-but-black brown of her eyes, Venice in the straight but fully-moulded mouth. The light brown of her hair, cut in a simple bell, made an odd and exciting contrast with the delicate swarthiness of her skin. She stood there in the doorway of the bare room in an attitude of meek unconscious provocation that took no account of Sun as a man.

I almost wish I had met this guy to see him try to analyze my racial background through every one of my facial features, and promptly get it completely wrong.


Anything more overt would certainly have been wasted. Sun Liang-tan was unmoved by women, though if challenged on the point he would have replied, rather mechanically, that he respected them as wives, mothers, and the bringers of comfort to men. He glanced somewhere in Doni's direction and said simply, ‘Yes?’

‘I am wondering if you wish any food,’ said the quiet harsh voice.

Doni's Italian, Serbo-Croat and Greek were idiomatic and relatively accentless. Her English was neither, but she had no other means of communication with her temporary master. Being forced to use the enemy's language in order to work with European agents is a habitual source of irritation to Chinese subversives, but the mild irritation Sun now showed sprang from an opposite feeling.

He laced his fingers behind his long head and leant back as far as his chair allowed, making a curious semi-Westernized figure in his white tee-shirt and uncoloured cotton trousers. ‘I was wondering,’ he said slowly, ‘if you wanted any food. If you would like, if you would care for something to eat. If you'd like me to rustle up – no, that's American – if you fancy a snack. Do try not to be a peasant in everything you say and do, my dear. And in any case, no. No thank you. Not just now. Let's hang on for a bit until our chums join us, shall we? They shouldn't be long.’

Is this dude a British English supremacist?


The colonel's English was correct enough – he had studied the language for two years at Hong Kong University – but his pronunciation would have been a joy to any phonetician. His quick ear and passionate desire to learn, allied to a total ignorance of the British dialect pattern, had issued in a kind of verbal salad of regional peculiarities. The tones of Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Belfast, Newcastle, Cardiff and several sorts of London worked in successive syllables against those of the governing class. The result might have sounded merely bizarre, even ridiculous, from another mouth than Sun's, accompanied by a different kind of gaze.

Imagine trying to get an actor to replicate this.


Doni looked to one side of him. ‘I'm sorry, Comrade Colonel,’ she said humbly. ‘I know my English not good.’

‘Better than the other one's, anyway,’ said Sun with a tolerant smile. His lips were dark, the colour of dried blood, his teeth pointing slightly inwards from the gums. He went on: ‘But enough of the Comrade Colonel. You sound like somebody in a progressive youth play. Call me Colonel Sun. It's more friendly. And enough of solitude – let's be sociable, eh? Where are the others?’

Followed by Doni, he walked out of the room, across a stone-flagged corridor, and into the main sitting-room of the house, a high-ceilinged, airy place with a cobbled floor that sloped gently and splendid shapely furniture of olive-wood, made in the island. The brightly-patterned modern rugs and cushions, the pair of run-of-the-mill abstracts on the rough-cast wall, were incongruous. Open double doors gave on to a narrow terrace with folding chairs and a low table, and beyond there was nothing but the sea, flat calm and so brilliantly lit by a fast-rising full moon that it seemed both infinitely liquid and impossibly shallow, a sheet of water one molecule thick stretching out to the edge of the sky. Invisible wavelets made tiny hushing sounds on the stretch of pebbles between the two stubby moles of the anchorage.

Since this book was inspired by Amis's trip to Greece, I wonder if he based the house on a place he stayed.


Sun stood for a moment by the doors, keeping well into the shadow, and gazed out. He had not seen the sea for fifteen years, and the sight still fascinated him. It was the British element, on which the men of those cold islands had ventured out, long ago, to bring a quarter of the world under their sway. A perfect setting, thought Sun with a full heart, then turned back to the room.

The girl stretched out on the square-cut day-bed looked up quickly. She was Doni's height, had the same near-black eyes, wore the same kind of outfit (black pants, white jacket in her case), but her slimness made the other girl appear almost lumpish. Long-legged and high-breasted, with an exquisitely-shaped small dark head cut short in a boyish style, Luisa Tartini was Italian in more than her name. Like Doni, however, she was Albanian by nationality, carrying a similar passport. But she had none of her companion's docility of manner, and her glance at Sun now was edged with resentment and fear.

We've got two girls already and we aren't even to the main Bond Girl yet!


It seemed that Sun did not notice. He said pleasantly, ‘What a lovely evening. And how very decorative you look, my dear.’

‘Is boring,’ said Luisa sulkily, shifting her slender legs so that Doni could sit beside her. ‘What we doing here?’

‘Your main function, as I told you, is to give our little party the appearance of a group of friends on holiday. Not very exacting. But tonight your duties will be, er, enlarged. You and Doni will put yourselves at the disposal of some men who will be arriving soon. That may prove rather more exacting.’

‘Which men?’ Luisa sat up so that her shoulder touched Doni's. ‘How many?’

"What level bathing?"


‘Six in all. Two are reactionaries and needn't concern you. The other four are fighters for peace who have been on a dangerous mission. You must give them all the comfort in your power, both of you.’

The two girls looked at each other. Luisa shrugged. Doni gave a sleepy smile and put a brown arm round Luisa's waist.

‘And now … Ah, right on time, Evgeny. What a good servant you are. You should take it up professionally!’

The fourth member of the household, a stocky, bullet-headed Russian, was edging his way into the room with a tray of drinks. Evgeny Ryumin had considered himself underpaid and without prospects at the Soviet Embassy in Peking and had defected without fuss ten years earlier. His new masters had found him unimaginative but capable, also quite ruthless. These qualities, and his being European, suited him admirably to act as the man-of-all-work in Sun's group. He put the tray down on a sturdy round table and cocked his close-cropped head at the girls.

The guy who's most suited for a fight scene, I see.


The colonel watched with a tolerant smile as Luisa was handed a vodka on the rocks and Doni a Fix beer, refused a drink himself, gestured genially for the Russian to take whatever he wanted.

Greece won its independence from the Ottoman Empire with European aid in 1829, but the assassination of Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias plunged the newly created Greek state into turmoil. Britain, France, and Russia convened at the London Conference of 1832 to establish a government and offered the crown to Prince Otto of Bavaria (the crowns were never joined, so Bavaria took no control over Greece).

Many Bavarians emigrated to Greece to live under King Otto, including Johann Adam Fix. His son, Johann Georg, attempted to join him when he was 20 but found his father had been murdered by robbers on the way to pick him up. Without much else to do, he started importing European beer and eventually began homebrewing and selling locally in Athens. He founded the Fix Brewery in 1864, just in time for the Danish prince George Christian Wilhelm Glyxbourg to take over the crown from Otto (who had been deposed by the Greek National Assembly). Fix gained a royal warrant to supply beer to the court, which gave it a 100-year monopoly on beer in Greece, and they expanded into wine and soft drinks to corner those markets too.

In 1965, the time this book takes place, the Greek government took steps to facilitate the entry of foreign brewers into the country to end the Fix monopoly. Lowering sales and controversy over Petros Garoufalias (the Defense Minister of the Greek military junta) marrying into the family and becoming president of the company rendered the brand bankrupt by the 1980s, and it's now owned by Carlsberg.


Hands in pockets, Sun turned away and strolled towards the open doors. Then he halted, stood quite still for a moment, and glanced at his watch, a steel-cased Longines W.D. pattern which he had had for nearly fifteen years. Its former owner, a captain in the Gloucestershire Regiment, had died under interrogation as bravely as anyone Sun had ever met. The watch was a precious possession, a memento, not a trophy. Sun called sharply over his shoulder, ‘Evgeny. The lights. All of them.’

Ryumin put down the Fix he had just tasted. ‘All?’

‘All. What can't be concealed should be flaunted. This is the remainder of our little house-party arriving.’

Just below the crest of the hillside above the house, the two men from the islet lay under a stunted fig-tree and saw the terrace and anchorage spring into bright illumination. They watched the slow approach of the motor-boat, and waited without moving or speaking while lines were thrown and secured, laughter and cries of greeting were borne faintly to their ears, and three men came ashore, one of them needing some assistance, the other two springing forward to be embraced by the two women from the house. The servant dealt with some suitcases. The party retired indoors. The boat, its engine popping gently, slid out from the shore and turned west, no doubt preparing to circumnavigate the islet and make for the public anchorage in the middle of the inner curve of Vrakonisi.

On the hillside, one man looked at the other and spread his palms. The two got up and resumed their arduous and ineffective patrol. They had eleven more houses to check on tonight.

In the house, Sun Liang-tan sat and surveyed the three new arrivals. He said nothing.

Our new arrivals are the thugs who kidnapped M. They admit that Bond got away, but expect to have him within 24 hours.


‘HNC-16 only takes effect at once when administered intravenously,’ put in the second man. ‘He was struggling so much that I could only manage an intramuscular injection, which meant he could – ’

He stopped with the last word half bitten off at a tiny gesture from Sun, a mere raising of one yellow hand from the wrist.

‘He escaped after damaging Doyle's face severely enough to attract attention,’ the first man went on as before. ‘So Doyle was eliminated on the spot. After that everything proceeded according to plan. The double diversionary tactics at the airport were successful in – ’

Again the hand came up.

‘Quantz brilliantly improvised a clue which he left on Doyle's body,’ the recital continued, ‘and which he estimates cannot fail to lure Bond to Athens in search of his chief. The details are in here,’ said the gunman in a hurry, as if to forestall another flick of the hand, and passed Sun a sealed envelope. ‘By now Quantz is in Athens himself. We put the flying-boat down off Cape Souion and he set out for the shore in the rubber dinghy. He will contact our friends in Athens. Should Bond fail to appear after all, Quantz will arrange for the abduction of one of the regular British agents there and will transport him to this island. Quantz estimates that even in that event the operation will succeed in its main object.’

Sun is relatively fair, and doesn't seem inclined to punish them for their failure since they've taken so many steps to make it right.


‘But now you'll want to relax,’ he went on. ‘Full discussion in the morning. Help yourselves to a drink. Evgeny will prepare a meal to your requests. These girls are called Doni and Luisa. They've been instructed to please you in every way and at any time. Oh, and finally …’

Rising unhurriedly to his feet, Sun went over to the third of the newcomers, who had remained slumped in a chair since entering the room.

‘Good evening, Admiral. I am Colonel Sun Liang-tan of the People's Liberation Army. How are you feeling, sir?’

M raised his head. Some of the old sharpness had returned to his grey eyes. He spoke firmly. ‘I shan't be answering any of your other questions, you yellow-faced bandit, so I might as well make a start by not answering that one. Save your breath.’

Well there's no call for that kind of language!


‘The main reason for your presence here, Western filth, is not the answering of questions. But answer them you will when the time comes. Rest assured of that.’

Sun's tone was as equable as ever. He continued, ‘Now, Lohmann, take your patient away and put him to bed with a shot of something that'll give him a good night's sleep. Evgeny will show you where.’

The doctor, a bald, under-sized man in his forties, did as he was told.

Holding a tumbler half-full of vodka, De Graaf sauntered over to the day-bed. He looked each girl up and down in the manner of a farmer at a cattle-market. Finally he pointed at Luisa. ‘The colonel said any time,’ he murmured. ‘So now.’

But you haven't finished your drink!


Luisa glanced at Doni, who talked emphatic Albanian for almost half a minute. At the end of it, Luisa shrugged, then nodded. Doni fixed her eyes on De Graaf.

‘I like you to take me also. The other man disgusting. No hairs on his head and too little and hands like a bird. You take me also. We did this before. We do many things for you. You enjoy it.’

‘Suits me,’ said De Graaf, draining his glass and grinning. ‘Lead on, my dears.’

Left alone, Sun Liang-tan strode to the terrace and spat as hard as he could towards the Aegean.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 14:32 on Mar 30, 2020

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 6: The Shrine of Athene


James Bond sat in the bar of the Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens and waited for something to happen.

There was no alternative, no active policy in the least pursuable. Hours of four-cornered discussion between Bond, Bill Tanner, Head of Section G in London and, from time to time, Head of Station G in Athens over the radio link had finally produced something that, for want of a better word, had to be called a plan. Bond ran over the points in his mind as Tanner had scrawled them down on the back of a message-form in the office.

1. Ideally, 007 should identify the enemy agents entrusted with his abduction, evade capture and tail them to the next higher echelon with a view to locating M.
2. This can be ruled out as a practical proposition. 007 will be unable to identify these agents in advance, and the degree of practical efficiency displayed in the Quarterdeck operation strongly suggests that they will render evasion of capture impossible.
3. Therefore, 007 must invite capture and depend on the following safeguards:
(a) Operatives of Station G will keep 007 under surveillance at all times and trace the movements of the abduction party with a view to intervention in force.
(b) A midget homing-transmitter will await 007 on arrival in Athens for installation in his clothing.
(c) Escape devices in clothing.
(a) and (b) : Head of Station G for action.
(b) and (c) : Head of Q Branch for action.

I hope you burned that paper after writing it down!


Bond smiled thinly to himself. Station G was famous throughout the Service; its Head, a mild-looking Welshman called Stuart Thomas, had served long valiantly as 005 before an eye defect had begun to impair his ability with firearms, since when he had run the Athens unit with unsurpassed skill and imagination. But even Thomas could not be expected to produce the kind of supermen demanded by Bill Tanner's 3(a), which the enemy must have taken into account and would surely guard against. While as for 3(b) and (c) …

A packet containing the midget transmitter had been awaiting Bond when he checked in at the hotel, and he had duly installed it in the compartment Q Branch had made for it in the heel of his left shoe. A miniature picklock was fitted into the right heel, and two wafer-thin tungsten steel hacksaw blades, hardly less pliable than the cloth itself, in the lapels of his charcoal-green mohair suit. Such devices grew more sophisticated every year; their possible hiding-places remained constant. Men like the ones who had planned and carried out the Quarterdeck operation would be unlikely to overlook any of them. Bond realized grimly that, on this assignment as on all his previous ones, the tools he basically had to depend on were invisible, intangible, within himself. They would be tested to the utmost by what lay ahead. Everything else was uncertain.

Amis's taste in gadgets trended toward the realistic. All of the stuff Bond is carrying is completely real, though the shoe here was actually made by the KGB stealing a target's shoes and installing a microphone and transmitter.


He had a look round the crowded, decorously noisy bar. Perhaps, merely for curiosity's sake, he would be able to pick out the local agents whose job it was to keep him under their eye. (Standard Service procedure, aimed at minimizing the possibility of betrayal under torture, dictates that no agent shall have any knowledge of his co-agents that is not absolutely necessary.) The place seemed full of conventional business and professional types and their women, Athenian bankers, ship-owners from the islands, politicians from Salonika, less readily classifiable visitors from Istanbul, Sofia, Bucharest – not forgetting the tourists – all with the appearance of solid respectability.

Bond had chosen to stay at the Grande Bretagne because it was public in the way he wanted and because he had always responded to its slightly seedy grandeur, inter-war in period with a thin veneer of modernism. He enjoyed the lofty foyer with its stained glass, green marble pillars and handsome Gobelin tapestry, a good copy of the original in the Louvre, depicting Alexander the Great entering Babylon on a fat, crafty-looking horse, a dignified figure at the head of his retinue but gone a bit blowsy, more like Cleopatra than a Macedonian prince. Bond accepted too the rather Frenchified style of the bar, all broken pediments, terracotta friezes and heavy, expensive silk curtains, plus the very un-French sedate courtesy of the waiters.

The Grande Bretagne was built as a mansion for Antonis Dimitriou, during the rule of King Otto, before being bought and turned into a hotel in 1874. It faces Syntagma Square, where you can see a little cafe that Bond is about to head to.


It was ten o'clock, the hour when fashionable Athens considers where it will dine. Bond was hungry. Arrival at the hot, crowded little airport under Mount Hymettus early that afternoon had found him too tired to eat. He had dropped his bags at the Grande Bretagne and gone straight to a pavement café in the square. A quick carafe of cheap wine in the sun had been an ideal prelude to seven hours of wallowing sleep in the comfortable bed of the room he always asked for, 706 on the top floor, far from quiet, but with a fine view of the Acropolis and a glimpse of the sea.

The square was constructed after King Otto moved the new Greek government to Athens. "Syntagma" means "Constitution" in Greek, and it's named after a revolt in 1843 only a month after Otto took the throne in which he was forced to ratify the first Constitution of Greece.


By now the enemy would have confirmed Bond's arrival, finalized his own plans and moved his units into position. Time to go. Bond signalled to the waiter. Almost simultaneously, a man sitting not far away, his back half-turned to Bond, made the same bill-summoning gesture. He looked the most comfortably bourgeois of all the bar's customers, and had been sitting chatting quietly with his companions, a replica of himself and two handsome but unglamorized women. Thomas's sort of people. No pairs of silent toughs in dark suits for him. It would be interesting to see whether …

Bond's bill came. He was reaching for his money when his eye was caught by a sudden movement at the little table on his other side. A tubby, swarthy man with a thick moustache, a Turk by the look of him, had seized the bare upper arm of the girl next to him, pulled her close and was talking into her ear in something between a whisper and a snarl. She was young and strikingly pretty, with the delicate features, full breast and tobacco-blonde hair of the most attractive physical type in this region. Now she was straining away from the Turk's heavy head and writhing red mouth, trying to undo his hand, her tan-coloured eyes wide with what looked like shock and fright. Their glance fell on Bond, who was only a few yards off and the nearest unattached male.

‘Please,’ she called in English, not loudly but urgently. ‘Please do something.’

Bond has absolutely no reason to intervene, but he notices how incredibly out of place this scene is. With nothing to lose, he walks over and sits down next to the couple.


‘He's annoying me,’ said the girl with much resentment. ‘He says awful, obscene things to me. I beg you to get rid of him.’

Bond's Greek was small but well-chosen. He leant close to the man, who was staring at him contemptuously, and said in his deadliest tone, ‘Fíye apo tho, málaka.’

This basically translates to "Get away from her, wanker."


This, though probably as obscene as anything the man had been saying to the girl, is a standard Greek insult. What made it effective was Bond's air of determination and his sudden grip on the man's nearer arm. There was a pause while the two men stared at each other and Bond tightened his grip, noticing half-consciously that the arm was distinctly harder than its owner's general corpulence would have suggested. Then the Turk quickly and quite calmly let go the girl, waited for his own arm to be released, rose to his feet, adjusted his jacket, and walked out of the bar. His departure did not go unnoticed by the two couples Bond had picked out earlier.

‘Thank you,’ said the girl in excellent American English. ‘I'm sorry about that. I could see no other way without a public disturbance. You dealt with him very competently.’ She chuckled suddenly, a warm-hearted, gay sound that showed remarkably quick recovery from the fear she had been displaying. ‘You must have had practice.’

‘Shall we have a drink?’ asked Bond, raising his hand. ‘Yes, I rescue girls from obscenity-spouting Turks all the time.’

I, too, remember Kerim Bey.


‘Thank you. Tzimas isn't a Turk. He just behaves like one. But he is obscene. My family have been pushing me at him – he has a good carpet-manufacturing business here. After this tonight my mother will talk to my father and there'll be no more pushing in that direction. Are you married?’

Bond smiled. ‘No. I sometimes think I never will be. What will you have?’

‘Ouzo and ice,’ said the girl, glancing up at the waiter. ‘Not that Sans Rival stuff you serve all the time. Have you Boutari?’

‘Certainly, madam. And for you sir?’

‘The same. Plenty of ice.’

Finally, he's drinking it correctly!


‘You know ouzo?’ The girl looked at Bond consideringly. ‘You know Greece well?’

‘Greece I know a little and love what I know. Ouzo I know much better: a Greek version of Pernod with a much more sinister smell but similar effects. Love would be too starry-eyed a word to use there.’

‘That's a slander. And not accurate. The French took it from us and flavoured it with aniseed and dyed it green. Horrible! My name is Ariadne Alexandrou.’


‘Mine is Bond. James Bond. How did you know just now that I spoke English?’

The girl laughed again. ‘Most people do. And you look English, Mr Bond. Nobody could mistake you, not even for an American.’

‘As a matter of fact I'm not strictly English at all. Half Scottish, half Swiss.’

‘The English have swallowed you, then. What are you doing in Athens? Business or pleasure?’

‘Business, but I hope to get some pleasure in while I'm here.’

Sir, you have just met this woman.


Ariadne Alexandrou returned Bond's gaze for a moment without reacting to it, then turned away to observe critically as the two small tumblers of cloudy drink – the cloudiness curling whitely outwards from the ice-cubes like liquid smoke – were set in front of them and as much again of water added. Bond watched her lovely profile, very Greek yet totally unlike the overrated, beaky, ‘classical’ look one associates with old coins, a carefully-finished sculpture overlaid with the softest tints of tan and white and olive and rose. The effect was set off by earrings in an ancient style, small thick hoops of beaten gold.

No doubt it was for her splendid appearance and obvious quickness of mind that she had been picked by the enemy – of whose presence behind the events of the last five minutes Bond was no longer in the smallest doubt. All the girl's apparent confidence and warmth had not been able to disguise the patness and predictability of the way she had established acquaintance with him. He guessed that, left to herself, she would have stage-managed things with more imagination. Some plodding middle-echelon spymaster had come up with that amorous-Turk routine. Encouraging: the other side were getting lazy. Bond brushed aside the thought that they could afford to.

To Bond's credit, after Vesper he's never once been fooled by a female agent.


The girl Ariadne had raised her glass and was looking at him with a kind of down-turning smile that might have been ugly on anyone else, but in her case only emphasized the marvellously delicate yet firm lines of her lips.

‘I know the sort of thing you expect me to say now.’ The smile turned upward. ‘In Greece, when we drink to someone, we say ees iyian, your health, or colloquially yássou. Well sometimes we do, but half the time it's “cheers” and “here's looking at you” these days.’ The smile faded. ‘Greece isn't very Greek any more. Every year less. I'm being a little conservative and sentimental just by asking for ouzo. The newest people want vodka-tini, or Scotch and soda. Are you free for dinner, Mr Bond? Shall we go out somewhere together?’

"Please do not look at the man approaching you with the syringe in the restroom."


Despite himself, Bond smiled in his turn. He was beginning to enjoy the girl's tactic of wandering away from the point and then jumping back to it with a direct question. But the other half of his mind was cursing. Why hadn't he taken the simple, obvious precaution of getting something under his belt before allowing the enemy to make contact? He could visualize, as clearly as if it had happened, the deserted street where she would lead him, the men closing in, the car, the long drive to and across the Bulgarian frontier, and then … Bad enough on a full stomach, he though wryly. Was there another way?

Bond sipped the deceptively mild drink, its flavour reminding him as always of the paregoric cough-sweets he had sucked as a child, before he answered. ‘Splendid, I'd love to do that. But why don't we eat in the hotel? I've done a lot of travelling today and –’

‘Oh, but nobody dines at the Grande Bretagne unless they have to. It's not exciting. I'll take you somewhere where they have real Greek food. You like that?’

Like chloroform!


‘Yes.’ Perhaps he should come part-way into the open. ‘It's just that I should hate to be prevented from getting to grips with it. I've never liked being sent to bed without any supper.’

A flicker of alarm showed in the light-brown eyes, to be instantly followed by blankness. ‘I don't know what you mean. All the good restaurants stay open late, what they have they will give you. The Greeks have the oldest tradition of hospitality in Europe. And that's not tourist-bureau talk. You'll see.’

The hell with it, thought Bond savagely – what could he do but play along? It was far too early to start trying to capture the initiative.

He decided to give in gracefully.

‘Forgive me,’ he said. ‘I'm too used to England, where you have to choose between dining early and reasonably well, and late and badly – if at all. I'm in your hands,’ he added. And meant it.

That was a very Amis turn of phrase, as he was a food writer as well.


Three minutes later they stood on the steps of the hotel between the Ionic columns. Constitution Square was ablaze with light: the B.E.A. offices, Olympic Airlines, T.W.A. on the far side beyond the rows of trees, American Express to the right, the gentler illumination of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to the left. What Ariadne Alexandrou had said about the decreasing Greekness of Greece came to Bond's mind. In thirty years, he reflected, perhaps sooner, there would be one vast undifferentiated culture, one complex of super-highways, hot-dog stands and neon, interrupted only by the Atlantic, stretching from Los Angeles to Jerusalem; possibly, by then, as far as Calcutta, three-quarters of the way round the world. Where there had been Americans and British and French and Italians and Greeks and the rest, there would be only citizens of the West, uniformly affluent, uniformly ridden by guilt and neurosis, uniformly alcoholic and suicidal, uniformly everything. But was that prospect so hopelessly bad? Bond asked himself. Even at the worst, not as bad as all that was offered by the East, where conformity did not simply arise as if by accident, but was consciously imposed to the hilt by the unopposed power of the State. There were still two sides: a doubtfully, conditionally right and an unconditionally, unchangeably wrong.

While it seems like a silly sentiment today, in the 1960s there was a rapid modernization around the world that often came with Westernization. You could see it in Japan, with their expanding cities and the efforts by the US occupation to stamp out the remnants of Imperial Japan, but the world seemed to be shrinking like crazy after the war. It turned out that history was far more deeply embedded than expected, however, and instead the world took what it wanted from American culture and just applied it over their own.


The grey-uniformed commissionaire blew his whistle and a taxi, to all appearance innocently cruising, swung in to the kerb. Bond laid his fingers on Ariadne's upper arms and walked her over. The flesh was firm and the skin deliciously cool. She spoke briefly to the driver, an elderly, paunchy type who, again, looked the soul of innocence, and they were away.

Ariadne studied Bond's profile. As always, her employers' instructions had been confined to essentials. She had been told only to induce the Englishman to go with her to a designated area where fellow-workers would take over the operation from her. What would happen to him afterwards was no concern of hers – officially. But, more and more, the question bothered her as a woman, a woman who had learnt to recognize on sight the kind of man who knew how to love. Bond was such a man. She was certain, too, that he found her desirable. She had always been a loyal servant of her cause, and not for a moment did she seriously contemplate disobeying orders, allowing Bond to take her home after dinner and do with her whatever he wanted. Ariadne only wished, passionately, that it had been possible. That mouth was made to give her brutal kisses, not to become distorted in a grimace of agony; those hands existed to caress her body, not to be stamped on by the torturer's boot. These images were so painfully vivid that she could find almost nothing to say as the taxi approached the slopes of the Acropolis.

At her side, Bond mistook her silence for that of tension. The next stage of the plan must surely be imminent. At each intersection he was ready for the sudden lurching acceleration to left or right that would bring them to the dark alley and the pick-up team he had imagined earlier. Automatically he began ticking off possible counter-measures in his mind before he remembered sickly, that this time there must be no counter-measures, that capture was not the danger but the aim. And then, quite suddenly it seemed, the street widened, the shadows receded, the taxi, slowing, began to pull in towards a low incline at the top of which glittered the lights of an open-air restaurant. The driver stopped, switched off his engine and simply sat there.

Amis is repeating what Fleming did in From Russia With Love. We're immediately told that Ariadne is an enemy agent and Bond has seen through her, so we see each person's reactions as they try to outmaneuver one another. Ariadne is on the verge of "terminally horny" though.


Paying the man off, Bond resolved quite coolly to behave as if this were what it appeared to be, an encounter between an English visitor and a beautiful Greek girl anxious to entertain him in any way he wished. As they walked towards a narrow flight of steps that led up the incline, their shoulders touched for a moment. Bond laid his arm around Ariadne's waist and murmured, ‘We're going to enjoy our dinner tonight. Nobody can stop that.’

Now you're just leaning into it too much, Bond.


She half-turned towards him, her back arching in what might have been either nervousness or desire, so that the swell of one firm breast brushed his arm. There was light enough for him to see an expression of defiant determination animate her lips and eyes. Her hand grasped his in an oddly warm, confiding gesture.

‘Nobody shall,’ she said. ‘Nobody shall spoil it – James. It's all right for me to call you James? You must call me Ariadne, if you can manage it.’

‘Ariadne. Easy. Four pretty syllables.’

‘The original Ariadne was supposed to have been the girlfriend of King Theseus of Athens. She helped him to kill the Minotaur – you know, that guy with the bull's head who lived in the maze. But then Theseus went and dumped her on the island of Naxos so that he could go and …’

She stopped speaking so abruptly that Bond gave her a quick glance.

‘Go and do what?’

‘Oh, I forget what came next. I suppose he went off and hunted the Calydonian boar or something. Anyway, Ariadne wasn't on her own for long. The wine-god Dionysus happened to be passing at the time and she latched on to him. Which is a funny coincidence because this restaurant's named after him. Well, what do you think? It's lovely, isn't it?’

Ah, our patron god!


From the top of the steps they looked over at the platform of the Acropolis, an enormous flat-topped chunk of rock adorned with temples of Athens' golden age, the lights of the theatre of Herodes Atticus showing near its base. Dominating everything was the moonlit length of the Parthenon, the temple which Bond had heard called the most beautiful building in the world. He could see it was beautiful, but was half distracted by the tiny teasing incident of a minute before. Ariadne Alexandrou had chopped off what she was saying exactly in the manner of somebody just not quite blurting out an important secret. But what could be either important or secret about which mythical exploit a legendary hero undertook after a former mythical exploit?

Bond gave up the problem. He felt a pang of tenderness at Ariadne's obvious anxiety that he should be impressed. ‘I've never seen a view like it,’ he said rather lamely.

‘I'm glad it pleases you, because it's the main attraction here.’ She began to move on. ‘The food is rather pretentious and expensive, though you can have a reasonable meal if you know what to order. Will you leave this to me?’


Their table, set among cactus-beds, gave them a clear view of the Acropolis and also of the restaurant entrance, through which, a minute later, came the two couples Bond had decided were Thomas's people, talking as animatedly as before. He ignored them, not simply as an obvious precaution but because they brought with them an unpleasant reminder of reality. Fantasy was so much more attractive – the fantasy that he and Ariadne were destined to become lovers that night. He imagined what it would be like to slip the low-cut white piqué dress off those graceful shoulders and inhale the odour of the warm bared skin. Their eyes caught and held at that moment and Bond was certain she knew his mind, knew it and responded. But she too must be aware that what they both desired must remain a fantasy.

Amis fully embraces the lowbrow spy novel tropes.

This is actually a real restaurant, Dionysos Zonars, which is still open. From what I understand, very little has changed since the 60s.


They began their meal with tender young crayfish, moist in the mouth and well set off by freshly-made mayonnaise. Bond savoured the scents of exotic foods, the pure warm East Mediterranean air, the surrounding atmosphere of relaxed, respectable enjoyment, the calm permanence of the ancient buildings in the middle distance, above all the girl opposite him, eating unfussily and with enjoyment.

She looked up and smiled. ‘But you really like this food.’

‘Of course. It's made of genuine materials and it tastes of them. What more could one ask?’

‘Many of your countrymen ask for something different. Steaks, eggs and bacon, French fries.’

‘The English call them chips.’

And the English are wrong.


‘Not here, not any more. It's French fries for years now. But you don't seem very English. Not English at all. I'm told it was the same with your Lord Byron.’

‘I'm sure you mean to be kind,’ said Bond, grinning at her, ‘but I don't really enjoy being compared with Byron. As a poet he was affected and pretentious, he ran to fat early and had to go on the most savage diets, his taste in women was appalling, and as a fighter for liberty he never got started.’

Bond, you drink your weight in vodka every day.


Ariadne's mouth had set in a stern line, she spoke now in an even, measured tone, reasonable and yet forceful, the kind of tone which (Bond guessed) had been considered proper for ideological discussion in whatever political indoctrination centre had trained her. But her femininity triumphed over the propounders of Marx and Lenin, turning what might have been a schoolmarmy earnestness into a young and touching solemnity. Bond did not often find himself wishing so hard that the game was only a game.

‘It's not proper for you to talk so lightly of one of your greatest compatriots,’ said the severe voice. ‘Lord Byron was a founder of the romantic movement in your literature. His exile from England was a victory of bourgeois morality. It was a tragedy that he died before he could lead his troops into battle against the oppressor.’

(Lesson 1, thought Bond sardonically, emergence of the Greek nation. The War of Independence. Defeat of the Turks.)

Is it possible for this woman to be more communist?


‘But his support of the Greek cause with money and influence was …’ Ariadne faltered, as if she had momentarily lost her place in the script, and went on with something much nearer her normal warm eagerness, ‘Well, no Greek can ever forget it, that's all. Whether he deserved it or not, he's a national hero, and you ought to be proud of him.’

‘I'll try to be. I suppose I had him rammed down my throat too much at School. Childe Harold. Not a very lively chap, I thought.’

Ariadne was silent for a moment. Then she said quietly, ‘It wasn't only him, of course. The English have helped us in many ways. Some time ago, not recently. But we haven't forgotten. In spite of Cyprus, in spite of … so much, we still –’

Bond could not resist it. ‘In spite of our having helped your government to put down the Communists after the war?’

‘If you like.’ The light-brown gaze was candid and troubled. ‘That was a terrible thing, all that fighting. For everybody. History can be very cruel. If only one could remake the past.’

We talked in the previous thread about how the Greek government fled the Nazi occupation, and returned to find a civil war on their hands as everyone fought for control of the state. Britain and the US provided financial backing for the government forces to defeat the communist KKE party; as soon as NATO was formed in 1949, it immediately jumped into the war and provided American napalm to bomb the last communist stronghold on Gramos.


A faint flicker of hope, the first in this whole affair, arose in Bond's mind. However determined the enemy in general might be, this particular enemy was not whole-hearted. He had found someone who, given a massive dose of luck, could conceivably be turned into an ally.

This thought stayed with him while they talked lightly and with an enjoyable shared malice about the Greek rich set and the cavortings of shipping millionaires. Ariadne showed some inside knowledge, confirming Bond's impression that she must have come to Communism as a way of revolting against some sort of moneyed upbringing, rather than by local and family conviction, as an embittered child of the middle classes, not a militant ex-villager. Another point in her favour. Bond felt almost relaxed, finding the charcoal-grilled lamb cutlets with bitter local spinach very acceptable, enjoying the tang of retsina, the white wine infused with resin which some palates find musty or metallic, but which had always seemed to him the essence of Greece in liquor: sunshine-coloured, scented with warm pine-groves, faintly touched by the salt of the Aegean.

Retsina is a wine I've been looking for. It's an ancient method, with its flavor coming originally from sealing amphorae with pine resin. The flavor stuck around after it no longer became necessary and is a national drink of Greece today; it's now made by infusing the resin into the wine during fermentation.


Then the reality returned in short order. As they sipped the delicious, smoky-tasting Turkish coffee, Ariadne said quickly, ‘James. I want to ask you something. It's eleven thirty. Tonight it's full moon and the Acropolis stays open late. If we leave now we can go and have a look at it. You must see it like this. It's incredible. And I've a wish to see it again myself. With you. Will you take me? Afterwards … we can do anything you want.’

God! Bond's gorge rose at the vulgarity of it, the confident obviousness, the touch of footling melodrama in the choice of pick-up point. But he fought down his disgust and said with as good a grace as he could muster, ‘Of course. I don't seem to have any alternative.’

Apr 23, 2014

This is a really good video for seeing the city as Bond and Ariadne are.

Gats Akimbo
May 28, 2007

Ignoring this post

I love that the crazy deliberately-obvious villain plan is "get a greasy foreigner to hit obnoxiously on a hot girl and Bond will leap in to save her".

Apr 23, 2014

Runcible Cat posted:

I love that the crazy deliberately-obvious villain plan is "get a greasy foreigner to hit obnoxiously on a hot girl and Bond will leap in to save her".

It's saying something when even James Bond, the ultimate himbo, can't believe this poo poo.

Dec 21, 2012


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

It's kind of meta, though. Why waste effort on plausibility? Bond's there explicitly to get captured, because of a clue they deliberately left behind bring him there. Might as well save the effort for separating him from his escort. Hell, they might as well just make appointment on his calendar, it'd be a lot more convenient for everyone involved - that way he doesn't have to worry about getting kidnapped on an empty stomach.
2200 : Drinks
2230 : Dinner
2300 : Drinks
2330 : Constitutional around the acropolis
0015 : Chloroform

This is making me want to visit Greece after all this mess is over.

I've had Turkish coffee with mastic before - is that the same resin they use in Retsina? It was kind of ehh - waste of good coffee by tossing a pinecone in it.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 7: Not-So-Safe-House


There is something to be said for the view that the Parthenon is best seen from a distance. Certainly the place was badly knocked about in an otherwise forgotten war of the seventeenth century. The restoration work, such as it is, is mainly incompetent, far less competent than could be expected from Germans, say, or Americans, who would have produced a reconstruction faultlessly in accord with the theories of the most respectable historians – and faultlessly dead. But by moonlight, with the bad joinery hidden and the outside world at a proper distance, those tall columns can seem much more than rows of battered antique marble. A dead world lives in them.

Amis seems to infuse his work with his own opinions and voice even more than Fleming!

Athena was the patron goddess of Athens (hence the name) and the Parthenon was the temple built for her from 447 to 432 BC; it also served as the city treasury, because why waste space? It later became a Christian church, then a mosque when Greece was conquered by the Ottomans, then a fortified ammunition dump. I think you can see why it's in the state it's in now.

In 1687 during an invasion by Venice, a mortar round hit the Parthenon. The majority of the building was destroyed, 300 people were killed instantly, and fires spread through the city. Ironically, the image of the ruined Parthenon would soon become a striking sign of the decline of the once-great Greece, commonly depicted in artwork during the growing interest in Greek and Roman culture, and a cultural touchstone for advocates of Greek independence. When independence was achieved, the mosque elements and other medieval additions to the building were torn down.


Even James Bond was not untouched by such feelings as he paced the southern aisle at Ariadne's side and waited for what must happen. The rocky, windy hilltop was thinly scattered with figures in ones and twos, late visitors, tourists or lovers, catching the final few minutes before the gates of the site were closed. Among them, of course, must be a party who were neither tourists nor lovers. Bond wasted no energy in trying to pick them out. They would come when it was time.

Quite soon it was time. Bond was watching Ariadne's face and saw its expression change. She turned to him and his heart filled with longing and despair.

‘James,’ she said. ‘Khrisi mou. Darling. Kiss me.’

Does she know that he knows how obvious she is? Is she just trying to speed this along?


He took her in his arms and her body strained against him and her firm dry lips opened under his. When they drew apart she looked into his eyes.

‘Forgive me,’ she whispered.

Her glance moved over his shoulder and she frowned. In a few more seconds they were there. Two of them. Both tallish, one plump, the other average build. Each had a hand in his jacket pocket. They took up positions either side of Bond. The plump one spoke to him in Greek, ordering him to come with them and adding something else he couldn't follow. The girl asked the other man a rapid question. An instant's hesitation, an equally rapid reply. Ariadne Alexandrou gave a satisfied nod, stepped close to Bond and spat in his face.

He barely had time to recoil before she followed up with her hands, no little-girl slaps but stinging blows that rocked his head. A stream of Greek insults, of which ‘English pig’ was the most ladylike, burst from her snarling mouth. Apart from the physical pain he felt only sadness. He caught a glimpse of the plump man's face split in an embarrassed grin.

Then, still hitting him, she switched to English. She used just the same abusive tone as before, so that she seemed to be cursing him in his own language. But what she said was: ‘Listen to me. These men … are enemies.’ Slap! ‘We must get away. I'll take the fat one. You take’ – slap! – ‘the other. Then … follow me.’

Ah. Now things are complicated.


She stopped, moved laughing towards the plump man, cracked her knee into his crotch and drove her stiffened fingers at his eyes. He squealed thinly. Without conscious thought Bond went for the other man, who had involuntarily half-turned, and chopped him cruelly at the side of the neck. The plump man was doubled up with his hands over his face. Bond brought his joined fists down on the base of the squat skull, grabbed Ariadne and ran.

Straight along the empty, shadowed colonnade to the western end, off the marble pavement on to the ground, uneven and awkward with its tussocks of slippery grass, past a pair of willowy youths with Germany written all over them, towards the entrance … But Ariadne pulled him away to the left. Yes – danger of more men at the main gate. But was there another way out? He couldn't remember. Where were they going? No questions: he had instinctively chosen to stick to the girl and must continue to. Covering distance without falling took enough attention. He ran on.

Bond and Ariadne scramble down the Acropolis, the Greek thugs firing silenced pistols behind them. They drop onto the roof of a hut built into the hillside, then climb a fence and disappear into the crowd of tourists.


At Bond's side, Ariadne laughed shakily. ‘Theatre of Herodes Atticus. Performance ending. In all senses, hope.’

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a theatre at the bottom of the Acropolis built in 161 AD while Greece was part of the Roman Empire. It was restored in the 1950s and continues to hold performances.


Bond's glance was full of admiration. Whatever her motives might be, the girl had shown herself to be speedy, resourceful and determined: a valuable ally indeed. He said easily, ‘It was clever of you to know about that alternative exit.’

‘Oh, we plan carefully. I could draw a map of the Acropolis blindfold.’

‘Who are “we”?’

‘Maybe I'll tell you later. Right now it's your job to push us through this crowd, get us out to the street and grab the first taxi, by force if necessary. Show me how rough and rude and un-English you can be.’

Not difficult for him at all!


The next few minutes were a hell of struggling and shoving. Bond felt the sweat running down his chest and back. The departing audience were cheerful, talkative, in no hurry, not in a mood to resent being jostled, not heeding it much either. Twice the two of them were separated, but at last reached the street together. There was a brief scuffle by a taxi, Ariadne keeping up a stream of indignant Greek about the airport and her husband's sick father, and they were in and driving off.

Ariadne lolled against Bond's shoulder, trembling violently, and her lips shook as she kissed his cheek. He put his arm round her shoulders and drew her close. She had fully earned her moment of reaction, of temporary collapse after the extreme and varied time of stress she had just gone through. He murmured softly to her.

‘I'm sorry I spat at you,’ she whispered jerkily, brushing his cheek with her hand. ‘But I thought I had to do it. And then all those mean things I said. I kept hoping you weren't understanding. And you can't think I meant –’

‘You were brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I don't know anybody who could have made a plan as fast as that and then carried it out so skilfully. You made fools of the pair of them. But now … I've got to ask you some questions. Haven't I?’

Her face was against his shoulder and he felt her nod

Bond tells her that he caught on to her role as a decoy to get him kidnapped pretty early on. She admits to it, reluctantly, and then explains that she realized the two men weren't her own agents when they missed a necessary signal. Her talking to them in Greek was her pretending to ask about two men who didn't actually exist, which confirmed that they weren't on her side.


Bond gave her a Xanthi, the pungent Macedonian blend he always smoked in Greece, lit one himself and inhaled deeply. He felt charged-up, almost exhilarated. Whatever lay immediately ahead the expected gloomy pattern of abduction and captivity had been broken. He was still free and the initiative was not all on the other side – or sides.

‘Ariadne, who are you working for? You said you'd tell me.’

When she spoke she was herself again, quick and assured. ‘I said maybe. It's still maybe. For the moment I can't tell you anything. And there's so much I don't know myself. Who were those men? It's frightening. The whole situation must have changed in the last few hours. It could be it isn't you we want after all. I don't see how it can be, now that this …’

She was thinking aloud, but her voice died away before she had done much more than express confusion. By now Bond had arrived at his own views about the scene on the Acropolis. For the moment he must follow through and put what faith he could in the midget transmitter in his shoe and the efficiency of Thomas's men. He said dryly, ‘Where are you taking me?’

‘To see my chief. He must talk with you. Obviously I can't force you to come with me. You can stop the driver now and get out and walk away. But please don't. We have to talk. Can you trust me?’

‘Trust doesn't enter into it. I've got to come with you.’

Imagine if this was really just an overly elaborate plot and she was still kidnapping him.


‘I don't understand that. Like most things about this.’ Ariadne turned and gripped his hands. ‘But I do have one reason for feeling happy. Oh, not happy, but less miserable than a quarter of an hour ago, when I thought I'd never see you again. We're still together. Sure, you've no reason to trust me on anything else, but you do believe me about this, don't you, James? That I want us to go on being together?’

‘Yes.’ Bond spoke as he felt. ‘I believe you, Ariadne.’

They kissed and for a moment left the world of enmity, violence and treachery in which they worked. Just then the taxi slowed and stopped. They moved apart. In the most everyday manner possible they got out and Bond paid off the driver.

You met this morning, guys. Chill.


It was a narrow street on the outskirts of the city towards the port of Piraeus, with a small bar in which a solitary old man dozed, a grocer's shop, a long building that might have been a school, a few houses of variegated shapes but all uniformly whitewashed. One was set a few yards back from the street behind rusty railings. Ariadne opened the gate, which squeaked painfully, and they crossed a tiny paved courtyard overgrown with vine and laurel. An underfed tabby cat rushed past them, squeezed through the railings and vanished. At the front door, Ariadne gave a complicated knock, reached out and gripped Bond's hand.

Bolts were thrown and the door opened. The man Ariadne had called Tzimas stood there. At the sight of them he gave a grunt of consternation, but a gun was in his hand within the time of a heartbeat. He motioned them in and shut the door, bolting it by feel while his eyes and gun remained on Bond. Ariadne led the way across a square tiled hall to an inner door. Bond followed her over the threshold.

There were two men sitting at the cheap barley-sugar-legged table. Both at once jumped up and began shouting questions at Ariadne. During the gesticulating three-cornered word-play that followed, Bond studied the men. One was in his thirties, dark, good-looking, a little overweight for his age: Greek. The other might have been anything between forty and sixty, grey, dried-up, close-cropped, speaking Greek with a heavy accent: Russian. No question about it. Well, that was one point checked off. Bond allowed himself to wonder whether M was in this house. Since the Quarterdeck affair he had, as far as possible, rigorously excluded M from his conscious thoughts, knowing that to speculate in that direction put him at the mercy of useless senseless rage and hatred. So it did now for a moment: Bond gritted his teeth and concentrated on the present scene.

The Greek, biting his lip, hurried to an open roll-top desk littered with papers and began telephoning furiously. The Russian continued his dialogue with Ariadne for a time. He glanced at Bond more and more often, finally dismissed the girl with a flick of his hand and came over. He looked tired and frightened.

The Russian takes Bond's gun, as a standard precaution, and offers him a drink.


The Russian signed to Tzimas. ‘We have only ouzo, I'm sorry. It is known that you prefer whisky, but our budget wouldn't allow this. You call that cheese-paring?’ The thin mouth twitched upwards.

You've got guts, thought Bond. You're scared half out of your mind and you're too proud to be seen yielding to it. He nodded and smiled back.

Tzimas handed him a tooth-glass half-full of milky fluid. ‘Fíye apo tho, málaka?’ said the man threateningly, glaring into Bond's face. Then he guffawed and slammed him on the back. ‘Bravo! Ees iyian!

Tzimas seems cool. Let's hope he doesn't have a sex slave chained under his desk.


‘Now, Mr Bond.’ The Russian waved Tzimas away with a frown and leant back against the edge of the table. ‘My name is Gordienko and my associate here is named Markos. We may have very little time, so I must request you to be intelligent and answer my questions. As you have gathered, it was arranged for you to be captured tonight and brought here. You are not captured but you come here just the same. Why?’

‘What alternative had I? You must see that.’

‘I do not. I don't. Now, please. What is the purpose of your visit to Greece?’

Bond stared. ‘Good God, you brought me here!’

Gordienko stared back, then shrugged. ‘Perhaps it was not intelligent of me to ask this now. Tonight all very confusing. But answer this. In your opinion, who has employed the men who have tried to capture you?’

‘I don't know. Some powerful free-lance. Anyhow it failed. Now let me ask you something. Where's your other prisoner? Is he here?’

‘This is …’ Gordienko looked defeated. ‘I have no idea what you mean.’

The Russians weren't the ones who kidnapped M. Ariadne really was just that bad at her job.


‘Now who's being unintelligent? Another one, then. What do you want with me? You've got me here at your mercy. Surely you can let me know that much.’

‘I can,’ said Gordienko briskly. ‘Now, yes, I can. You're considered to be very important, Mr Bond. So important that the task to plan your capture is taken out of my hands and entrusted to – another official.’

(Ah, thought Bond; I might have guessed that Acropolis caper wasn't your style.)

‘On capture you would be kept in custody here in this safe-house for approximately three days and then released. You would also be questioned as to your intentions in coming to Athens. These were my orders. Privately, I had much doubt as to the wisdom of the second item. It is known that you're very resistant to questioning.’

Bond suppressed a surge of excitement. He was nearly certain he saw the truth. Gordienko's obvious air of competence made it most unlikely that he would lie so pointlessly at such a moment. On this reasoning, he, Bond, had somehow strayed out of one conspiracy into another, and the men on the Acropolis had been the agents of the original one, the first grand, terrifying conspiracy. And that meant that some agreement with this Russian was possible. But caution must be maintained; he was only nearly certain. In this kind of work there are no certainties until the job is over – if then.

He said in a level tone, ‘I think I believe you. It rather looks as if we've been at cross-purposes you and I. We're so used to there being two sides that we never remember there may be a third, hostile to both of us. I propose that, for the moment, we join forces.’

Well, that was fast!


‘Agreed.’ Some of the tension left Gordienko's lined face. He signed again to Tzimas. ‘Let us pool information. Some information, at least. My side is conducting an important, um, event in this region. I must assure you that it's not aimed against your side. It's designed to give strength to my side, naturally, but not so much at the expense of yours. Efkharistó.’

Gordienko has been assigned to prevent any interference in this "event", which is why he was supposed to capture and interrogate Bond after learning that he was in the region. He's sort of notorious for interfering with things.


Markos had finished his telephoning. He came and faced Gordienko, shaking slightly and sweating a great deal. Now he burst into a torrent of Greek. Bond made out only scraps, but they sounded to him disconcerting scraps. To judge by their faces, Gordienko and Ariadne agreed with him.

When the recital was over and Markos had gone back to the telephone with fresh instructions, Gordienko turned to Bond. His face had gone a shade greyer. He carefully adjusted his wire-framed spectacles before he spoke.

‘Our common enemy is proceeding with extreme ruthlessness. The men entrusted with your capture have been murdered.’

Ariadne caught her breath.

‘As you know, Mr Bond, assassination of agents is exceedingly rare in peacetime. Not unknown, of course’ – the mouth twitched briefly – ‘but rare. I am afraid that nothing less can be intended than total obliteration of the event I spoke about. The consequences of this would be serious. Serious as far as possible war. And the forces at my disposal have suddenly become almost useless.’

With a convulsive movement, Gordienko drained his glass. He looked hard at Bond.

‘There is a traitor in our organization. Nothing less will explain what happens. It shames me to admit this to you, but we are allies. And to say so reminds me. I should like us to shake hands.’

Bond stood up and complied without much reservation. The Russian's clasp was firm and dry.

This is what Ann Fleming was afraid of!


‘The official who planned your capture is clearly suspect.’ Gordienko resumed his awkward leaning posture at the table. ‘But two persons I can at once eliminate from suspicion. Both are with us now. Markos is in my company continuously since your arrival has been reported. Miss Alexandrou was not informed of the details of your capture. Tzimas I can't logically eliminate. But I trust him.

‘My procedure therefore is plain. I must move with these three to another safe-house, at a location known only to myself, and operate as best I can from there. Moscow will send me replacements and Markos will recruit fresh local helpers, but these things must take time. And we have almost no time. Will you accompany us, Mr Bond, or do you wish to consult with your own people? If this, I should welcome from you now what information you think you may give.’

They hear the squeak of the gate, followed by the coded knock Ariadne had used before. Tzimas heads to the door to see who it is. He abruptly shuts it and unsteadily walks back.


When Tzimas reached the waiting group he stared at Gordienko with his left eye. Where his right eye had been there was a red hole edged with black and purple. Finally his body seemed to lose all character, all substance, as if his flesh had turned to sand, and he fell at Gordienko's feet.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005


Without conscious thought Bond went for the other man, who had involuntarily half-turned, and chopped him cruelly at the side of the neck. The plump man was doubled up with his hands over his face. Bond brought his joined fists down on the base of the squat skull, grabbed Ariadne and ran.

This is pure movie fighting. If I'm not very much mistaken, Bond has just used an Austin Powers judo chop and then followed it up with the old Starfleet two-handed punch.


'It is known that you're very resistant to questioning.’

Bond suppressed a surge of excitement.

Da, Gordienko-chan, question me !~more~!

Apr 28, 2007

Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952

chitoryu12 posted:

...provided American napalm to bomb the last communist stronghold on Gramos.

Ahh, undoubtedly a police action.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 8: Council of War


There was no time for doubts now. Bond snatched his Walther automatic when Gordienko threw it. Markos dived for the light-switch and the room went as dark as the bed of the sea. Somebody – Gordienko – began blundering towards the window. ‘No,’ said Bond urgently – ‘they'll be expecting that. It must be the front.’

‘Correct. Thank you.’

They moved into the gloom of the hall and Gordienko carefully took the chain out of the door.

‘We will allow one minute so that their first vigilance will become dulled. Then we will leave in the following order: Markos, Mr Bond, Miss Alexandrou, and myself. Thirty yards down the street to the left there is an alley with high walls both sides. We will rendezvous there.’

Gordienko switched to Greek and Markos replied briefly. Then more silence. Ariadne caught Bond's hand and held it against her breast. He felt her heart beating, fast but not wildly. He kissed her hand.

‘Good luck, my friends.’ Gordienko stood with his fingers twisting the door-knob. Bond thought he saw him touch Markos lightly on the shoulder for a moment. Then the door swung wide and they were all running.

Barely a few steps out, Markos is hit and dropped. Bond provides a few shots of covering fire as Ariadne and Gordienko separate, bullets whizzing through the air between them. Watching for the muzzle flash in an alley, Bond fires a quick aimed shot that drops an attacker not 4 feet in front of Gordienko.


Uncomfortably conscious that he was not in shadow, Bond leaned out and peered to his right, towards the shop-front. A flash came at once; a bullet hit the wall a couple of yards away and buzzed across his front. Instinctively he drew back – but it had been a parting shot. When he looked out again his man was fifty yards away and running hard. Bond did not waste a shot at such a target.

The whole operation had taken less than half a minute, but the street was already coming alive: lights in windows, excited voices, barking dogs. And the party that would have been covering the back of the house must already be starting on its way in their direction. There could be no hanging about, then. But before they moved …

Bond ran across to where Markos had fallen. The Greek lay on his face, his arms stretched forward as if he were diving. There was a large thick patch of blood on his cheap cotton jacket below the left shoulder-blade. When Bond turned him over, the limbs moved with the dummy-like lack of all resistance that no living body ever shows. Markos's eyes were open. His face frozen in a look of mild astonishment, the exact equivalent of the cry he had given when hit. Bond closed the eyes. With a quick look at the house he ran back to the alley. There, methodically, he went straight to the other fallen figure, the gunman he had shot.

This body was perhaps not a dead body yet. The man had collapsed in an awkward half-sitting position, his back against the wall of the alley. Bond spared no attention for the wound the Walther slug had torn in the chest. It was the face that interested him, a pale, hook-nosed face with unusually heavy eyelids, now half-closed so that the eyes were hooded, a face he had seen at Quarterdeck some thirty hours previously: that of the group leader. Here was clinching evidence, if any were needed.

Unfortunately, Bond finds that Gordienko was also shot when he rejoins the party. He makes one effort at a gesture that seems to be telling Bond and Ariadne to work together, then expires.


Ariadne was crying. ‘We must do as Mr Gordienko told us to do.’

‘Yes,’ said Bond shortly. He had enjoyed fifteen-minutes alliance with the grey man. ‘Now we've got more running ahead of us, I'm afraid. Can you find us somewhere safe? Anywhere!’

‘That's easy. I've a friend who'll look after us.’

Ariadne's friend, whose name Bond never learnt, turned out to be a plump brunette in a grubby expensive nightdress who showed no surprise whatever at being got out of bed at past 3 a.m. to open the door to two highly suspect-looking people – Ariadne with a ripped seam and earth-stains down one side of her dress. Bond, after his second successive night on very active duty, obviously in the later stages of exhaustion. There was an exchange of Greek between the two girls. The friend smiled and nodded at Bond, said something gracious and incomprehensible, acknowledged his bow, and waddled back to her bedroom. A man's voice sleepily asked a question and there was shrill reply and a duet of ribald laughter.

‘We're lucky,’ said Ariadne, smiling at the sound. ‘The spare room's vacant. There are drinks in the kitchen cupboard. You go fix yourself one while I put some sheets on the bed.’

Bond kissed her on the forehead and went to do as ordered. The kitchen was small, almost airless, and smelt, not unpleasantly, of goat's-milk cheese and overripe figs. In the cupboard, among tins of Italian soup and packets of biscuits showing signs of age, was a huddle of bottles: ouzo, cheap red wine, local brandy and – blessedly – Bell's Scotch. He poured himself about a gill, cut it with a similar quantity of the excellent Nigrita mineral water, and swallowed the drink in two draughts. Already, as he prepared a weaker follow-up, he felt the familiar spreading, smouldering glow enfold his stomach and seem to blow away the mists of fatigue that had overhung his brain. An illusion, surely, that last party: the body must warm alcohol to blood heat before absorption can even begin. Yet, as always, illusion or not, it worked.

The Bell's distillery opened in 1798 and is currently the best selling whiskey in the UK. Obviously, this means it must be owned by Diageo.


It was a pleasant little bedroom with gay hand-painted furniture and brocade curtains, but Bond had eyes only for the girl who sprang up off the bed when he appeared.

‘I only put an undersheet,’ said Ariadne. ‘I thought we wouldn't need something over us.’

‘No. It's very hot.’

She hesitated. ‘We've many things to do and not much time. But I thought we couldn't do any of them before we'd slept.’

Guys it's been less than 24 hours since you met.


‘No. And before we sleep …’

The unfinished sentence hung in the warm air. Ariadne smiled, a calm, self-possessed, sensual smile. Then, her sherry-coloured eyes never leaving Bond's face, she stripped naked, unhurriedly but without coquetry or exhibitionism, her movements and expression showing an absolute certainty that he would find her beautiful. She had a truly magnificent body, slender but rounded, longer in the leg than is common with Greek girls, the breasts deep yet youthfully taut, the belly slightly protuberant with a soft honey-blonde triangle at its base. She narrowed her gaze now and her lips parted.

There was nothing leisurely about Bond's undressing. Within seconds they stood flesh to flesh. She shuddered briefly and moaned; her arms tightened round his neck, her loins thrust against his and he felt the strength of her as well as the softness. As if they had become one creature with a single will, the two bodies sank to the bed. No preliminaries were needed. The man and the woman were joined immediately, with almost savage exultation. She leapt and strained in his grip, her movements as violent as his. The pace was too hot for their strivings to be prolonged. Their voices blended in the cry of joy that sounds so oddly akin to the inarticulate language of despair.

The creature separated, became two bodies once more. Bond tried to think of tomorrow, but his mind, like an over-ridden horse, refused to budge. He fell asleep with his head against Ariadne's bosom.

Well, at least that'll relieve some tension.


They left the flat early and made their necessary preliminary moves: coffee and rolls and splendid thin Hymettus honey at the busy little kafenion round the corner, a lurching but speedy journey to Constitution Square in one of the big yellow six-wheeled trolley-buses, a whirlwind shopping expedition along Stadíou to equip Ariadne (her apartment in Loukianou would certainly be watched), and straight into the Grande Bretagne, keeping with the crowds all the way. The hotel too was no doubt being watched, but here they would be safe until nightfall at any rate, and long before then they would be gone.

At the same brisk tempo they changed and showered. By the time Bond had finished shaving in the grey-marble bathroom, all traces of fatigue had dropped from him. He even felt guardedly optimistic – no longer the tethered goat at the tiger-shoot, but a hunter on equal terms with the opposition and accompanied by an associate of proven value.

They sit down and go over their plans. If there's really a traitor among the Soviets, Ariadne can't risk contacting them for anything but a brief update on what happened to Gordienko. Bond calls Stuart Thomas at the foreign language bookstore that he uses as a cover, but is told that the line is "unobtainable."


The situation turned out to be quite simple, and quite final. The firemen had done their work and left; the police were in possession. In charge of them was a stocky young lieutenant in smart light-grey uniform, courteous, probably efficient, and anxious to show off his English to Bond, who represented himself as an old customer of Thomas's drawn by curiosity and concern. There was plenty to arouse that: great blackened fragments of glass on the pavement, jumbled heaps of charred and saturated paperbacks, atlases, dictionaries, guidebooks, capsized cases and stands, a strong smell of burnt cardboard and glue. Some of the stock had escaped damage, and the fire in the shop itself had not spread to the adjoining furrier's and travel agency. The inner apartments had suffered worse, being more or less gutted in parts. One corner was open to the sky, and the rooms at the back of the travel agency were in almost as bad a state. It had been a remarkably fierce blaze.

The police lieutenant accepted a cigarette. ‘The firemen have not done badly. They were notified quickly. We're still not certain what has caused the outbreak, but it's being suspected that this was no accident. The heat has been greater than we expect in an ordinary fire. Our expert's working here for the last hour. Some bomb, perhaps. Do you know by any chance, sir, if Mr Thomas is having some enemies? Business rivals, men of that sort?’

This was dangerous ground. Being roped in to help a police investigation would be a fatal setback. Bond said firmly, ‘I'm afraid I don't know him on that basis, only as a customer. You'd better ask Mr Thomas himself.’

‘Unfortunately this is not possible at the moment. Mr Thomas is not present. He wasn't present when the firemen came. I was understanding from the neighbours here that this seems unusual. Normally he's spending the night in his quarters at the back of the shop. A most lucky escape. No doubt the news will reach him soon and bring him. You're wanting to see him particularly, sir?’

‘No,’ said Bond. ‘Not particularly. I'll contact him later. I just thought I'd like to ask him if I could do anything. Thank you.’

The fire was started in the back of the shop, where Thomas kept all of his records and other information that could help Bond. More than just an assassination, it's completely dismantled the MI6 apparatus in Greece. He won't risk trying to get in touch with Thomas's assistant, as he may be watched if he's not dead.


‘Yes, and so we must deal with it together.’ Ariadne came over and sat beside Bond on the couch. She spoke with great determination and force. ‘I too have been thinking. We must move immediately. We've a long way to travel and it's only … sixty hours exactly until the event Mr Gordienko mentioned. Probably less than that, because –’

‘What is this event?’

‘I'll tell you when we're on our way.’

‘So that I won't get the chance to tell London beforehand,’ said Bond dispassionately. ‘Of course.’

‘Darling, I know you must tell London if you can, don't I? Be reasonable … Good. Now, we have a sea-trip ahead of us. About two hundred kilometres – a hundred and twenty miles. At least, it's that in a straight line. So we must have a boat and someone to sail it for us. I know who.’

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

chitoryu12 posted:

This is what Ann Fleming was afraid of!

Bond is awfully accommodating awfully quick.

May 24, 2003

Sexual Air Supply

mllaneza posted:

Ahh, undoubtedly a police action.

I laughed


Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 9: The Altair


‘Litsas was in General Papagos's army which fought the Italians when they invaded Greece in 1940. You remember how the Greeks threw them way back into Albania? Well, Litsas was with the infantry that took Koritsa. His platoon had used up their ammunition and he killed twelve Italians with his bayonet. They made him a sergeant for that. He was eighteen then.’

Ariadne paused in her recital as she and Bond entered the little high-ceilinged café. The proprietor, chunky and grizzled, with the standard tobacco-stained moustache, came bustling forward.

Kal' iméra sas,’ said Ariadne courteously. ‘Boreite na mou peite, sos parakaló – pou einai o Kyrios Litsas?’

And I thought Fleming showed off with his French!


The man took them to the doorway and pointed diagonally across the road towards the quays. There followed one of the animated discussions that, in Greece, accompany even the most elementary piece of business. Finally, with that ripple of the shoulders that does duty for a shrug hereabouts, the café-owner left them, seeming to imply that he took no responsibility for what use might be made of his information. They moved off in the direction he had pointed.

‘When the Germans came,’ Ariadne went on, ‘they cut Papagos's supply lines and he had to surrender. The soldiers weren't made prisoners, they were disarmed and sent home. Litsas walked a couple of hundred miles across Greece to Euboea, where his home is. He joined some guerrillas and went on killing Italians. Germans too when they started trying to crush the resistance movement.’

Bond took her arm as they crossed the street. ‘You certainly seem to have studied his career.’

‘My father was his officer in 1941 and they met again in the resistance. They were very brave, both of them, I have to admit that.’

Ariadne's face had clouded.

Bond said, ‘Admit it?’

‘I know it sounds odd, but … You see, I believe that in our civil war the wrong side won. You'd say the democratic side. It would have been so right for the country if the Communists had been allowed to take over. They were the real Greek patriots. They'd mostly done the fighting during the occupation …’

Ariadne, of course, was only 7 when this war ended. All she knows of it is what she's studied and what her father has told her of his time fighting in the Hellenic Army.


‘Please, James, it was no joke to me. Father became very reactionary. He joined what was known as the National Army. Most of them were Fascists, terrorists, no-good people. Litsas joined it too. He was a liaison officer with the British for a time, but he transferred because he wanted to be in the fighting.’

‘And kill Communists. You know, Ariadne –’

‘There he is. There.’

They had been moving along the walk that follows the curve of Pasalimani, the larger of Piraeus's two yacht basins. On the far side, the motionless water held scores of assorted craft, from fishing-boats and twelve-foot sailing dinghies to yachts as opulent as any in the Mediterranean. Immediately below, on the narrow stretch of yard, boats in various stages of repair and conversion were being worked on. Bond immediately picked out a tall white-shirted figure evidently giving vigorous instruction to a couple of cowed-looking employees. As Ariadne and he turned towards the steps leading down to the yard, Bond went on with his train of thought.

Amazingly, the Pasalimani looks almost identical today.


‘From what you've been saying, this man sounds exactly the opposite of someone who'd help your side.’

‘It's also your side for the moment, remember. And he's very pro-British. And although he's always been mad at me for joining the Communist Party I think he's continued to be fond of me, because he loves my father. And there's something I know about the other side which may help if he becomes obstinate.’

Litsas turned and saw them. He was tanned to a rich brown by years of sun and salt air, a remarkably handsome man in his mid-forties with thick black hair just starting to go grey, neat pointed ears close to the skull, sad and watchful brown eyes, a jutting nose, and a mouth that at the moment looked good-naturedly sensual, though Bond imagined – rightly – that it would harden to a fierce line in times of action. The belly showed no trace of fat and the shoulders and upper arms bulged with muscle. Bond put him down as a loyal friend and a totally implacable and ruthless enemy. He trusted him on sight.

You should probably stop making those judgement calls, considering your track record.


After an instant's pause, strong white teeth showed in an unreservedly warm and welcoming smile. ‘Ariadne, khrisi mou.’

Yassou, Niko, ti yinese?’ The two embraced affectionately. Then the watchful eyes moved to Bond.

‘This is James Bond, Niko, an English friend of mine.’

‘How do you do, Mr Bond.’ The handclasp was strong and warm. ‘You've picked a good time for your visit. I'm just finishing before I go over the road for a drink. I hope you'll join me. Let me manage these two idiots first. They know as much of carpentry as I know of … knitting.’

Niko reminds me somewhat of a Greek Mathis.


Apart from a few falterings (no doubt from lack of practice) this was said in a manner approaching that of a middle-class Englishman – above all, with less of the difficulty with ‘ch’ ‘sh’ and ‘j’ than most Greeks experience. Litsas now moved back to his workmen. Despite his gay, friendly tone, his brown eyes had not for a moment ceased their discreet but careful appraisal of Bond.

Must have noticed Bond calling his mouth "sensual."


The boat under discussion was a twenty-footer with an unusual pointed stern, broad in the beam, a fishing-boat or perhaps lifeboat part-way converted into a pocket-size cabin-cruiser. Two bunks had been completed, also the skeleton of the superstructure in slender pine beams. Bond guessed that the final result would look grotesque to a yachtsman's eye, but fetchingly ‘quaint’ to the French or German tourist interested in a not-too-expensive hire.

No doubt feeling that words were inadequate to express his disgust, Litsas put out one large brown hand and, seemingly with a mere flick of the wrist, broke one of the vertical members away from the gunwale as if it had been fixed there with stamp-paper. The two workmen put on exaggerated expressions of guilt and self-reproach. With a final sweeping gesture of contempt, Litsas turned away. He winked at Bond and Ariadne.

‘They're children,’ he said, making a herding motion towards the steps. ‘Nice children, but children. Not just lazy and careless: they cannot see the idea that very much effort is required if you want to make something even a little good. When I tell them that the deck-housing would fall when the first decent wave hits it, they want to say, “Perhaps, but be nice, Mr Litsas. See how beautiful we have made the bunks.” That's Greece for you, I'm sorry to say: people that don't try hard enough. But I mustn't bore you with this grumbling. What brings you to Greece, Mr Bond? You're on holiday?’

‘No, I'm afraid not.’

Litsas caught the tone at once. ‘I hope there's no trouble? If I can –’

‘There's trouble all right. We desperately need your help, Mr Litsas.’

‘We? Love trouble?’

‘I wish it were. Ariadne and I are fighting an international conspiracy which is threatening England and Russia and probably Greece too. I'm sorry to sound melodramatic, but –’

Just laying it all out there, huh?


‘I don't care what you sound, Mr Bond.’ Litsas had stopped dead on the pavement opposite the café. His eyes and voice were full of hostility. ‘I've finished with politics altogether, and in any case I would never help the … faction you represent. Now you must excuse me.’

He started to move away. Bond stepped into his path. ‘I swear to you I'm not a Communist. I'm on your side.’

‘Several Communists have said to me almost those exact words. The last one tried to kill me ten minutes afterwards.’

A common saying in the Soviet government, I believe.


Ariadne intervened, ‘Niko, I promise you that if my father came here and knew what we know he'd ask you to do all you could to help us.’

This increased Litsas's anger. ‘My dear young lady, it's most wrong that you bring the major into this business. And stupid. I don't admire you.’

‘Listen to me, Mr Litsas,’ said Bond desperately. ‘Our cause is just and we're in deadly earnest about it. I give you my word for that as an Englishman.’

Because that's worth a lot.


‘You do, yes?’ Some of the fire left Litsas's manner. ‘That doesn't mean as much as it has done, to most people. To me … well, I'm sentimental, I suppose. Very good, Englishman, I agree to hear your story. I promise nothing more.’

With no more said they reached the café and sat down at one of the little oblong marble-topped tables – plastic had yet to find its way here. The speckled wall-mirrors did what they could to give an illusion of roominess. There, amid a buzz of chatter, among games of backgammon and what looked like gin-rummy, over cup after cup of scalding Turkish coffee, Bond gave the full account, all the way from Quarterdeck to the fire at Thomas's shop. Litsas's eyes never left Bond's face. At the end he sat for a full two minutes perfectly relaxed, without a hint of the fidgeting of hands and feet so curiously common in Greek men. When he spoke his tone was cold and measured.

Amis is going to start a war by calling the coffee that! Turkish coffee (a strong, unfiltered coffee made by pouring boiling water over very fine grounds) has been euphemistically called "Greek coffee" in Greece due to political tensions with Turkey, starting with pogroms in Istanbul against the Greek minority in 1955 and continuing into the Greek coup of Cyprus and subsequent invasion by Turkey in 1974.


‘So it comes to this. You and Ariadne want me to take you to some island of which the name she won't say. There, something she calls an event’ – the deep voice grew contemptuous – ‘will take place, if it isn't prevented by some enemies. A British chief of Security has been kidnapped by the same enemies and may be made use to damage British interests. When you get there you may think what to do next. At the moment it's clear that you have no plan. And not a very good story either. I'm sorry – I can introduce you to a dozen people who will charter to you a yacht and crew to go to the islands. If you're so fussy. There are public steamers which –’

Litsas is the only clever guy here.


Bond interrupted brusquely. He had settled in his mind on a force of three as an absolute minimum for the task in hand and he felt sure that this man was the best available for making up the number.

‘Look,’ he said, ‘that line of talk won't get any of us anywhere. What do you imagine is at stake for you in this? Do you think Ariadne and I have told you all this because we're out to steal one of your boats? What are you afraid of?’

‘That's enough from you, Mr Bond, I won't stand –’

It was Ariadne's turn to cut in. ‘Niko. Listen to me. One fact, or almost certain fact. Von Richter is involved.’

She got her effect. Litsas snarled like a wild animal. ‘To poústi! To thráko, to … That … savage! The butcher of Kapoudzona! Come on, Ariadne, I must know more. How was this found?’

‘He was seen quite accidentally by a guy who was a resistance fighter. The man told the local Party chief, and so on. We got the news yesterday.’

That's a very sudden revelation!


‘So? He's in Greece. Nothing strange in that. Those German bastards are coming back here always, to enjoy in peace the beautiful country they began to love while they were burning our villages and shooting our men and sometimes also our women and children. He was on his way to Kapoudzona to enjoy his pleasant memories.’

‘No. He was making inquiries about boats to … the place of the event. Yesterday we hadn't thrown away the idea that it might be a coincidence. Lots of people go to this place in the summer. But I don't think now it can be coincidence. Do you?’

‘No,’ said Litsas grimly. ‘No, I don't.’ He took a deep breath and looked from one to the other with the beginnings of a grin. ‘All right. You've caught your fish. I'll do anything you say. It's time for a change for me. Don't think I believe completely, though. This sweet girl here might still be lying when she tells me about von Richter. But perhaps she tells the truth and that's enough for me. I'd go halfway round the world for a chance in ten of seeing that squarehead in my sights.’

Bond's heart lifted in relief, in exultation. He said, ‘How soon can we leave?’

Bond, maybe you should ask who this Von Richter is?


‘Soon. We'll take the Altair. She's a fifty-footer with a Diesel. Strong. Not easy to be noticed. Do you know anything of boats, James?’

‘A bit. I spent a lot of summer holidays years ago in a converted Brixham trawler.’

‘You'll be useful, then.’ Litsas turned authoritative. ‘Right. If things were different you could cross the road and eat clams at Diasemos, but you must put up with what I bring you. The Altair is moored along by the clock-tower. Panamanian flag. Next to a big Yankee thing for millionaires. The two of you go on board now and remain out of sight until we sail. Do you think you were followed from the hotel?’

The Altair was the yacht Amis had rented for his Greek holiday.


‘Doubtful. In what we stood up in and just carrying a shopping bag we stood a fair chance of not being assumed to be leaving. Our most vulnerable moment was when we stopped for me to wire London and Ariadne to warn her people. But we had to take that risk.’

‘You must take the next risk too. It's not far and nobody's on board. You have just one gun, James? Yes. Leave everything to me. Be off with you.’

Within ten minutes Bond and Ariadne crossed the afterdeck of the Altair and made their way into the tiny saloon. Here everything was squared away, the floor scrubbed, the windows polished, and the miniature royal-blue curtains freshly laundered. Bond guessed that the boat had been about to go out on charter, and grinned to himself as he visualized Litsas airily riding over the protests of the party who had rented her.

They explored briefly. The narrow companion-way led below to a cupboard-sized galley on the starboard side, a head and shower to port. Bond lowered himself from the galley into the engine-room, gasping at the heat and the reek of oil, and looked over the single-drive 163 h.p. Mercedes engine. New condition: clever use of available space; maintenance up to Royal Navy standard. Bond's respect for Litsas rose a further notch.

For'ard of galley and head were a pair of cabins with double bunks and, for'ard again, another pair with tiered single bunks. They took the port midships cabin. Ariadne unpacked and stowed away their minimal luggage: changes of underclothing, handkerchiefs, a couple of shirts, toilet gear and, incongruous among these humdrum necessities, eighty rounds of ammunition for the Walther. She smoothed back a tendril of brown-blonde hair and turned straight into his arms.

This is a 1940 57-foot Nautilus, which could provide a decent idea of what the Altair looks like.


With her face against his neck, she murmured, ‘So I have you for a little longer. It seems like it was days and days before I thought I'd have you at all. I don't care what happens tomorrow. Now. I know I'll care if you're taken away from me. So let's use every moment we have.

She drew her head back and desire made her eyes look unfocused, opaque. ‘Don't shut the door. We're alone here.’ Her breasts seemed to swell against his chest.

How lonely were you, Ariadne?


There on the hard unluxurious bunk Bond made long love to her, both of them taking their pleasure easily, slowly, searchingly, with none of the near-hysterical frenzy of the early hours of that day. The buzz of activity all around them, the shouted orders, the rattle of anchor-chains, the fluctuating hum and roar of engines, lost all meaning and vanished. At last, exhausted, they drew apart and slept.

Bond was woken by voices and footfalls overhead. He dressed swiftly, his eyes on the uncovered form of Ariadne, fast asleep on her back, one knee raised in an attitude of total abandonment. He stooped and kissed her warm cheek.

By the time he had moved the few yards back to the saloon Litsas was standing alone, hands on hips among heaps of various stores, and the voices were retreating in the direction of the dockside.

‘Ariadne is asleep?’


"hosed the living daylights out of her."


The big man looked directly at Bond with eyes that were sad and pleading now, not watchful. ‘You'll be good to her, won't you, James? The way you think, it isn't my business, but her father's my best friend and that means very much in Greece. If you treat her bad, drop her suddenly, make untrue promises to her and so on, then I shall come for you and neither of us would like that. Especially you. You understand me?’

‘Yes. You won't need to come for me.’

‘Then we shall all be happy.’ Litsas slapped himself on the chest a couple of times and his manner lightened. ‘I envy you, taking a girl on this trip. I couldn't have found one in the time. Five years ago things were very different. Litsas is not like he was. Anyway, if I bring one, that's not serious enough. I don't know any female spies. Honestly, James' – he shook his head defeatedly – ‘to think little Ariadne is working for the Russian bloody Secret Service is fantastic. I thought she's just making cups of coffee for the workers and reading Karl Marx in the evening. Instead of this … Oh well, it's good that the world can still surprise us.

This brings into question exactly how much experience Ariadne has as an agent. She's only 23 assuming this is set in 1965 and even Litsas is surprised to find out that she's in the field.


‘Now. Fuel and water. Full up. Food. That can wait. Drink. That can wait too, but not so long. Weapons. You'd better look at them now. Here.’

Bond moved to the table. On it were neat oilskin bundles which Litsas untied to reveal one of the excellent Beretta M.34 9-mm automatics and a couple of boxes of ammunition, four Mills H.E. grenades, and – almost unbelievably – an example of that greatest rifle in the history of warfare, the British short magazine Lee Enfield, with perhaps sixty rounds in clips of five. All the items were in beautiful condition, the metal surfaces of the guns shining dully with a thin film of oil. Bond picked up the rifle and squinted along the V-and-blade sight. ‘You got this little lot together in pretty good time.’

We have a smorgasbord of arms here!

The Beretta M1934 in .380 ACP was the standard service pistol of Italy, designed as a direct competitor for military contracts to the Walther PP. Its lineage to the famous Beretta 92 can be clearly seen in the open-top slide and protruding muzzle, but it's a standard single-action pistol with a heel magazine release. This would have been an excellent alternative to Bond's Beretta 418 that he used to have, if he was looking for something with greater firepower (I carry a .380 myself), though the PPK is likely a superior weapon.

Those grenades are No. 36 Mills bombs, which were the first hand grenades to have the distinctive oblong shape and grooved "pineapple" body. The first pattern entered usage in 1915 and they remained the standard British grenade until 1972; they continued production in Pakistan and India into the 1980s and still occasionally crop up in third-world conflicts.

The Short Magazine Lee-Enfield, or SMLE, is one of the finest bolt-action rifles of both world wars. It has a 10-round magazine of .303 cartridges (nominally detachable, though soldiers were not issued more than one) and distinctively cocks the striker when the bolt is closed, using a naturally stronger motion of the hand that allows for a slightly easier cycling of the weapon and thus a higher rate of fire.


‘Oh, it was easy. This is my private store. I've had all this stuff for over twenty years. The British gave me the Lee Enfield in 1944. It seemed perhaps not such an expensive gift, since it was made in 1916. Anyway, I made very good results with it, and kept it when they made me an officer. I picked up the other stuff in the same sort of way.’

Bond nodded. ‘What made you keep it at all?’

‘Yes, it must seem rather silly. It isn't really. Not in Greece. You see, here you can't be sure. Oh yes, the Communists were completely beaten in 1949, but you'll agree that Communists don't give up easily. I must admit that they're not being violent now. But recently they've begun to be active again. Anyway, if they do try again, they won't get rid of me without some trouble. And it isn't only the Communists by a long chalk. Only last year I had some trouble down in Crete. Some of them are a bit primitive there, poor chaps. I'll tell you a story some time. Anyway, I was facing a bunch I had to pacify with this. Just waving it at them was enough, thank God.’

While he talked Litsas had taken the wooden lid off the starboard-side bench and brought out another oilskin package. This one proved to contain a Thompson MI submachine gun of World War II vintage. It had been as lovingly cared for as the other pieces.

The Thompson is a submachine gun with a storied history. The first prototypes were developed during World War I, though they never saw service. The first production version, the M1921, was finely finished like a sporting weapon and became infamous for its usage by both police and criminals during the Roaring 20s, earning it the nickname "Chicago Typewriter" or "Chopper". The M1928 was a version with a slower rate of fire and lesser finish intended for military service, but they weren't nearly as common as the wartime M1A1. This model removed the ability of the gun to use drums (which were heavy, unreliable, and noisy to carry), installed a simple fixed rear sight, moved the charging handle to the right side, and eliminated the Blish Lock from the operating system that worked on a pseudoscientific principle regarding dissimilar metals creating more friction than they naturally did when rubbed together at high speed.

This is one of the guns in this series I've actually shot! The Thompson is quite heavy for a submachine gun, which helps tame the .45 ACP recoil to an easily manageable level for accurate shooting in close quarters. Assuming you don't have any issues carrying a gun that weighs 10 pounds empty, it'll work just fine for you.


‘A present from the USA. It lives on board. Stacks of ammunition. I hope you think now our fire-power is enough?’

Bond grinned delightedly and slapped Litsas on the shoulder. ‘With what we've got here we can take on anything short of a tank.’

‘A cruiser tank at least. We shan't be shooting until the morning, I suppose, so let's stow the stuff, eh?’

They had about done so when a light step sounded on the deck outside and a youth of about sixteen, not tall but powerfully built for his age, stepped over the coaming into the saloon. He nodded gravely to Bond.

‘This is Yanni,’ said Litsas. ‘Yanni, o Kyrios Tzems … You and I could manage the boat together, but we need a relief for the wheel. Yanni knows boats and he knows these seas. This is all we need. I shall slip him a couple of hundred drachmas and put him ashore somewhere before we begin the shooting. Well, since you like the weapons we can get the gangway up.’

He spoke to Yanni, who nodded again and slipped away with the same almost noiseless tread. Just afterwards Ariadne joined them.

She looked coolly desirable and at the same time impressively businesslike in blue jeans and a man's fine cotton shirt several shades darker, her hair pinned back close to her head. She looked quickly from Bond to Litsas.

‘Well, why aren't we moving?’

"He literally just got here, Ariadne."


‘We're ready, my dear. But only you know where we must move. Isn't it time you trusted us?’

"We've had unprotected sex twice in 48 hours."


‘Not until I have to.’ Ariadne, at her most strict, avoided Bond's eye. Her tenacity in holding on to this information struck him as about equally absurd and admirable. She blinked, came to a decision. ‘Go toward the Cyclades group. I'll tell you which island when we're sailing.’

‘Very good. Right, James. Let's go.’

Five minutes later, a man in a grubby linen suit arrived panting at the quayside, peered after the receding shape of the Altair, turned and ran for the café and its telephone.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 02:32 on Apr 6, 2020

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