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Apr 23, 2014

Lord Zedd-Repulsa posted:

Oh no, Stephanie Meyer is bleeding into this thread now. How far into this book are we?

We're currently just past the halfway mark.


Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

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

Kind of looking forward to being done with this one.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 8: 007 is Born


Bond had talking about the Seychelles. Now that he had dealt with the scandal of the Washington affair he could apparently relax and during these few days we had slipped into one of his inevitable routines. We would meet every evening after dinner. Sometimes he brought Honey with him, sometimes not. (To my surprise, the two of them appeared to be becoming quite a cosy couple. I wondered if Bond realized.) And then, without much prompting, he would begin to talk. He liked to have his bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon, and his cigarettes (I was relieved to see that he was off the de-nicotined Virginians and back on the Morlands Specials – one more good sign). He was becoming more precise and less self-conscious, particularly now that he began explaining how he made his prodigal's return to the Secret Service. It was an ironic story and he told it well.

I can't help but wonder if Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was on Pearson's mind as he wrote this. Wild Turkey was first bottled in 1942 and was a big favorite of Hunter S. Thompson at this time, remaining one of the relatively few common bourbons on the shelf to make a 101-proof version its flagship while everyone else reduced to 80 proof as the new standard. Thompson would later get off Wild Turkey and switch to Chivas Regal scotch.


I had not realized the role that Ian Fleming played in this. I knew, of course, that long after he left Naval Intelligence for journalism, Fleming had maintained his contacts with the secret-service world. What I didn't know was their extent, and how he acted as an unofficial talent scout for the department. I can see now that this would have been a role that suited him. He knew the top brass of the Secret Service personally, M. included, and the range of his acquaintanceship was quite phenomenal. He was a dedicated human catalyst, a great one for knowing exactly the right man for any job. This was one reason for his effortless success as a journalist – I can remember how he always knew the one key person for a story when he was writing his weekly column on the Sunday Times. He obviously used his talents in the same way for the Secret Service – particularly with Bond, although it must have taken all his skill and tact to organize.

In real life, there are indeed theories on Fleming secretly continuing his work in intelligence (officially or otherwise) into the 1950s through his foreign newspaper work.


One of the most exclusive dining clubs in London is the so-called Twinsnakes Club. Fleming has mentioned it, much to the chagrin of some of its more straightlaced members. It meets once a year, generally at the Connaught Hotel, and consists of the most distinguished members, past and present, of the British Secret Service. They dine extremely well and, when the port is circulating, one of their members reads a paper. The standard is traditionally high. In the past their numbers have included Buchan and Charles Morgan, as well as the heads of the profession. The famous story of The Man Who Never Was originated with a paper which was read here. This year it was Fleming's turn. He chose for his subject, ‘The ideal agent – a study in character’.

Fleming described a man called X. He was in his early thirties – good-looking, something of a womanizer, adept at games, tough, dedicated, socially acceptable. He had sufficient glamour to take him anywhere, and was the perfect man of the world. As Fleming said, ‘The grey-faced, anonymous operators that are now in fashion have their limitations. How can they hope to penetrate the topmost echelons of politics and commerce and society where the decisions matter?’

But at the same time, X was enough of an outsider to maintain complete integrity. He was what Fleming called ‘his own man’ – slightly cynical, entirely without social or political ambitions, and, of course, unmarried. ‘A red-blooded, resolutely heterosexual bachelor,’ was how Fleming put it.

In the discussion there was general agreement with Fleming's thesis – most of the argument was whether a man like X could possibly exist. M. in particular seemed convinced that he could not.

Fleming heard him out, and then said quietly, ‘Oh but he does. You've even met him. His name is Bond.’

Fleming did some work on M to get him to let Washington bygones be bygones. M invites Bond to dinner at Blades.


‘I've had a word with him, and I think I've cleared up that misunderstanding over Washington. You have to make allowances you know. M.'s a Victorian. He was married – they were quite devoted – and ever since she died he's been faithful to her memory. Rather touching, but it means he's sometimes sensitive about sex and marriage.’

‘You're telling me,’ said Bond.

‘But he's a fascinating character. Extremely complex. Works like mad, of course, and a real hard nut. And yet a marvellous man to work for once you know him. Those who do won't hear a word against him.’

‘I'll believe you,’ Bond replied.

‘Oh, and a few words of warning. This time, when you meet him, don't admit to knowing any languages too well. M. has two phobias in life – men with beards and people who are fluent in foreign languages. On no account call him “Sir”.’

‘I wouldn't dream of it,’ said Bond.

‘And let him choose the wine.’

‘Oh God,’ said Bond.

Okay, that passage can stay. It actually sounds like something from a Hunter S. Thompson book itself!


It was uncanny to be back at Blades. Since that evening when he lost £80 to Bunny Kendrick, Bond had allowed his membership to lapse. But Prizeman, the hall porter, remembered him, welcoming him back as if it had all been yesterday.

‘Commander Bond. Nice to see you. Sir Miles is expecting you in the dining room.’

Whatever qualms Bond had at meeting M. again were lulled by the prospect of that splendid room. Here Robert Adam had approached perfection – his architecture still embodied an ideal of eighteenth-century calm and certainty. Against such a background the grimy subterfuges of the secret-service world appeared unthinkable. It was even hard for Bond to think of this solid gentlemanly figure in the dark blue suit as the antagonist of cruel and dedicated men in Moscow and Peking waging a war that never ceased.

M. was genial. The eyes were twinkling now. Reluctantly, Bond had to admit that he had a certain charm; he talked about his recent salmon fishing on the Test.

‘A Scot like you must know more about salmon than I do,’ said M.

‘Haven't fished for years,’ said Bond.

‘Oh no, of course. Golf's your game.’

M has clearly been briefed well on Bond's habits. While he wants to order the smoked salmon (as he would in Moonraker), he gets the feeling it wouldn't be appreciated after that crack, so he orders the steak and kidney pie that M does.


‘And how about a little wine? I'm sure you have some preference.’

But Bond said, no, he'd rather have Sir Miles's choice. M., positively beaming now, ordered the wine waiter to bring out a carafe of his favourite Algerian, ‘the old Infuriator of the Fleet, you know’ (Bond wondered briefly who else at Blades could possibly have drunk it).

When it arrived M. brushed aside the wine waiter's suggestion that he ought to taste it. Instead, he filled their glasses, and then drank with gusto.

‘I think,’ said M., ‘it's time that you rejoined us.’

It all seemed very casual, rather as if M. were asking him to renew his membership of Blades.

M. clearly relished steak-and-kidney pie. Bond admired his digestion and the no-nonsense way he piled his plate. Most men of his age, he thought, would have been worrying about an ulcer or their arteries.

Because Fleming hasn't filled Bond in on their current mission, M tells Bond about how much the world of espionage has changed with the onset of the Cold War.


‘It's an unpleasant fact of life that in our business we sometimes have to kill our enemies. The opposition makes no bones about it. I take it that you've heard of Smersh?’

Smiert Spionam’, said Bond.

M. glanced up quickly.

‘Quite,’ he said. ‘Well as we know, for two years now they've run their training school outside a place called Irkutsk. They have a special course in what they are pleased to call “liquidation”. They also have a section specially devised to cope with all assignments which have a so-called “assassination element”. You'll have to read the dossiers on it back at Headquarters, but the point is that this is a threat which we must face. We can't be squeamish. A few months ago I formed a section of our own to deal with it. It's called the double-O section. I think it might suit you.’

‘You mean,’ said Bond, ‘that you want me to be part of our own murder squad?’

‘Nothing of the sort,’ said M. gruffly. ‘That may be the way they do things over there. We don't, thank God. But we must be prepared. This is a crisis, and we're fighting for survival. We need men
like you.’

Bond had promised to let Fleming know how the lunch went. Accordingly he went along to his office in Grays Inn Road to tell him.

Fleming's office was a funny place, more like a down-at-heel country solicitor's than an important London journalist's – partitioned off with reeded glass, an anteroom outside with Fleming's black felt hat, briefcase, and a copy of the New York Review of Books on the small table.

This is likely a true description, considering Person's background working for Fleming on the Atticus column.


Bond told him of the 00 section.

Fleming nodded. ‘Yes, I know about it. Great news.’

‘But I can't take it.’

‘Can't take it?’

‘I've had enough of killing.’

‘But, my dear chap. This is ridiculous. You're being offered an lite position in the top rank of the Secret Service – something most agents would give their back teeth for. How can you think to turn it down?’

‘I've told you.’

‘And so you're willing to go on with the sort of wasted life you were living in the Seychelles? Bumming along, living from hand to mouth unless you find a fat rich widow you can marry. James, I hate to see you living in this way, it's no life for you. This is one thing you do superlatively well. You must continue. If you don't you're sunk.’

This is an interpretation of the Bond of Fleming's books, but one that tries to assign Bond's work to psychological damage. Fleming's Bond can't conceive of any other job he's good at, but that hardly meant he was a man who would just revert to useless alcoholism and exploitation if he wasn't a killer.


And so Bond finally rejoined the Secret Service. Thanks to M.'s interest he was earmarked from the start for service in the 00 section, but it was soon made clear to him that he had to earn this status. His record was impressive but he had to prove that he was still up to scratch. He also had to train in the most gruelling school for secret agents in the world. He had a lot to learn if he would catch up on the years that he had been away. But it was reassuring to be back. Once he had made the decision to return, he soon forgot his doubts, and, for the first time since the war, he had a sense of purpose and a job that he believed in. He also felt relieved at being back inside what Fleming called, ‘the warm womb of the Secret Service’. Loner though he was, Bond needed the security of an organization and a settled context for his life.

He had three months of hectic training – three months in which he worked harder than ever in his life before. First came the tests of his physique and basic skill in combat. Most of these took place in the extensive cellars under the ‘Universal Export’ building by the park beneath the remorseless eyes of the world's top experts in human stress and self-defence. At first he was stiff and felt his lack of training, but he knew his body could absorb the work, and within days he was feeling fitter than he ever had. The doctors testing him passed him as ‘fit for all assignments’. Then came the urgent days on the ranges checking him out for weaponry – small arms, machine-guns, rockets and the diverse tools of his appalling trade. He spent three afternoons with Richmall the armourer choosing the private weapon he would carry. The .32 Beretta was his own choice; its compactness, neatness and rates of fire appealed to him in preference to more cumbersome automatics. As Richmall said, ‘The main thing is to have a weapon you're at home with.’ Bond agreed.

As we should be aware, the Beretta he carried in the books was .25 caliber. I legitimately can't tell if this is one of Pearson's many factual mistakes or if he's rewriting Bond as carrying a .32 from the outset. I'm personally leaning toward the former, as the two .32 ACP Berettas on the market at the time (the M1917 and M1935) were much larger than the Beretta 418 from the novels.


Bond's mind was tested, and then trained as well. The preliminary tests were frightening and meant to be: periods of solitude to check his breaking point, sessions of interrogation by the hardest experts in the game, and, finally, the so-called ‘torture chamber’ where for three days and nights a succession of cold, faceless men set out to break him. The purpose was to discover his ‘pain threshold’ and then fix his ‘co-efficient of resistance’. Both were extraordinarily high.

After the first month, the emphasis was changed, and Bond spent several weeks at a house near Basingstoke learning the basic new technology of the secret war. There was a whole new expertise to master: cyphers and cypher machines, systems of drop-outs and controls, planning and methodology. The gadgetry of espionage was now formidable with electronics and computers on the scene.

During these weeks, Bond must have owed a lot to his inheritance from Andrew Bond. His mechanical aptitude was high; so was his mental stamina and concentration. He had the sort of brain that could absorb practical detail swiftly and, once again, his grades were excellent.

Then followed further weeks in London, weeks during which Bond stayed at an hotel in Bloomsbury and went before a succession of Civil Service boards. A few of them amused him – most of them were tedious, but as Fleming told him when he saw him, ‘The Civil Service is a sacred institution. You mustn't hope to hurry it’. Bond was patient, and was finally officially informed that he was appointed as a Grade V Civil Servant with attachment to the Ministry of Defence – normal payscale (£1,700 p.a. rising by increments to £2,150 maximum), pension benefits, and certain allowances ‘in the event of active service’.

Assuming 1950, that pay is about £57,100 to £72,200 per year. As with Fleming's portrayal, comfortably upper-middle-class while not outright rich.


Then and only then was he given his own permanent niche in ‘the Secret Service Vatican’ as he describes the Regent's Park Headquarters – a small, cream-painted fifth-floor office with a Grade V Civil Service dark brown carpet, a Grade IV Civil Service desk, and a shared secretary, the delectable Miss Una Trueblood. When Bond was given his official pass he felt that he had earned it.

Then came a period of virtual idleness. He had had no word from M., nor for that matter had he seen him since their lunch at Blades, but he began to settle in. It was a strange place. There was a total ban on talking ‘shop’ of any kind and also a clear taboo on any sort of gossip with his colleagues. Not that he saw many of them. He was aware of the inhabitants of other offices around him. From time to time he saw them – in the corridor, or eating in the staff canteen. They would nod as if they knew him, and usually that was all. The one exception was M.'s Chief of Staff, Bill Tanner. He was a humorous, wary man who seemed to guard the secrets of the whole department. Bond sometimes lunched with him. They found they had a common interest in cars – Tanner was proud of his elderly Invicta – and a common enemy in the department's head of administration, Paymaster Captain Troop, R.N. Retd.

Fleming, who had had his own battles with the Paymaster during his time in N.I.D., described him, cruelly but accurately, as ‘the office tyrant and bugbear’ of the Secret Service. Tanner's description was less charitable, and one of his pastimes was to bait the wretched man unmercifully. Bond soon joined in, compiling lengthy memoranda over soap and paper-clips and typewriter ribbons. It passed the time.

More important for Bond's future was the discovery now of his ‘comfortable flat in the planetreed square of the Kings Road’, a stroke of luck for which he was to be everlastingly grateful. It was some years now since he had lived in the flat which Fleming had found him in Lincoln Street, but he felt his London roots were here and wouldn't have considered any other part of London. The flat was at number 30 Wellington Square. It was on two floors, and his first reaction was that it was far too big for him. But his Uncle Ian had died recently: to his surprise, Bond had inherited nearly £5,000, and suddenly it seemed sensible to spend the money on the one luxury which Bond had never known – a comfortable establishment in London.

That first visible black door on the left is Bond's flat. In reality it's a two-bedroom townhouse where one of John Pearson's friends lived at the time. In 2018 it went up for sale at £10,950,000.


He asked Aunt Charmian's advice – she was the one woman on whom he could rely for a disinterested opinion. She was all for it, ‘but who'll look after you?’ she said.

Bond hadn't thought of that.

‘You'll have to have a woman,’ said Aunt Charmian.

Bond groaned.

‘I know just the person. Remember May McGrath? She's been working for your Uncle Gregor ever since your grandfather died. The other day I heard that she can't stand it any more, and, frankly, I don't blame her. She's no cook, I know, but she's a conscientious body. Perhaps I'll write to her.’ And so James Bond acquired both a flat and ‘his treasured Scottish housekeeper’. Life was quite definitely looking up.

He gave a lot of thought to the flat once he had signed the lease. It was typical of him to plan it all minutely. There was a lot of work to do. When it was finished the whole place reflected Bond's personality.

It was a genuine bachelor establishment, for Bond had virtually ruled out marriage now that he was working for the Secret Service. Also it had to run like clockwork, whether he was there or not. May had her private quarters on the lower floor, next to the spare bedroom. Bond had a stylish sitting-room on the floor above with two long windows facing the square. His bedroom adjoined it, the kitchen was behind.

Like le Corbusier's definition of an ideal house, this was quite simply Bond's ‘machine to live in’. The arrangements and the décor were extremely Bond. The sitting-room was positively Spartan – certainly no female hand had put its gentle touch here: dark blue chesterfield and curtains, battleship-grey fitted carpet, green-shaded reading lamp and, on the walls, a somewhat faded set of ‘Riding School’ prints Bond had once acquired in Vienna. He didn't care for them particularly, but as he told Aunt Charmian, ‘they are the only pictures I possess and they fill the space as well as any others.’ As Fleming noted, there was no television.

As if this version of Bond would be doing anything but drinking whiskey and staring angrily out the window in his free time.


The kitchen was altogether homelier. Long and narrow, ‘like the galley of an expensive yacht’, it had been carefully planned by Bond, who took a secret pleasure in equipping it. There was a lot of stainless steel and fitted-cupboard space, an air extractor, a large Frigidaire, complete with deep-freeze cabinet, and an elaborate drinks cupboard. He took some trouble finding his dark blue and gold dinner service. It was Minton, and its simple opulence appealed to Bond. Once he had set up the kitchen Bond took great care telling May exactly how it was to run – ‘Breakfast is most important. I lunch at the office, and generally I dine out too. When I'm at home I'll eat some sort of snack, unless there's company. If there is I'll take care of that myself. Please make sure that there's always a supply of fresh unsalted Jersey butter, whole-wheat bread, smoked salmon, steak and caviare.’

This was not just a reflection of Bond's basic taste in food. He was remembering May's limitations as a cook. As Aunt Charmian said, ‘May is more Glen Orchy than Cordon Bleu.’ But he did find that she could organize his breakfast with the absolute precision he demanded – the two large cups of de Bry coffee brewed in the Chemex percolator, the jars of strawberry jam, the Cooper's vintage Oxford, and the Fortnum's honey. He also soon discovered an unsuspected virtue in the worthy May. She was the only woman he had ever known capable of boiling an egg exactly the time required for perfection – three and a third minutes.

The one place in the flat where Bond did allow himself some self-indulgence was in furnishing the bedroom. He bought a king-sized double bed from Harrods – ‘if you like women, cheap bedding is a false economy’ – blue and gold wallpaper, and a thick, fitted Wilton. But one of his more perceptive mistresses described the room as ‘just like a boy's bedroom, with its knick-knacks and a place for everything’. On the dressing-table was a pair of silver-backed brushes that belonged to his father, and by the head two photographs of women – his mother and Marthe de Brandt.

With his training done, Bond is put on his first assignment. M tells him about an operative in Jamaica named Gutteridge, whose reports have been very odd. M suspects Gutteridge is an alcoholic, despite being a friend of his from the war, and wants Bond to investigate if his crazy reporting is because of that or if there's really something going on. Tanner gives Bond the files; he's not fond of Gutteridge, believing him to be a useless drunk who's only kept around because of his relationship with the chief.


That evening was one of those rare occasions when Bond ate at home, entirely alone. May seemed concerned when he announced that he would be quite happy with a tin of soup and scrambled eggs.

‘Ye'd be feelin’ a'right?’ she said.

Spencer Tracey was on at the Essoldo and she had been looking forward for some time to seeing him. Bond knew this quite well and, when he had teased her sufficiently, insisted on scrambling the eggs himself. Bond had a range of what he called ‘basic survival cookery’ which ensured that he could always manage on his own yet eat, if not in luxury, at least with a certain style. He felt this was essential for any bachelor. His favourite included steak au poivre (his secret here was to use Madras black pepper from Fortnums, leaving the raw steak in it overnight), kidneys in red wine with parsley, grilled country sausages from Paxtons, and, of course, scrambled eggs. His oeufs brouillés James Bond were cooked slowly and mixed with twice the amount of butter he had ever seen a woman use. Before serving, he liked to add a generous dollop of double cream.

This was what he had now, after a tin of Jackson's lobster soup. He ate off a tray in the sitting-room. It would have been hard to tell which he enjoyed more – the food or his self-sufficiency. When he had finished he had a generous glass of bourbon, lit a Morlands Special and, by the solitary light of his green-shaded reading lamp, got down to reading Gutteridge's report.

Gutteridge's reports certainly seem nutty. His work mainly deals with Jamaican labor unions and concerns about communist infiltration. A lot of his information seems convincing...except one part.


But, at the same time, Gutteridge included details of a conspiracy whose major aim was his destruction. There was a so-called ‘Goddess Kull’ who cropped up on a number of occasions. He was none too coherent here, but she was described as ‘the incarnation of all evil’ and also as ‘the great destroyer’. She had her followers and Gutteridge seemed to think that they were after him. One report described how Kull's devotees were howling for him in the night.

It was well past midnight before Bond had finished reading. By any standards the reports were odd and his first reaction – like the Chief of Staff’s – was that what Gutteridge needed was a transfer, preferably to a clinic. But as he prepared for bed he wondered. There was something eerily convincing about these reports, and alone there in the flat Bond could feel something of that sense of fear of the strange man who had written them in the far-away Jamaican night.

Tomorrow Bond would be seeing him. It would be interesting to find out who was right – M. or the Chief of Staff – and, as Bond checked his Beretta and fixed a hundred rounds of special ammunition into the concealed compartment of his suitcase, he wondered how many of them he would be firing in the line of duty.

Bond arrives to Kingston in the evening. He arranged for his hotel to be switched at the last minute to Durban's and cables Gutteridge to meet him there.


Gutteridge was late. When he did stagger in, Bond could only wonder how he had survived so long. The once good-looking face was red and puffy, the well-cut suit was stained and baggy at the knees. Bond could not bear drunks, but there was something about Gutteridge that roused his sympathy. This was how secret-service life could burn you out: in Gutteridge he could almost see a mirror image of himself one day. When Gutteridge suggested they should have a drink, Bond agreed. He even forced himself to listen sympathetically as the man rambled on – about his money troubles and the wife who left him and the slights he had to bear from other British residents.

‘The island's being ruined fast, my friend. As for the British, we're right down the drain. Everyone with half a brain must know what's happening, everyone that is except the idiots in Government House – and no one cares.’

Gutteridge drained his glass, but now the drink was sobering him. His rheumy eyes were bright. ‘I care though. It's my job to care, and I won't let them get away with it. This business of the unions – I keep warning M.’

‘That's why I'm here,’ said Bond.

‘Listen,’ said Gutteridge. He grew suddenly conspiratorial, peering around the empty bar, then drew his cane armchair closer still to Bond. ‘There's a man called Gomez – he's directing the campaign. He's Cuban. Used to be a colonel in Batista's secret police. God knows how many men he killed – then he switched sides, trained for two years in Moscow, and now he's here. He works entirely by terror. Jamaicans have opposed him and been murdered. Horribly. Now all he has to do is threaten. No one will talk about him, so the police are powerless. But he already virtually controls the island through the unions. Soon there will be a blood-bath. Then …’ Gutteridge raised his hands then let them fall limply into his lap.

Immediately summarizing what could otherwise be an interesting adventure, Gutteridge explains that the "Goddess Kull" is a creation of Gomez to take advantage of local superstitions.


‘But who is Kull?’ asked Bond.

‘She appears in many local legends. One of her names is the Black Widow, after the spider of that name who kills her mate by having him make love to her. It's a recurring theme in countless primitive cultures and clearly draws on a universal male fear. Anthropologists have called it, I believe, the vagina dentata, the toothed vagina.’

Bond poured himself another drink, but Gutteridge, cold sober now, was obviously enjoying his pedantic role.

‘A fascinating subject.’

‘I suppose it is,’ said Bond.

You know what? I think we could have gone without that reference.

And no, this doesn't appear to be a real legend.


‘Elwin has written of it at length among the Assamese and there have been familiar studies from South America and New Guinea. The origin lies in the primitive male dread of the dominating female. But it invariably takes the form of a Goddess whose devouring genitals destroy her victims in the act of love.’

‘You have been threatened too?’ said Bond.

Gutteridge nodded.

‘Several times. Gomez wants to keep me quiet, but I don't think he's too concerned with me. Just at the moment he has bigger fish to fry.’

‘Like what?’ said Bond.

‘Now that he's got the unions, he's turning to the employers, particularly the rich ones. During the last few days several have been threatened by the Goddess. Either they do exactly as they're told, or Kull will deal with them.’

‘But that's ridiculous,’ said Bond. ‘It's one thing to terrorize uneducated poor Jamaicans. It's quite another to try it with people who can defend themselves.’

"No white folk would believe in such silly superstitions!" I say as people claim germ theory is fake and quarantines are communism.


‘You think so?’ said Gutteridge quietly. ‘I suggest that first thing tomorrow you call a man called Da Silva. Mention my name. He's one of the biggest merchants in Jamaica, and he's an educated man – Oxford, I think. Go and see him, and then ask him the same question.’

Da Silva was a small neat man with heavy spectacles. Bond put him in his early forties. He was of Portuguese descent. His people had come to Jamaica originally to trade but had settled in the eighteenth century; now they were part of the commercial aristocracy of the island. He was sharp, well informed and spoke with a faint American accent. When Bond rang him, he immediately suggested lunch, and picked him up from the hotel in a pale blue Chevrolet sedan. As they drove out from Kingston then forked right to take the panoramic road towards Blue Mountain, Bond could appreciate the splendour of the island – the heady lushness of the big plantations, the rich houses in the hills and the long blue vistas to the far horizon.

A few bits from this book actually ended up in the films. Silva would become the name of the extremely strange ex-MI6 villain played by Javier Bardem in Skyfall.


Da Silva's house lay at the far end of a drive of flowering casuarina. Almost despite himself Bond was impressed by so much luxury – the low white house, the shaded pool, the emerald lawns fragrant with hibiscus and bougainvillea. Da Silva suggested they should swim and afterwards, as they lay by the pool sipping iced daiquiris, he introduced Bond to his wife, a deep-bosomed, long-legged blonde from Maryland. For a while they chatted, about the current crop of tourists to the island, about New York and London and several friends they found they had in common. There was a faint pause in the conversation.

‘Tell me,’ said Bond. ‘Who is the Goddess Kull?’

It would have been hard to find two human beings more different than Gutteridge and Da Silva, but Bond realized that they had one thing in common – fear. Da Silva's wife looked anxiously at her husband, then rose and said, ‘I must be seeing to the lunch, darling. If you and Commander Bond would please excuse me.’ As she walked off Bond thought that, scared or not, Da Silva was a lucky man.

‘How much did Gutteridge tell you?’ said Da Silva. Bond repeated the gist of last night's conversation. Da Silva listened gravely and then nodded when he finished.

‘He's done his homework thoroughly, for once, and he's absolutely right. It's hard to know exactly who's involved, for nobody will talk. Men who have worked for me for years suddenly stop work without an explanation. One of my foremen was murdered just last month. I've done my best to fight against this evil and to carry on. Now I'm not sure.’

‘Why not?’ said Bond.

‘Because I've just received a summons to the Goddess Kull myself.’

There, amid so much luxury and peace, Bond was inclined to laugh. It was one thing to imagine simple Jamaican labourers being terrorized by this primeval cult. But for a sophisticated, wealthy man like Da Silva to be taking it so seriously was quite different. Bond told him so. Da Silva shrugged.

Ah yes, the simple blacks who are so easily fooled...


‘This is a funny island. And remember that I've lived here all my life. Things happen here that no outsider would believe, and recently we've been collecting all the backwash of the political upheavals on the mainland. We're living on a knife-edge.’

‘A gilded one,’ said Bond, looking across the lawns towards the house.

‘But just as dangerous.’

Over lunch Da Silva and his wife discussed the threat with Bond. She was emphatically in favour of leaving the island.

‘It's too risky staying. It'll be hard to give up the house, but at least we'll have our lives and we can start again in England or the States.’

Da Silva, on the other hand, obviously hated the idea of abandoning everything he owned. ‘It would be cowardice,’ he said.

‘Cowardice is sometimes sensible,’ replied his wife.

Bond asked about the form the threat had taken.

‘My invitation to the Goddess Kull? I'll show you,’ said Da Silva. From his desk he produced an envelope addressed to him and bearing a Kingston postmark. Bond opened it. Inside, on a page torn from an exercise-book, someone had scrawled in red ink:

Da Silva. Her Reverend Majesty and thrice-feared Goddess Kull desires you and calls you to her sacred bed on Friday the 18th at midnight. You will arrive alone at 307 Tarleton Street. Tell nobody and fail not. Kull is insatiable for those that she desires.

There was no signature, but at the bottom of the page was printed the obscene symbol of the vagina dentata.

I think that's one of the few completely fictional addresses here.


‘Charming,’ said Bond. ‘And where is Tarleton Street?’

‘In the middle of the Kingston red-light district. 307 is a night club known as “the Stud-Box”, but the whole area is a warren of bordellos, massage parlours and God knows what. You remember what Ian Fleming wrote about the stews of Kingston – they've been there for centuries and “provide for every known amorous permutation and constellation”. The police are wary of going near them.’ ‘A good place to choose as the centre of a terrorist campaign,’ said Bond.

Friday was two days away, and Da Silva finally agreed to let Bond know what he decided. In return Bond promised to say nothing. That evening Bond had a call from Gutteridge who was sounding strangely sober. He had discovered something. He would rather not explain over the telephone, but he suggested Bond hired himself a car and drove over to his house first thing next morning. He lived in a beachside bungalow at Montego Bay – he could even offer Bond some breakfast and the swimming was the finest in the world.

So Bond rose early and drove along the switchback coast road with the early morning sun glittering on the unbelievably blue waters of the Caribbean. A faint breeze – what Fleming called the ‘Doctor's Wind’ – was carrying in the fresh scent of the ocean, and Bond felt Jamaica was the nearest place to paradise that he had ever seen. It was hard to think of fear and cults of darkness in a world like this.

Montego Bay consists of several miles of pure white sand. Gutteridge had a former beachcomber's hut here, a tumbledown place of driftwood and ships’ timbers where he often stayed to escape the noise and rush of Kingston. Bond found him pottering about outside, looking quite different from the drunken ruin of the night before. Coffee was bubbling on the stove and Gutteridge produced a full Jamaican breakfast – mangoes and paw-paws and delicious yams.

Over coffee, Bond tells Gutteridge about his meeting with Da Silva. He says there's no way they can involve the police, as the Goddess Kull and her entourage will have disappeared. Instead, he brings Bond to a telescope he has looking at a house on the point.


‘Move it to the right,’ said Gutteridge.

Bond did. A red-striped mattress moved into vision. There was a woman lying on it.

‘Try the zoom,’ said Gutteridge.

Bond swung the small milled lever and the woman's face grew towards him. It was a face that he was never to forget. She was a golden-skinned brunette with the almond eyes and full lips of a Eurasian. The nose was small and delicate. So was the chin. She was laughing and Bond realized that she was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. She was completely naked, and, as Bond watched, she rolled onto her belly. A fat man with a moustache had been sitting on a canvas chair beside her, smoking a cigar. Bond saw him rise and then start rubbing her with sun oil. She continued laughing, even when he slapped her bottom. Bond could see the sunlight glinting on his rimless spectacles – the face was large and white and round.

‘Who's the lucky man?’ said Bond.

‘That's Gomez,’ Gutteridge replied. ‘He's just moved in. I don't know who the girl is. I don't envy her. But our friend Gomez is clearly feeling very confident to take a place like this.’

Bond spent a long time at the telescope. It wasn't often that he had the chance of studying an enemy and he was interested to see that he had several visitors. One was a tall bearded negro with dark spectacles. He and Gomez talked intently for a long time – the girl, Bond was interested to see, took no notice. Nor did she respond to any of Gomez's other friends. They were an uncouth-looking lot. Bond put them down as small-time local criminals and strong-arm men; Gomez appeared to give them orders. From time to time a servant in a crisp white jacket appeared with drinks – for Gomez only. The girl lay silently reading a magazine. Then Gomez finished his cigar, rose from his chair and walked off towards the house. The girl still took no notice. Bond saw her yawn, turn on her back, then slowly oil her thighs, her belly and her splendid breasts. Then she appeared to go to sleep; Bond suddenly desired her.

It was illogical and dangerous – Bond knew that. But there was something in this splendid girl stronger than any logic. Bond carefully surveyed the house. The dark blue shutters were all drawn, the door was shut. There was no sign of life.

Despite being noon, Bond decides to do one of his first trademark dumb moves: swim right out into the bay up to the house to see what's up.


Bond paused, uncertain whether to risk going closer. Then, suddenly, one of the upstairs shutters opened. A man leaned out and started shouting and a few seconds later the doors onto the terrace were flung open too. Four or five men rushed out. Gomez was with them. They were shouting, and Gomez had a gun.

Bond ducked instinctively and swam off under water, but when he surfaced and looked back he realized that none of this hullabaloo was meant for him. The shouting continued. Gomez was shooting to the right and when Bond looked he could see why. Several hundred yards away there was the girl from the terrace. She was splashing frantically and circling her was the swiftly moving black fin of a shark.

Bond swam faster than ever in his life before. At least he had a knife – he had Gutteridge to thank for that – and as he reached the girl the shark was already turning in for the attack. Bond could see its pallid underbelly glinting below them in the water and as the great fish shot up towards them, Bond struck at it. As always at the point of greatest danger, his mind was curiously clear. He shielded the girl with his body and kicked hard – the shark veered off, trailing brown clouds of blood behind it. Before it could return to the attack, Bond heard more shouting. Gomez and several of his men had launched a rubber dinghy from the terrace. Within seconds they were hauling Bond and the girl aboard and heading back towards the house.

If Bond was expecting gratitude, he was mistaken. Gomez's first words were to ask him what he had been doing.

‘Saving your girl-friend from a shark,’ he said.

For just a moment the small pig-like eyes glared through enormous pebble lenses. Then he appeared to realize what Bond had done. The big face relaxed.

‘Excuse me – the shock. I have to thank you – and on her behalf as well.’

Bond turned towards the girl. Her eyes met his.

‘Glad to have been of service,’ he said softly. ‘Perhaps some time …’

‘I am afraid it's useless talking to the girl,’ said Gomez sharply. ‘She's deaf and dumb. Totally. But I am sure she's grateful.’

"I'm sorry it turns out she was born with no tongue and also hates you, please leave immediately."


‘Not a great deal of use,’ said Bond to Gutteridge. He had walked back along the beach. ‘He wasn't having me inside the house, nor was he letting me near the girl. They whisked her inside very fast, and somehow I don't think we'll be seeing much of her.’

‘A pity,’ said Gutteridge, and smiled, ‘she might have been quite useful.’ Bond nodded ruefully.

‘Perhaps we should see about her later. For the moment we must think about the problem of Da Silva and his appointment with the Goddess Kull tomorrow night.’

Da Silva was 5ft 8in and Bond was 6ft 2in. Their colouring was different, so were their profiles. Despite this, Gutteridge and the make-up expert from Police Headquarters somehow succeeded in turning Bond into a reasonable facsimile of the Jamaican.

‘Try keeping in the shadow,’ said the make-up man. ‘You've got his accent pretty well, and with those spectacles of his you should get by.’

"Slouch as much as possible."


Bond hoped that he was right, especially when he found himself driving Da Silva's Chevrolet into Kingston late that Friday night. The police had been alerted now, and Gutteridge was working with them. But the whole plan depended upon Bond's being able to penetrate Gomez's defences without rousing his suspicions. It was essential now to find the Goddess Kull.

He had no difficulty in finding Tarleton Street. This part of Kingston was awake – the remainder of the city slept. There was a throbbing rhythm to the night. Pleasure was cheap here. Eyes seemed to watch from every doorway and, as he parked the car, Bond thought he saw faces in every shadow.

He did his best to hunch his shoulders and disguise his height.

‘Mr Da Silva,’ said a voice. ‘Glad you could come along.’

The girl was young, her bottom waggled in its sequined dress. In easier circumstances Bond might have been tempted. But as she took his arm, he was grateful for the reassuring bulk of his Beretta in its shoulder holster.

‘We're having quite a night,’ the girl said in her best come-hither voice, ‘hope you're all ready to enjoy yourself.’

Bond is abruptly grabbed and blindfolded. He's led downstairs into a tunnel before having it removed.


After the darkness, Bond's eyes blinked. There was an unimaginable scene before him. He was in a cellar with a high vaulted roof. It was lit by burning torches and at first sight Bond thought he was in some sort of church. More than a hundred men and women were standing before him like a congregation, and at the far end of the cellar was a raised platform with candles burning. The air was heavy with the scent of burning joss sticks and of marijuana. Along the platform was a row of skulls.


‘Welcome,’ said a voice. Bond recognized the owner as the tall bearded negro he had seen with Gomez at the house on Montego Bay. He still wore his circular dark spectacles, but was now dressed in priestlike robes.

‘Welcome,’ the others in the room responded.

‘We are all here to worship Kull, the great Destroyer,’ chanted the negro.

‘Indeed we are,’ the audience replied.

‘The brotherhood of Kull demands obedience. Those who deny her must make love to her.’

At this a shudder seemed to pass through the congregation. Some of the women moaned.

‘Kull, Kull,’ they cried.

‘And you, Da Silva, will become one of us. You will not oppose us. You will swear homage to the Goddess Kull, or share her bed with her.’

As the man said this his voice had risen to a crescendo, and suddenly Bond saw the wall behind him opening. A throbbing wail of music started. The congregation sank on its knees. As the wall slid back it revealed a room behind with an enormous golden bed. On it lay a naked woman.

‘Kull,’ moaned the congregation. ‘Hail to thee Kull, thou great destroyer.’

Suddenly the music ceased.

‘What is your answer?’ shouted the priest of Kull. And Bond stepped forward.

‘I will make love to her,’ he said.

I'm glad Fleming wasn't alive to see this dreck.


There was a hideous silence as Bond walked towards the Goddess. As he stepped across the platform he took off Da Silva's spectacles and revealed his full height. He and the girl recognized each other and the wall slid to behind him.

Gomez was in the room and several of his henchmen. One held a long machete. Two of them were armed. But Bond's gun was faster. It thudded twice and then the man with the machete was on him. Bond leapt at him, the butt of his Beretta smashing against his hand. The machete clattered on the floor; the man lay whimpering in the corner of the room. Then Gomez grabbed at the machete. He had the strange agility of many fat men, but as he lunged Bond aimed a blow at him that caught his spectacles. Bond ground them underfoot, leaving the Cuban to thresh blindly at him with the machete. Bond hit him once behind the ear and all was over.

Gomez, that ruthless killer, had died as he lived – violently. The man who had attempted to control the Caribbean through his black reign of terror would terrorize no longer. The fat, myopic master of the Goddess Kull was dead.

Please just write normal books.


But Kull still lived. So did her followers. Bond could hear them chanting in a frenzy in the room outside as they waited for the sliding doors to open. This was the moment that they longed for – the moment they would witness the appalling sacrifice of one more victim to her lust.

Bond looked towards the girl. She was still lying on the bed. To Bond she appeared more beautiful now than when he saw her through the telescope, and he wondered how much she understood of what was going on. How much had she ever known? She smiled. He moved towards her and as he touched the bed some hidden mechanism made the doors start to open. Bond took her in his arms.

There was a hush outside. Kull's congregation waited and the doors drew back. Then somebody cried out. It was a cry of fear. A miracle had happened, for Bond had moved. He had embraced the Goddess Kull and lived. The cry was taken up, and for a moment Bond feared the worshippers would lynch him but the Goddess had her arms around him. She smiled at him. Kull the insatiable had been satisfied. The congregation started to applaud.

I am incredibly confused by the point of this plot.


At this point there was a great commotion at the rear of the hall. Gutteridge and several policemen from the Jamaican special branch had suddenly arrived – following the small homing ‘bleeper’ Bond had hidden in the heel of his shoe. Despite the sudden change of heart of Kull's worshippers, Bond was relieved to see them. Kull's reign was over.

But this was not the last that Bond saw of the girl. As Gutteridge explained, her legend still lived in the fears of many of the people who had feared her for so long. To show that it was over, Bond spent several days with her, touring the island, and although she was deaf and dumb this hardly seemed to matter. She had loved Bond ever since he saved her from the shark and to this day his memories of the Goddess Kull are over a gentle, silent girl with golden skin and the few days he spent with her beside Montego Bay.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 07:24 on Apr 30, 2020

Runcible Cat
May 28, 2007

A post? Never!!


chitoryu12 posted:

Okay, that passage can stay. It actually sounds like something from a Hunter S. Thompson book itself!

Pearson can manage some wonderful one-liners, but it's such a slog getting to them.

chitoryu12 posted:

Gutteridge's reports certainly seem nutty. His work mainly deals with Jamaican labor unions and concerns about communist infiltration. A lot of his information seems convincing...except one part.


But, at the same time, Gutteridge included details of a conspiracy whose major aim was his destruction. There was a so-called ‘Goddess Kull’ who cropped up on a number of occasions. He was none too coherent here, but she was described as ‘the incarnation of all evil’ and also as ‘the great destroyer’. She had her followers and Gutteridge seemed to think that they were after him. One report described how Kull's devotees were howling for him in the night.

Is this supposed to be so incoherent because he's a boozer? Because I don't see what can be so incoherent and paranoid about "probable Communist agitators have set up a fake religion and are using it to menace and murder people including me."

Also, what does the "obscene symbol of the vagina dentata" look like? Is it a toothy mouth turned sideways? Because that would be loving hilarious.

chitoryu12 posted:

I am incredibly confused by the point of this plot.

A combination of "oh, dear me black people are so gullible" and "women are sexiest when they can't talk and quite possibly can't even comprehend what's going on"?

Apr 23, 2014

Runcible Cat posted:

Also, what does the "obscene symbol of the vagina dentata" look like? Is it a toothy mouth turned sideways? Because that would be loving hilarious.

That is almost definitely what it looks like.

Dec 24, 2007

Biscuit Hider

This is dire.

High Warlord Zog
Dec 12, 2012

chitoryu12 posted:

A few bits from this book actually ended up in the films. Silva would become the name of the extremely strange ex-MI6 villain played by Javier Bardem in Skyfall.

I can't believe the movies lifted stuff like this but haven't adapted the Giant Motherfucking Squid fight from Dr No yet

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 9: Casino


There was one point which I had been avoiding – Bond's relationship with M. The time had come to ask about it. Had M. really been, as Fleming wrote, the one man Bond had ‘loved, honoured and obeyed’?

I chose my moment carefully before I asked him. I wanted no more outbursts like the other day's. But after dinner he was in a mellow mood, and when I broached the subject he started laughing.

‘Let's be quite honest about all this,’ he said. ‘The truth is that old Ian always liked to make me look something of an idiot. As I'll tell you later, there was a reason for this, and a good one. But he also liked to pull my leg and it amused him to describe my dog-like devotion to steely-eyed old M. Of course, he overdoes it dreadfully. Sometimes I think he makes me sound just like some bloody spaniel wagging my tail whenever M. appears.’

Fleming also likely incorporated a lot of his own relationship with his mother into the books.


‘Didn't you?’

‘Did I hell! As I'm trying to explain to you, it wasn't like that at all. Back in 1951 we were all working very hard indeed and M. just happened to be the man in charge. He also happened to be extremely good at a hideously demanding job.’

‘And did you ever argue with him?’

He paused to light a cigarette. I had noticed that he often did this when he wanted time to think of
his reply.

‘Sometimes. Of course I argued. But the trouble with arguing with M. was that he was usually right. Particularly back in the early fifties. You must understand that we were really fighting for our lives and M. was the one man who could save us. Kidding apart, he was incredible. He's never had the credit he deserves; during those few years he brought us from rock bottom to considerable success. He was a very tough effective little man. In my book, nobody can ever equal him.’

Now that James Bond had started talking I realized that we were in for another of his late-night sessions. It was extraordinary how much his talk depended on his mood. Tonight he was obviously relaxed. The morose, heavy look had gone entirely. He leaned back, called to Augustus for his customary bottle of Jack Daniel's bourbon, and cheerfully began explaining the situation M. had had to face in 1951.

In 1951, things were heating up. 008 found murdered in Berlin, 0011 disappeared in China, 003 crippled by a burning car in Belgrade


For M. these losses would have been acceptable had they been matched by firm achievements: these were lacking, and M. was jealously aware of the activities of those hard brains directing Smersh from their drab headquarters on the Sretenka Ulitsa. Smersh was a contraction of two Russian words meaning ‘Death to Spies’; for M. it had been living up to its forbidding name too well for comfort. Hardly any of the West's attempts to penetrate the security of the Soviet had worked.

As was covered in the original thread, SMERSH was actually disbanded and absorbed back into the MGB in 1946. The fact that Pearson hasn't brought it up suggests that he likewise never knew this.


The British network inside Russia was something of a joke, whilst the two major secret war campaigns launched by the West in the last few months – against Albania and the Ukraine – had foundered ignominiously. M. was under pressure. He was directly accountable to the Prime Minister and, as one recent writer put it, that wily politician ‘was not disposed to be too impressed by the denizens of the secret-service world.’ Not surprisingly, the lines on M.'s weather-beaten face were rapidly becoming something of a battle-chart of the secret war. Fortunately he knew better than to lose heart at incidental setbacks. He knew that whilst in ordinary war it is the last battle that counts, in the secret war there could never be a final battle, only the ceaseless ebb and flow of murder and betrayal. M. had no illusions about the trade he followed. But it was a necessary trade. As long as he was in command, he would make certain it continued.

Bond was the sort of man he needed. M. realized this for certain after the Jamaica business, just as James Bond accepted that his life from now on lay with ‘Universal Export’. For the Secret Service gave him an all-demanding cause to which to dedicate his life. It gave him a pattern and a purpose. Without them he would founder.

He also knew the way he needed his assignments. They were his chance to prove himself; without them Bond would have been stifled by the order and emptiness of his ‘normal’ life. Danger was as necessary to him as ever. It was the one form of escapism that could make life tolerable, and in the spring of 1951, the gods, and M., were smiling on James Bond. He was kept busy. Life was very good. Within a few days of his return from Jamaica, he was off again.

‘Another holiday?’ Miss Trueblood asked as Bond walked back from his brief interview with M.

She could tell from the expression on his face that he had work to do. He asked her to arrange his airline tickets.

‘Which country this time?’

‘Greece,’ he replied. ‘M. thinks I need a holiday.’

Hey, we just came from there!


She groaned and said it was a good thing she wasn't envious by nature. Bond gallantly suggested she came with him; for just a moment it seemed as if that cool suburban blonde was tempted.

‘A thousand pities you're engaged,’ Bond said hurriedly.

The cover M. suggested was one that Bond enjoyed – that of a wealthy young enthusiast for underwater swimming anxious to combine a short holiday in southern Greece with some underwater archaeology. Q Branch had a rush job to equip him properly, but they worked fast, and Bond spent the afternoon checking the equipment he would take: a Cressi Pinocchio diving mask, a Heinke-Lung, a Leica underwater camera. It all fitted into a large blue holdall for the journey, but Bond also had a suitcase specially prepared by Q branch. It was a type that he had seen before.

‘It'll fool the average customs man,’ the quartermaster assured him, ‘and anyhow, in Greece they're not too fussy with foreign tourists. You'll be all right.’

‘What if someone drops it?’

‘Safe as houses,’ said the quartermaster.

Finally Bond collected the latest large-scale Admiralty charts of the southern coast of Greece, along with an imposing wad of travellers’ cheques and currency.

‘You've forgotten the Ambre Solaire,’ said Bond.

‘I thought you'd like to buy your own,’ replied the quartermaster

The film For Your Eyes Only would likewise have a major scene involving diving in Greece.


Bond left next morning on the midday flight to Athens, taking some trouble to maintain the image of the easy-going pleasure-seeker. He wore an open-necked blue shirt, a lightweight linen jacket and read Ernie Bradford's Guide to the Greek Islands. In Athens he was already booked into the luxurious Mont-Parnes Hotel, and a car from the hotel was there to meet him. He made sure his luggage was in order before being driven off. The hotel overlooked the city; once he had checked in he relaxed, swam in the pool, and then enjoyed his first Martini of the day. It was nearly five before he changed and took the hotel bus down to the city.

He had been given an address – the Anglo-American bookstore in Amerikis Street. He found it without difficulty and asked for an assistant called Andreas. Bond introduced himself, and Andreas, a small courtly man with a magnificent moustache and Brooklyn accent, was very helpful, recommending several books on classical Greek art and southern Greece. Bond asked if they could be delivered to the Mont-Parnes. Andreas said certainly, and promised to bring them up in person that very evening.

On leaving the bookstore, Bond took his time and wandered through the city. There was no great risk, but he had to know if anyone was tailing him. No one was. There was a golden sunset and the evening's first sea breezes were giving the stifled city a chance to breathe. The Acropolis was silhouetted against the sunset like some plastic tourist symbol; outside the caf in Giorgiades Square where he stopped for a drink there were oleanders growing out of cut-down U.S. petrol cans. Bond felt that in different circumstances he might like Athens – but he doubted it.

Circumstances, like Kingsley Amis writing this instead?


That evening, Andreas, like all Greeks everywhere, was late. Bond had already dined when he arrived with his neatly parcelled pile of books. Bond thanked him, offered him a drink, and they sat together on the hotel's splendid terrace drinking retsina and watching the lights of Athens shimmer up the valley. Andreas was a determined talker who enjoyed the chance of showing off his very personal command of English. It wasn't every day he was invited for a drink at a luxury hotel, and he was out to make the most of it. Finally Bond steered the conversation round to southern Greece and Andreas mentioned a small port. He described it lovingly – the market-place, the eighth-century Byzantine church, the beauty of the local girls. Andreas hinted that he was something of a connoisseur of indigenous Greek sex.

‘And the ship?’ Bond asked. He had a limited capacity for general conversation and was anxious for a full night's sleep. Andreas seemed disappointed at the directness of his question.

‘Oh, she arrived last night, at precisely the hour I told London that she would. She is called Sappho, after our famous poetess. You know the poems of Sappho, Mr Bond?’

‘Not intimately.’

‘A pity. She was, of course, what you would call a Lesbian. Perhaps that puts you off?’

‘It does. This ship – how big is she?’

Bond is such a square.


‘6,000 tons deadweight. A common looking coaster, I'm afraid. Registered in Alexandria. The captain is a Syrian called Demetrios. A good Greek name, Demetrios.’

‘How long before she leaves?’

‘Two days earliest – more likely three. They have to load her carefully. With that sort of cargo it is not wise to hurry. Too much hurry – Boum – food for the fishes, Mr Bond.’

‘And the police? What are they doing while all this goes on?’

Andreas took a long draught of retsina – then sucked at his moustache.

He did what now


‘Officially, they must arrest the ship and then impound the cargo. That is our good Greek government policy. That's what our prime minister would tell your Foreign Office in London. But, between you and me, they act like your Lord Nelson. They put the glass eye to the telescope.’

Finally, Bond did get his sleep, and next morning he rose early, breakfasted, and packed. The ferry Andreas had recommended left at nine; but, being a Greek ferry, it was nearer ten before it hooted bravely, struggled out from the Piraeus and headed south. Bond was managing to hide considerable impatience behind a thin façade of cheerful tourism. The sun was hard and very hot. Islands floated past upon an amethyst horizon – Aegina, Poros, Hydra, then in the afternoon, Velopoula. Bond sipped ouzo, nibbled stuffed vine-leaves and felt mildly sick. The boat reached its destination in the evening.

God, why is he trying so hard to make us miss Amis?


It was not hard for Bond to find the Sappho. This was a small town and the docks were not extensive. The ship was exactly as Andreas described her, ungainly and rather rusty, flying an Egyptian flag. Nor had Bond much more difficulty making out her cargo. There were some packing cases stacked along the quay – crated machine guns always have a certain look.

Do they? Military equipment is usually all in nearly identical crates.


Bond booked at the hotel Andreas had recommended. It was a cheerful place with several goats tethered in the courtyard, a one-eyed barman and a terrace set with ancient trellised vines. It overlooked the sea. With nightfall oil-lamps were lit and fireflies darted through the air. Bond ordered dinner, gingerly, and told the barman he was staying several days to try the underwater fishing.

‘We got a lot like you,’ the man replied, scratching his eye-patch, ‘but most of them come later in the season. We do have one man here though now, a real expert. You must meet him.’ He shouted something in Greek. A small boy answered from the office.

‘No,’ said the barman. ‘You're out of luck. But when he comes I introduce you.’

That evening Bond ate one of the six best meals of his life – kedonia (small clams) then octopus with wine and onion sauce and spring lamb simmered with herbs. He drank the ice-cold local white wine. It was very good. He had nearly finished and was sitting, smoking a cigarette and watching the lights from the night fishermen winking across the bay, when a large man in a red-and-black check shirt sat down at his table. He had dark eyes, a swarthy face, a small grey wart beside the nose, and something that instantly appealed to Bond – a sense of life, of openness and warmth such as one rarely meets. He spoke English of a sort and for an hour or so he and Bond talked – about the fishing on that splendid coast, the hazards of the rocks and tides and the excitements of the underwater world. He was a great enthusiast and he was full of stories – of the deep wrecks which he had plundered, of coral beds where rare fish swam, and of the riches which he hoped to find. They drank a bottle of the local wine together; it was years since Bond had formed such an instant friendship with anyone. As the man got up to go, he shook hands with Bond, and promised to take him swimming early next day. He explained he was a sailor and that his ship would soon be sailing.

‘I'm often here these days, and they all know me. My name's Demetrios.’

The next day, Bond avoids the awkwardness of sitting down again with his target. He learns from the barman when the Sappho is supposed to leave.


Bond had his instructions; they were not too difficult to follow. For the remainder of the day he rested, then got ready his equipment. Q department had done a clever job on the suitcase. With the linings of the top and bottom of the case removed, it was a simple task to screw together the two halves of the limpet mine. Bond set the timing apparatus as instructed – on a twenty-four-hour fuse. At dusk he set off from well along the coast, swimming out strongly on the evening tide. The sea was warm and faintly phosphorescent. He had the mine strapped firmly to his belly and he swam deeply, surfacing from time to time to take his bearings. The starlight seemed to filter through the waves, fish glided past and he swam on determinedly towards his quarry. He wondered if Demetrios were yet aboard.

In For Your Eyes Only, a similar magnetic mine is used by Bond to gain the upper hand in a fight against one of the villain's divers while recovering the MacGuffin.


When Bond turned in towards the harbour only the keenest lookout would have seen the thin line of bubbles that he left behind him. The Sappho had no lookout; Bond decided it would be most effective to fix the mine amidships. It was easier than he expected. The strong magnet on the mine dragged it towards the hull; as it thudded home Bond remembered the same sensation from his training sessions on the lake in Canada during the war; he was sorry that this was no training session. Bond was back in the hotel before midnight. He asked the barman about Demetrios.

‘Ah, the captain is back aboard his boat. He is sailing early, but he asked me to tell you he will meet you here a week from now when he returns. He promises to take you swimming.’

Bond thanked him, had a drink and went to bed. Next morning he rose early, caught the ferry he had come on, and was back in Athens in time to catch the night plane on to London. When he arrived it was gone two o'clock. He took a taxi from the airport to his flat and was so tired that he slept solidly till nearly ten. At the office people seemed surprised to see him back so soon.

‘Successful holiday?’ Miss Trueblood asked with just a touch of malice in her voice.

‘Hope so,’ Bond replied. ‘Pity you weren't there, nice people Greeks. There was a man called Demetrios. You'd have liked him – rather your type.’

‘And what's that, pray?’ she asked.

For a while Bond told her about him – his looks, his sense of life, his love of the sea.

‘Will you be seeing him again?’

‘No,’ he said. ‘No, I don't think so.’

Bond gets his debriefing and heads home that evening. Buying a newspaper before getting the Tube, he sees that there's already reports of the Sappho, a suspected gun-running ship delivering arms to EOKA terrorists in Cyprus, had mysteriously sunk with no survivors.


After the Greek affair Bond had been hoping for a real holiday, a rare opportunity to relax. Aunt Charmian had been unwell, and he had been planning to take her off for a few days in the South of France.

‘Leave?’ said M. querulously when Bond raised the subject. He made the word sound curiously obscene. Bond thought it hardly wise to remind him that officially he was entitled to a statutory four weeks off a year, plus compensatory days for weekends spent on duty – not that he ever claimed them. Not that anybody did with M. around.

‘I thought that you realized the pressures we are under, 007.’

Bond held his ground, knowing quite well that in August M. himself had his customary two weeks’ fishing on the Test. M. grunted. Later that afternoon Miss Moneypenny brought Bond an official leave slip for three weeks at the beginning of July. M.'s small meticulous signature was at the bottom.

Bond enjoyed being with his aunt. She was less demanding than any of his mistresses and he was glad of this chance to pay her back a little that he owed her. They stayed at a small hotel at Cap d'Ail. He hired a small brown Simca and drove her along the coast. For the first and only moment in his life, Bond was acting as a tourist guide, and actually enjoying it. He found it easier than he expected although, to tell the truth, he had a somewhat specialized itinerary. Luckily Aunt Charmian appreciated it. And, luckily for her, she had the Bond digestion and iron head for alcohol. She was a very tough old lady.

Bond told her he was going to corrupt her. She said it sounded very nice. They began with baccarat at Monte Carlo. Bond lost several thousand francs. She won, triumphantly, and then insisted on paying for dinner with champagne and all the trimmings at the Hôtel de Paris.

Someone should write a book about this woman.


When they drove to Marseilles in search of low life, it was Bond whose pocket book was stolen in the market-place, and Aunt Charmian who, once again, paid for dinner. When Bond took her to visit one of the toughest, and most foul-mouthed, secret agents he had known in the war – a man called Reynard who had run an escape route over the Pyrenees and was now producing scent at Vence – Aunt Charmian scored her greatest success. She drank Pastis with him, spoke better French than Bond thought possible, and laughed at Reynard's most improper jokes. Bond felt a shade embarrassed until Reynard told him what a splendid aunt he had, loaded her up with more scent than she had used in her entire life and kissed her strenuously on both cheeks.

‘Why did you never tell me what nice friends you have?’ she said as Bond drove back.

Like Da Silva, Reynard here would lend his name to a Bond villain, that of Renard in The World is Not Enough. We have quite a ways to go, but that novelization is on our itinerary!


They still had another week to go when there was a call from London. Chief of Staff was on the
line – appropriately apologetic.

‘Crisis,’ he said. ‘M.'s shouting for you. Something right up your street.’

‘Isn't there someone else? I'm still on holiday.’

‘It's you we need, James – no substitute will do. You should be flattered.’

‘Humph,’ said Bond.

‘Tomorrow then,’ replied the Chief of Staff. ‘And, by the way, my love to the little woman.’

‘The little woman, as you call her, is my aunt.’

‘Auntie all right?’ said Chief of Staff next morning as Bond strode past his desk in the outside office on the sixth floor of ‘Universal Export’. After the late-night flight from Nice and then the struggle to get Aunt Charmian safely back to Pett Bottom, Bond was not amused.

‘Nuts,’ he replied as the red engagement light flashed above M.'s office door.

This crisis, of course, is the story of Casino Royale. His Romanian job in Monte Carlo has given him a reputation as the best gambler in the service, and secretly Bond is quite flattered by being treated as so indispensable as to be the "only man for the job."


In fact the so-called Casino Royale affair was in some ways Bond's favourite assignment, certainly at the beginning. His morale was high, his health and confidence impressive, and, once he
found himself back at Royale-les-Eaux, he started to enjoy himself. The little town had hardly changed. (Fleming perhaps exaggerates the efforts of the rich Paris syndicate to modernize the place, backed with their expatriate Vichyite funds. The money didn't last.) Indeed, for Bond, the town possessed considerable nostalgia. He vividly remembered old Esposito's brief triumph here in 1937, and the whole battle against Chiffre in the casino seemed like an echo of his fight with Vlacek.

This was the one assignment which possessed a touch of prewar glamour, and, as Bond admits, he made the most of it. As he says, ‘it was a self-indulgence to bring over the Bentley and it was really too conspicuous for comfort.’ But it had recently been fitted with its new Amherst Villiers supercharger and Bond was keen to try it out on the long French roads. It was like old times too to link up with René Mathis and to work with him, so that these few crammed days at Royale-les-Eaux seemed like a return to the lost exciting days of James Bond's youth.

It was this mood of deep nostalgia which must explain some of Bond's strange behaviour during the assignment, particularly with Vesper Lynd. True, she was pretty, but there had been many pretty women in his life before. Why was he taken in by her and why, to make matters worse, did he even think of marrying her when he knew that secret-service work and marriage never mixed? Why, if he had to choose a wife, should an agent as experienced as Bond have picked the one girl in the place who was a Russian agent?

Bond's explanation for why he was portrayed as falling so madly, deeply in love with Vesper so quickly is that he may have subconsciously known something was suspicious about her. Knowing that their relationship was doomed somehow made it all the more enticing.


I asked him how he really felt when he reported back to M. that Vesper Lynd had been a double agent, and then added that laconic epitaph, ‘the bitch is dead’.

‘Oh, hideously upset. Fleming makes me sound quite horrible. In fact I blamed myself for the poor girl's suicide and was most dreadfully cut up. She was just one more woman who had loved me and had died. That sort of thing is very difficult to live with. That's why I spoke so bitterly, but Fleming seemed to think that I was blaming her.’

Bond may have been ‘cut up’ by Vesper's death but the cruel logic of the secret-service world demanded it. Alive, she would have spelt the end of his career. Dead, she enhanced it, and the fact is that the Casino Royale affair added enormously to Bond's reputation. It helped to establish him inside the department, and, for the few weeks after his return, Bond was free to bask in his success.

It would be nice to say that Bond spent this time mourning his dead beloved; but the truth is that he was secretly relieved to return to the calm routine of life in London. The flat retained its reassuring sense of order. On his first morning back May was there, rocklike and unambiguously sane, with breakfast and his copy of The Times. Everything was in its place: the brown boiled egg, the Minton china and the whole-wheat toast. The hum of the morning Kings Road traffic came through the windows, and, as Bond poured his coffee from his Chemex percolator, he realized that he was free. Nothing had changed, and he was duly grateful.

Yes, it would be nice to say it, because that's a much better character! Fleming wrote Bond as utilizing detachment and dissociation to hide from his true feelings, but still visiting Vesper's grave every year. He's not going to be "secretly relieved" that his romantic partner killed herself and he could get back to his middle class existence! You hack!


On his first morning back in Headquarters, Bond paid a brief routine visit up to M.'s office on the sixth floor. As usual, M. was fairly non-commital. Always wary of bestowing praise, he seemed concerned with Bond's damaged hand (the Russian killer had carved his trademark, a Russian S for Spion on the back of it). ‘Better make sure we get the plastic surgery fellows going on it,’ he remarked gruffly. ‘Can’t have a member of the 00 section with an identifying mark like that.’ But later in the day Bill Tanner informed Bond that ‘the old man's really very pleased with you. I had to listen to him singing your praises to Head of S,’ and, before Bond left the office, M.'s secretary, the formidable Miss Moneypenny, brought him a brief note recommending him for three weeks’ further leave at the end of August.

Bond spent it in Provence. Early that spring he had heard that Maddox had died, and that Regine had bought a house a few miles inland from Montpelier. Bond had written to her. She had replied inviting him whenever he could get away. And so he spent his leave with her. It was a happy time for both of them. They remained friends, not lovers, and for the children he was the ‘Uncle James’ that they remembered from their days in Paris. She told him that Maddox had died sad and embittered with the world. Apart from this, they never mentioned him.

Bond returns to work, getting what plastic surgery he can on his scarred hand and having an affair with the surgeon's receptionist. That November came the Live and Let Die case, which Pearson breezes over before the paragraph is out. £5 million in gold made it into British government coffers thanks to him.


‘I'm glad to know I'm paying for my keep,’ Bond said to M. when he heard the news, but M. was not particularly amused. When it suited him, M. could be very stuffy over money. It was not a subject to be discussed by gentlemen.

Ichabod Sexbeast
Dec 5, 2011

Giving 'em the old razzle-dazzle

chitoryu12 posted:


his customary bottle of Jack Daniel's bourbon

His loving what?

Apr 23, 2014

Ichabod Sexbeast posted:

His loving what?

Yeah, he should switch to Evan Williams!

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

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

What is this I don't even

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 10: Vendetta


‘I was becoming just a little over-confident,’ said Bond. ‘It's a real danger in our type of life. When you have the sort of lucky run that I'd had you tend to think it will go on for ever. This is one reason why old M. was always grudging in his praise. He wasn't quite as sour as Ian painted him, but he was worried, and quite rightly, that one would start getting what he used to call a “superman complex”.’

This Bond is way more sour than the one in Fleming's books!


Bond was explaining how it came about that just as the tide of real success seemed to have set in for him, he found himself facing a real catastrophe. Few people realize that during 1952, James Bond was nearly driven from the Secret Service for good.

It was from M., soon after he returned from dealing with Mr Big, that Bond got the first inkling of the trouble to come. This was quite early in 1952 and M. was still worrying about that damaged hand of his. Despite the plastic surgery, the scar still showed. (Fleming was to notice this later. As he said, the hair grew crookedly on the skin that had been grafted from Bond's shoulder.)

‘Dreadful pity,’ M. said when he saw the scar. ‘It should have been avoided.’

‘How?’ replied Bond.

M. shrugged his shoulders. ‘It isn't good for you to have this sort of trademark on you. What was it that Russian said to you when he killed Chiffre?’

‘He said he couldn't kill me because he had no orders to from Smersh. He also said this was probably a mistake.’

‘Exactly,’ M. replied. ‘They must have slipped up badly not to have realized your 00 rating. They're pretty certain to try to correct their error. We must be careful.’

At this time, Bond has his "three married women" mentioned in Moonraker that he's got affairs with, all in their early to mid-30s.


‘For me this has always been the most attractive age in women. Naïve young girls, however pretty, soon bore me silly. They make such demands – on your time and on your patience – and they invariably have one fixed, romantic end in view. Marriage. Whereas with older women things are different. You get intelligence and understanding and a clearly defined relationship. That's most important. No entanglements. I always made sure that we understood each other perfectly. Right from the start I told them there was to be no question of threatening their marriage – rather the reverse. There was to be no jealousy or possessiveness either. We would be civilized and we would enjoy ourselves.’

‘And did you?’ I asked.

Bond's eyes narrowed and he smiled.

‘Perfectly,’ he said.

‘And were their husbands ever any trouble?’

‘Not if the wife was sensible. It was really up to her to see that her husband's amour propre was not offended. Most English husbands are so busy making money or being with their friends that they're secretly relieved to have their wives kept happy by an expert.’

*long, deep sigh*


At this period Bond's three married women were an impressive trio, and he went to great pains to ensure that none of them suspected the others’ existence. This was apparently quite a problem of logistics. One lived in Hertfordshire, was married to an aged merchant banker, and wrote historical romances. Bond used to meet her every Tuesday in his flat – when she had done her London shopping. The second was married to a prominent Conservative M.P. Bond saw her Thursdays – and whenever the House had an all-night sitting. The third one was Bond's ‘weekend woman’ as he called her. Bond knew her husband. He was a rich insurance broker and a member of Blades. The passion of his life was sailing – which he did from Friday night to Monday morning. As his wife loathed boats and was sea-sick, Bond really made it possible for him to continue his hobby – and his marriage.

The only trouble with this variegated sex-life of James Bond's was that his women occupied almost all his leisure – and at a time when the work-load of the whole department was increasing steadily.

But then, in April, M. again brought up the subject of Chiffre's killer, the man described by Fleming as ‘the murderer with the crag-like face.’ Thanks to the efforts of Department S, he had been identified. His name was Oborin and he was one of Smersh's top professionals. M. seemed unusually disturbed.

Because the film adaptation of Casino Royale had a more involved plot that extended through future films, the role of Oborin was given to Mr. White, who would gradually be revealed as a high-ranking member of SPECTRE through one of its divisions, Quantum. He was played by Danish actor Jesper Christensen, who mostly acts in European films.


‘It looks as if my fears for you were justified, 007. I don't wish to alarm you, but we must be prepared. From a report we've just received it seems as if last summer's failure to destroy you caused a major incident in Smersh headquarters. Our old friend, Colonel General Grubozaboyschikov (M. pronounced the name with alarming fluency) ordered an inquiry and Oborin pleaded that there had been an administrative error. General G. was furious – I can understand how he felt – and at one point it looked as if Beria would be involved. Contrary to British practice, 007, a failed Smersh operator normally pays for failure with his life. But we now know for sure that Oborin is very much alive. I'd give a great deal to know why. I may be wrong, but it could be that Smersh is giving him one last chance to make good his mistake.’

The idea of becoming a special target for Smersh did not disturb James Bond unduly. Experience had given him a firm (and not unjustified) faith in his powers for survival. Besides, had he ever let the fear of personal reprisal from his enemies worry him, he would have left the Secret Service long ago. But he did start to take precautions – carefully garaging the Bentley at all times, avoiding fixed routines, and never going anywhere without the reassuring weight of the Beretta in his shoulder holster. Between assignments life went on as usual. Then something odd occurred. One of the Sunday papers carried a front-page story on the sinking of the Sappho. It was sensationally written and suggested that the British Secret Service was involved.

When Bond read it, he was in Berlin, checking on a threatened bomb attempt on British Military Headquarters. This had turned out to be a hoax, but with the British Foreign Secretary currently touring Germany, it could not be ignored. Bond and a group of highly trained personnel had wasted a lot of time and energy on the case. To read about the Sappho in such circumstances did not improve Bond's temper.

I imagine Bond would never like reading about Sappho!


Back in London next day, Bond discussed this with the Chief of Staff, who, like Bond, was puzzled by the article. He had already seen the editor and warned him against carrying a big followup story. What disturbed the Chief of Staff was that somehow the paper had got hold of Bond's name and were all set to publish it, along with a photograph.

‘Where did the paper get its facts from?’

‘Nobody knows,’ replied the Chief of Staff.

There were more disturbing incidents. Now that the Chief of Staff was warned, he was able to cope with them. Newspapers are usually cooperative in helping to avoid trouble to the Secret Service. But it was clear that a campaign had started, to expose James Bond. His name was mentioned in the foreign press. There was a photograph, luckily not very good, in a German magazine. If this continued he knew his usefulness would soon be seriously curtailed. Knowing this, M. took good care to hold him back from active service for a while. The scare subsided.

In late autumn, M calls for Bond and is unusually subdued. He tells Bond that for the first time, he'll have the choice of whether or not to accept this mission. Station H in Finland received a message from a Colonel Botkin who wishes to defect; he claims that he met Bond in Berlin 2 years ago and will only surrender to him. He and M think it's Oborin, being given one last chance to correct the mistake he made. He lets Bond sleep on it, and Bond eventually accepts the challenge.


Bond enjoyed his first afternoon in Helsinki. He was expecting a drab icy little city. Instead he found that this whole portion of the eastern Baltic was enjoying its own version of an Indian summer. Birkin, the head of Station F, met him at the airport. He was a tall, much-decorated naval commander with a distinctly ghoulish sense of humour. He wore a monocle, a red cravat and sponge-bag trousers.

So he's the most obvious man in the room in Finland?


‘Well, old chap,’ he said, ‘I trust you've packed your bulletproof pyjamas. Looks as if you'll need ’em.’

‘It's definitely a set-up then?’ said Bond.

‘Frankly, the whole thing stinks. I told M. as much. Clearly he thinks the 00 section needs a little thinning out.’

‘And this man Botkin, from the K.G.B. – you've never seen him?’

Birkin shook his head and grinned.

‘Not on your life. We've just made contact through intermediaries. A lot of unofficial traffic passes in and out of here you know. No, I've not seen the bastard, but he is very anxious for a look at you.’ That evening Birkin insisted on taking Bond out to dinner.

‘Least that I can do in the circumstances. Could be your last good meal on earth. Besides, it'll be a chance to give you your instructions, if you're really going through with it.’

They went to Smourazi, traditionally the best Finnish restaurant in the city. It was just opposite the old cathedral, a prim grey building with a dome like a symmetrical bald head. The restaurant was crowded but the guests were mainly Swedes and somewhat solemn. Bond drank a lot of schnapps and found the clientele improving. Birkin insisted on traditional Finnish food – kalakukko (Finnish fish cakes), Karelian steak (beef and mutton roasted together), and poronkieltä (reindeer tongue). Bond found it disappointing. Birkin ate with relish.

‘The point of Finnish food is that it gives you stamina. You need it in a place like this. Pity you're not staying longer.’

Bond thought he would require something more than Finnish food to keep him in Helsinki.

Kalakukko is popularly called "fish cock", and you can buy it canned from famed surplus store Varusteleka! Not merely a fish cake, it's fish baked in rye bread.


‘Before we finish off the schnapps,’ he said, ‘just tell me how I contact Colonel Botkin.’ Birkin took his time explaining the arrangements. In the process he chewed reindeer meat, and drank still more schnapps. The plan was basically quite simple. Bond was to go to Kotka, a seaport and the last big town before the Russian border. There he would take a motor-launch – Birkin explained, at length, the trouble he had taken getting it – and sail for a tiny island some ten miles from the frontier. The rendezvous was fixed for four o'clock next afternoon. Botkin would be there – and, if all went to plan, Bond would bring him back – ‘or vice versa,’ Birkin said.

‘Exactly,’ Bond replied.

According to Birkin, the great virtue of getting drunk on schnapps was that it left no hangover. Bond found this theory optimistic but not accurate. He woke in his hotel feeling much the worse for wear. The only consolation was that Birkin looked even worse than he did after breakfast when he called to drive him off to Kotka.

‘Must have been that reindeer tongue, old boy,’ said Birkin. ‘Can't always trust it.’ James Bond nodded.

It was definitely the schnapps.


It was an impressive drive. Most of the way the road kept to the coast with views of pine woods, islands, and the pale blue sea. Birkin told him there were seven thousand islands between Stockholm and the Russian border.

‘So how do I find the one I'm heading for?’ said Bond.

‘Easy,’ he replied. ‘Just stick to the bearing that I'll give you, and you can't miss it. You'll know when you've arrived. A big German battlecruiser called the Lublin was sunk just by the island during the war. They've never shifted her and she's still full of dead Germans. She's on the main channel through to Leningrad. Her superstructure shows for miles.

Finland has a total of 178,947 islands if you include any size, 549 of which are permanently inhabited and have no mainland connection.


Kotka was reached by lunchtime. It was a small bright modern town clustering round a glass works and a mammoth paper mill. The air smelt resinous. It was a crisp autumn day; Bond felt revived. Birkin had screwed his monocle firmly into his eye and proudly showed James Bond the motor-launch that he had hired for him.

‘Cost us a dreadful lot of money. I only hope M. doesn't query it.’

‘I'm sure he won't,’ said Bond.

For Bond there was something of a schoolboy treat about the voyage. He was alone in charge of a small blue boat chugging its way across a tranquil sea. Behind him Kotka belched smoke from its paper mills. Ahead of him lay island after island with lonely buoys marking the sea-lane on to Leningrad. At first there was a yacht or two, and some of the islands seemed inhabited. But soon all sign of human beings ceased. He was alone except for the sea-birds and the impatient chugging of his engine.

The sun sank early and the dusk was gathering when he saw the Lublin. Her masts were standing like a far-away lopsided tree on the pale horizon. Bond steered towards her.

The island is typical for these tiny Finnish islands: two small huts and a jetty surrounded by trees. The island seems totally uninhabited, though one of the huts is open and crudely furnished with simple furniture.


Time ticked by and no one came. Bond watched the sea for sign of Botkin's boat, then darkness fell. It started to get very cold. It was a temptation to move into the hut and wait. Bond resisted it. Instead he lit an oil-lamp, plumped up several cushions under the blankets to the rough shape of a sleeping man, then left the hut and hid up in the pine trees, gun in hand. It was the longest night of his life. The cold grew bitter, until his hand froze to the steel of his gun. A bell-buoy by the wreck tolled in the darkness. And all the time the light burned on in the deserted hut. Somehow Bond kept himself awake.

The luminous face on his watch showed nearly three when the men arrived. He counted eight of them. They had approached so silently that they had the hut surrounded before he realized that they were there. One of them called out in English, then they rushed the hut, firing as they went.

That was abrupt!


Bond had an advantage from where he was and fired at them from the rear, trusting in darkness and confusion to mask his movements. There were shouts, several of the figures seemed to fall and Bond dodged between the trees keeping to the shadows, then staying very still. Some of the men had flashlights, but they soon realized that there was no point searching for him in the darkness. Somebody shouted from the hut, and the men with flashlights moved towards it.

Dawn came late, and suddenly the island was thick with men. There was more shouting now, and Bond could hear the trampling of undergrowth. Then he saw the searchers – Russian sailors working across the island in a line. They found him easily. There seemed to be no point in trying to resist.

Three of the sailors grabbed him and as they brought him to the jetty Bond saw a face he recognized, the ‘crag face’ he had glimpsed beneath its mask at Royale-les-Eaux the night that Chiffre was killed – Oborin, his private enemy from Smersh.

There was no sign of recognition in those hooded eyes, but there was a brief command. Bond spun round. Oborin's right arm lifted and a blow like a steel bar caught him below the ear. A fountain of bright scarlet jetted through his brain – then total blackness.

Maybe you should have brought backup.


It seemed like centuries later when he woke. He was in a small, white painted room lit by a steel grille light screwed to the ceiling. There were no windows. The floor was iron. There was a steel bulkhead door. Bond tried it. It was firmly shut.

His whole body ached and the pain in his head caused him to faint. When he came to, the bulkhead door was open. For a while Bond lay where he was. Then a voice said, ‘Good morning, Mr Bond. It's good to see you.’

‘Where are you?’ Bond asked.

‘All in good time,’ the voice replied, and Bond realized that it was coming from a loudspeaker hidden by the light.

‘First, I must introduce myself. I am the man who is going to kill you, Mr Bond. As you know, I slipped up at Royale-les-Eaux. This time there will be no mistake.’

‘If you're so keen on killing me, why not last night?’ said Bond. ‘You had me at your mercy.’

‘It would have been too easy,’ said the voice. ‘Besides, I have my orders. My masters want you back alive. That's why we had to have that little pantomime last night on the island, and that's why you're here.’

‘But where is here?’ said Bond.

The Soviets have converted the hulk of the Lublin into an underwater outpost, serviced via submarine. One is on its way to pick up Bond, but Oborin has no intention of following orders. He has a personal stake in killing Bond to prove himself, so he's left Bond with his gun. They're going to one-on-one this, Fox only, Final Destination.


His cabin was evidently below the waterline, and from where he lay he could see a brightly lit corridor with steps at the far end. Somewhere along that corridor or up the steps, Oborin was waiting. It was the perfect killing ground, the carefully setup site for a private execution. At first Bond thought he had no chance, but then he realized that Oborin's whole scheme for killing him depended for its certainty on one thing – light. If he could only plunge that corridor outside in darkness he might just have a chance. Everything depended now on whether the corridor lights and the light inside his cabin were on the same electric circuit. With luck they would be.

He used one precious bullet to shoot out the light. The glass cover shattered, and, although he cut his fingers, he managed to unscrew the base of the light bulb from its socket. He had a small stainless-steel comb. He insulated one end with its plastic holder then thrust it hard into the socket. There was the flash of a short-circuit – the lights in the corridor outside went out.

Bond hurled himself towards the steps and as he did so, two shots whistled through the darkness. Bond grabbed the steel rung and hauled himself up. A third shot caught his arm. And then he fired, instinctively. There was no real target – only a darker patch against the surrounding darkness. But Bond had practised in exactly these conditions in the cellars beneath Regent's Park Headquarters. He heard the cough of his Beretta followed by the eerie twanging of a ricochetting bullet in the darkness. But with his second bullet there was no ricochet.

Bond stood quite still and listened. There was a cough. Bond fired again directly at the sound. He heard a thud and then a stifled groan followed by the choking sound of someone fighting for breath. He fired twice more. The choking stopped. Even then, Bond took no chances but waited several minutes more. There was no noise now but the sound of his own breathing. He fired again and then moved slowly forward until he reached the body. He nearly stumbled over it. The murderer with the craglike face was very dead.

And that's it!

Why would you write a book like this? You clearly have interesting ideas. Do you just not know how to write good action scenes or dialogue?


It took Bond some while to find his way out. He was in a corridor with a steel ladder at the far end. Groping his way up he found a bulkhead door. He wrenched it open and found himself out on the tilting deck of the Lublin. The Russian had been right – the wrecked battleship was quite deserted. So was the island. At the jetty Bond could see the small blue boat he had arrived on still tied up where he had left it. There was something lifeless and depressing in the scene. Bond thought of the drowned sailors for whom this rusting warship was still a communal coffin. It was time to go before the Russian submarine arrived.

But first he had to make sure that The Lublin’s usefulness was over and forced himself down past Oborin's body to explore the ship. The Russians had sealed off a section of the hold and carefully installed their radio equipment, quarters for a crew and a whole range of electronic monitors. There was the air-lock where the submarine would dock and deep in the hold Bond found what he was looking for – the Lublin’s sea-cocks. These required all his strength to turn. He heaved and then he heard the rush of water. He took one last look round at this hidden watcher's world – then gratefully got back on deck.

The Baltic was colder than he had ever thought water could be. After his dive from the Lublin’s stern he swam the half-mile to the jetty, but he was nearly caught by cramp within the icy waters. Luckily, there were still blankets in the hut. He dried himself on them, then swathed himself and climbed aboard the boat. The engines started. There were two jerry-cans of fuel. He swung the blue boat's bows out to the open sea. As he passed the Lublin the great rusting monster seemed to lurch. The stern and barnacle-encrusted rudder rose from the water as the ship tipped further on its side and settled in the mud. By the time the Russian submarine arrived, Bond was safely back in Kotka.

‘Well, bless my soul,’ said Birkin when he saw him. ‘Somehow I never thought that you'd be back.’

Bond continues working without much concern of SMERSH. He takes two more jobs over the winter, one "persuading" some terrorists in Cairo to leave town before they could kill an American businessman and conferring with the CIA on an anonymous threat against the President. His next trip is to Milan.


This occurred during the annual Trade Fair. These international affairs with entries from both sides of the Iron Curtain tended to become a field day for the Secret Service. Bond was quite used to them, and on this occasion he had to keep his eye on a technical adviser from a British electronics firm who was suspected of illicit contacts with the East. For Bond it was very much a routine operation. For cover he had arranged to be attached to a British firm of turbine engineers and duly took his place, complete with dark suit and exhibitor's lapel badge, on their stand. He knew enough to talk convincingly about turbine generators, and also managed to observe the man he wanted. In fact, nothing happened: the man was either innocent, or else aware that he was being watched. And Bond was free to enjoy the exotic pleasures of Milan. He liked the city. Unlike so much of Italy, it made no attempt to thrust culture and antiquity down his throat, and he enjoyed its zest and its prosperity. He liked the Milanese too – with their large fast cars and pampered women – and ate well, drank wines like Inferno and Lambrusco, and in place of his customary vodka martinis found himself enjoying what he called ‘musical comedy drinks’ – Campari sodas and Americanos.

This is the Fiera Milano, which has been going on since 1920.


During the four days of the Fair he had a double room at the Hotel Principe e Savoia. He approved of this as well. The hotel was solid and discreet; the barman poured generous measures and knew all the gossip of the city. It was in the bar too that Bond met the girl who saved his life. She was called Melissa. She was English, recently divorced and staying in Milan to meet her Italian lover. He was delayed in Rome; she was obviously lonely. Bond gave her dinner at one of the finest restaurants in Italy – Gianino's in the Via Sciesa where they ate artichokes and osso buco alle milanese – and spent the night with her. After the grappa and the gorgonzola this seemed the perfect ending to a perfect evening.

It's like all this guy knows of Bond is that he eats a lot and describes his food.


Luckily, they chose her room. At 4 a.m. the hotel was shaken by an explosion. Bond's empty double room was totally destroyed. As the carabiniere told him later, the bomb had been put underneath his bed.

‘Fortunately,’ said Bond, ‘I sometimes sleep in other people's.’

The maresciallo from the carabiniere laughed, but before he left Milan, Bond sent the girl a golden bracelet with his heartfelt thanks; on this occasion he felt justified in charging it to his expenses.

But Bond was more disturbed than he let anybody see; especially when he had to give a personal report upon the incident to M. M. had nodded and said little. A few days later, May found a parcel in the post addressed to Bond which worried her. Something was loose inside it. Bond rang Scotland Yard; their experts later found that it contained sufficient thermite to have blown his head off. Again, M. was informed of what had happened.

Blow your head off...with thermite?

Thermite is a mixture of metal powder (usually aluminum) and iron oxide, better known as "rust." When mixed into a powder and ignited, it creates an extremely hot reaction that can melt through metal and weld pieces together. It is not an explosive; the thermite grenades issued by the US at this time were for destroying equipment by placing them on vulnerable parts and letting the burning thermite fuse and destroy pieces.


Then came the final incident. Bond had been dining with his favourite married woman at the White Tower Restaurant in Percy Street. He had the Bentley and, as he drove her back to Chelsea, he noticed a small grey Austin in front which refused to let him pass. He hooted and flashed his lights, but the car stuck to the middle of the road. Bond swore. He was impatient to get home, and then, just by the exit from the park, the car jammed on its brakes and swung across the road. Another car was double-parked ahead and, as Bond struggled to avoid it, there was a rattle of machine-gun fire. The Bentley skidded to a halt. Bond was unhurt, but the woman beside him had been hit. Bond spent the next half hour seeing her safely into St George's hospital, and then coping with the police. There was a lot of coping to be done, and the evening ended, shortly before midnight, with a hurried conference with M. at the Regent's Park Headquarters.

It feels uncharacteristic of Soviet intelligence in the 1950s to be engaging in such dramatic, obvious assassinations of agents.


It was the first time Bond had known him appear at such an hour, but the Chief of Staff had summoned him from home. Both of them looked grim when Bond appeared.

‘And how is the woman, Chief of Staff?’ said M.

‘The hospital say they've just removed the bullet from her pelvis. She's been in pain but she will live.’

‘Thank God for that,’ said M. ‘And her husband – did you succeed in quietening him down?’

‘Extremely difficult,’ said Chief of Staff. ‘Until I rang you, he was threatening to see the Home Secretary.’

‘Just tell me one thing, 007,’ said M. ‘If you must have these affairs of yours, why on earth do it with an M.P.'s wife? Isn't life difficult enough without bringing in the House of Commons?’

‘I thought,’ replied Bond stiffly, ‘that my private life remained my own.’

‘Private life?’ M. snorted. ‘When will you learn that while you work for me you have no private life.’

Casually getting MPs' wives involved in your life when you're having men bombing and shooting at you all the time.


By next morning, things had calmed down, but M. still took a gloomy view of James Bond's future in the Secret Service.

‘We must face facts, James. This is a vendetta. Since you killed Oborin, Smersh have been out to get you. They have made you a marked man, and won't rest until they have totally destroyed you. It is a situation I have faced occasionally before. And I am afraid there's nothing to be done about it, James. I have no alternative but to suspend you from the 00 section, and get you some foreign posting until it all blows over. We'll have to discuss a suitable place for you. Where do you enjoy? The Bahamas? Strangways needs to be replaced in Jamaica – will that suit you?

Bond appreciated the attempt at kindness. But in a way it made the situation worse.

He knew that he was finished, just as he was getting into his stride. Smersh had beaten him – and he would never know whether the feud would rest. He would always be waiting for the bullet in the night, the poisoned cup of coffee. After the Vatican, Smersh possessed the longest memory in Europe.

Most assassinations of this time were far less public than Bond was facing. It would be a mark of extreme carelessness to be having bombs going off in the middle of downtown London, or cars swerving off the road and spraying submachine guns into traffic.


Those next few days of semi-relegation were perhaps the bitterest of his life. He had to hand in his Beretta, that battered but efficient friend of many an assignment. And he no longer had that special status, that sense of being part of an elite. The way that everyone appeared so understanding simply made it worse. He began the melancholy business of packing – there seemed nothing else to do. Prepare expenses, close the files, make sure at least that everything is left in decent order.

"We're sending you somewhere else specifically because of assassins chasing after you. The first step is to turn in your gun."


He would store the Bentley when it was repaired – he couldn't bear the thought of selling it. And there would be no trouble subleasing the flat. He would have to pick his moment to tell May that he was leaving. He had never thought of her as a sensitive woman. One of her virtues was that she had always kept her life and worries quite apart from him, and left him free. She never varied.

But she seemed to know that there was something wrong.

‘P'raps ye'd be liking me to mix ye a drink?’ she said. Normally Bond prepared his own, but tonight he was grateful to the loyal old girl.

‘An’ by the way a friend of yours telephoned. The name of Fleming. Very polite an’ nice he was. Asked you to call him back – a Victoria number. I've left it on your desk.’

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 03:12 on May 4, 2020

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 11: Superbond


Bond still doesn't know why he called Fleming back. He was not in the mood to talk to anyone – least of all anybody as demanding as Ian Fleming. Besides, Fleming was a journalist. But when he did, that drawling voice from the far end of the telephone was strangely sympathetic. ‘Met your managing director out at lunch today. I'd heard about your previous spot of bother in the office, and he filled me in on your threatened change of employment. I had an idea which quite appealed to him. It might be something of a solution. He's coming to lunch with me at Blades tomorrow to discuss it further. I think you ought to come as well.’

Bond had always envied Fleming's ease of manner when he talked to M. for, like many others in high places, M. had a soft spot for Fleming. This helps explain Fleming's own somewhat puzzling status at this time. Officially, he was a journalist who had had nothing at all to do with intelligence work for more than six years. But, unofficially, he was one of that handful of men who had M.'s confidence and whom he would consult. From the way they were talking when he arrived at Blades, Bond realized that M. had told Fleming all about him.

M. seemed on his best behaviour – with Fleming there, he was no longer quite the steely martinet of ‘Universal Export’. And Fleming was clearly buttering him up, as only Fleming could. He had already checked with Miss Moneypenny to make sure that they had M.'s favourite table – in the far corner of the room away from what he called ‘the noise and scrimmage’ of the younger members of the club. The chef had been alerted to provide M. with one of his favourite delicacies – a marrow-bone served on a special eighteenth-century silver dish. ‘Hope the “Infuriator's” up to scratch,’ said Fleming as he filled his glass. M. beamed. Bond recognized the Fleming treatment.

One wonders just how fondly Pearson thought of Fleming.


‘James,’ said M. pleasantly. ‘Ian and I have just been having quite a little chat. I can't say he's converted me, but he does have a very interesting – I might say startling – proposition. As it concerns you personally I'd value your views on it.’

Something about the tone of voice made Bond wary. M. was being far too kind for comfort.

‘You may recall,’ continued M., ‘that little piece of most successful deception we were responsible for in 1943. I believe Ewen Montagu wrote about it afterwards. He called his book, The Man Who Never Was. The idea was to trick the enemy by having the dead body of a British officer complete with certain documents washed up on the coast of Spain. The body was quite genuine – some poor fellow or other – but the uniform and documents were carefully prepared by British Intelligence. Ian here has this interesting idea that we could use you somewhat similarly – but by standing the whole idea on its head.’

The Man Who Never Was was a book (and later film) about Operation Mincemeat, which is described accurately. The Germans fell for the ruse, believing the Allies were invading Greece and Sardinia next, and had no reinforcements left for Sicily when the Allies suddenly showed up. Fleming himself actually had a nearly identical plan while working for Godfrey earlier, which was never put into motion.


‘I hardly thought you would,’ said Fleming, butting in. ‘We're not proposing to use your corpse or anything like that, not yet at any rate. My idea is simply this. In the Montagu story, the resources of the Secret Service were used to convince the Germans that a mythical man was a reality. Now I suggest that we should do the opposite, convince the opposition that a very real man is in fact a myth – or at least dead.’

Bond looked at Fleming. Fleming paused to savour the last mouthful of the club smoked salmon. Bond to this day remembers the strange smile, half cynical, half mocking, on his face.

‘Go on,’ he said.

‘From what M. tells me, you have the honour, or misfortune, to have become Smersh's number one human target in the West. M. proposes to give in to Smersh, and have you posted to Station K in Jamaica in the hope that this will save your life. Now, I don't like being pessimistic, but I just don't see this working. Remember Trotsky and the ice-pick? Smersh destroyed him in the end – although in fact he had retired to Mexico City. I wouldn't give you any greater odds than Trotsky.’

If you go to the Spy Museum in DC, you can actually see the ice axe!


Bond had stopped eating. He had passed his adult life facing the imminence of death. Even so, there was something chilling in the offhand way this gentlemanly Englishman predicted his demise.

‘So what do you suggest? Perhaps M. would like to keep me under lock and key inside the cellars at Headquarters for my own protection.’

M. smiled a wintry smile. Fleming laughed.

‘Nothing so drastic. No, I think that we should simply try convincing Smersh that you don't exist any more – better still – that you never existed. That you are a genuine man-who-never-was.’

‘And how do we do that?’

‘By making you a character in fiction.’

‘Thanks very much. I'd rather take my chance with Smersh.’

M is actually into Fleming's plan, as wild as it sounds. Turn a real operation of his into a cheap pulp novel, with enough fictional aspects to make it patently ridiculous that these events could have occurred for real. The Soviets only know that an agent named "James Bond" is responsible for their ills, and that could easily be a cover identity.


‘And M.,’ asked Bond, ‘he would be included?’

‘Of course. That would really worry all those gentlemen in Smersh.’

At first M. demurred, but Fleming knew exactly how to flatter him.

‘The book had better be damned good,’ said M.

‘It will be,’ Fleming said.

It was!


‘I'd never realized,’ said Bond, ‘just how hard old Ian worked – when he wanted to. I'd always thought he was a very lazy fellow. He liked to give one that impression; that tired way he had of talking, the long lunch hours, and so forth. But once he started on the story that became Casino Royale I was dealing with a very different Ian.’

To begin with we spent a fortnight, on and off, up at his brother's place in Oxfordshire – an ugly red-brick house set in a beech wood. There was a golf course down the road. We played together quite a lot.’

That would be Joyce Grove, 42 miles west of London. It was a massive property of 2000 acres that was purchased in 1903 by Ian and Peter Fleming's grandfather, Robert Fleming, who had the old manor house torn down for a new one with 44 bedrooms.

Pearson makes another mistake here. While Peter Fleming was gifted the home by his uncle Philip in 1937, within a year he had donated it to St. Mary's Hospital as a convalescent home. The building is currently home to Nettlebed Hospice.


‘Who used to win?’

‘I'd say we were very fairly matched. Neither of us was what you'd call a stylish player. I had a stronger drive: Ian was more cunning. We enjoyed it as a relaxation and for the rest of our time there we worked very hard. During the war you know he'd been an expert at interrogation. Well, he interrogated me – every detail of that wretched casino business until I'd had enough of it – what was I wearing, how did I feel at such and such a point, why did I do this and fail to do that?’

‘And about the girl?’

‘Yes, that as well. He was always very keen on dragging out what he used to call “the interesting bits”. I thought that he was what they used to call “a gentleman”. I should have known better.

‘But the real point about this whole operation was the care he took. He was a very clever devil, and he had it all worked out. He took more trouble with Casino Royale than with any other book – there were several versions before a final one was agreed on. Fleming left not a single thing to chance. Even the publisher's reader used to work with him in Naval Intelligence. And he took extra special trouble over the style and those touches that would convince the men at Smersh – and particularly some Englishmen advising them in Moscow – that it all was a piece of fiction. He had been reading Sapper, Buchan and that sort of thing since boyhood so it wasn't difficult, and a lot of what he slipped in the book was really quite a joke – details like Chiffre's concealed razor blades, and those hairs he always had me placing on door handles. We used to make them up and laugh at them. But I had no idea quite what was coming. Don't forget that I was very much in hiding. Smersh was quite definitely out to get me. Most of this period I was existing with an armed guard on the door, in one of the special flats we used to have behind Headquarters. It didn't help one's sense of judgement or reality.

‘This was around Christmas time at the end of 1952. Ian had just gone off with his notes and his typewriter to his house in Jamaica – Goldeneye. I remember how he came back at the end of March, with his manuscript, and how excited everybody was – M. in particular. I couldn't see a copy for a day or two. But when I did I nearly went through the roof. I was so appalled that I sat up all that night reading it. The facts were right, in essence, but he'd really gone to town on me. I still think he overdid it. There was no need to make me such a monster, such a cardboard zombie, such a humourless, idiotic prig.

1. This version of Bond is far worse than Fleming's.

2. No, Fleming wrote Casino Royale beginning February 17, 1952. He always had his routine of writing on his annual holiday to Jamaica, generally January to March, and returning to England for editing. The timeframe Pearson claims is actually when Live and Let Die was written.


‘That's what I told them all, at any rate when we had our meeting. Ian was there and M., and head of S, and quite a lot of top brass from the ministries. And, in fairness to Ian, I must say that all of them were most enthusiastic. There is a great deal of the schoolboy in the senior civil service mind, and Ian had got their tastes exactly. M., I might add, was secretly delighted at the way Ian painted him. And Ian made great play about the way the book would have to appeal to one man in particular – Guy Burgess. We knew by then that Burgess was advising Smersh on English matters, and Ian said, quite rightly as it turned out, that if we could once convince the wretched Burgess that this hero was completely fictional, we were home and dry.

‘I tried various objections, but they wouldn't really listen to me, and, as M. said, ‘This book is your one and only hope for a future in the service, 007’. There wasn't much that I could say to that.

‘They did agree to toning down some of the sexier passages with poor Vesper. I really didn't care for them. M. backed me, I'm glad to say. Ian was very cool and authorish about them, but as M. said, “there's no need to descend to the level of pornography, particularly as the girl is dead.” And, as you know, it went ahead.’

While Fleming wrote the book, the Secret Service engaged in an extensive cover-up to help it work. They arranged for a copy to get in the hands of Guy Burgess of the Cambridge Five (who had fled to Moscow in 1951). Burgess brought a copy to General Grubozaboyschikov to be translated for him.


When he had finished, the directorate of Smersh was silent. Who had slipped up? What idiot had first been taken in by the famous British sense of humour? All eyes were on the General.

‘Where does this character called James Bond come from then?’ the General asked.

‘I’d say,’ said Burgess, ‘that he was Sapper from the neck up and Spillane from the navel down.’

The General said he hadn't read Sapper or Spillane, and Burgess, according to the report, replied that it was time he did.

Urquhart assisted in the deception by surreptitiously destroying the records of Bond at Eton and Blades, as well as moving Aunt Charmian and May for a few months so they couldn't be found. Bond laid low in Tokyo, without even Fleming knowing where he was in hiding.


On the whole, Bond's few friends in England proved easier to deal with than he thought. Urquhart saw each of Bond's three married women, and told them just enough to keep them silent. He was a good psychologist, and did the same with other key acquaintances. And the strange thing was that as the books about James Bond became more popular, people who had known him seemed to forget that he had once existed. As Bond puts it, ‘I was beginning to get absorbed into the character of “James Bond, the Secret Agent of the Fleming books”. It became rather spooky, and I would sometimes wonder whether James Bond was real myself.’

You'd be a lot more interesting, that's for sure.


But the main thing about the operation was that it worked. During his whole time in Japan, Bond had heard nothing of a threat from Smersh. On his return to London, M. confirmed that the manhunt by the enemy was over – for a while at least.

‘You owe your life to Ian Fleming,’ M. said when they met. ‘Don't forget it.’

‘Somehow I don't think I'll be able to,’ said Bond.

Discreetly, Bond resumed his duties. There were a few barbed comments from the Chief of Staff, but on the whole Bond's role in the Fleming books was treated as a private joke in the department. It made no difference to his work. By now May had returned from Glen Orchy, Bond resumed residence in Wellington Square and the Bentley emerged from storage. Then, late that autumn, Fleming told M. that it was time to be thinking of a fresh James Bond book.

To do M. justice he was a little taken aback at first.

‘You've written the drat book. It did its job magnificently. Surely that's that?’

Fleming argues that the only way to keep the Bond myth alive is to keep writing books. He also points out that the book gave a flattering image of the Secret Service, and M was quite concerned about a good image at the time. They ended up choosing his Mr. Big operation for the next book, which ended up being the most accurate account of any of Bond's tales.


But long before it appeared that autumn, Bond had resumed the very active service he was used to. Indeed, 1954 provided one of his busiest years to date. This was partly due to the mounting pressure on the 00 section, and also to a quirk of M.'s. M. always had been, in Bond's words, ‘a thorough-going slavedriver’. Hard with himself, he felt he had a right to be hard with others. He also thought that men respond to pressure and that more agents are destroyed by slackness than by the enemy. Around this time this attitude of M.'s grew worse. Bond himself agrees that there was an odd streak in him – he refuses to call it sadism – but M. had certainly inherited the attitude from the old navy that men need to be broken. He was almost happy when they did.

Throughout 1954 it seemed as if M. was determined to see how much work James Bond could bear. More and more interdepartmental work was thrust on him as well as regular assignments for the 00 section. (For the purpose of the fictional James Bond, Fleming has emphasized his hero's hatred of all office work. Bond denies this and insists that he is, in fact, a competent administrator. From what little I could judge of him during these weeks I would agree.)

Bond spent most of his time between missions in constant training, which is why he's so hyper-competent in the books. He would spend a week at a time mastering a craft, exercising non-stop, until he had an athletic body and an encyclopedic knowledge of violence. Most of his missions still remain a secret.


One of Bond's so-called ‘copy-book affairs’ occasioned a swift visit to the Far East. 002, who for the previous three months had been inside a gaol in Canton, had broken free, killed several Chinese guards and somehow crossed the border between China and Portuguese Macao. In London it was realized that this was a situation that could all too easily get out of hand. But almost before the Chinese Communists had time to put pressure on the Portuguese for the ‘foreign murderer's’ return, Bond was in Macao. It was a perfectly planned and executed coup – so perfect that when 002 disappeared from the Portuguese police headquarters where he was being held, there was no shred of evidence of who had taken him. (This was in fact almost the first operational use of Oblivon, a safe but instantly effective sleep-inducing drug which had been recently developed in the laboratories of ‘Universal Export’.) The escaped agent travelled to Hong Kong – impeccably disguised as an ancient Hackar woman – on the morning ferry, and was back in London by the following midday.

Another mission Bond undertook this year led to the recovery of several pounds of top-grade uranium 235, and in doing so he saved the British Government from considerable international embarassment (to put it mildly). For the uranium had been stolen by mistake by a group of London gangsters from a consignment to an atomic power-station on the coast. The lorry had been hi-jacked. The thieves had clearly thought the uranium was gold or some other straightforward precious metal. But when the lorry was recovered, the uranium was missing. During the weeks that followed, Interpol was alerted. Rumours began to buzz around the underworld about the uranium being ‘on offer’ for a reputed million pounds. And the Government was suddenly shocked at the prospect of a group of criminals offering the raw material for an atomic bomb to anybody who could pay the price.

Bond spent some time in France, where he was operating in conjunction with his old friend Mathis. He took a lot of trouble building up his cover as an envoy from an Arab power wanting the uranium to be used against Israel. This was dangerous work, involving the penetration of at least one Arab underground network from North Africa. And in fact Bond finally did ‘purchase’ the uranium – from a villa on Lake Geneva for a million pounds in gold, provided on British Government orders by the Bank of England. The gold was recovered by Mathis and his men that same afternoon, whilst Bond and his lethal cargo were flown back from Switzerland to Gatwick by a special aircraft of R.A.F. Transport Command.

You have just described two books you could have written instead.


That autumn Bond returned to London just in time for the publication of Fleming's second book, Live and Let Die. It was obvious to Bond that Fleming was now getting in his stride as an established author. He was very proud of the dust-jacket for the book. Bond liked it too, but something about the author's attitude was troubling him. Fleming had actually suggested he should come to a publication party for the book. When Bond refused, Fleming replied ‘but why on earth not? It'll be amusing and no one will realize who you are.’

This, as Bond admits, was just the trouble. Arabs are wary of being photographed in case they lose their face: Bond began to feel that he was losing, not his face, but his whole personality. And Fleming was beginning to act as if James Bond were his creation. Bond told him so. Fleming replied, quite logically, that this was all part of the original deception. Bond had to agree, but still felt uneasy.

This time he couldn't bring himself to read the book.

I have not heard that superstition of Arabs. While it did appear in some cultures early in the dispersion of photography, I would be extremely surprised to find out that it was still a thing in the 1950s.


Bond was not the only member of the Secret Service to be worried at the course the books were taking. After the publication of this second book some very strange reports got back to Moscow. Urquhart was worried that someone in the press would stumble on the truth, and Fleming was summoned to an anxious meeting of the security committee in the ‘Universal Export’ building. Once again his ingenuity appeared to save the day.

‘If we're so afraid that Smersh will smell a rat,’ he said, ‘perhaps we ought to give them a really big one to sniff at.’

M. asked him what he meant.

‘I think the time has come to give them what they think they're getting – a piece of total fiction built around our famous superman. Something so obviously far-fetched that our old friend, Guy Burgess will have all the arguments he needs to convince his critics that Bond is pure and unadulterated fiction.’

This was the origin of his next book which he called Moonraker.

Man, Bond isn't even saving the world in this version.


The plot was a favourite one of Fleming’s – a mammoth British rocket project built by a rich industrialist who plans to use it for his Russian masters. But he and Bond spent a weekend together to discuss it. By an odd coincidence, Fleming owned a house not far from James Bond's boyhood haunt at Pett Bottom – the Old Palace, Bekesbourne. They went to Fleming's club, the Royal St George's, Sandwich where they played a lot of golf and then sketched out the plot. Fleming's idea, like all the finest thriller plots, was just conceivable. His villain was an immensely rich industrialist who offered to use all his vast resources to build a British rocket – he called it ‘The Moonraker’. The project would go ahead, the villain would get praised for his vision and patriotism. And then, at the last minute, James Bond would discover that he wasn't what he seemed. In fact he was working for the enemy, and the Moonraker would be part of a plot to hold London to ransom – either the British Government would give in, or the Moonraker, complete with atomic warhead, would be fired directly at the heart of London. Bond was again impressed by Fleming's ingenuity, and also by his knack of welding fact to fiction. It was Bond's idea to place the rocket-launching base on the cliffs at Kingsdown. This was a stretch of coast that he knew well. He took Fleming there to get the atmosphere, and afterwards they stopped at the pub, The World Without Want on the Dover Road, which was to feature in the book. Here they discussed Bond's office routine, and M.'s latest fads. They even talked about the villain. He was based on a mutual acquaintance but, to avoid the libel laws, they had to find a different name for him. For some reason Bond remembered the dog he had owned as a boy in France – Drax.

‘Good name for a villain,’ Fleming said. ‘Villain's names must all be short and sharp and memorable.’

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

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

Jumping back to the previous update for a minute, Lublin is a pretty unlikely name for a German battlecruiser. Germany named its battlecruisers after people, not cities, and moreover Lublin is a Polish city that was only in German hands in 1915-18 and 1939-44.

chitoryu12 posted:

The Man Who Never Was was a book (and later film) about Operation Mincemeat, which is described accurately.

There's one major inaccuracy that I recall: the official story at the time was that the 'donor' corpse had died of pneumonia after being rejected for military service because of poor eyesight. In fact it was a homeless man who died after ingesting rat poison.

chitoryu12 posted:

If you go to the Spy Museum in DC, you can actually see the ice axe!

Is that a recent addition? I was there about five years ago and don't remember seeing it.

chitoryu12 posted:

impeccably disguised as an ancient Hackar woman

I suspect that's supposed to be Hakka.

Dec 24, 2007

Biscuit Hider

Somebody Awful posted:

Is that a recent addition? I was there about five years ago and don't remember seeing it.

They moved to a newer larger building last year and have new exhibits.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 12: Bond Cocu

Alternately, The Character Assassination of Tiffany Case by the Coward John Pearson


‘Love?' said James Bond. ‘The best definition of it I ever heard came from a friend of Ian's, a man called Harling. Used to work with N.I.D. during the war and was supposed to have been a great expert on the subject in his day. He defined love as “a mixture of tenderness and lust”. I think I agree with him.’

‘And that's all?’ said Honeychile.

‘That's quite enough,’ said Bond. ‘For me at any rate.’

That would be Robert Harling, a close friend of Fleming's who held many jobs in his life: typesetter, advertising executive, magazine editor. Fleming was a subscriber to his Typography journal and had him commissioned to redesign the admiralty's weekly intelligence report. Harling joined the Royal Navy when war broke out, and in 1941 was transferred to the Inter-Services Topographical Department to utilize his graphic design skill for analyzing recon photos and producing maps and target guides. He worked closely with Fleming and the 30AU in the field during their intelligence gathering operations, even meeting General Patton once. He returned to his magazine career and writing, dying in 2008 long after many of his contemporaries. In 2015, Ian Fleming: A Personal Memoir was released detailing Harling's friendship with Fleming.


It had taken him several days to explain how the Bond books had started. During this time he had appeared distinctly tense and it had clearly been an effort to recount the facts of this strange story. I knew him well enough by now to recognize when he was ill at ease. The voice grew sharper and he became impatient at any interruption. Plainly the loss of his identity into the Fleming books still rankled. He seemed relieved when he could talk of other things; much to my surprise he even accepted an invitation from the indefatigable Mrs Schultz for a day's cruise aboard her yacht, the Honeychile, and suggested I should come along.

We set out early. The Schultz ‘Corniche’ picked us up from the hotel at eight. By eight-thirty the long white boat was gliding from the harbour to the open sea.

Bond has a love of sailing, and he takes charge from the boat's normal captain, Cullum, to pilot it himself (which is implied to be a regular occurrence).


She had insisted on preparing lunch herself – a P.J. Clark salad, cold pheasant, strawberries and cream. Bond was allowed to manage the champagne. Honeychile looked suntanned, desirable and rich, and by now was wearing nothing but the bottom half of her bikini. Bond had told her that he could not bear tanned women with what he called ‘undercooked’ white breasts. She was obediently doing what she could to improve them.

First, this version of Bond is horrible and every time he talks about Fleming "making him worse" in the books I want to assassinate him myself.

Second, the "PJ Clark salad" seems to be a Cobb salad. PJ Clarke's is a restaurant in New York City that's been open since 1884.


It was after lunch that the combination of alcohol and sun and Honeychile's near-naked presence, had brought the conversation round to sex and love. And it was then that he had given his definition of love.

‘Tenderness and lust,’ Honeychile repeated. ‘Those sound like the words of a true male chauvinist bastard.’

Yeah, this version of Bond is.


Bond grinned cheerfully. The land was out of sight, Cullum at the helm, the yacht was ploughing a furrow of white wake to the horizon. Honeychile got up to fetch a second bottle of champagne. Her breasts were browning nicely. When Bond refilled her glass she sipped and then said very softly, ‘One day, J. Bond Esquire, you're going to get your sexual comeuppance. It'll be very funny and I hope that I'm around to see it.’

If I never see "her breasts were browning nicely" again, it will have been too soon.


Bond didn't seem at all put out by this.

‘Oh, but it's happened,’ he replied. ‘Not that it's something I've ever looked for in a woman, but I have been treated very badly in my time.’

‘Like when?’

‘Like during the time I was with Tiffany. I'd been in America in 1955 working on the diamond case that Fleming wrote about in Diamonds are Forever. There was a gang that called itself “the Spangled Mob”. It virtually controlled the illicit international diamond traffic. We had to deal with it – and in the process I acquired this girl. Her name was Tiffany Case. Fleming mentioned that I brought her back to London, but never described what happened afterwards.’

That's because Ian Fleming liked Tiffany, created a strong character who remains one of the best in the series, and felt no need to make the story pointlessly dark.


From Bond's account that afternoon it was quite clear that the beautiful Miss Tiffany Case, ex-gangster's moll and sometime blackjack dealer from Las Vegas, possessed that extra something that a woman needed to get through his habitual sexual defences. In her case this something was her vulnerability. He had sensed it beneath her ‘brazen sexiness and the rough tang of her manner’ that first evening that he met her in her London hotel room at the start of the assignment. As Fleming noticed Bond had an instinct for female lame ducks. He probably detected some reflection of his mother in them, and his protectiveness was roused from the beginning.

He is essentially a sentimentalist; the story Felix Leiter told him of the girl's childhood touched his heart. Most men would have steered clear of a girl with such a past, however beautiful. But for Bond the wounds that life had given her added to her interest. He was intrigued to learn that this brash, knowing girl had never had a man since she was communally raped at sixteen by a bunch of California gangsters. There was a challenge in a girl like this. The fact that her mother had once kept ‘the snazziest cat-house in San Francisco’ added, if anything, to her allure. So did the desperation with which she tried to drink herself to death after the disaster. As Bond admits now, she was the ideal romantic victim-heroine to appeal to him.

We have no need for a rehash of their romance aboard the Queen Mary. Bond was sincere in wanting marriage after they moved in together, and she acquiesced to the difficulties that his life as a 00 agent would inevitably bring.

While May is out of town visiting her mother in Scotland, Bond gets the next 10 days with Tiffany to himself.


She was the perfect mistress for him now. This was the first time he had lived with anyone since Marthe de Brandt, but he was never bored. One of the reasons why he had avoided living with his women previously was that he had dreaded being bored. With Tiffany he was kept busy teaching her a whole world she had never seen. She was an apt pupil, Bond a dedicated teacher.

He showed her London, not the London of the guidebooks, but his private London – London of the river and docks, the City empty on a Saturday evening when there was just one pub by Cannon Street still open, Covent Garden in the early morning. They ate in the last Chinese restaurant in Limehouse (Bond had first met the owner in different circumstances in Hong Kong), and dined at the Ritz (‘the finest dining-room in Europe’) at Scott's (the inevitable grilled plaice and black velvet at Fleming's ‘Honeymooners’ table’) and at a taxi-driver's shelter in Victoria (‘the best sausages and mash in London’).

I'm going to assume Bond accidentally gave money to that Chinese restaurant owner during a bungled op.


Bond also showed her the crown jewels, the Soane Museum, Savile Row, the reptile house at London Zoo and took her on a late-night tour of the London sewers. They bought smoked salmon in a shop off Cable Street, caviare in Clerkenwell, steak in Smithfield, and had champagne and strawberries sent from Fortnums.

The only time they clashed was when Tiffany wanted to go to a theatre. Bond refused. In the event they spent the time in bed.

How much money is Bond making off his gambling?


For both of them, the greatest source of pleasure lay in novelty. Neither had lived like this before. In her disorganized wild way, Tiffany kept house – cooking when they were hungry, stacking the dark blue Minton unwashed in the kitchen, pulling the covers over the bed when they had finished making love. The flat looked as if a boys’ club had adopted it.

At the time Bond didn't mind – rather the reverse. Like most meticulous and over-organized people, he had a secret longing for disorder. It seemed a breath of life, a much-needed shake-up. Order brought James Bond boredom – anarchy rejuvenated him. Then things began to change.

They had gone off to spend their second weekend together at Le Touquet, putting the Bentley on a Bristol Freighter flight at Lydd and staying in some style at the Hotel Westminster. As Bond told her, this was a treat – to celebrate their time together, and to mark the end of their brief ‘honeymoon’. On Monday morning he returned to work. They had to make the most of these last hours of holiday. They gambled wildly, ate compulsively, made love extravagantly. They arrived back in London late on Sunday night. May was waiting.

May had a certain way of sniffing when she disapproved. It was a private signal Bond had always recognized. She sniffed when she surveyed the flat, her ‘handsome closed face’, (as Fleming once described it) eloquent with mute distaste.

‘If ye'll be excusin’ me,’ she said, ‘I'm just a wee bit tired. I'll get started on the place tomorrow.’ And in the morning Bond and Tiffany were woken by the angry sound of washing-up as May got going in the kitchen. It was the clarion-call to battle.

Bond simply assumes things will work out. Both May and Tiffany are headstrong and set in their belief at what Bond enjoys, arguing over what he prefers for breakfast and Tiffany intentionally making messes that May cleans more studiously than ever. Bond, unable to do anything, runs.


For the remainder of that week the battle rumbled on with May and Tiffany embattled in the flat and Bond a somewhat wary referee longing for one thing only – peace. This was a situation he was not prepared for, the sort of warfare where this ‘man of war’ became a coward. He could take on a Smersh, a Chiffre, a Mr Big, but he would suffer agonies at the thought of having to lay down the law to May – or Tiffany.

The sad thing was that suddenly he seemed to have lost the best of both worlds he had known. Tiffany's insouciance had left her. So had May's order and discretion. During the weeks that followed Wellington Square became a sort of no-man's-land.

Bond became edgy in the office and bad in bed. He felt tired. The unshakeable Miss Goodnight became difficult. Bond's work suffered. He felt M.'s hidden disapproval in the background – and at the same time his ‘available male rating’ with the secretaries plummeted.

He still loved Tiffany, in some ways more than ever, but she had started to annoy him. The female debris that surrounded her no longer seemed appealing. Nor did her ignorance. She drove the Bentley and dented the offside wing. Once he would have ignored it. Now he was annoyed, and there were tears.

I can't tell if the reference to Mary Goodnight as his secretary is an error or Pearson making a minor change for no reason again. Goodnight replaced Loelia Ponsonby (reimagined here as Una Trueblood) years later, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.


Finally Bond asked Bill Tanner, M.'s Chief of Staff for his advice. This was something Bond had never done before. He wasn't one for revealing his personal affairs to anyone, but Bill Tanner was an old friend, a married man, and eminently sane. His advice was quite uncompromising. ‘It looks as if you've got to choose. Either you marry, get a house and kick out May – or you risk losing Tiffany. You can't have both.’

In fact, Bill Tanner's words were truer than Bond suspected. Early that June, May was on the edge of handing in her notice, whilst Tiffany was growing more and more depressed. She was having to find out the hard way James Bond's defects as a potential husband.

She still loved him, and thought him glamorous and kind as ever. When they were together life could still be wonderful. But, as she sometimes asked herself, what was in all of it for her? She had no friends in London. Bond was away all day. May was a bitch.

So is the author.


Nor had she any money. Bond could be generous, in certain strictly limited ways. He loved to give her presents, often expensive presents – a diamond clip from Cartier, a jumbo-sized bottle of scent, silk underwear, the luxuries of life. But when it came to bread-and-butter he was downright mean. She found the housekeeping he gave her quite inadequate; this too became a source of friction.

The truth was that Bond had really no idea about money, nor the cost of running a ménage. May was an economical old Scot who had always managed everything, cut the expenses to the bone and worked wonders with the salary of a civil servant. Tiffany was not. The life that she had led had made her quite indifferent to money. It had always been around her in large quantities and she had spent as she wanted. Now she was short for food and short on clothes. She couldn't buy a lipstick for herself. Inevitably they argued over money – something they both hated but could not avoid. It was almost a relief to Bond when, in the second week in June, he was sent off abroad on a brief assignment, even if it was the sort of faintly servile and routine affair that he would normally have loathed.

M. was predictably embarrassed by the whole business, and cut the briefing to a minimum. From his few clipped phrases Bond gathered that his task was simply ‘to keep an eye on’ a British cabinet minister holidaying at Eze-sur-Mer. The man, not entirely to Bond's surprise, was homosexual – M.'s phrase was ‘one of them’ – and Bond had simply to make sure that no enterprising agent of a foreign power attempted to involve him in a scandal or to blackmail him. Recently there had been several cases which involved businessmen and politicians with such tendencies. The minister had been showing an extraordinary compulsion to get into trouble – there had been discreet warnings from the C.I.A. after the man's recent visit to the States, and, as M. said, ‘prevention is better than a messy scandal.’

Tiffany demands to come with Bond to use the mission as an excuse for a vacation, but he refuses. In France, Bond finds that a private detective has already been hired by the MP to essentially bodyguard him. The detective helps Bond get a copy of the guestbook at the villa the MP is staying in, which he sends to Mathis to run. The only recognizable name is Henri, a Hungarian-French male model with a criminal record who had previously been suspected in incidents involving NATO information leaks and the death of an American embassy official.


Bond alerted the detective who replied that there wasn't much that he could do, but Bond was worried – especially when he learned that Henri and the Minister had been seen together at a restaurant in Cannes. It was a tricky situation. All of Bond's instincts were against this sort of squalid prying into private lives and he was inclined to agree with the detective.

But on the other hand he had a job to do: after Mathis's warning he could hardly leave things as they were. If anything went wrong, M. would be holding him responsible.

He thought of having a discreet word with the Minister, but dismissed the idea at once. He could just picture the man's fury, and the letter of complaint to M. that would follow. He also thought of trying to see Henri and warning him off; that would be even clumsier and riskier. In the end he telephoned his old friend, Reynard, at his house near Grasse. Reynard knew everyone and was very shrewd. Bond suddenly had an idea.

Next morning the telephone rang early in the villa by the sea. The manservant who answered it replied that he was sorry but Monsieur Henri was asleep and could not be disturbed. The voice on the telephone then gave a name that made the manservant suddenly respectful. Seconds later he was knocking urgently on Henri's bedroom door. When Henri mumbled that he wanted to be left in peace, the manservant whispered the name. Five minutes later Henri was on the telephone to Paris.

As vanity is stronger than fear, Reynard has arranged a screen test for Henri with a French film producer to get him out of the way. While the minister is upset at how rapidly Henri left without saying goodbye, he actually got the part and established a successful film career!


During these days when Bond was in the South of France, Tiffany remained dutifully in the flat. By now she and May had reached a state of stabilized hostility, but life was tedious and she was lonely. There was not much to do with Bond away. She remembered one of Bond's earliest remarks about getting married, ‘Most marriages don't add two people together. They subtract one from the other.’ At the same time she hadn't understood him. Now she did.

Thanks to Bond she had been admitted to England without a passport. Immigration had told her to obtain one later from her embassy. With Bond away it seemed an opportunity to do so; she took a taxi off to Grosvenor Square.

It was the first time she had been inside an embassy but from the moment she entered she felt at home. Perhaps it was the smell, that curious American smell of mouthwash, air-conditioning and percolated coffee; perhaps it was the transatlantic tone of voice; perhaps it was the stars and stripes outside and the copies of the New York Herald Tribune. Whatever the cause, Tiffany was suddenly affected in a way she had not thought possible: she was homesick for New York.

At the embassy, Tiffany meets a handsome American major stationed there. While she politely refuses dinner with him, he finds her name and number in the embassy records anyway and calls her back for a fake reason. He asks her out again, and this time she accepts.


This was the position, more or less, when Bond returned from France. He was at a strange disadvantage. Had it been anyone but Bond, he would have recognized the situation straight away. Tiffany had changed: she was alternately distant and over-loving, gentle yet rejecting, critical and then subservient. In short she was showing all the classic symptoms of a woman having an affair. But Bond, who had not been cuckolded since the age of twelve, was merely puzzled.

Ah, there we go. The sentence that makes you do a double-take is finally here.


What was wrong with her? Was it her period? The condition seemed to last too long for that. Had he neglected her? He tried spoiling her – more scent, more underwear, another trip to France: but all too late. Never before had any woman treated him like this and all his wide experience of doting and adoring women had left him quite ignorant of the female heart. He made mistakes that no suburban husband would have made. Then, final degradation, he became jealous.

This unfamiliar emotion floored him completely, and he suffered like an adolescent youth. He tried to reason with himself. There were other women; no one was worth this sort of anguish – not even Tiffany. He suffered just the same.

It was a complete reversal of his character. Once away from her he tried to be sensible. It was no use. He was emotional by nature and had had no training with women he could not control. He tried to question her. Worse still, he threatened her. One night he hit her. He was very drunk. Next morning, sober, he was most repentant. She was icy. That evening, when he returned, the flat was empty.

All right! Tiffany is a spoiled cheater and Bond is a drunk domestic abuser! This book is great! Definitely not going in the trash!


At first he could not believe it, even when May announced, ‘She's gone. The body's gone. She's left you.’ But there was a letter on his desk.

Darling James,

We have enjoyed ourselves, and I shall be always grateful. But the truth is that you don't need a wife but I need a husband. When we first met you told me that you were married to a man called M. I think I know now what you meant.

Do understand, my darling, I'm not blaming you. But I have met this major at the Embassy. His name is Nick. You'd like him, and he wants to marry me. I've said I will.

Do understand, dear James, that this is best for all of us. I know you love me, and that you will be hurt. But in time when the hurt is less you'll know that I am right.


Bond took it very hard. He had left many women in his time, but he had not been left before; he felt lonely, and betrayed. His pride was hurt. He realized that he had truly loved her.

Maybe try not punching her next time.


Soft, sentimental as he was, he thought that he might still succeed in settling down and marrying her. Somehow he found the hotel where she was staying. He sent her a letter. It was returned unopened.

Presumably his vanity was hurt. At first he couldn't quite believe that she was serious. No woman had done this to him before. But when he finally did reach her on the telephone she calmly told him she was leaving for the States next morning. She did agree to see him – briefly.

Bond drove round to see her. He was still certain he could persuade her to come back to him and he was convinced that he loved her. Then he saw her; and he knew at once that everything was over. She was waiting with her new fianc, and introduced him straightaway as ‘Nick’. He seemed a pleasant fellow, ‘nothing extraordinary to look at and not over-bright, but clearly top-grade American husband material.’ And Tiffany had a certain look he'd never seen before, ‘the look of a woman who has got her man – and is all set to eat him.’

It was that look, says Bond, that cured him. Just a few hours before he had seriously thought of shooting the American. Now he was grateful for the chance to buy the man a drink.

Oh gently caress off, Pearson. You could have stopped at turning Bond into an even bigger rear end in a top hat than I ever thought possible. You didn't have to follow it up with "Also Tiffany is a cheating whore who ruins men's lives."


It was all most civilized. They talked about New York and San Francisco. Bond promised to look them up next time he was in the States. He wished them both good luck, and then kissed Tiffany goodbye. As he drove back to Chelsea he thought of sending Tiffany some roses, but couldn't find a flower-shop.

‘Perhaps,’ as he says now, ‘it was as well.’

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 07:19 on May 7, 2020

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

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

chitoryu12 posted:

Alternately, The Character Assassination of Tiffany Case by the Coward John Pearson

Going in, I hoped you were joking.

Coming out, I knew you weren't.

Lord Zedd-Repulsa
Jul 21, 2007

Devour a good book.

If I were reading this as a physical book, this is the point where I'd slam it shut and give it back to the library. This Bond isn't mean to the women in his life!

Apr 23, 2014

Lord Zedd-Repulsa posted:

If I were reading this as a physical book, this is the point where I'd slam it shut and give it back to the library. This Bond isn't mean to the women in his life!

I'm very happy I pirated it.

Runcible Cat
May 28, 2007

A post? Never!!


chitoryu12 posted:

Alternately, The Character Assassination of Tiffany Case by the Coward John Pearson

Yeah. gently caress youuuuuu Pearson.

chitoryu12 posted:

If I never see "her breasts were browning nicely" again, it will have been too soon.

All I can imagine is *sizzling*. Ow ow ugh.


They ate in the last Chinese restaurant in Limehouse

As someone who lived near Limehouse in the 80s, I promise you there were still plenty there then and no doubt still are.

Apr 23, 2014

If you want a preview of what the next book is like, go look up what series made Christopher Wood famous.

Apr 23, 2014

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

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

chitoryu12 posted:

If you want a preview of what the next book is like, go look up what series made Christopher Wood famous.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 13: The Soft Life


Honeychile Schultz was winning, there was no doubt about it. Now Bond was in danger of becoming Mr Schultz the second. The story he had told of his affair with Tiffany merely underlined the fact. Until then I hadn't realized how weak he really was with women once they had got through his defences. I should have recognized the pattern earlier. Those one-night stands of his, the hit-and-run affairs, the rigidly controlled relationships with firmly married women were quite simply the manoeuvres of a man determined to keep womankind at bay.

Fleming had understood this perfectly when he said that Bond, like most hard men, was soft inside. Bond was essentially sentimental and at heart a vulnerable lover. And Honeychile, who was quite the opposite, must have appreciated this, especially after yesterday. The moral of the Tiffany affair was certainly not lost on her.

"Never let John Pearson write again."


Bond, though, appeared oblivious of what was going on: he had other worries on his mind. After our day aboard the Honeychile I had been hoping to continue with the story of his life from 1955 – the year made memorable by the assignment Fleming has described in that most colourful of all his books, From Russia With Love. Bond had other ideas. I was sitting on the terrace after breakfast and wading through a day-old copy of the New York Times when he appeared. He was smartly dressed in regulation James Bond dark blue shirt and freshly laundered white duck trousers. He had, he said, to spend the day with Mrs Schultz, but was expecting a telephone call from London. Would I please be sure to take it for him when it came.

That is not the Bond outfit! Dark blue shirt and white pants?


‘From whom?’ He paused.

‘From Universal Export. From M. to be precise. I've been attempting to get through to him all week. I can't imagine what he's up to. Moneypenny promised to make sure he rang.’

‘And if he does, what do I say?’

‘Just tell him that we've nearly finished and that I hope to see him soon. Tell him …’ At that moment there was a sharp blare from a car at the front of the hotel. Mrs Schultz was waving from her Rolls. Bond shrugged his shoulders. ‘Tell him I'd like to know what's going on.’

But M. didn't ring, and it was late that evening when Bond reappeared at the hotel. Honeychile was with him looking, as the gossip columnists say, ‘quite radiant’. There was a hint of power in her beauty now, a subtle gleam of triumph in those wide blue eyes. She did the talking, Bond, by and large, the drinking. They had been deep-sea fishing. Bond had apparently caught an eight-foot swordfish. The idea seemed out of character, but she made much of how he had played and handled it, ‘just like a real professional’.

Should we be that surprised at anyone in this book acting out-of-character?


‘I never knew you were a fisherman,’ I said.

‘I'm not. Fishing's for old men.’

‘Not our sort of fishing, darling,’ Honeychile insisted. ‘Ours is for rich men.’

Bond said nothing, but when she left asked, ‘Well, did he call?’

When I said no he shook his head and said, ‘Well, I suppose that settles it. This would have amused Ian. Didn't they try to make him take up fishing when he retired?’

‘Who's talking of retirement?’

‘I am. I've had enough of hanging on here, waiting while they decide whether to have me back or not. Thank God for the lamented Mr Schultz – and for his fortune, and his wife.’

‘Won't you be bored?’ I said.

‘Bored? Not as bored as I would be in London, waiting while they decide if I'm still fit for just one more assignment. I've had enough of it. It's always been the same.’

‘What has?’

‘The uncertainty and boredom – waiting and wondering whether you're still up to scratch, and all the time hanging on until M. is ready to employ you. Fleming knew how it felt – he described it when he wrote about the summer after Tiffany had gone. That was the first time in my life when I actually woke up in the morning feeling bored.’

"The soft life" is giving Bond trouble with boredom, but it also allows for the physical and mental damage of his rough and trauma-inducing life to emerge. New missions became the way to set that trouble aside, culminating in the mission to Turkey in 1955.


Fleming's outline of the mission is surprisingly accurate (indeed at one stage M. was threatening to stop the book under the Official Secrets Act. He still maintains it gave too much away). Certainly Smersh did plan to involve Bond in a carefully planned scandal in Istanbul, as Fleming said they did. The bait was a beautiful young woman carefully trained and selected from their own organization. Her name, as Fleming says, was Tatiana Romanova and she was pretending to defect with the latest Russian cypher machine, the Spektor. Bond was sent out by M. to meet her. He slept with her, became convinced she was in love with him, and it was during their return to London on the Orient Express that Bond met and, against all the odds, defeated the trained Russian killer Granitsky, alias Donovan Grant.

Is this a change to the canon, or a mistake by Pearson forgetting that Grant was an Irish defector to Russia?


This was a very real setback to the cold hard men in Smersh. Indeed, this incident was more of a victory for Bond than Fleming could reveal. For, naturally, the Turkish mission has to be assessed against the peculiar background of Bond's whole secret service life. The truth was that this attempt by Smersh was simply one more episode in their vendetta against Bond. Granitsky was intended to avenge the one-time top assassin in Smersh, Chiffre's killer, Oborin. But there was more to it than that. By now the directorate of Smersh had found out the truth about the James Bond books and realized the scale of the deception. There was some pressure to have the facts made public, but this was powerfully resisted by the redoubtable General Grubozaboyschikov, the head of Smersh. He had his enemies within the party and as a wily apparatchik who had survived both Stalin and Beria, he knew how dangerous such revelations of his gullibility could be. Lesser mistakes had cost much greater men their heads.

Instead the General reacted like the determined man he was. All the proof, so carefully prepared for months, of James Bond's existence was quietly consigned to the incinerators behind the Smersh headquarters on the Sretenka Ulitsa. And at the same time a foolproof plan was hatched to destroy the real-life Bond as well. This (and not the slightly flimsy argument that Fleming gives) was the real reason why a killer like Granitsky was brought in to murder him. This was why such elaborate plans were laid to tempt him out to Istanbul, and this was also why Bond's victory aboard the Orient Express was such a triumph.

I would argue that there's nothing "flimsy" about Fleming's plot. In the Fleming universe, Bond has repeatedly foiled SMERSH plans of great value, including an attempted nuking of London. His prominence and the massive pain in the neck he is to the Russians would undoubtedly give reason to simultaneously kill and humiliate him.


But the events of these few autumn days in 1955 played their part not only in Bond's subsequent career but also in his legend. Fleming has described the frantic way that Smersh still tried to murder him. Even in Paris he had to face the arch-spy Rosa Klebb – disguised as a sweet old lady knitting in the Ritz – and as we know, the lethal dose of Japanese blow-fish poison from her knife-edged heel all but finished him. Thanks to Bond's stamina (and possibly the low quality of Soviet fugu that year), he survived.

You can decide for yourself the accuracy of the phrase "Soviet fugu."


It was at this point that General Grubozaboyschikov chose to act like the realist he was. The vendetta against this agent Bond was clearly getting out of hand. Smersh had lost Oborin, Granitsky and now Rosa Klebb. Even by Russian standards, this was excessive.

Surely the best plan was quite simply to allow Bond to continue as the hero of the Fleming books. Why unmask him? Why even try to kill him – especially now that it appeared that he was in a dreadful state from fugu poisoning? The Russian evidence of his existence was destroyed and it was inconceivable that he would operate against the Soviet again. Quoting the words of an ancient Cossack proverb, Comrade General Grubozaboyschikov decided he would ‘let sleeping moujiks snore’.

This decision of the General's produced the ironic situation which has continued ever since – for until today the Soviet and British Secret Services have had a shared interest in concealing Bond's existence. Certainly after the fiasco of the Smersh conspiracy outlined in Fleming's book, From Russia With Love, James Bond was safe from inadvertent exposure by the Russians.

For someone who criticizes Fleming's plot work, "We've lost a ton of important agents in single combat to this guy so the best thing to do is ignore him and hope he goes away" is a doozy.


Not that this really worried him that autumn. He had more serious problems on his plate, and even Fleming was soon talking as if this book would be the last that he would write about his hero. His summer boredom was essentially a symptom of a more profound disorder and the strain of his Turkish mission (the quite extraordinary physical demands of the oversexed Miss Romanova and the struggle with his appalling enemy, Granitsky) had virtually exhausted him. The real trouble was fatigue. This was why he bungled the end of the assignment. As he says, had he been on form, la Klebb could not have hoped to trick him in the way she did, only his blurred reactions let her get in that all but winning kick.

But others slipped up too – even that normally astute young Frenchman, Ren Mathis. A man of his experience should certainly have known better than to have consigned Rosa Klebb to headquarters in a laundry basket without searching her. (At the subsequent inquiry he shouldered all responsibility for the woman's death. She had swallowed a concealed cyanide capsule and was quite dead on arrival at the headquarters of the Deuxime Bureau.)

Bond had a bad few weeks that autumn, and he spent several days, heavily guarded and sedated, in a small private nursing home in Paris. He says that the first effect of the drug was enormous pain and a feeling of asphyxia. He never quite lost consciousness, and owed his life entirely to Mathis who gave him artificial respiration till the doctor came. At first it was seriously feared that the drug would cause permanent paralysis or damage to the nervous system. Thanks to Bond's stamina it didn't. A fortnight later Bond was flown home aboard a specially dispatched R.A.F. Transport Command Comet. He spent another week in the London Clinic, where he was tested and examined by several of the country's top medical scientists. They pronounced him virtually recovered. M. (who incidentally hadn't visited him in hospital) awaited his return to duty.

Tania eventually changes her name and moves to Australia. When Bond returns to work, it's found that he's in no physical condition to get back to things. This is where Sir James Molony comes in.


Bond still remembers the first evening when Molony visited him in Wellington Square. Bond at the time was incommunicado, finding it hard to sleep or to face anyone. Sir James had quite a job persuading May (who was very worried) to let him in. He had, he said, brought Bond a present – a bottle of Wild Turkey – and was to stay up half the night to help him drink it. At first Bond was suspicious, he'd had his fill of doctors in the last few days, but as he told himself, this was the first who had brought him anything to drink. Sir James seemed unconcerned at Bond's moroseness. A Dubliner, he had what the Irish call ‘a way with him’ and gradually Bond did what he'd never done before – he started talking of his childhood and parents and his early life. Sir James was a skilled listener – and drinker. Before the night was over he knew more about James Bond than anyone. From long experience with the Secret Service he recognized Bond's type. He was what he called a ‘puritan romantic’ whose divided nature was in constant conflict with itself.

‘You mean,’ said Bond, ‘I've never grown up?’

‘No, not at all. It's simply that you've never managed to resolve the two sides of your nature. Rather the reverse – the way of life you've plumped for naturally exaggerates them, hence the conflict.’

‘How do you mean?’ said Bond.

‘One side of you, the Scottish puritan, longs to have everything in order. It's basically your father's influence – it's obvious from your flat and from the way you dress. It's in your face as well. But then the other side of you, your mother's side, gets sick of all this order and restraint. That's when you break out and start longing to escape. The trouble is that the puritan lets you do this only in the line of duty, on some legitimate assignment. Small wonder that there's so much tension.’

I would need someone with more psychiatric experience than me to tell me if this is bunk. I actually have a friend with a master's degree in this, so I'll ask her.


Molony said all this so calmly that Bond suddenly felt scared.

‘You mean that there's no cure?’ he said.

‘Not really. None at all. This is quite simply what you are. It's probably as well to know it and to face it. Then we can do something about it.'

‘But does it mean I'm finished with the Service?’

‘Not if you're sensible. This character of yours is what makes you perfect for your job, you have the ideal psychology. Why else d'you think that you've survived so long?’

‘What's wrong with me then?’

‘At times like this the tension between the two sides of your nature simply gets too much. That's when the boredom and the lethargy begin. And that's what we must fight.’

‘Can we?’ said Bond.

‘Oh, certainly. I've worked out a therapy for men like you.

Bond is taken to Molony's big country house near Sevenoaks for some "enhanced living." Exercise - including assault courses - intellectual challenges, fast driving, massages, dietary control, medical tests. Despite their tension in the book at this time, Bond was very defensive of M's attitude and how hard he drove the Service: he had to be in such trying times.


I was surprised to find Bond even defending M. over the way he had to vent his disapproval by the enforced replacement of his favourite gun, the faithful old Beretta.

‘He could have been more tactful, but events proved him right – as usual.’ The new Walther PPK, so strongly recommended by the Armourer, has justified itself time and again. Bond says he owed his life to it, and that within a matter of weeks the Walther was as much a part of him as the Beretta had ever been: which was just as well once he was battling with Dr No.

The mission against Dr No (for all its hazards or perhaps because of them) brought James Bond back on form. It was the sort of mission in which he excelled. It seemed like a return to home ground to be back in Jamaica. Unlike the Turkish business with its atmosphere of constant double-dealing and betrayal, this offered Bond a chance to fight a clear-cut enemy. Fleming has been permitted to describe the way that Bond tracked down the diabolical doctor to his guano-coated hideaway of Crab Key in the Caribbean. Thanks to James Bond he was destroyed, and with him the threat to American space programme from Cape Kennedy. But there was more to Bond's victory than that. Dr No was evil and Bond felt no remorse for the appalling death that finally befell him.

When Bond returns to Britain, he finds it in an uproar over the Hungarian Revolution. For several days straight, Bond is confined to desk duty to help the overworked staff receive reports on the evolving situation. Every Western intelligence agency is suddenly confronted with the ripest setting for espionage and sending men over like mad. M sends for him.


‘Well, battle-stations, 007. I hope you're feeling fresher than you look.’

‘I was hoping for some action,’ Bond replied.

‘That's all you ever think of,’ M. growled irritably, sipping his coffee. ‘Perhaps you're right,’ he added, as he heaved himself up in his chair. ‘Perhaps you're right. Now, as you've probably deduced, I have been holding you here in reserve during the last few days just in case anything went wrong. Unfortunately it has. I need you out in Budapest as fast as possible. Pull up a chair and I'll explain.’

It seemed that for several days now M. had been concerned about the information coming out of Hungary. There had been unexplained delays and recently the chaos in the country had resulted in a breakdown in communications. Certain facts filtered through, some of them correct, others quite demonstrably false and, as M. said, it was essential now to know ‘the total picture’. 009, a former lecturer from the School of Slavonic Studies, had been in Hungary since long before the rising. Forty-eight hours ago, his transmissions ceased. M. said that this was ‘most disquieting’ (one of M.'s favourite phrases which really mean ‘disastrous’) for, as Bond gathered from M.'s non-committal briefing, 009 had been acting as liaison man between the different resistance groups inside Budapest. He had had the task of organizing for the future, and he alone had been entrusted with the full list of names, contacts and potential agents.

‘Quite contrary to all accepted practice to have one man with so many lives at stake,’ said M., ‘but there was no alternative. It was a risk we had to take. It looks as if we may have come unstuck.’

M. looked at Bond. There was silence in the room. Both of them knew quite well what would happen if 009's information ever reached the enemy. Both of them knew what needed to be done.

Bond's on his way to Budapest. M doesn't even care about whether 009 lives or dies, as long as he gets that list.


All revolutions seem to smell the same and Budapest that fateful autumn had something in the air Bond recognized at once – the unforgettable scent of violence. It was a sour, acrid smell of burning buildings and unburied bodies. It was the reek of cordite and the fumes from the diesel engines of the Russian tanks that lumbered through the streets. By now it was a hopeless smell. Bond realized that he must hurry. There were still pockets of resistance. The students were holding out in the university and in the southern quarter there were mammoth blocks of flats where the resistance started. In parts of the old city too the flags of the liberation were still fluttering, but it was clear that the uprising was now doomed. The Russian tanks controlled the streets. Government troops were slowly recovering the city. Soon the arrests would start, the trials, the reprisals. Soon it would all be over.

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 began as a student protest demanding the end to Soviet control of Hungary and an investigation into the communist politicians. A group of students stormed a broadcast station and were detained by the police. When the crowd of protesters outside grew, the police fired into the crowd. The protest turned into a riot, with even soldiers switching sides and joining the rebels. It grew into a full revolution, toppling the communist government and making preparations for exiting the Warsaw Pact and officially joining the West with free democratic elections.

The Soviets, safe to say, were displeased. On November 4, the Politburo sent in a massive army to crush the revolution. The revolutionary government was removed within 6 days and by January 1957 the revolt had been fully suppressed, violently putting Hungary back into communist control after thousands of deaths. The violence with which the Soviets brutally crushed the revolution alienated many Western Marxists who began questioning their commitment to Marxism, including one Kingsley Amis.


Bond was dressed as a workman – grey shirt and cap, a pair of ancient overalls. During a revolution it is as well to be as inconspicuous as possible. He spoke sufficient Russian to maintain his cover-story as a skilled man from the big Soviet car works on the outskirts of the city. In Vienna he had been provided with his documents and local currency. His only weapon was the Walther PPK in its shoulder holster. He was used to it by now, and was reassured to feel its solid bulk against his armpit.

During the few hours he had spent in Vienna, he had been given certain leads to 009 – an address in the old city where 009 had often stayed, a girl called Nashda who was said to be his mistress, and a man called Heinkel. Head of Station in Vienna had been slightly vague about the Heinkel man. He was supposedly part German, part Hungarian, and had been working with the liberation movement in the city. He seemed to have some sort of private following and claimed backing from the Americans. Certainly he had money, arms and a transmitter, and 009 had evidently trusted him. It was through Heinkel's set-up that he had made radio contact with the British station in Vienna.

In Vienna Bond's task had still seemed quite straightforward. (Most assignments seem straightforward during briefing – it's only later that the complications start.) But now that he was in the city, he realized how difficult it was. He had to find a man whose very nature was to be elusive. The city was in chaos. There were no telephones, no transport, and if the Russians caught him … Bond wondered how long his accent and his documents would satisfy those squat, determined figures with their red-starred caps and their machine guns.

Bond waits until nightfall, then begins picking his way through the destroyed city, dodging searchlights and patrols. He finds the apartment 009 was living in to have lost electricity, forcing him to navigate by matchlight. He finds the apartment torn to shreds and 009 with his throat slashed on the bed.


What should he do? M. had spoken of a list, but it was unlikely to be in the flat – even if 009 had made it. Whoever killed him had been looking hard for something. But once again Bond had no idea who the murderers could be. Nor, with the Russian soldiers on the streets, would he have much chance now of finding out. It looked as if the mission had aborted. Those weeks of work, the risks, and now the death of 009 had been in vain. All he could hope for was to get out fast – and leave the explanations till he was face to face with M. Others had been at fault. He had done everything he could. He put away his gun and turned to go.

The flat was in total darkness and he groped his way towards the door. He thought he could remember where it was, but found himself blundering against the furniture. He put out his hand to save himself and touched something soft. It was a woman's breast.

Goddammit Bond.


‘Don't move,’ said a voice. ‘Just raise your hands.’ He did, then in the darkness felt himself being frisked for weapons. Somebody found the shoulder holster and removed the gun. Then a flashlight was shone straight into his face.

‘Let's go,’ the voice behind it said. ‘We're late.’

There were two of them – the woman he had blundered into and a man who held the flashlamp. He also had a gun which was pressed uncomfortably against Bond's kidneys. Bond saw that both of them were dressed in white, like medical orderlies, and just along the street there was a small white ambulance.

‘Get in,’ said the man. The woman held the gun now. Bond complied.

‘Where are we going?’ he inquired.

‘To see a man called Heinkel,’ she replied. ‘He's expecting you.’

The driver evidently knew the city and although the ambulance was stopped several times by troops, it was immediately waved on. It travelled fast, its siren wailing through the deserted streets. Bond looked towards the woman. She had a round, white, pudding face and spectacles with stainless-steel rims. She wore a nurse's head-dress with a big red cross and held the gun inside her nurse's apron. Something in her expression told Bond that she would like to use it.

As far as he could judge the ambulance was travelling down a long boulevard. Then they slowed down, and swung in through some high gates. They seemed to be inside a park. There were more gates, trees, a long wall and finally the ambulance drew up outside a squat grey building. There was a strange stench in the air, and suddenly the silence of the night was shattered by a high-pitched scream. It continued, like a soul in torment, then just as it died out, the scream turned into laughter, a hideous, hysterical sound. Bond drew back. The woman laughed and pushed him forward with her gun.

This is now a horror movie.


‘Inmates?’ said Bond.

‘Sure. The hyaenas. Haven't you seen a zoo before?’

The building was the monkey-house of Budapest's world-famous zoo. Owing to the rising there were no keepers, but there were lights on in the office. Bond was led in. Behind the desk sat a huge man in a shiny leather hunting jacket, smoking a cigar. He had a sub-machine gun on the desk in front of him, and nodded curtly as Bond entered.

‘No luck,’ the woman said. ‘We searched the place again from top to bottom, but there was no trace of it. This character turned up, though, as you said he might. He's English, by the sound of it. Shall I dispose of him?’

The woman's grey, round face was quite impassive, but Bond could detect an eager glint behind the spectacles.

‘Good heavens, Rosalie, my dear. What manners! Dispose of Mr Bond? Whatever will he think if you talk like that. Please leave us, Rosalie. We have important matters to discuss.’

The big man's voice was soft, reminding Bond of Peter Lorre in The Maltese Falcon.

‘Immediately, Rosalie, my dear.’

"Or I shall return you to Forks to be harassed by teenagers."


The woman jumped, then scuttled off. The big man scratched himself and yawned.

‘Forgive all this,’ he said, ‘but these are most unpleasant times. Sit down. A drink? My name is Heinkel. I and my men have been here since the rising started. We found the zoo deserted when the Russians came. It's a good place to hide. So you came looking for poor 009? Vienna told me to be on the lookout for you when I spoke to them this afternoon. You were extremely lucky to get through.’

Funny for the Peter Lorre reference, the distinctive Hungarian actor played Le Chiffre in the 1954 Climax! adaptation of Casino Royale.


A big hand backed with thick black hair pushed a bottle of Dimple Haig across the desk. Bond poured himself a generous measure and drank it neat. After the hunger of the day it tasted good.

‘Who murdered 009?’ he asked.

The big man shrugged his shoulders. ‘Who knows? A lot of people have been killed here in the last few days. He's in good company. What I would like to know is why you're here. Vienna didn't tell me that.’

‘They felt that 009 needed assistance. It seems that they felt right.’

‘Only assistance, Mr Bond? Are you certain there was nothing else?’

‘Like what?’

‘Like, shall we say, a list? Just for the sake of argument shall we suppose that the deceased 009 recorded certain names before he died?’

The big hand on the desk moved towards the gun. As Bond looked at Heinkel, he thought how appropriate his hideout was. Those simian features and the bloodshot eyes could have been staring at him through the bars. Even the soft voice and the expensive jacket couldn't disguise the ape-like essence of the man – nor the unspoken threat that he was making.

‘Mr Bond,’ said Heinkel softly, ‘I require that list.’

‘What are you up to, Heinkel?’ Bond replied. ‘Just whose side are you on?’

Heinkel laughed then – not an attractive sound.

‘My own, my friend. It's the most profitable I find. I work for anyone who pays me. During these last few days the money has been good. It will be even better if I can somehow find that last will and testament of 009. Who would pay most for it – your British Secret Service, or the Russians?’

Because Bond knew where to come and where to look, Heinkel thinks he has the list. Bond attempts to negotiate a price, but he's not making a deal.


Bond had been coolly working out the line of fire from the sub-machine gun. This was a situation he had often had to face in training. There was a man called Roscoe who was on the staff at Regent's Park. The Service's Armourer had recruited him from a circus. His speciality was dodging bullets and he instructed the 00 section in this invaluable trade. The secret of it lay in speed and creating some diversion. Bond had become quite good at it, but he had never had to use his skill against a man like Heinkel.

Luckily his brain was very clear. Once again he found that danger was a stimulant, and when he moved he moved with the co-ordination of an athlete. His right swung out and sent the whisky bottle shattering against the wall. At the same time he threw his body sideways so that he fell protected by the desk. When Heinkel started firing the bullets were a foot above him.

It was a brave attempt but it was useless. Before Bond reached Heinkel, the woman and two men with automatics had rushed in, and from the floor Bond found himself facing the black muzzles of their guns.

Yet another brave escape attempt instantaneously foiled.


‘D'you want him killed, Heinkel?’ shrieked the woman.

‘Not yet, Rosalie. He deserves something better than a bullet. And he could still be useful. On your feet, Mr Bond. And do be careful. I rarely miss a second time.’

Slowly Bond lifted himself up. Heinkel prodded at his stomach with the sub-machine gun.

‘Now Rosalie. Please search this gentleman – thoroughly.’

It was an obscene performance, but there was nothing Bond could do as the clammy fingers started to undress him. The woman's small red tongue was visible. The eyes were glittering through their spectacles.

‘Take your time, Rosalie,’ said Heinkel, as she started to explore him. Bond closed his mind to what was happening.

Finally Heinkel ordered her to stop.

‘That's enough, Rosalie. It isn't there.’

Bond felt more naked than ever in his life before.

This is uncomfortable.


‘Now Mr Bond,’ said Heinkel. ‘I'm feeling generous, but don't abuse my generosity. I'll give you one more chance. We're leaving in the morning. There's nothing else for us in Budapest and we must be getting back for our hero's welcome from the Americans. You have until then to remember where you have hidden that list we want. If your memory improves, you can have your freedom. If not, you stay here till the Russians find you – and I'll make certain that they know exactly who you are.’ He rose to his feet, and paused to light a fresh cigar. One of the men twisted Bond's arm behind his back as if in warning.

‘Oh, and incidentally, Mr Bond. You'll be having company. Be careful how you treat your roommate. He's bigger than you.’

Bond was dragged out into the main corridor of the monkey house. None of the cages had been cleaned for days – the stench was overpowering – and as Bond passed, small bright nocturnal eyes watched this strange naked ape walking along the wrong side of the bars. Some of them shrieked at him. There were the small grey monkeys, huddled like birds along their perches, gentle orangutangs, neurotic rhebuses, and iron-faced mandrils with their bold backsides. Bond passed them all, and at the far end of the corridor he saw a small steel door. One of his captors slid it open and pushed Bond inside.

‘Sweet dreams, Mr Bond. Your taste in exotic bedfellows is legendary and I am only sorry we are unable to provide you with something more stimulating. But at least we can guarantee you won't be bored. Goodnight Mr Bond, and goodbye.’

A guttural, self-satisfied laugh echoed round the steel cages. Footsteps receded down the corridor. A door clanged shut. Bond strained his ears but could hear nothing.

This is the strangest story.


The straw beneath his feet was moist and spongy and the stench in the cage was overpowering. The stink of accumulated dung fought with the nauseating sweetness of rotting food, but above them both Bond detected the rank and unmistakeable odour that only a terrified animal can exude.

He stood rock still waiting for his eyes to get used to the darkness. Looking up he saw that this part of the cage was open to the sky: low, dense cloud obliterated what light the moon might have shed, but he could make out the bars of the cage and a concrete walk beyond.

Suddenly he heard the straw rustle and a black shape bounded forward and crashed heavily against the bars. The creature shrieked and leapt back into the darkness, and immediately hurled itself again at the bars and shook them violently. Gradually it subsided and after throwing straw in the air and covering its head completely, it returned to its corner.

Bond did not need a zoologist to tell him his cell-mate was a gorilla.

When I heard about this book, "Bond locked naked in a cage with a gorilla during the Hungarian Revolution" is not where I saw it going.


He attempted to assess the situation. So far the animal had ignored his presence, but clearly it was only a matter of time until it turned on him. Something in the back of his mind told him that gorillas were exclusively vegetarian, but in the circumstances it did not seem reassuring. He was naked and unarmed, and his adversary was twice as powerful as any man he had ever encountered.

Not exclusively vegetarian, just predominately.


Shambling across the straw the gorilla crouched again near the bars. For a moment it was still and Bond could see exactly how enormous it was. Beneath its huge, overhanging shelf of a brow two glittering eyes glared balefully into the darkness. Thoughtfully, it clasped a bar in each huge hand and gave them an experimental shake. Nothing moved. It screamed with anger and, moving far faster than Bond had anticipated, raced round the cage scarcely touching the walls or floor but appearing to ricochet off each surface like a huge, shaggy missile.

It settled in its corner and Bond heard it breathing angrily and grumbling to itself. Seconds later it re-emerged into the light. Then Bond saw something white behind it. It was the body of a girl. And as he stared, he saw her hand make a barely perceptible gesture: a thumbs-up signal.

Bond felt a solution was within his grasp. If the girl was alive there was hope for him, for both of them. Probably none of the animals had been fed for days: they were desperately hungry, and bewildered by fear. Just like him, all they craved was freedom.

Form an alliance with the gorilla.


and down, leapt from side to side, and beat its chest. In a paroxysm of fury it lashed out at the bars. A small piece of cement fell and rattled on the concrete walk outside. Bond felt he had no choice but to attack, and with both hands clasped rigidly together he chopped down on the ape's neck.

It was a mistake. Hard though the edges of his hands were thanks to his karate training he felt them bruise badly against the solid collar of muscle and hair that protected the ape. Its long arm slashed out and caught him off balance. He fell to the floor, but was instantly on his feet again and ready to ward off the attack which he had foolishly provoked.

To his amazement, the gorilla, instead of savaging him, hurled itself once again at the bars. This time a small avalanche of cement tumbled down and one of the bars visibly buckled.

Bond suddenly knew that his only chance of survival lay in terrifying the animal still further. He filled his lungs and released what he trusted was a blood-curdling imitation of a gorilla's cry. At the same time he pounded the steel door with both his fists.

Bond is escaping by being scarier than a gorilla.


The animal reacted as he hoped. It screamed back at him but seized the damaged bar and shook it with all the power in its 450-pound body.

Bond screamed, shouted and bellowed until his throat was raw. He thumped and kicked the door until his feet and hands were bruised. He yelled at the girl to join in. She shouted and thumped too. The gorilla seemed in the grip of hysteria. It shook the bars and shrieked with them.

At last, with a crash of concrete, the loose bar fell away, and, as it struck the ground, the gorilla vanished into the darkness.

They just broke out of a cell by giving a gorilla a panic attack. What the gently caress is this book?


Bond slumped onto the floor. Seconds passed before either of them would move, and then, without a word, they squeezed out of the cage.

The zoo was deserted except for a single man guarding the ambulances. Bond dealt with him, took his gun, and, more importantly, his clothes. Finally they were away.

It was not until they were racing through the outskirts of the city that Bond had a chance to ask who she was.

‘Who are you?’ she countered.

‘My name is James Bond,’ he replied. ‘A man called Heinkel put me there. And who on earth are you?’ Even as Bond pronounced his name he heard the woman gasp.

‘Bond,’ she said, ‘James Bond? Why did you come so late? We needed you.’

‘Who are you then?’ said Bond.

‘My name is Nashda. I was with 009 when Heinkel killed him. I've been here ever since. Heinkel has no idea I'm alive – he thought the gorilla had killed me. I've been in that stinking cage for two days, just lying there playing dead. I am sure he thought the thing would dispose of you in the same way. In fact, he was as frightened of you and me as we were of him. All he wanted to do was get out of his cage.’

As they race through the city, dodging refugees, Bond learns what happened. 009 had been working with Heinkel and his crew, mistaking them for patriotic Hungarians, only to find out they were actually a criminal gang using their CIA backing as a cover for armed robbery. Heinkel acquired ambulances and nurse uniforms to move through the city undetected, planning on using them to escape with his loot. They demanded information from 009 and killed him when he wouldn't talk.


By late that afternoon they made the Austrian frontier, and by evening they were in Vienna. Their first stop was the office of the British Head of Station A in an impressive office block in Dresdnerstrasse. Suddenly the horror of the last few days was over. And for the first time, Bond could concentrate upon the girl. She was Hungarian and young and very pretty with short fair hair and a big generous mouth. From long experience Bond knew how pleasurable she would be to kiss. One of her eyes – they were green and thickly lashed – was larger than the other: this too for Bond was an almost automatic source of attraction. He had to tell himself that she was simply not available. She had been 009's woman. He was dead. It would be unthinkable to begin desiring her in such circumstances. Besides, they both had work to do. Rather than write the list of agents where it could be discovered by an enemy, 009 had made the girl learn it by heart before he died. Bond was impressed by her extraordinary memory.

Just the memory, Mr. Bond?


‘It's simply concentration, Mr Bond,’ she said, smiling demurely. ‘There's really nothing like it.’

Bond, who wasn't certain if she was making fun of him frowned and told her that his name was James.

‘I know,’ she said.

"This is literally my job."


Bond spent some time discussing their arrangements with the Station head. He was a tall, pernickety ex-Foreign Office man. He had already been in touch with London and M.'s orders were that the list was far too valuable to risk transmitting to London – even in cypher and employing the theoretically secure wave-band used by the station. The girl must be brought immediately to London, and to ensure that there was no chance of slip-up, Bond was to bring her personally.

‘M.'s orders are that you're not to let her from your sight for a moment,’ said the Head of Station.

‘That sounds romantic,’ said the girl.

Bond was expecting to fly back with her that evening, but it proved impossible to get a flight. The station clerk booked them both first class aboard the Arlberg Express for Paris.

‘Dear Mr Bond,’ the girl said when he told her. ‘That means that we'll have to share a sleeper – if you're to follow orders.’

The Arlberg Express left Vienna at 8.45 next morning. Bond was still wary of the girl. She was a little too intelligent and beautiful for comfort. But they got on together. By the time they reached the station he had finally persuaded her to call him ‘James’.

Since when did Bond find a girl too smart and pretty?


‘What did you do about that devil, Heinkel?’ she asked.

‘Not much I could do,’ he replied. ‘Except to get Head of Station to send round a general warning to the Austrians. They'll stop him at the frontier if he tries to get through.’

The train was crowded, but the excitement of the long train journey affected Bond as usual. They spent the day enjoying one another's company. After the hell of the last few days, it was wonderful to be alive and to enjoy the scenery of Austria. In the evening they dined – expensively. (Bond decided that the British Government owed a girl like this a good dinner in the first-class eating waggon. It was delicious. So was the champagne.) And after the champagne, the coffee, the Courvoisier, there was the long nostalgic journey through the night. Poor 009 was quietly forgotten, as Bond proved (to his silent satisfaction) that he had been right about her mouth. As they fell asleep to the busy rhythm of the wheels Bond told his conscience that he was following M.'s orders to the letter.

Bond and Nashda are awoken by pounding on the door for a "passport check." It's very obviously Heinkel, reenacting From Russia With Love.


‘You and the girl are supposed to be dead. I left the Budapest zoo last night happy with the thought that you were both dead. I dined out on your death, Mr Bond. I ate well, I slept well. I returned to my temporary base at the zoo only to discover that you had been impertinent enough to stay alive, and that furthermore you had allowed a very valuable specimen to escape, to say nothing of the valuable specimen you have in the carriage with you. Fortunately, through my contacts in your Vienna office I had little difficulty in tracing you. But now no more of your tricks, Mr Bond. I am beginning to find them irksome. I have five men out here; all of them are armed. We have gone to considerable trouble to join you on this train. Kindly don't spoil our journey. Now, open the door!’

Bond knew that Heinkel wasn't bluffing, and so he withdrew the wedges and pulled back the door. Heinkel was outside, smoking a cigar. In his right hand he negligently held the small submachine gun he had in Budapest. Bond handed him his gun.

Not the first time he's done that on a train through Europe.


‘How very touching,’ Heinkel said when he saw the girl. ‘Comforting a dead comrade's girlfriend, Mr Bond? This way, if you please.’

Heinkel had a compartment further down the train, and Bond and the girl were pushed along the swaying corridor.

‘No hurry, Mr Bond,’ said Heinkel softly. ‘You know your Service's security in Vienna could be so much better. We understand from our contact there that the young lady has the information we require, but we can take our time to get it. It's two more hours to the border. I'm sure that we can make her talk by then.’

As they walk down the train, Bond spots his one chance.


But there was just one chance. The hazards were enormous, but it was better than torture and certain death. As they passed the train door at the end of the compartment Bond seemed to stumble. As he turned, his shoulder cannoned into Heinkel's stomach, and at the same time he reached out and grabbed the handle of the door. It moved. The door swung open, and for one frightful moment Bond and Heinkel were hanging over the abyss. Luckily Bond kept his balance. Heinkel didn't. Bond heaved, and, like an overloaded mail sack, Heinkel's great body was sent thudding out.

The most embarrassing Bond villain death: tripped into a door.


He knew that any moment one of them would fire. He had to take a chance. As far as he could tell the train was on the top of an embankment.

‘Now,’ he shouted to the girl. And clutching her, he jumped. At that moment he remembered nighttime parachute descents over the pitch-black countryside of wartime France. Instinctively he hunched his shoulders, tucked in his head and raised his knees. And luckily the earth was soft. They landed heavily, then rolled, tumbling together to the bottom of the embankment. The first thing Bond remembers is of the girl bending over him and tearfully asking him if he were dead.

The spot where they had landed was ten miles from Innsbruck. Somehow they limped into a village. By the time they reached it, it was nearly morning. Bond's back was hurting badly, and it took most of that day to sort things out. At first the police wanted to arrest them. Heinkel's body had been found a few miles back. It had hit a bridge. Bond identified it from its size and from the leather jacket. And finally, after a call to Head of Station in Vienna, Bond and the girl were driven into Innsbruck, then flown home. Just for once, Bond was grateful for a plane.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 13:02 on May 11, 2020

High Warlord Zog
Dec 12, 2012

chitoryu12 posted:

If you want a preview of what the next book is like, go look up what series made Christopher Wood famous.

Oh god. And what is going on with the male cover model

Apr 23, 2014

It sounds like a joke, but I'm not kidding. I have no idea how Christopher Wood got involved in Bond with his record, but he cannot turn off the horny

Apr 23, 2014

Since we only have 2 chapters left, let's celebrate by watching a boat chase that never got posted in the first thread:

Proteus Jones
Feb 28, 2013

Hair Elf

You really missed an opportunity to not title the thread "The social distance between..."

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010


The flat was in total darkness and he groped his way towards the door. He thought he could remember where it was, but found himself blundering against the furniture. He put out his hand to save himself and touched something soft. It was a woman's breast.

This was all I could think of:

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

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

chitoryu12 posted:

"Bond locked naked in a cage with a gorilla during the Hungarian Revolution" is not where I saw it going.

Dec 21, 2012


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

Serious Men's Adventure, "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" vibe.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 14: The Truth about M.


I felt sorry for Bond by now. Headquarters had obviously been treating him abominably. He had been here six weeks and he was patently quite fit for duty. He was also desperately anxious for a word from someone in Headquarters. To my certain knowledge he had tried ringing through to M. five times at least during the last two days, and once he had even packed and booked himself aboard a scheduled plane to London. Cynically, I thought at first that he was simply running out on Honeychile, but now I realized it wasn't that. He longed to work. The Secret Service was his life and he felt acompulsive loyalty to all his colleagues in Headquarters. It clearly troubled him to think that they had quietly forgotten him.

He had to break off his account of the Heinkel business to take a cable. It was the answer he was waiting for. He read it, pulled a face, and threw the telegram across to me. It was an uptight little message, making me feel the Secret Service still had a lot to learn on personal relations.

‘Imperative you stay and await orders stop desist attempts at telephonic contact.’

It was signed, M.

Bond shrugged his shoulders.

‘Typical,’ he said. ‘M. is impossible these days. He seems to think he can go on for ever – just like old Herbert Hoover in the F.B.I. I was hoping to get through to Bill Tanner. Clearly I'm not permitted to.’

Okay now I'm convinced that Pearson doesn't do research and just tries to remember everything. The FBI head was J. Edgar Hoover, not the former president.


There was a tinge of bitterness now as he spoke and I was surprised to hear him finally talk like this of M. Until now he had always carefully defended him. Now the pretence was over. ‘I didn't realize that M. was quite that bad,’ I said.

‘Few people do,’ said Bond and smiled. ‘He's a smart old monster – wonderful at public relations and great skill at making himself indispensable to a succession of Prime Ministers, but really the old boy's become a menace. Mark you, as I said, he used to be extremely good. He was a splendid leader and had great flair once, but I noticed him beginning to lose touch around the time of the Hungarian affair. It all began to get too much for him. I even saved him once you know. It's a strange story.’

Bond leaned back, lit a cigarette, and stretched himself luxuriously. He grinned as if the memory still amused him.

‘No, it was very rum,’ he said. ‘If you read carefully between the lines of the Fleming books in places you get a hint of what was happening. That incidentally was why M. and Fleming had their final bust-up, but that's another story.’

The reason From Russia with Love ended with Bond seemingly dying is because Fleming and M decided it would be a good stopping point for their deception plan. However, M decided the Service needed some publicity.


‘But why should the Secret Service need publicity?’

‘That,’ replied Bond, ‘is a naïve question. In 1956 everyone was criticizing us. There was the Crabbe affair – you remember, the frogman who was caught in Portsmouth harbour with the latest Russian cruiser during Bulganin's visit. Caused quite a diplomatic incident. Well, we were blamed for that – quite unjustly as it happens. And the Americans were getting difficult. Precious little help was coming from the C.I.A. Against all this, Ian's books seemed to drive home the point that our Secret Service was still the finest in the world. And the Dr No affair of course did tell the public of that little favour that we did the American space programme. That was the message M. wanted to get over loud and clear.’

The "Crabbe Affair" is the story of Lionel Crabb. He served as a frogman in WW2 before shifting to a civilian diving career after the war. He was later hired by the Royal Navy again to do some work, but heavy drinking and smoking and his age of 46 led to him being retired in 1955...and then MI6 got him.

You see, the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze was on a diplomatic mission carrying Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin to Britain. The new Sverdlov-class cruisers were just a few years old and MI6 wanted to do some recon on the ship's propeller while it was in Portsmouth Harbor. Crabb went down and never came back up. Within 10 days, news had leaked to the media and they were reporting on his disappearance.

It caused a minor scandal as the British tried to cover up the operation while the Soviet ship crew stated they had clearly seen a diver nearby. Theories range from accidental suffocation (either his own fault or his equipment's), capture and interrogation and execution (or even brainwashing into a double-agent by the Soviets), and even a fanciful theory that he was planning a defection and MI5 sent a diving partner to assassinate him. A body washed up on shore in a diving suit, but was unidentifiable and may not have been him. It has been confirmed that other divers were sent to recon the ship at the same time, so there's a possibility that he died accidentally and had it covered up.


‘Then why not let the truth come out completely, and have the fact of your identity made public?’

‘No. We couldn't have done that. To start with, Ian just wasn't that sort of writer. I think he could only write about this fictional James Bond he had created in the past. He had to have what he used to call his author's licence to play around with facts and characters a little when he felt inclined. And of course it suited M. to have this enormously successful publicity put out as so-called fiction. In any other form it would have been impossible.’

‘And you really didn't mind?’

‘Quite honestly I didn't – not by now. My few close friends were in the Service, and it amused me to find myself suddenly becoming a sort of popular hero. Remember it was only now – say 1956 and ’57 – that the books started catching on. Ian became suddenly excited at the idea of having a bestseller on his hands and I really couldn't tell him it had got to stop. We used to get on very well together.’

Another factor in the story of the books was that just about this time, Bond suddenly began to have the great successes of his career. Thanks to Sir James Molony he had avoided a recurrence of the trouble of the year before. Jamaica – and the fight with Dr No – had put him back on form. He was supremely confident, and fighting fit, and it was in this mood that he embarked upon the Goldfinger affair.

Again, one must be grateful to Ian Fleming for simply being there to describe this most extraordinary coup in Goldfinger. Perhaps he paid overmuch attention to the more bizarre aspects of that arch villain and capitalist extraordinary, Arno Goldfinger. His cheating habits at cards, the game of golf he played with Bond at Sandwich are of no great importance, when put against the real menace of the man. But they were the sort of personal details no writer can resist and Goldfinger's obsession – his Midas-like craving for gold – was at the heart of his whole criminal achievement. Had it not been for Bond, he would undoubtedly have robbed Fort Knox: and once that happened, once the gold reserves of the world's richest nation had disappeared, the whole financial structure of the West would have been at risk. By beating Goldfinger, Bond became the man who saved the world's economy.

Pearson neglects to mention that there's no way Goldfinger's plan would have worked simply on the basis of practicality. It would have taken over a week and an endless stream of trucks to drain such a massive amount of gold. The film even points this out directly, which is why Goldfinger's plan is changed to him detonating an atomic bomb inside to remove it from the economy.

This is perhaps the most egregious of Pearson's mistakes in his inherently flawed concept. While the other mistakes in timeline and facts are clearly him not paying attention, the entire point of this book is that it's "the real Bond." We're expected to accept the conceit that James Bond is a real man who existed in real life, and the most fanciful adventures (like Moonraker) are utter fiction. Yet this universe still has the impossible occurring. It's sloppy and shows a lack of commitment to the idea beyond a general attempt at making it "more realistic" by making everyone assholes.


But when he returned to London something distinctly odd occurred. He was expecting if not congratulations at least a certain warmth from M. There was no sign of it – rather the reverse. M.'s reception was distinctly frosty. The Prime Minister was anxious to offer Bond a knighthood, and the Americans had suggested the Congressional Medal of Honour. M. forbade both, and in a way that made it seem as if James Bond had actually been seeking honours.

It was then that Bond got the first inkling of the truth – M. was jealous. This was Bill Tanner's theory too. Bond said he really didn't mind about the knighthood.

‘And didn't you?’ I asked.

Bond smiled ruefully.

Sir James Bond? It isn't really me – but May would have liked it, and of course Aunt Charmian. If it had been offered I'd probably have accepted. But it wasn't.’

Instead, M. recommended Bond for what he evidently felt his due. Bond was promoted to Grade IV. Practical as ever, Bond told himself that it was better than nothing: at any rate his salary increased by £750. And on the strength of this, James Bond decided to indulge himself.

In this canon, Moonraker never happened so Bond never totaled his 1930s Bentley. He just wanted a change, and he was able to buy the new Bentley Continental for cheap because it had been totaled in a wreck.


Bond had always dreamed of building his ideal car. This was his chance. Rolls straightened out the chassis and fitted the new engine Bond had set his heart on – a six cylinder with 8.1 compression. Then came the biggest luxury of all – the body built to Bond's own private specification by Mulliners. It cost £3,000 which, as Fleming has revealed, was exactly half of Bond's remaining capital. It was the sort of body Bond had always wanted on a car – two bucket seats in black English hide (not morocco leather as Fleming said), big convex Triplex windscreeen, power operated steering, and the paintwork once more the old ‘elephant's breath grey’ that Bond had made his private livery. It was both simple and luxurious and Bond loved it.

Despite his normal carefulness with money, he refused to think about the petrol it would use or the sheer cost of keeping such a monster on the road. For Bond the Bentley was an echo of that lost rich Europe he had known before the war, and, as he says, ‘everyone should have at least one folly in his life’. The Bentley was quite clearly his.

Most of that year Bond was too busy to enjoy it, and the Bentley, lovingly maintained, languished in its garage as its owner rocketed around the world – France and the Bahamas, Canada and Italy – on the assignments chronicled by Fleming in his book, For Your Eyes Only. As Bond put it, ‘there wasn't much time that year for desk work or for getting bored. True, there were no major missions – rather too many fiddling affairs – but at least I felt that I was paying for my keep. M. couldn't really grumble.’

With more deaths and resignations, Bond was overworked. He also was the only agent not to argue with the boss, which is why he was in such a sorry state as to have to be sent to Shrublands.


As Bond quite willingly admits, he had been ‘slightly overdoing things’ (entirely in the line of duty one should add) and this had led to certain symptoms which the Service's M.O. had noticed on his annual check-up. These were nothing serious, simply the usual signs of overwork – the occasional headache, slightly raised blood pressure and difficulty sleeping. His work had also forced on him a certain level of rich living. Sometimes he ate and smoked and drank more than was strictly good for him, but this was something of an occupational hazard for James Bond. As he points out, the drinks and rich food Fleming took such pleasure in describing, belonged strictly to the world of his assignments. When he was on a job he needed alcohol (in what for him was moderation) and also nicotine. Rich food, too, tended to become part of the normal ritual of an assignment, simply because his work took him to good restaurants and excellent hotels. It would have been an affectation – and sometimes positively dangerous – to have tried to live off eggs, salad and fresh orange juice.

If you're going to make everyone sad and messed up, at least keep Bond's alcoholism a regular thing for him!


But the pessimistic tone of James Bond's medical report gave M. the excuse he needed. As Fleming hinted, M. had become a health food addict. This was just one of his current manias and it was typical of him to have forced Bond off to the sitzbaths and meagre diet of the Shrublands health clinic. Not that Bond really minded. As he admits he was a few pounds overweight and the fortnight that he spent there toned him up, and gave the osteopath a chance to deal with the damage to his back caused by his jump from the Arlberg Express. Shrublands also gave him a fortnight's welcome rest at the expense of the department, and offered a vital lead to the operations of the notorious Spectre organization.

Fleming has described the sequence of events – the meeting with the sinister, bronzed lady-killer, Count Lippe, in the treatment room at Shrublands. Bond's recognition of the tattoed ‘Red Lightning Tong’ sign on his arm, and then the hideous attempt Lippe made to have Bond literally torn apart on the traction machine. This, in turn, led to Bond's first encounter with that extraordinary criminal genius, Ernst Stavro Blofeld – killer, capitalist and founder-chairman of Spectre, ‘the Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion’.

It was Herr Blofeld who had masterminded the hi-jacking of the NATO bomber and using its atomic bomb to extort £100 million from the Western European governments. Bond had the task of tracking Blofeld's minions to the Bahamas and recovering the bomb. This involved the famous underwater battle with Blofeld's man, Emilio Largo, and his accomplices. It was this battle which undoubtedly did save both Nassau and Miami from the atomic holocaust Blofeld had threatened. Blofeld, of course, survived, but Spectre almost fell apart, and Bond had the satisfaction of knowing he had saved the British taxpayer £100 million, and even worse extortions from the power-mad Blofeld.

So Moonraker is so fanciful that it has to have been an invention, but SPECTRE is real and doing everything exactly as seen on the page?


But once again for Bond success had to be its own reward. There were no medals, no citations for his bravery. He was used to this, but he admits that he did find M.'s behaviour strange. There was no word of congratulation when he returned. Even the personal note of thanks from the Prime Minister to Bond aroused no comment from the steely martinet, and Bill Tanner told Bond later that M. had vetoed the P.M.'s suggestion of a private lunch at Downing Street. M. had apparently ruled that it would be ‘quite improper’ and that it would set what he called ‘dangerous precedents’ for members of the Secret Service to have any contact with politicians. (Bond says that he was secretly relieved.) Late in the autumn of 1960, things started going strangely wrong for Bond. His carefree years were over.

Most of the trouble lay not in him but in the Secret Service. During this period it was under fire from the politicians and there was fresh talk of purges from security. This had produced the customary irritated reaction from M. He was on his guard and there was talk now of disbanding the 00 section. It had come under frequent criticism as a source of provocation to the enemy, and M. was tired of defending it. These rumours naturally worried Bond: without his 00 rating, it was doubtful whether he would wish to stay within the Secret Service. Then on top of this came the big re-shuffle at Headquarters just before Christmas. For Bond, a true conservative at heart, the shake-up was more disturbing than he cared to admit.

M.'s office was moved up from the sixth to the seventh floor, and Bond, to his horror, found himself relegated to ‘a small, cream-painted, hencoop of a place’ up on the eighth. In the circumstances, the move seemed ominous. Then, just a few days later, the devoted Ponsonby announced that she was leaving to get married to her mysterious broker boyfriend from the Baltic Exchange. For Bond, who had always liked to think that she was secretly in love with him, this was ‘the last bloody straw’.

Bond is sent to Canada on an assignment to protect a defector named Boris, who the Soviets have sent an assassin after while he's in his new home in Toronto.


Bond worked efficiently, but without much relish, finding the would-be murderer (an ex-Gestapo man called Uhlmann), taking the Russian's place on the night of the killing, and then quite calmly shooting Uhlmann in a gun-fight. Bond played his part like the professional he was, but it left him mildly disgusted with his calling. He liked to think that he was something more than a salaried trigger man for the British Secret Service. But it was obviously too much to hope for another of those missions like the Thunderball affair which gave him the luxury of feeling that his work had real value to society.

Why would you even name the killer if you're going to abbreviate the whole thing into a few seconds?


M. seemed obsessed with Spectre and with Blofeld, and on Bond's return to London insisted firmly that from now on they were to be his sole concern. Bond tried to argue. M. was unsympathetic.

Throughout that spring and early summer Bond persevered – still without success. He was convinced by now that Blofeld must have died and that M., for some perverse reason of his own, was keeping him at this pointless drudgery. Perhaps he wanted to deflate him after the success of the Thunderball affair. Perhaps … As he said to the sympathetic Bill Tanner during one of his periodic moans, ‘the trouble with the old man is that he's become so odd and difficult that one just never knows what he's up to.’

Tanner nodded wearily. ‘And to make it worse,’ he replied, ‘he still has an infuriating habit of sometimes being right.’

The release of Bond books has become an annual thing. Despite Bond not having any fodder that he considers appropriate for a new book (contrary to all the stories we saw that Pearson just skimmed over), the "Bond cult" is only increasing and they event want a movie. Bond is horrified.


‘One must be forward-looking in such matters, 007,’ he insisted. ‘Forward-looking’ was a phrase that he had recently taken to using. Bond mistrusted it. But M. appeared pleased that it was a British agent – and not an American or a French one – who was involved. Something else had pleased him too. ‘Look at this,’ he said to Bond, and pushed a magazine across the desk. It was the current issue of the American Life Magazine, and somebody in the press department had underlined the article. It was by the White House correspondent, Hugh Sidey, and it listed the ten favourite books of President John F. Kennedy. Number six in the list, after the Charterhouse of Parma, was a James Bond book – From Russia With Love. M. was delighted.

But even M.'s enthusiasm was unable to produce a subject for a further book. ‘It had been,’ said Bond somewhat bitterly, ‘a fallow year.’ And then another complication cropped up which seemed to end all chance of a fresh Bond adventure for that year. That April Fleming had had a heart attack, and even as M. spoke, he was in the London Clinic. When James Bond heard this he went to visit him.

Fleming is given a break from having to write thanks to his heart attack, but Urquhart is not so easily dissuaded. While Bond didn't mention Vivienne Michel by name in his report, he sought her out. Michel had some literary ambitions of her own, so Urquhart had her write up her adventure as a story for him. Bond is embarrassed by the turn of events and furious with Urquhart for getting Fleming involved while he's unwell.


Certainly one has to sympathize with Bond. Miss Michel's womens’-magazine style revelations would have worried any self-respecting male. For somebody as reticent as Bond these ‘true confession’ type descriptions of the night he spent with the ardent Miss Michel in the Shady Pines Motel must have made quite horrifying reading. Bond says he ‘hit the roof’ when he was finally allowed to see the proofs of the book, but there was nothing he could do except complain to M., and M. dismissed the whole affair as ‘just not worth discussing’. Urquhart had cleverly kept the text away from Bond as long as possible, and as Bond says resignedly, ‘What can one do about that sort of woman?’

You can give her the respect she deserves, dammit! Fleming actually made a relatively progressive female protagonist for the time and his background!


In July M. went on holiday. He was no better when he got back – in fact he was quite intolerable, snappy, bad-tempered, getting on everybody's nerves. Even the glacial Miss Moneypenny seemed to be finding him impossible. Bond found her in a state of near prostration after one afternoon non-stop with M. and took her out to dinner. She came gratefully and Bond took her to Alvaro's in the Kings Road, where he thought the pasta was the best in London. Over the spaghetti alle vongole Moneypenny told him all her troubles.

You know it's the 70s when pasta is treated as a strange foreign word.


‘I'm really worried for him, James,’ she said. ‘I know he's difficult, but he's never been like this before.’

‘Like what?’ said Bond.

‘Actually losing all control. He's been nagging on at me, and then this afternoon he flew into a rage.’

That cool naval presence in a rage? Bond hadn't thought it possible.

‘What was he like?’ he asked.

‘Terrifying. He started shouting and shoved all the papers off his desk. I simply fled.’

Bond tried hard not to smile at the thought of the stately Moneypenny in precipitate retreat. ‘Perhaps it's the male menopause,’ he said.

‘He should have got over that by now. No, James, the odd thing is that this should have happened after his holiday. He was all right before he went, a little tense and snappy but nothing at all like this.’

‘Any idea what happened on this holiday of his. I don't remember hearing where he went.’

She shook her head. ‘That's the strange thing about it. He was most anxious nobody should know where he was going, and told me to keep it to myself. In fact the forwarding address he left was for a Greek island called Spirellos.’

‘A bit different from his usual fishing trip to the Test,’ said Bond.

‘Perhaps he's in love?’ said Moneypenny, looking suddenly quite gentle.

‘Perhaps he is,’ said Bond. ‘For all our sakes I hope so and the lady soon says yes.’

The rumor of M in love spreads through the section and provides a convenient way to brush him off, but his behavior gets worse and worse. He begins drinking heavily at Blades, and finally Bond gets a call from the Ministry of Defense that M threw a gigantic temper tantrum during a Joint Chief of Staffs meeting when someone suggested the possibility of subversive behavior in the Secret Service. Bond thinks they've just been pushing him too hard and for too long, but they want him to keep an eye on him before he cracks.


M. cracking up! The idea was unthinkable. And yet the more Bond thought about it, the more possible it seemed. But what to do? M. was not the sort of man one could invite out for a drink and ask to share his troubles. He was a guarded unforthcoming man and Bond had no idea what went on behind that lined, distinguished-looking face. Nor had he any more idea about his private life. M. kept it rigidly apart from his work. Indeed, the more Bond started thinking about him, the more he realized just how little he knew about this man who ruled his life.

Bond knew he had a house at Windsor, but at that time hadn't been invited there (nor for that matter had anyone else inside the section – M. made no pretence of being hospitable). Nor did Bond know about his friends. He'd never heard of any. It was almost as if M.'s life stopped entirely once his old black Silver Wraith slid away from the Regent's Park Headquarters in the evening. And as Bond realized, he really didn't want to know about M.'s private life.

Fortunately Bill Tanner was now back from hospital (but off all alcohol and almost all the food the canteen had to offer). When Bond discussed the situation with him, he was emphatic that something must be done. But they both realized the problem – how can you start investigating the Head of the Secret Service?

Bond calls Hammond at Quarterdeck, but he refuses to say anything private. Molony has heard nothing. Tanner calls but can't get anything.

After Bond gets another worried call from the MOD, the Hammonds suddenly call him and ask to meet at a tea shop in Windsor. They're now worried enough about him that they're intervening, as long as Bond swears not to tell M about their meeting.


‘For some time now, Sir Miles just hasn't been himself. He's off his food, and he's so snappy with us both.’

Bond made sympathetic noises.

‘Particularly of a morning. Sir Miles has always been an early riser. Merry as a lark, and never any trouble. But lately he's been getting up late and missing breakfast. Hammond here has heard him talking in the night. It's our belief, Commander, that he's being blackmailed.’

‘Blackmailed?’ said Bond.

‘That's what I said, Commander.’ She dropped her voice. ‘Twice recently we've had this man phone – with a foreign accent.’

‘What sort of accent?’

‘Just foreign. Not nice at all. And afterwards Sir Miles has been just terrible.’

Neither Bond nor Tanner had considered blackmail, but, as they realized, it was a possibility.

‘After all,’ said Tanner, ‘he is human.’

‘Is he?’ said Bond.

‘And there he is without a woman. He's just the sort to get himself involved with some cold-faced jezebel and then not know how to handle it.’

‘D'you think it's political?’ said Bond.

‘Let's just hope not, although it's quite a danger. Think what an enemy would pay for a set of compromising photographs of the head of the British Secret Service!’

‘I already have,’ said Bond.

Technically, Bond and Tanner's obligation is to inform the head of internal security services. But they and the Secret Service have long been at odds with each other, and (especially if their suspicions are unfounded) this will inevitably cause drama. They resolve to investigate themselves.

First, Tanner works with the Post Office to have M's phone tapped (as Chief of Staff, he can pretend M approved the order).


At the same time, Bond began checking on all M.'s acquaintances. There was a younger brother, once an Oxford don and now retired. There were a few friends from the navy. There were, as far as Bond could see, no women in his life. He tried to find out more about M.'s holiday. He had apparently gone alone. Bond rang a friend in the Greek Embassy to ask about the island of Spirellos.

Next day they had their first success. The phone-tap had worked. The mysterious caller with the foreign accent had rung up again and on the tape there was recorded the brief stormy conversation he had had with M. The man was saying he must see him. M. had told him to go to hell, and the man had said that that was fine and he must take the consequences.

To Bond and Tanner this confirmed what they suspected. M. was clearly being blackmailed and, thanks to the Post Office, they had a lead to go on. Tanner had been able to get the call traced to an address in Kensington. It was a flat and it was owned by an Italian. His name was Del Lungo. He was a photographer.

It was no time for too much subtlety – the stakes were too high for that. Tanner had his car parked underneath the office, and that evening, after dinner, he and Bond drove round to the small turning off the Cromwell Road where Del Lungo lived.

At first they ‘cased’ the place. It was a typical Victorian block with a big front entrance and a mews behind. Del Lungo had a first-floor flat. A light was on. Bond and Bill Tanner waited. Just before midnight it went out.

With silk stocking masks and gloves, Bond and Tanner perform a perfect burglary with a glass cutter. Within seconds, they have the phone line cut and Del Lungo and his girl bound and gagged.


There were three big filing cabinets in the studio that led off from the bedroom, and they were filled with negatives. Somewhere, presumably, among this mass of celluloid lay the few pictures that could destroy M.'s reputation and career. But there was no guide to where they were. There was no filing system. Every negative had to be examined.

It was an interesting collection. The Italian was a press photographer who worked mainly for society magazines. There were a lot of very famous faces, and not only faces. For Del Lungo obviously ran a sideline in the sort of pictures people would pay a great deal not to have published. Bond says there were some real surprises: he rather wishes he had had more time to savour them. They had been working nearly four hours when they found what they were looking for. There were six negatives; by the look of them they had been taken by some sort of long-range camera. But even so, they were quite recognizably of M. He was on a beach. In some he was quite alone, and in others he was with people of both sexes. All were as naked as the day that they were born.

‘Oh my dear Lord,’ said Tanner. ‘What has the silly old buffoon been up to?’

....yes, what has this story been up to?


It was just after four when two figures climbed out of the first-floor window of the block of flats, slid down onto a garage roof, then disappeared into the shadows of a wall. Five minutes later, James Bond and William Tanner of the Secret Service were driving safely back to Chelsea. On the way they stopped at a telephone box and rang the police to tell them there had been a burglary at the photographer's address.

‘You know, I rather enjoyed our night's work,’ Tanner said.

‘Perhaps we should do it for a living,’ Bond replied.

When they got back to his flat, they had a drink, turned in for three hours’ sleep, and woke to eat the biggest breakfast May could cook for them.

Over breakfast they discussed the photographs. They were both embarrassed by them. The idea of M. in such a situation was so undignified that, as Tanner said, ‘it's as if you're looking at a picture of your parents.’ Bond nodded, and suggested that they ought to place the negatives in an envelope and post them straight to M. Tanner agreed.

‘Let's just hope,’ he said, ‘that once he gets them his temper improves.’

‘Amen to that,’ said Bond.

I should point out that we're around the end of the book. This is our big climax.


But that wasn't quite the end of the story. Presumably M. got his photographs, and certainly he had no more phone calls from the man who took them. Bond's spot of burglary had saved the Secret Service from a squalid piece of blackmail. But two days later Bond discovered more about the pictures. They were not quite what he and Tanner had originally imagined.

Bond was rung up by his friend in the Greek Embassy. He was apologetic for the time he had taken over Bond's inquiry.

‘Inquiry?’ said Bond.

‘Yes,’ said the Greek. ‘About that island called Spirellos.’

‘I'd clean forgotten about it,’ said Bond.

‘Perhaps you should go there for a summer holiday,’ said the Greek. ‘It's a nudist island, like the Ile de Levant off Toulon. It's very smart – lots of young girls, and I'm told it's very popular with old men like you.’

And then Bond realized the truth. He should have guessed earlier. Ever since the Thunderball affair he had known of M.'s taste for health foods and nature clinics. What could have been more obvious than for him to have moved on to naturism? Bond only hoped that M. had enjoyed himself. But somehow he doubted whether he would be going back.

Dec 24, 2007

Biscuit Hider

Well okay. I was halfway expecting that he was going to have M blackmailed for being gay since we haven’t hit that bingo square yet.

The Herbert Hoover FBI thing is just inexcusable.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

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

I feel bad for anyone who bought this book when it was new.

Apr 28, 2007

Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952

All those books Pearson left unwritten would make for a nice career for someone who knows the period and is ok writing licensed fiction.

Except maybe the Hungarian zoo thing. I don't now how you can seriously sell that story again.

Runcible Cat
May 28, 2007

A post? Never!!


Somebody Awful posted:

I feel bad for anyone who bought this book when it was new.

Hell, I feel sorry for chito having to read it now. It's boring enough in excerpt form; I dread to imagine the tedium of reading the whole thing, enlivened only by eyerolling historical errors and infuriating making GBS threads on Bond girls. How many have we had now? Honeychile Rider, gold-digging fame-hound bitch; Tiffany Case, cheating bitch who brooooke his heart; Tatiana Romanova, nympho bitch who nearly killed Bond with her nympho nymphoness; Vivienne Michel, wannabe Mills&Boon-writing bitch; Gala Brand, non-existent bitch because NO WOMAN IN EXISTENCE WOULD TURN DOWN JAMES BOND HA HA.

Having it end on the utterly anticlimactic climax of M getting his dick out for a bit of sunbathing on a Greek island seems... fitting, somehow.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 15: 'The Bastard's Gone'


Honeychile gave a party. The beautiful white yacht, the flawless evening with the full moon rising, candlelight and good champagne, the island glittering against a phosphorescent sea – it should have been romantic. Instead that whole evening seemed unreal and quite extraordinarily sad. The telegram from M. had settled things. Bond was resigning from the Secret Service and marrying Honeychile. The party was to celebrate the fact.

Honey had laid on all the guests, along with the champagne. There was a retired U.S. Army General (who had a speech impediment or was very drunk), a beetle-browed Greek millionaire with bright gold teeth, a recently divorced young actress and several distinctly baffled guests from the hotel invited, presumably, to fill the space. Most of them seemed like wakes attending a burial at sea.

Bond was the only one who seemed entirely at ease. He wore a beautifully cut white dinner suit and had a presence to be proud of. It seemed absurd to think that this tall figure with the lean tanned face was in his early fifties. He was extremely affable, laughing and joking and cheerfully talking golf to the General – this in itself a notable ordeal. Was he really happy – or resigned? Or was this one more role that he was playing? What a strange, enigmatic man he was.

Honey, for all her youth and nervous energy, was looking older now. She also seemed distinctly anxious; vibrant and restless as a yo-yo, chatting to everyone and flashing her extraordinary smile.

‘The smile on the face of the tiger,’ said a voice beside me. It was Sir William Stephenson who was benignly watching what was going on.

Yes, yes, all women are manipulative bitches, I get it Pearson.


‘Well, she's succeeded – like the tiger,’ I replied.

‘I wouldn't be so sure,’ he said, ‘She's not the first one to have tried, you know.’

But if James Bond was harbouring doubts about his future, he was keeping them strictly to himself. I saw him smiling frequently at Honey. When I congratulated him he nodded and replied that he thought that he'd enjoy himself. This seemed an odd remark from someone on the eve of marriage.

‘You're really giving up the old life then?’ I said.

The grey eyes narrowed. ‘Oh yes, I think so. All that's over. Time for a change. I'm getting on, you know.’

‘What are your plans,’ I asked.

‘Oh, I've a great deal to catch up on. I really won't object to being out to grass. Between us we've a lot of friends around the world, and Honey's business interests will be taking up my time. I thought I'd even try my hand at writing. There's that book I started on self-defence. Fleming was very keen that I should finish it. He even suggested a tide.’

‘What was that?’

Stay Alive! From now on that will be my motto.’

But despite Bond's optimism about his future, the air of melancholy lingered. As I left the yacht somebody was playing the Beatles’ record, ‘Yesterday’. I noticed Bond was on his own and staring out to sea. An era suddenly seemed over.

Or perhaps this would be more appropriate?


He had promised to conclude his story whilst he and Honey stayed on in Bermuda to complete formalities for their marriage – ‘that will be my last task for the Secret Service’. (Honey apparently had wanted the invaluable Captain Cullum to give them a shipboard wedding. Bond had vetoed the idea.) He also said he needed to make his official resignation from the Service. This would apparently take a little time.

‘I want it all done properly,’ he said. ‘I'm not having anybody say that I left out of pique or that I've acted badly. I simply feel that the time has come …’

He raised both hands and made a slight grimace. This morning his confidence seemed to have deserted him and his face looked haggard. He had come down to see me in my room and we were sitting, as we had on that first morning after my arrival, out on the balcony. Bond was in the bamboo chair. When I think of him today, this is how I picture him – the strange mask of a face outlined against the sapphire waters of the harbour. Below us in the hotel pool the everlasting honeymooners giggled and splashed and swam; a fat girl was astride a plastic duck; the pool professional bounded from the spring-board, jack-knifed, then speared his languid way into the water.

Bond took no notice as he sipped his coffee and began describing the conclusion of that frustrating year he spent trailing his vanished enemy, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service took place in the aftermath of Bond saving M from being blackmailed through pictures of him at a nudist colony. The book accurately described Bond drafting his letter of resignation and his saving Tracy from her suicide attempt in the ocean. And the story of Blofeld's plastic surgery and plot to spread disease through mass hypnosis was accurate (again, despite Moonraker being silly fiction).


But Bond clearly felt that Fleming had failed to do justice to his love for Tracy. ‘When I decided I would marry her it wasn't quite the spur-of-the-moment thing he makes it seem. We had it all carefully planned out. Both of us realized that we had to settle down and that this was suddenly our chance. I was still debating whether to leave the Secret Service. I hadn't quite decided, but I would certainly have moved out of the 00 section – it wouldn't have been fair to her to have stayed. We also planned to give up the flat and move out of London – probably to Kent. I even found a house for sale that would have suited us – on the cliffs above St Margaret's Bay. You could see France from the bedroom windows.’

‘You'd have been happy there?’

Bond shrugged and smiled ruefully.

‘How can you ever tell? Certainly we both thought so. I'd learned a lot since my affair with Tiffany and neither of us was exactly innocent. She'd been married already and I'd had enough affairs to last a lifetime.’

‘But what about that old enemy of yours, the soft life as Fleming called it? Wouldn't the boredom of a settled married life have caught you in the end.’

‘No,’ he said. ‘Not with her. I honestly don't think it would. She wasn't in the least possessive and I think I'd – shall we say I'd mellowed since my time with Tiffany?’

He paused to light a cigarette. He was smoking heavily.

I feel like Pearson is trying to make an intentional parallel between James Bond and Tracy and Andrew and Teresa Bond here. A relatively staid Scot paired with a wild, wealthy young girl from continental Europe who (in the book) displayed symptoms of borderline personality disorder.


‘As you know, that madman Blofeld had to destroy it all. Even today I sometimes find myself unable to believe what happened. When the assignment finished I took my two weeks’ leave and we were married in Munich. We'd finally succeeded and we were very happy. That of course was the trouble. I still reproach myself for what occurred. Normally I'd have been on my guard and Blofeld wouldn't have been able to get away with it. For that matter, instead of marrying Tracy, I should still have been after him. Instead of which I let him go. Still, one pays for one's mistakes. Or rather, this time Tracy did.’

‘Fleming described it all. We were driving to Kitzbühel for our honeymoon – I hadn't been there since before the war, but for me it always had been one of those special places where I had once been very happy. I'd always promised that I'd take the woman that I married there.’ He paused. ‘You've no idea how many times I've been over those last few minutes in my mind. You see, it really was my fault. I think Fleming explained how we passed the filling station and saw a red Maserati standing there with two people in it. It was an open car, and the people were muffled up and wearing goggles. I didn't recognize them consciously, but you know how it is. There was something familiar about them, something that rang a warning at the back of my mind. Normally I'd have paid attention to that warning – you have to in a job like mine. That's how you stay alive. But I ignored it. I was happy and I ignored it. That was why she died. The man in the Maserati was Blofeld: the woman with him was Irma Bunt. When they overtook us and the Bunt woman fired at us, the shot was meant for me. Instead it caught Tracy. It went through the heart. She died immediately.’

Bond described this unemotionally, almost casually, as if it had all happened years ago to someone else.

"The Curse of Bond" had reared its head, and Bond felt like it was a sign that he was condemned never to escape life in the Service.


He lit another cigarette and then the telephone rang in the room. I got up to answer it. The operator said, ‘London on the line.’ There was a pause, the line clicked, and another voice said crisply, ‘Universal Export for Commander Bond.’ I called him in. I heard him say, ‘Oh, hullo Bill. You at last. Where have you been? Yes certainly – I've quite made up my mind.’ Then he said, ‘Oh, I see.’ And then, annoyingly, he shut the door.

He was on the telephone some time, twenty minutes or maybe more. When he came out onto the balcony he seemed preoccupied and sat smoking, saying nothing. Finally he said, ‘Sorry, but something’s just cropped up. May I use your telephone again?’ I heard him ask the operator for Sir William Stephenson.

‘I've just had London on the line. It seems they're serious. Could I come up and see you? Yes, straight away. Fine. Many thanks.’

Then he apologized to me, and said he would continue his story later that afternoon.

But he didn't. I lunched alone, then went to sleep beside the pool and woke just before five with a headache. The hotel suddenly seemed empty. When I rang Bond's room he wasn't there, nor was Sir William. I dined alone and was in bed by ten.

When Bond returns the next morning, he never mentions the call and goes right back into his story. With Tracy dead, all of Bond's assignments seem to go wrong.


The worst was the Prenderghast Affair and once again Bond's luck let him down; this time, however, with results that shook the whole structure of the Secret Service. Prenderghast was Station Head in Rome. Bond had known him for years and liked him. He had a distinguished record as a Fleet Air Arm pilot during the war and later served with Bond for some years in the 00 section. For the past five years he had been in Rome, and Bond never failed to see him when he was in the city. For Prenderghast was fun. He knew all the gossip and his apartment just behind the Via dei Coronari was a splendid place for lunch. Bond also found him a good friend and a sympathetic listener. He was intelligent, efficient and he knew his job.

It was Bill Tanner who gave Bond the first hint of trouble about Prenderghast, when he mentioned that a man called Croxson had been sending in unfavourable reports about him. Croxson was one of his subordinates and currently was acting Station Head in Milan. He was young and inexperienced – Italy was his first posting after his transfer from the army barely a year before. For this reason Tanner had been treating these reports with what he called ‘a fairly generous pinch of salt’. Croxson and Prenderghast had clearly failed to hit it off, and Croxson had taken to complaining of him at every opportunity. Tanner had tried to smooth things over, but recently the complaints had started up again. ‘What sort of complaints?’ Bond had asked.

‘Oh, quite incredible accusations. Corruption and inefficiency; he even says he's homosexual and that he's working as a double agent for the enemy. If one didn't know old Prenderghast one might be really worried.’

‘This Croxson fellow must be off his head,’ said Bond. ‘It's Italy. They're all mad there.’

This was mentioned briefly in You Only Live Twice with limited context. Like the Hungarian Revolution job, it was one of several assignments brought up that had relatively normal and mundane results that would not be out of place in real world spying. Considering that Pearson turned "Bond jumped off a train to escape enemy agents" to "Bond broke naked out of a zoo by giving a gorilla a panic attack, tripped into the bad guy to kill him, and jumped off a train with a hot babe", I don't have high hopes for Prenderghast.


Tanner had agreed but added that something would have to be done – probably a transfer for young Croxson at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime it might be useful for someone experienced from Headquarters to go out to Italy and have a quiet word with Croxson and with Prenderghast. Quite unofficially of course, but often a tactful word or two could prevent a nasty scandal. Bond agreed. Tanner suggested that a trip to Italy at that time of year could be enjoyable. And a few days later, Bond found himself aboard an early morning flight to Milan.

He didn't take to Croxson. He found him arrogant and earnest and lacking in all sense of humour. More to the point, he soon found out that he had not one shred of proof to back his accusations against Prenderghast. As far as Bond could see he was suffering from an outsize persecution complex and he tried suggesting that it was best not to go making wild accusations against a head of station without fairly solid proof.

From Milan Bond flew to Rome where he called on Prenderghast. He was glad to see him, especially after all the rumours he had heard. For Prenderghast was looking splendid and clearly was in great form. After the wretched Croxson with all his moanings and complaints, it was good to be with someone who enjoyed himself. It was also good to see an old friend who was doing well. They walked through Rome and Bond enjoyed hearing what was going on. After Americanos at the ‘Tre Scaline’ they strolled up the hill of the Pincio and dined at the Casa Valadier – that is to say, they dined extremely well. They were drinking their sambucas when Bond brought up the subject of Croxson and his reports: Prenderghast appeared to understand the problem. Croxson was young, his wife was difficult, and possibly he had been a little tactless with him in the past. As for the accusations – Prenderghast grinned at Bond. They had both been within the Secret Service long enough to know how easy it could be to make accusations without proof. There was of course no proof? Of course not, Bond replied. And there the conversation ended. Bond returned to London, and a few days later Tanner told him that Croxson was about to be recalled. He had been in Italy on probation and was obviously unsuited for the Secret Service. Perhaps it was hard on him but in the circumstances … Two days later Croxson shot himself.

Does Bond keep a diary? How does he perfectly remember every meal and drink of his life dating back 40 years?


Then all hell broke loose. The Italian press seized on the case. Prenderghast was accused by Croxson's widow as the man responsible for her husband's death. That same evening he was named as the organizer of a homosexual diplomatic network in Rome. More accusations followed and in the midst of this furore, Prenderghast lost his nerve. Two officers of British security caught him as he was about to board a Czech aircraft at Fiumicino. He was brought back to London, and at the Old Bailey, some months later, Prenderghast was sentenced to a total of thirty years for treason. The trial was held in camera, but Bond read a transcript of the evidence. It proved every word of Croxson's accusations.

Luckily for Bond, not a breath of his meeting with the two men came out in court. (Bond is still grateful to Prenderghast for not mentioning it.) But the whole case received so much publicity that M. offered his resignation to the Prime Minister in person. It was refused – but the whole sordid case had clearly cast little credit on the British Secret Service. As for Bond, he felt that it was the final proof that he had lost his touch and that luck had turned decisively against him. M. evidently thought so too (he lacked the P.M.'s generosity towards erring servants) and by this time had virtually decided to dismiss him, not just from the 00 section, but from the Service as a whole. As he put it to Sir James Molony, he had no room in Headquarters for ‘a lamebrain’. Bond was drinking and gambling too much. According to M. this made him ‘dangerous to others’, and once again it was Sir James who really saved him, by suggesting that M. should send him off on some all but hopeless assignment to redeem himself, forget about Tracy and restore his luck. The result was the Japanese assignment described by Fleming in his book, You Only Live Twice.

Remember how in the actual book, all of Bond's failings are directly related to his non-stop drinking due to his depression over his wife's murder making him utterly useless? These stories are so...detached.


Bond was somewhat vague about the Japanese affair, although he did confirm in outline Fleming's version of this most bizarre of all assignments. He went originally to make a deal of sorts with the Japanese Secret Service; they had a cyphering machine which could decode the very top classified Soviet information, and, thanks to Bond, we got it. But in the process he became involved with his old enemy, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who had moved here from Switzerland and set up a suicide establishment in an old castle near Kyoto. Because of this the mission ultimately turned into a journey of revenge.

‘From here,’ he said, ‘my life became very odd indeed. Japan's a funny country and in many ways it suited Blofeld. That poisoned garden that he built – Fleming called it his “Disneyland of Death” – was very Japanese.’

‘But wasn't it satisfying to kill him finally – after all he'd done to you?’

Bond slowly shook his head.

‘Not really. I'd dreamed of killing him almost every night since Tracy died, but when it came to it he was so mad that it was like putting down a lunatic; and everything was happening so quickly that I didn't have much time to savour the finer points of killing him. It was all very odd, what happened then, Blofeld's castle going up in flames, my escape in the balloon and then my plunge into the sea off Kuro island. I owe my life, of course, to that girl that Fleming wrote about, Kissy Suzuki. She pulled me out of the sea and fed me and looked after me, and although my memory had gone, we were very happy.’

Was Pearson just in a loving hurry? Casino Royale had salacious and pulp-inspired details added to make it sound fanciful, Moonraker is total fiction, but every single tale of SPECTRE is totally real without question? This isn't even faintly creative.


‘Was she your ideal woman then?’

‘In some ways I suppose she was. I'd always said that I'd wanted to live with a Japanese – they seemed so restful and obedient – and at a time like that I was lucky to find her. She did everything for me, fed me, bathed me, clothed me – even made love to me, which was very pleasant. But no – I think one would be deceiving oneself if one thought of living with a girl like that for ever. Kissy was sweet – but we hadn't really much in common, and once my memory started to return I left. Somehow I felt I had to find my own country and my own people. Instead, of course, I ended up in Russia.’

‘And what happened to the girl? According to Fleming she was pregnant when you went.’

‘Quite right, she was. To do myself justice, I didn't know – nor could I have done much about it if I had. I really was a mental wreck still. But I went back to Japan, you know – two years later – and I found her, through my old friend, Tiger Tanaka of the Japanese Secret Service. She'd moved to Tokyo where she was working for a U.S. advertising agency. She's a determined girl, and the boy was wonderful – very strong and wonderfully good-looking, although it did feel strange to have a Japanese child as my own.’

There was no mistaking the touch of pride in Bond's voice as he spoke about the boy. He even produced a photograph from his wallet. It was odd to think of James Bond suddenly as a father – especially when one looked at this snapshot of a solemn, eight-year-old oriental version of Bond himself. He had enormous almond-shaped eyes and a Japanese snub nose, but the jaw-line and the mouth were Bond's all right and it seemed as if he had the beginning of an authentic comma of black hair falling across his forehead.

‘What's his name?’ I asked.

‘James,’ he replied. ‘His mother named him after me, although of course, he has her surname.’

This will not be the last time we see James Suzuki here!


‘And does he know that you're his father?’

‘Good heavens, yes. When I returned to Tokyo I suggested to his mother that we ought to marry, but she wasn't very keen. In fact, soon after, she married a Japanese in Shell.’ Bond pulled a face. 'But to give the man his due he's looked after the boy marvellously, and never stopped me seeing him. I've been out to Japan several times and had him back in England too. I even took him up to Glencoe to meet the family – his family. He's a proper Bond. I've got him down for Eton. He's ten now, so he'll be going in a year or two. Let's hope he does a little better than his father.’

‘Will he?’ I asked.

Bond nodded. ‘Oh I think so. He's more serious than I was at that age, and apparently he's rather clever. Perhaps he's more like my brother Henry. That'd be a joke.’

Dude I forgot this Bond had a brother.


Bond was so obviously keen to talk about his son that it was difficult to get him to complete his story – especially as he clearly didn't care to discuss in detail the episode that followed his time in Japan. This was the period when he was brainwashed by the Russians before being sent back to England with one deadly purpose – to murder M. Beyond a brief remark about ‘using certain drugs and playing on my subconscious resentment of old M.’ Bond wouldn't talk about how this was done. When I tried asking him if they used Freudian techniques to tap his hostility to all father figures he simply said that it was ‘a murky business’, and that the reconditioning treatment from Sir James Molony quite obliterated the memory of what had happened. As for M., he said that the old man was remarkably calm about the bungled assassination bid which James Bond attempted with the Russian cyanide pistol.

‘He was expecting it of course. He'd had sufficient warning, and I imagine he was secretly delighted to have guessed what I was up to and to have beaten me. He'd won again.’ And certainly the missions Bond was given immediately afterwards were something of an anticlimax when compared with his big important operations of the fifties – assignments like the Thunderball affair or the grandiose Goldfinger business. Bond clearly felt the come-down. I felt he blamed M. for it.

There was another trip out to Jamaica to deal with the gangster, Scaramanga. ‘That was second division stuff, although old Ian did his best to make a story of it all in The Man with the Golden Gun.’ There was another minor Jamaican operation too. Fleming called it Octopussy.

Bond had been seeing Fleming more often with all these Jamaica trips. He's seen most of the Bond films, though he's made no royalties off them and he was a bit perplexed at seeing Sean Connery imitating him on the big screen. Fleming had the bright idea for the ultimate prank: bring James Bond to the premiere of Dr. No.


‘And then?’

‘If you'll excuse me now,’ he said, ‘we'll have another session later and I'll start filling you in about these later years.’

Bond didn't say where he was going but I presumed that he was off to visit his fiancée.

‘And so you're really getting married, then?’

He smiled quite cheerfully.

‘Yes, certainly. I've finally come round to it. Tomorrow in the city hall. Top hat and tails – the lot.’

I presumed he was joking about the top hat but I wasn't sure.

As we all know, Bond prefers the trilby.


‘And what about the Secret Service? It's really over? All these calls to you from London. They're not trying to make you change your mind?’

He flared at once.

‘They always act like that. While you're available no one's interested, but when you say you'll go they need you. It's too childish. And anyhow, they've left it just a bit too late this time. I've quite made up my mind.’

‘Really?’ I said.

‘Yes, really. It may seem odd, but I've grown tired of being treated in this fashion. Also I want a little peace and normal living. Now that the chance is there I'm taking it.’

When Bond had gone I changed, swam, ordered myself a whisky sour, then had a solitary lunch beside the pool. I had notes to write up, but Bond's restlessness was catching. There is a limit to the time that one can spend on islands. Suddenly Bermuda seemed too hot, too soporific. The hotel, the whole island seemed to have nodded off to sleep, and I thought enviously of all the honeymooners taking their siestas there behind the hotel shutters.

One really couldn't blame James Bond for settling for the soft life at last. He'd earned every bit of luxury he got. I thought of Honeychile. She was a dominating woman, but Bond would cope with her. Certainly she loved him and he seemed fond of her, probably the best way round for both of them. She would have the man she loved, and he would have, not passion, but at least a rich and beautiful adoring wife. There were worse foundations for a marriage. There was still time for him to have the children he had always wanted – half brothers and sisters for the almond-eyed young James Suzuki. And possibly he'd even buy his house in Kent, with its view of the English Channel and the coast of France.

Augustus the waiter comes up to look for Bond, as Stephenson is on the phone for him. Stephenson asks Pearson to come up to the penthouse.


I took the private lift up to the big glass penthouse on the roof. It was the first time I'd been back there since the evening I arrived. Sir William greeted me. He had three guests with him. One was a short, elderly man with bushy eyebrows and dark piercing eyes; one had a scarred, amusing-looking face; and the third was boyish-looking with wild grey hair.

Sir William introduced me. ‘Sir James Molony – head shrinker-in-chief to the Secret Service. I think you've heard of him. And this is Bill, Bill Tanner, M.'s hard-worked, long-suffering Chief of Staff. And finally, Professor Godwin, of the Department of Genetics from the University of Adelaide. They've all come out from London especially to find James Bond. Where is he?’ I told them he was probably aboard the yacht and offered to help them find it.

We took Sir William's big gold Cadillac, and drove towards the port where I knew the Honeychile was moored.

‘Well, how is he?’ Tanner asked.

‘Marvellous. In great shape.’

‘So your idea about the holiday has worked, Sir James. Bermuda suits him.’

We chatted then about the book. Tanner appeared surprised that Bond had talked so freely.

‘Simply the last few years to finish now,’ I said. ‘The period between the Colonel Sun affair and his arrival here. But he's promised to give me that material after the marriage.’

‘Marriage?’ said Tanner. ‘Who's getting married?’

I told him.

‘Christ,’ he said.

So does this establish that Colonel Sun is also real in Pearson's world?


I had wondered if the Honeychile had put to sea, but luckily it was still moored beside the quay. There was no sign of life aboard her, but as we trooped up the gang-plank, we were immediately met by the bland, all-purpose sea-dog, Captain Cullum. He was not over-welcoming.

‘The Commander? He and madam are resting. They left me strict instructions they were not to be disturbed.’

I told him that three important friends of the Commander had just flown in specially from London and were most anxious to see him – at once. The captain began to argue and suggest that we came back later. In reply, Bill Tanner suddenly began thumping on the deck and bellowing,

‘007. On deck at once please. Your Queen and Country need you.’

Bond sticks his head out the porthole in surprise. The men all gather on the deck with champagne while Honey does stuff Pearson probably thinks bitchy women do in private.


‘M. sends his regards.’

‘He does, does he?’ said Bond.

‘And Moneypenny sends a loving kiss.’

‘Pity you couldn't bring her with you. She could have been our matron of honour.’

‘She'd have been pleased,’ said Tanner. ‘You know she always fancied you herself.’

‘And how did you come?’ Bond asked.

‘By Vulcan bomber – a specially diverted flight. It was laid on specially by Transport Command.’

I feel like they could have just sent a telegram.


‘That was a bit excessive wasn't it? Just to be here to see me getting married?’

There was a pause, and Tanner suddenly looked awkwardly towards his feet.

‘That isn't why we're here, James. I'm sorry, but we need you, pronto. It’s most important.’

There was an uncomfortable silence. Professor Godwin started to light his pipe.

‘But that's quite impossible,’ said Bond. His voice was like a whiplash. ‘Impossible. I've had this out with London and they know quite well that I've resigned. Nothing will make me change my mind. I've had enough.’

‘Enough of what?’ said Tanner softly.

‘Enough of this sort of thing. Enough of the whole bloody racket. I want to live.’

The argument would have gone on, but at that moment Honeychile appeared. She wore a blue silk caftan and was looking cool and tall and very beautiful. Love in the afternoon appeared to suit her. I admired her for the way she took this sudden gathering of her fiancé’s friends so calmly in her stride. She chatted, smiled and charmed them. It was as if she'd known them all her life. Nothing more was said about the mission, but as we were leaving, Tanner said that Sir William was expecting us that evening. There was a lot still to discuss.

‘You bet there is,’ said Bond. ‘Honey and I will be delighted to attend.’

After dinner, everyone meets in Stephenson's penthouse. Even Augustus is serving drinks.


‘And so,’ I heard Bond saying from the far side of the room, ‘suppose you tell us just what all this is about.’

‘Can't we talk privately?’ Tanner replied.

‘No. Let's hear it straight away. I want Honey to be in on this. It concerns her as much as me.’ Tanner spoke very calmly then – one could detect the ordered mind, the logical delivery of the well-trained military intelligence. I suspect that there was an echo of one of M.'s briefings. I almost expected him to call Bond 007. In fact he didn't.

‘Basically, James, it's a bit of unfinished business we need you to attend to.’

‘Unfinished,’ said Bond quickly. ‘I don't get you. There's nothing open on the files.’

‘It's not a file, James. It's an old friend of yours. Irma Bunt.’

‘She's dead,’ said Bond impatiently.

Tanner shook his head.

“Fraid not. Naturally we all accepted your report after the Japanese assignment when Blofeld's castle went up in flames. She was certainly inside the castle with friend Blofeld. But even then we had our suspicions. Tanaka told us that his people found a male skeleton corresponding to Blofeld's, but there was no sign of the woman's.’

‘It might have been completely burned up in the flames.’

‘Might have been, but wasn't, I'm afraid. We've been getting odd reports about her during the past year. Recently they've all been from Australia. It seems that she's been carrying on Blofeld's biological studies – but turning from plants to animals. The last definite report we had of her was from a place called Crumper's Dick.’

Never let the Australians name anything again.


‘Impossible,’ said Bond. ‘There's no such place.’

‘I see that you don't know Australia. Anything's possible out there. This is a bit of it that most Australians would never know about – a trading station on the edge of the Stoney Desert, north of the salt-lake of Lake Eyre.’

‘And just supposing, for the sake of argument, that Fraulein Bunt is still alive, what in God's name is she up to in a place like Crumper's Dick?’

This,’ replied Tanner. As he spoke he produced a photograph of an animal. It had small eyes, attenuated rat's face and fangs that hung below the jaw. The body was hairless, and it had powerful back legs.”

‘What is it?’ asked Sir William.

‘Never seen anything like it,’ said Bond.

‘Not surprising,’ replied Tanner. ‘Until a year or two ago it had not existed. It's been artificially produced. Originally it was some sort of desert rat. The professor will explain, but apparently it's possible to produce mutant forms of animals by radioactive treatment of the genes. It's also possible to increase power and stature by certain drugs called steroids. This is what Irma Bunt has been concerned with in her laboratory at Crumper's Dick.’

But Moonraker was too silly to be real


‘How big is it?’ asked Bond.

‘The latest reports say that it is around the size of a Yorkshire terrier. Isn't that right professor?’ Professor Godwin nodded.

‘But it's ten times as powerful. Biologists have always been surprised by the ferocity of these desert rats. Originally they come from the Sahara, and it seemed as if nature was doing us a good turn by keeping down their size and making sure that they remain in burrows in the desert. It appears that Fraulein Bunt has totally reversed nature. She's obviously a genius, but a diabolical one. The desert rats that she has produced are no longer subterranean – nor are they frightened nor are they confined to deserts. As a zoologist, I would describe them as the most dangerous animal on earth today.’

‘What do you mean?’ asked Honeychile.

‘I mean this,’ he said, and opening a briefcase he produced a batch of photographs. Some showed the partially devoured carcasses of sheep. There was the body of a horse, with the hindquarters stripped down to the skeleton. Finally there was a picture of what had been a man. It was not a pleasant sight.

I legitimately can't believe how bad this ending is.


There was silence in the room and I was grateful for the way Augustus tactfully refilled my glass. ‘How did this happen?’ Bond asked finally.

‘Nobody knows for sure,’ Godwin replied. ‘Previous attempts to manufacture mutant forms artificially have all produced sterile animals. These rats of Fraulein Bunt are anything but sterile. For months now she's been breeding them like rabbits – and now they're spreading. And they're hungry.’

‘Why don't you stop them?’ someone asked.

‘Good question,’ replied the professor. ‘We've been trying for some months. But easier said than done. You remember the great rabbit plague that hit Australia last century? This could be every bit as bad – except that the rabbits didn't bite.’

‘And what about Irma Bunt,’ Bond asked brutally. ‘I suppose you're letting her continue her
interesting scientific work?’

‘No,’ replied Tanner. ‘I am afraid that that's where you come in. Irma Bunt has disappeared – completely. The breeding station is deserted. She has produced these animals and left. But the Australian Government has recently received an ultimatum from her. Two ultimatums, to be strictly accurate. She threatens that these rats of hers will spread and soon start preying on the sheep. Within a year they will have multiplied so fast that they will really threaten Australia's sheep farming industry. Within two they will have moved into the cities.’

From the source of all evil in this world: the dark fortress of Crumper's Dick.


‘Is that possible?’ said Bond.

The professor nodded. ‘But she's also said that she can destroy them almost overnight. Apparently they have some inbuilt instinct which she alone knows how to control. She has promised that in return for one billion dollars she will make these rats turn back like lemmings to the desert where they came from. She wants the money in cash. And she wants it fast.’

‘I think you'd better pay,’ said Bond.

Tanner tried arguing. It was useless. He said, quite rightly, that Bond was the only man who could recognize Irma Bunt. He was also the only man she feared. He alone could understand that twisted mind of hers sufficiently to hope to catch her. Because of this the Australian Government had asked for him. He was their one remaining hope.

If he's the only man who can recognize her, why do they have all of these sightings and intel on her operation and exactly where it's located?


But Bond just shrugged his shoulders.

Someone else could have the honour of catching Irma Bunt. There was nothing very special about her, and Australia must have some good policemen of its own. He was sorry, but he'd quite made up his mind. He had left the Secret Service and was getting married. Finally Bill Tanner realized that it was hopeless. Bond meant what he said.

At this Bill Tanner simply said that he was sorry and hoped that Honeychile and Bond would be happy. He and Sir James and Professor Godwin would be flying on to Adelaide at dawn. The Australian Prime Minister would be there to meet them. If Bond should change his mind …

‘Thanks very much,’ said Bond, ‘but somehow I don't think it's likely. And now Honey and I must go. We've a busy day tomorrow.’ If Bond was feeling upset at refusing his old friend he didn't show it. The two men shook hands.

I found it hard to sleep. Bill Tanner's story had disturbed me, and I dreamed of desert rats leaping across the English countryside. Then when I woke I couldn't get to sleep again. The idea of the Vulcan bomber leaving for Australia preyed on my mind. I looked at my watch. In less than an hour now it would be off. Finally I dressed and, breakfastless, drove to the airport to see it go.

As dawn arrives, there's no sign of James Bond and the men start getting ready to climb aboard the Vulcan...until he suddenly comes tearing in behind the wheel of the Corniche.


He seemed quite breezy, quite unruffled, and gave no explanation why he had come.

‘Morning, Bill. Good to see you. Are we all ready?’

He saw me and nodded.

‘I've enjoyed our little chats,’ he said. ‘Hope that you didn't find them all too tedious. There's a lot I left out and a great deal more to come, if you're still interested. When I get back we'll meet and I'll do my best to finish off the story.’

Let's not and say you did.


Then he turned to Honeychile who was still sitting in the car. She was no longer the tough Mrs Schultz. Her face seemed pale beneath its sun-tan, her eyes unnaturally bright. Bond kissed her and I heard him saying, ‘Soon, darling, soon. I'll soon be back.’

How many times, I wondered, had he whispered that before?

Then he turned. I could see the pilot beckoning from the cockpit, and Bond hurried off across the runway, clutching his case. He turned and waved, then hauled himself up through the entrance. The door was slammed behind him and the engines whined impatiently. Then the brakes were off, the engines thundered, and as the bomber turned the dust was whipping up around us, and I could smell the sudden stench of kerosene, the universal scent of modern man's departure.

Hope they don't fly too high in that thing, if they're all just in their suits.


Honey had left the car, and was standing all alone, watching as the bomber gathered speed. She didn't wave, but when she saw me she said flatly, ‘I was the one who made him go. He said he wouldn't but I knew he'd always blame me if he didn't. Just the same, I never thought …’

The plane had turned and, as it passed above us, her voice was drowned in the departing roar of its engines. As it sailed off into the dawn it dipped its wings.

Honeychile smiled and watched as it receded to a small dot in the sky.

‘Well, that's that,’ she said as she turned back to the Rolls, ‘the bastard's gone.’

And that's it, the worst of all the books we've read. A marvelous example in mediocrity at best, outright offensive to Fleming's memory and the concept of literature itself at worst. I have no shame in saying it should never be read.

Next, we go on to two film novelizations written by the films' scriptwriter. They are....something.

Dec 24, 2007

Biscuit Hider

I'm actually a little surprised whoever controlled the Bond literary rights at the time let it get published as it is, given how it goes out of its way to poo poo on just about all of Fleming's books and the movies too.

Feb 21, 2010

John "Black Jack" Pershing
Hard Fucking Core

I wonder if Pearson just plain hates this character...if he's deliberately making GBS threads all over him.


Apr 23, 2014

I have previously said that to understand the book, one must understand the author. That is no more apparent than with Christopher Wood.

Christopher Hovelle Wood (1935-2015) was born in Lambeth, London. To protect him from the Blitz, Wood was sent by his parents to the King Edward VI Grammar School in Norwich; this would very nearly be a mistake, as the medieval school next door would be bombed in the Baedeker Blitz (which was aimed at destroying cultural and historic sites and attacking civilians). He moved on to King's College School in Wimbledon, where he claimed that the staff was infested with "drunken, mentally disturbed, sexual predators."

After graduating from Cambridge in 1960, he became a writer. He didn't achieve very much success until 1971 with the publication of Confessions of a Window Cleaner, a sex comedy masquerading as a biographical piece about a clumsy and insecure window cleaner whose accidents repeatedly get him into situations where he's forced to have sex with beautiful, aggressive women. It would be turned into a 1974 film, which received poor reviews but was enough of a box office success to eventually lead to 19 books with the same premise transposed to different jobs. Several more received films, which continued to be successful but received increasingly exasperated reviews.

So how did a farcical sex comedy writer with a reputation for lowbrow American Pie-style films find himself helming not one, but two Bond films?

Wood had written Seven Nights in Japan, a 1976 drama about a fictional prince (based on Prince Charles) and his romance with a local tour bus guide on a trip to Japan. The director, Lewis Gilbert, just happened to be the director for the next two Bond films. He enjoyed his work with Wood and felt that he had more potential than his Confessions series. The Spy Who Loved Me had gone through numerous script revisions at this point, so why not get Wood to fix it up?

Amazingly, he turned out to be right on that count. The Spy Who Loved Me became a smash success at the box office after toning down the campiness of The Man with the Golden Gun and is widely regarded as one of the most classic Bond films. Unfortunately, lightning would not quite strike twice; the sudden success of Star Wars led to the original plans being scrapped to hastily push out an adaptation of Moonraker, which was an even bigger success but received mixed reviews and is still not looked on very fondly. Even Wood disapproved of the adaptation, though he felt hamstrung by Cubby Broccoli's insistence on making a sci-fi film and didn't dare talk back.

The novelization of The Spy Who Loved Me was the first time a novelization of any of the films had been approved by Eon. Wood wrote it while the movie was still being filmed, which resulted in some changes being made to the book that he wanted to implement in the screenplay but was unable to. He also wanted to connect the continuity back to Fleming's original novels, resulting in some changes to characters and the action to feel like a sequel.

Kingsley Amis liked Wood's writing overall, but I've found one major problem with the books: this dude is horny. There's a frankly ridiculous amount of sexually charged dialogue and descriptions that makes it very apparent that, despite his attempts at intentionally imitating Fleming's style, this dude is a famous smut writer. As such, for these two books I will be implementing the Horny Counter. It shall mark every time Christopher Wood unnecessarily incorporates something sexual into the books, often in a way that makes the reader feel awkward or uncomfortable.

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