Matthew Parker's lively new contribution to the 007 'canon' is a history of Fleming's long love-affair with pre- and post-Independence Jamaica, where he spent two months of every year from 1946 until his death in 1964 and where he wrote all the Bond books. Before Barbara Broccoli recycled it as a movie title, Goldeneye was the name of the boxy little bungalow Fleming built overlooking a beautiful and almost private lagoon on the north coast of the Caribbean island. Here he entertained the great and the good (including Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Eden and - of course - Sean Connery) together with a far from modest selection of married ladyfriends, one of whom, Viscount Rothermere's wife Ann, divorced her husband to marry Fleming. Ann had to put up with a "three-people marriage" when Fleming took another Jamaican expat as his long-term mistress. Tit for tat, Ann Fleming became Hugh Gaitskell's lover for the last years of his life.
|Goldeneye today, available for you to rent!|
Parker confirms what we have heard before, that there was a lot of Fleming in 007: the naval background, a love of fishing and snorkelling as well as lethal levels of smoking and drinking. Fleming hated Germans (Hugo Drax and Goldfinger were both Germans), despised Americans (Felix Leiter was practically the only American friend Bond had and his relationship with Tiffany Case - erroneously called Chase in Parker's book - was one of his least passionate) and had a patronizing attitude towards blacks (think of Quarrel in Live and Let Die and Dr No).
|Sean Connery and Ursula Andress, filming Dr No in Jamaica, 1961|
Fleming was toying with killing off 007 at the end of From Russia With Love when (unlike in the movie) Rosa Klebb strikes home with the poisoned blade in her toecap. Luckily for us, this was Fleming's break-through book and he contrived a way to 'resurrect' Bond at the beginning of Dr No. Today, in real time, Bond would either be long since despatched to the rest home for old spies or, more likely given his alcohol and tobacco intake, would have made the trip to the crematorium which he narrowly escaped in the movie of Diamonds Are Forever. Despite the up-and-down quality of both the book and the movie franchise, long may he go on living!
|Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) and those shoes in From Russia With Love|