Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Bond or bondage?

Details of the rather unconventional private life of MI6 officer Gareth Williams may have come as a bit of a surprise to people brought up on the image of the spy as straight-up-and-down Alpha Male, but I suspect they were less of a revelation to those of us brought up on the James Bond books.

On screen Bond was usually shaken but not stirred by his adventures, in print he was usually tied up, gagged and beaten bloody at least once along the way.

From the infamous carpet-beater-on-the-knackers-whilst-tied-naked-to-a-chair in Casino Royale to being captured by the KGB and brainwashed in The Man With The Golden Gun, Bond spends so much time being tortured you wonder if he really sees it as an occupational hazard or more a perk of the job.
As far as I can remember, in between he was tied up and dragged over a coral reef (Live And Let Die), given a few blasts of a steam hose (Moonraker), given a 'Brooklyn stomping' by gangsters (Diamonds Are Forever), shot and left for dead by a SMERSH assassin (From Russia With Love), made to negotiate a torture-based obstacle course (Dr No), tied up ready to be sliced in two by a circular saw (Goldfinger), stretched on a medical device called 'the rack' (Thunderball) and finally captured by Blofeld and made to take part in a bizarre duel (You Only Live Twice).

You'd think at some point Bond would have either joined a union or demanded his employers conduct better risk assessments, or failing that ask if there were any vacancies in Q Branch, but no, our hero carried on regardless.

Which makes you wonder what exactly was going through Ian Fleming's head when he wrote this.

Although hardly a year goes by without the press digging up some hero of the Second World War and proclaiming he was the real Bond, it's fairly clear that Fleming basically wrote about himself. His last holiday destination was usually the location of the baddies base and at some point Bond will eat a lavish meal accompanied by a gallon of champagne, which is what Fleming spent the profits of the books on.

I know of no rumours that Fleming himself was fond of what was known at the time as 'a bit of slap and tickle', but as a gentleman of the old school I imagine that psychologically he thought that there must be a price to pay for having too much of a good time, so poor old Bond had to get the carpet beater.

That at least one real MI6 officer was similarly inclined is an interesting example of real life imitating art.

1 comment:

Kev's Climate Column said...

Great blog - I hate private jets!!