Recently, I found a title in a second hand book stall that I first read when I was a teenager: “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, by Ian Fleming, one of the incomparable James Bond series.
As anyone of a certain age will know, the James Bond books were a phenomenon when they first appeared in about the 1960s. Since then, they’ve been made familiar to countless movie goers through the films that were made of them starring, initially, Sean Connory as Bond, and later such worthies as Roger Moore, George Lazenby and Pierse Brosnan, to name but some. Even David Niven had a go at it at one stage.
But it was the written word in Fleming’s books that did it for me, and many others. Bond was a connoisseur of only the very best, and Fleming dropped brand names like mad. Everything from Hermes bags and other products, Aston Martin cars, Mouton Rothschild ’53 with the most routine of meals and even, on at least one occasion, Waterford Crystal glassware – James came across them all, and many, many more, in the course of his travels.
And there was more than a hint of sulphur about James Bond books. For my part, it was necessary to hide them, often in the garden hedge, as to be found reading them by parents in the early sixties was to invite trouble.
So it was nice to be able to dip into “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. James is up to all his old tricks, smoking his head off, drinking only the best and gambling for huge stakes at a really stylish casino. By the end of chapter three he has, as expected, partaken of some serious rogering, even before he gets into the adventure proper.
But the quaintest paragraph of all comes in chapter six:
“It was at this moment that the Syncraphone in his trouser pocket began to bleep…The Synchraphone had recently been introduced and was issued to all officers attached to headquarters. It was a light plastic radio receiver about the size of a pocket watch. When an officer was somewhere in
, within a range of ten miles of
Headquarters, he could be bleeped on the receiver. When this happened, it was
his duty to go at once to the nearest telephone and contact his office. He was
urgently needed”. London
Whatever would Ian Fleming have done with the Internet?