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Eldollarado: A Transient’s Scrapbook from New York (Sunday Times, June 28, 1953)

From Ian Fleming.

Tipping is a pestiferous business and it would be a wonderful thing if U.N.E.S.C.O. or the U.N. Commission on Human Rights would establish a World Tipping Code. On my last night in the Ocean Belle my advice on the subject was sought by a group of three American couples bearing names which you would know.

My eyes started from my head as each couple showed its hand. “I always give my cabin steward £20.” “We’ve done a lot of entertaining in the Veranda Grill and we're dividing £40 between the head waiter and the two others” “Would £5 be enough for the Turkish Bath man?” “And what about you?”

I was torn between various emotions. My feelings for the working-man triumphed. “I think you're being very generous,” I said. “You’ll certainly all get an extra couple of teeth in the farewell smile.”

Under cover of their rather thin laughter I escaped with my pair of jacks unseen. For the four nights, I tipped my cabin steward £2. He seemed perfectly happy.


These Names Make Bad News

For a time the Coronation (“It’s going to mean a great religious revival round the world” is a comment I have heard several times) ousted McCarthy as topic “A” in New York and I believe throughout America, but now he is top-billing again, and you simply can’t stop talking about him or reading about him.

There are various reasons for this: he has a really expert publicity machine, he is always springing or cooking-up a new surprise, people are terrified and fascinated by him, and “he may be a sonofabitch but, darn it, he's always right.” Homosexuals in the State Department, British ships trading with China, un-American books in American embassies abroad.

Each scandalous broadside has missed with ninety-nine calumnies and hit with one. And that one is enough in a country where every man is born with a chance to be President and where, in consequence, every man aches to prove the Administration wrong. McCarthy is just pressing the trigger of a gun which is loaded and aimed by a huge cross-section of the public.

Walter Winchell has been doing much the same thing for thirty years, and he goes on doing it on radio and TV to a guaranteed public of around ten million every week. Is there a connection between them? And what role does Edgar Hoover of the F.B.I. play in all this, the Washington Fouché who has controlled the American secret police for the amazing span of twenty-seven years? These three men are the recipients of all the private grudges of America. They are the overt and covert crusaders against un-Americanism. The sun would indeed be darkened if history were to bring them together, or any closer together, before this giant country has found itself.


Tales from Kinseyland

But August 20 is K-Day and on that morning one topic will sweep away all others. For on that day will be published Dr. Kinsey’s “Sexual Report on the Human Female,” and on that day every newspaper, every dinner-table, will go hog-wild.

The Report is completed and scarifying tales and rumours are leaking out of the peaceful, beautiful campus of Indiana University where what might be described as semesters are being held to allow newspaper and magazine men (and women) to digest the huge tome and squeeze out the meatiest three-thousand word thesis for release in each paper on K-Day. Not a word more than 3,000 or someone will reach for a lawyer.

So far two semesters have been held. One in May and one in June. And there is another to come.


Jottings on a Nylon Cuff

Canasta has become the favourite card game of America, leading Contract Bridge by ten per cent.—a wide margin. Bolivia is the name of a new variation I do not intend to learn. Bolivia is really a standardisation of Samba, which I have also eschewed. Three packs. Going-out requires a sequence canasta and a regular canasta. Wild card canastas score 2,500 points. Black threes left in your hand cost a hundred points each against you. Game is 15,000 points. Who do you think is touring America promoting it? Who but that Queen of the Green Baize, our old friend Ottilie H. Reilly.


The latest and most deadly way of making a dry martini is to pour a little dry vermouth into a jug, swirl it round and throw it down the sink. Fill Jug with gin and place in ice-box until tomorrow. Then serve (or drink from Jug). Note that there is no wasteful dilution with ice-cubes.


The germ-consciousness of America is rapidly becoming a phobia, battened on by doctors, druggists and advertisers. People actually prefer foods that are frozen or tinned or preserved. They are more hygienic. And what about this? Brown eggs are virtually unobtainable in New York. “Customers won’t touch ‘em,” my Super-Market told me. “They’re dirty.”


Fifty-cent Angels

Broadway Angels Inc. has made a Common Stock issue of 570,000 shares at fifty cents a share to allow “the small investor an opportunity to employ funds in diversified enterprises connected with the Broadway Theatre.” The stock will be traded on the “Over-the-Counter-Market.” The issue was made on March 1 and the President of the Company, a Mr. Wallace Garland, tells me it is already three-quarters subscribed by some 2,000 investors.

“Of course, you can lose 100 per cent. of the capital invested in one show,” said Mr. Garland. “But look at ‘Voice of the Turtle,’ 3,000 per cent, profit. ‘Mister Roberts,’ 500 per cent profit. ‘Harvey,’ 4,000 per cent, profit. Do you think the British would be interested?”

“I’m sure they would be,” I said. “I'll tell them about it.”

(P.S. “Show Business” tells me that normally the angel has a thirty-seventy chance of making his money back. And of course, there’s Treasury permission to get. But it would be fine to own a piece of Ethel Merman.)


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Questions of Colour (Times Literary Supplement, January 01, 1954)

By Ian Fleming

Fernando Henriques: Family and Colour in Jamaica. With a Preface by Meyer Fortes. Eyre and Spottiswoode. 18s.

      There are about 250 million Negroes in the world and one of the great problems of this and future generations lies in promoting their happiness and well-being. Over the centuries, this will only be achieved by an extension of the colour bar so that part of the earth’s surface—perhaps the African continent—becomes a Negro dominion or reserve, or else by progressive removal of the colour bar until, through miscegenation, the entire population of the world is coffee-coloured. In England, until very recently, we barely perceived the problem. The solitary blackamoor was a nursery figure, a pet. In the plural he was a horde of fuzzy-wuzzies to be handled with glass beads or machine-guns.

    But suddenly, almost since the war, the picture has changed; or rather our eyes, educated in humanity by the twentieth-century blaze of social enlightenment, see it differently. Suddenly we perceive the Negro as a tragically unhappy man ridden by a sense of inferiority which accompanies him, like a deformity, from the schoolroom to the grave. In our sympathy we lavish education and culture and medicine upon him only to be pained when, with advancement, he reaches for the weapons we once used against him and turns them upon us—weapons of legal and political argument, weapons of “giant powder” and steel. Floundering, we bomb him in one colony and in another invite him to fork-lunches at the Residency. Here he is a tool of Moscow, there he gets the O.B.E. Now he is pacified with a new constitution, then he is threatened with a battleship. Whichever way we attempt to disintegrate the black cloud on the horizon, it still remains larger than a man’s hand and, to those who think about it, just as menacing as if it were shaped like a mushroom.

    Mr. Henriques is a social anthropologist and, while he might be indulgent towards these generalizations, in Family and Colour in Jamaica it has been his concern to focus a microscope over a small portion of this black cloud and to provide a detailed field-study of the mesh of colour relationships that exist even in a community as politically advanced and socially enlightened as Jamaica. The result is not only a valuable contribution to social science but a work of general interest, written with intelligence and sympathy.

     The author, himself a member of a famous Jamaican family still prominent in the island, is lecturer in social anthology in the University of Leeds. It was thus not difficult for him to return to Jamaica and move among the people with intimacy and yet with eyes wide open. He concentrated on the County of Portland and its capital, Port Antonio, and his minute focus on the habits of and customs of this parish provides some of his most interesting passages of descriptive reporting. But it is his examination of the minutiae of colour relationships within Negro society that brings out the bitter colour warfares that accompany the usual economic class struggles.

    “Colour,” he emphasizes, “is evaluated in terms of actual colour, hair formation, features and skin textures,” allowing for infinite combinations all of which have social significance. Thus, a dark person with “good” hair and features ranks above a fairer person with “bad” hair and features, and so on. Families become divided on colour lines, but in other spheres there are even greater frustrations. Choice of a career, promotion, public and private acceptance by others, marriage, in fact all social position is largely determined by colour. Even poverty plays a secondary part. Always there is that dreadful moment, generally at school, when some incident on the playground, some remark overheard in the street, will suddenly bring home to the little black boy that the fair boy will have the advantage of him for the rest of his life. It is no wonder that the conclusions reached by this stimulating and humane author are not encouraging, and the only disappointing feature of the book lies in the absence of some brave and thought-provoking suggestions for the future which would stir our minds as well as our hearts.


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The Deadly Tube (Sunday Times, Oct. 26, 1952)

One of Our Submarines. By Edward Young. (Hart-Davis. 18s.)

By Ian Fleming

We make terrible mistakes at the beginning of all our wars, but the worst of them is the failure to give the maximum number of people a chance to fight the enemy from the very day war is declared. The National Defence Club is hard to join. Anyone not on a waiting list gets passed, from one “Sorry, old man” to the next until his ardour and patriotism are as scuffed as his shoe leather.

To be a round peg in a round hole in wartime is rare and priceless. Edward Young was one of the fortunate. Of the three Services, the Navy is the shop most tightly closed. It has to be. Irresponsibility or inefficiency by any one man in a ship is far more dangerous and expensive than the failure of his opposite number in the normal run of service in the Army or Air Force. And the citadel of this closed shop is the Submarine Service. A week-end yachtsman, Young was graciously admitted into the R.N.V.R., and then by a fluke had a chance of volunteering for submarines. He was accepted, completed his training, moved from ship to ship just, it seemed, as the one he left was doomed, was given the first R.N.V.R. command in the history of submarines, and dodged depth-charges and disaster in the same ship until he ended the war in her with the rank of Commander and with the D.S.O., D.S.C. and Bar. A wonderful war for one young civilian. How many other fine men were lost on the clumsy machine?

One Of Our Submarines is in the very highest rank of books about the last war. Submarines are thrilling beasts and Edward Young tells of four years’ adventures in them in a good stout book with excitement on every page. He writes beautifully, economically and with humour, and in the actions he commands he manages to put the reader at the voice-pipe and the periscope so that sometimes the tension is so great that one has to put the book down.

The author tells us little about himself, which is a pity, for the hints which penetrate through his modest cloak of self-effacement make us wish for more of his personal reactions as he climbed towards the final solitary pinnacle of command. It is interesting that when he reaches that pinnacle the writing seems to become slightly constrained and the earlier attractive freedom of comment and expression gives place to the voice of authority as he takes his deadly tube against the Japanese.

To anyone who has served in submarines it will not be surprising that the little communities he describes are so happy and so closely knit. A sociologist would probably say that the ship’s company of a submarine represents the highest form of democratic unity—from fifty to a hundred men, the duties of each one vital to the safety of all of them, social barriers impossible, discipline automatic and perfectly comprehended, successes and failures completely shared and always the subconscious framework of permanent danger to override and control the selfish instincts of the individual.

All this comes out in One of Our Submarines and the book is a fine tribute to a happy and gallant Service. But what a wonderful setting for a novel—a Caine Mutiny of the Submarine Service! Mr. Young is exceptionally qualified to write it.


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The Sun Went In (Sunday Times, July 28, 1957)

Man The Ropes. By Augustine Courtauld. (Hodder & Stoughton. 12s. 6d.)

This is the autobiography of a man upon whom it seemed that the sun would always shine.

It is true that innumerable governesses and school-masters beat Augustine Courtauld for various types of rebellion, and that much of his later life consisted of getting in and out of scrapes with authority and equally uneven battles with resistentialist sun, ice, rock and sea: but the tough, gay quixotry of Augustine Courtauld always won.

At one time, in 1931, when the world’s press was full of the youth missing for five months in an ice hut in the Arctic, it seemed that here was another Edgar Christian destined to a young, lonely death in the midst of one of those tom-boy expeditions into the Frozen North. But his hero, Gino Watkins, soon himself to die in the Arctic, found Courtauld as Courtauld knew he would.

There were more adventures in the Arctic; then marriage to Mollie Montgomery, and to Duet, his dream-ship, which is still part of the family. Then came the war. To me these are the best chapters: when Courtauld, Polar Medal, Watchkeeper’s Certificate and all tried to enroll in the exclusive club that was the Navy and could get no further than a Civil Servant’s job in the Naval Intelligence Division. He was put in the Scandinavian Section, which was in charge of an expert on Egypt. One day the latest intelligence on the Swedish Fleet was asked for. Courtauld hunted through the files and produced a solitary, dog-eared “secret report” dated many years previously, which announced that “owing to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease the manoeuvres of the Swedish main fleet would be cancelled.” Many such incidents went into Courtauld’s early attempts to win the war and they make splendid, ironical reading. At last he got into M.T.B.s and then into the abortive Arctic Commando under “Red” Ryder, the V.C. of St. Nazaire, which ended with the murder in Belsen of the small party which finally got to Norway. Courtauld was transferred to a destroyer and then to ferrying landing-craft across the Atlantic.

VE Day came and Courtauld went back to his family, to Spencers, his beautiful house in Essex, and to Duet. It looked as if the sun would go on shining for him until suddenly the Almighty decided that Courtauld’s life had been too happy. He turned off the sunshine. Christopher, the eldest boy of six children, caught polio, from which it took the Courtaulds three years to rescue him. Neuritis struck Augustine and put him in a wheelchair, for the rest of his life. Mollie had a long nervous breakdown. The storms of Fate blew and went on blowing.

Now at last the skies have cleared again and the battered ship is back on an even keel. This splendid, gay little book of very English adventures is one of the results. All Augustine Courtauld’s life is in the Masefield quotation from which the title comes:

The power of man is as his hopes
In darkest night, the cocks are crowing.
With the sea roaring and the wind blowing;
Adventure. Man the ropes.


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Mr. Coward Explains (Sunday Times, March 28, 1954)

Future Indefinite. By Noel Coward. (Heinemann, 21s.)

By Ian Fleming

Noel Coward is one of the most remarkable men of the century whose age (he is in his fifty-fifth year) he shares. Genius is not a word to be thrown about carelessly, but any man who can succeed in giving pleasure, in most of the creative media, to half the inhabitants of the world for thirty years must possess a measure of it.

Much of his secret lies in his passionate professionalism. A master of technique, he works extremely hard and with minute accuracy, discipline and integrity. The second volume of his autobiography shows all these qualities, and it may thus seem very unfair to complain that in this admirably written book it is just these professional virtues that sometimes obtrude upon the narrative. If only he had thrown away those diaries. If only he had not bothered so much about dates and places and ships and planes. If only he had not found it necessary to put the record straight about his war service, his court case on a currency offence, the incident of the “Brooklyn Boys.”

Mr. Coward’s public life has demonstrated that he is a man of courage, devotion to duty and patriotism. If he had done nothing more during the war years than produce In Which We Serve, he would have done as much for the Allied cause as any man in his profession; yet in this vastly readable and entertaining book there occasionally creeps in a rather querulous note of self-justification which seems out of place in a man of his attainments. But when he forgets the critic inside himself who has always been his sternest mentor and when he thinks only of the reader he provides a scintillating picture of his life before and during the war.

On every page there are passages of brilliant observation, wit and humanity, which allow one to hope that when his third volume, Past Imperfect, comes to be written, he will forget his own private pains and write only according to his particular genius, which is to give pleasure to intelligent people.


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Books and Authors Abroad: English Laurels in America (Sunday Times, July 4, 1948)

By Ian Fleming

In the United States the literary event of the year has been the publication of the first of five volumes of Mr. Churchill’s war memoirs entitled The Gathering Storm. The New York Times and Life have published long extracts from the book, as has The Daily Telegraph in England, and now a further huge section of the American public will read this great English adventure story by Britain’s first citizen.

The efforts of our official propaganda organisations are small beer beside the vast American audience created by Mr. Churchill, and it is debatable whether the handiwork of any other single Englishman will bring in more hard currency this year. The Gathering Storm, which has been acclaimed by the critics with “rave” but reverent notices, deals with the prelude to war—in the author’s words, “How the English-speaking peoples through their unwisdom, carelessness and good nature allowed the wicked to rearm”—and with the Twilight War, ending in May, 1940. The volume (nearly 800 pages with the appendices) closes with Mr. Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister and Minister of Defence.

Due largely to the shortage .of paper and cloth, the majority of the British public will not read this great segment of their own history until Messrs. Cassell publish the volume here in September.

Few other major works of general interest have appeared. "Vinegar” Joe Stilwell’s posthumous and peppery memoirs of the Burma campaign have not been praised, and Mr. Sumner Welles’s We Need Not Fail has made no stir. Dr. Kinsey’s Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male still leads the best-sellers for the worst reasons. In fact, it is a stodgy agglomeration of statistics and graphs whose findings will be treated with respect by the medical authorities to whom it is addressed. The Hatfields and the McCoys, by Virgil Jones, is an exciting piece of folklore retelling the story of the famous family feud on the Kentucky-West Virginia border. The Harvard University Press are publishing the definitive Letters of Edgar Allan Poe in October.

English authors are well represented by Edward Crankshaw’s Russia and the Russians and by Simon Nowell Smith’s scholarly piece of Henry James research, The Legend of the Master, and English novelists easily lead a barren fiction field. Evelyn Waugh’s piece of side-splitting necrophilia, The Loved One, which has so far only appeared here in Horizon (Chapman & Hall are to publish in book form), has been greeted with masochistic ecstasy, and Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter has been chosen as the Book of the Month.

Forthcoming volumes include a new James M. Cain The Moth; The Sky and the Forest, a tale of Africa by C. S. Forester; No High Way, by Nevil Shute; and Ape and Essence, a new Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World vein. Ernest Hemingway’s long new novel is said to be maturing slowly.

American books are only qualitatively absent from this short survey. The output of literary chewing-gum continues apace, but the public is surfeited, probably owing to “an unfortunate combination of higher prices and lower quality,” as the Saturday Review of Literature puts it. The publishers moan and groan, but the drumming of the book clubs, the tireless superlatives of reviewers, and ever shinier book jackets are of no avail and, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, a slump is a slump is a slump.


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West Indian (Sunday Times, June 1, 1952)

By Ian Fleming

Pleasure Island: the book of Jamaica. Edited by Esther Chapman. (Chantry Publications. 21s.)

There should be a series of Baedeker-Michelin guides to the British Empire. I offer the suggestion with respectful urgency to the Ministries concerned and to the Colonial Development Corporation.

Esther Chapman’s guide book to Jamaica provides an excellent model, edited as it is with intelligence and common sense. There should be a better map of the island, and the section devoted to the local fauna could be improved, but in a beautifully illustrated book of twenty-one chapters covering everything of interest to a tourist or a resident such minor criticisms are captious. Esther Chapman has done a great service to Jamaica.


Island in the Sun (Sunday Times, January 12, 1958)

By Ian Fleming

Jamaica. By Peter Abrahams. (Corona Library: H.M. Stationery Office. 25s.)

There ought to be a Baedeker series on the British Commonwealth. Living small lives in this dull little Island at its centre, we have no idea of the fabulous lands and islands in the sun that are linked to us by history, speech and currency. Not even distance separates us now that you can be in the Caribbean in twenty or Singapore in forty hours’ flying time—only poverty and, more important, our cliff-girt mentality.

While waiting for the philanthropist who will finance the series, the next best thing is the Corona Library, sponsored by the Colonial Office, an imaginative and luxuriously conceived project which has brilliantly examined Hongkong, Sierra Leone, Nyasaland, British Guiana, and now Jamaica.

Jamaica is rather more serious-minded than some of the others, and Mr. Peter Abrahams’s treatment is thorough rather than seductive. The flora and fauna, for instance, which, with the landscape, are Jamaica's glory, are given short shrift compared with politics, administration and various aspects of development and welfare; but the latter are admirably handled, generally with entertaining and illuminating scraps of conversation with the Jamaican man-in-the-street.

The production is up to the very high Corona standards, and the line drawings by Rosemary Grimble, daughter of “Grimble of the Islands,” are particularly attractive and apposite.


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Three Men at the Motor Show (Sunday Times, October 21, 1956)

The Sunday Times asked three men to go to the Motor Show and to give their uninhibited views on what they found there. Two are family motorists, the third a famous racing driver. Their views have been kept deliberately non-technical. This was the “panel” of critics:

STIRLING MOSS has owned several small family saloons, the most recent a Standard 8 fitted with a 10 h.p. engine.

IAN FLEMING drives a Ford Thunderbird which is the envy of his friends.

GODFREY SMITH fits a wife and a baby daughter into a 1955 Morris Minor.

The place, Earls Court, on the day of the preview. The critics begin:

FLEMING: Nothing really startling this year. The usual difficulty in choosing between too many models with much the same good English qualities. Most of the cars are, as usual, too good for the drivers.

SMITH: There’s no doubt that this will go down in history as the two-pedal car Show. I think our manufacturers deserve a pat on the back for the way they’ve got them into production.

MOSS: I wish there had been a few more gimmicks to attract people to British cars. Rovers have done it with their turbine. And look at the crowds round that Buick Centurion mock-up. Heaven knows when it will be in production, but it’s full of blueprint ideas. I’m surprised that at least the B.M.C. doesn’t have a “Car of the Future” to get us all excited. Well, we’ve got to start somewhere. Let’s start in the millionaire’s class. The Rolls is still supreme, of course. It’s a name that commands affection all over the world.

FLEMING: I’m sorry the old basketwork Rolls has gone for ever. Incidentally, I gather it’s quite untrue they ever thought of turning out a £2,000 Rolls-Royce. Just a rumour. Their S Series Bentley is the most successful car Rolls have ever built. Waiting list of over a year. I’ve tried one, it’s like driving a Swiss watch.

SMITH: I must say I hanker after the Continental, but there really ought to be more luggage space in a car of that price. You can hardly get one normal suitcase into the boot. I’d like to see what the Italian coachbuilders could do with it.

MOSS: But for real Lord Mayor comfort give me that big Daimler. There’s room for six in the back. It’s practically a drawing-room on wheels.

FLEMING: I’m glad to hear Daimler’s have fitted a new heater. I’ve never known an engine run so coolly, but, as a result, the heater just didn’t heat.

SMITH: I think the companies should give one a total guarantee for accessories and the accessory firms should issue a guarantee to the motor manufacturers. If I buy a new suit and the buttons break my tailor replaces them. He doesn’t send me hunting round London after the button manufacturer.

MOSS: I agree. What I want is a really truthful petrol gauge that doesn't say “empty” when I’ve got another 50 miles’ driving in hand (or vice versa), windscreen wipers that don’t make a noise, and long window handles that move the window up and down with one stroke. But let’s get back to cars. Here’s the Aston Martin. Lovely car, and that body design is truly original. Stacks of room for luggage, all-round visibility and good driving positions. I’m not impressed by that open Superleggera model. Looks nice enough but visibility is poor, and there’s hardly room for anything but a small blonde with a sponge bag. May be all right for Italy. It’s the same old problem: how to marry the beautiful and the practical.

SMITH: Don’t you think the Fords come closest to doing that?

MOSS: I do. I think their styling is probably the most up to date in this country.

FLEMING: The Riley owners used to be some of the staunchest fans in motoring, but I think, since the B.M.C. took over Rileys, the fans have been slipping away. Rileys seem to be rather the ugly duckling of the B.M.C. group. All the brains seem to be going into the Austins and Morrises. Look at the Austin Healeys. They ought to bring out a Riley-Healey, and get a bit of zest back into the car.

SMITH: They’ve let Jaguar get the edge on them.

MOSS: Marvellous cars. Jaguar performance in racing since the war is one of the things we can really be proud of. Wonderful workmanship and finish. I can’t see how they do it for the price.

FLEMING: Pretty imposing front view on the new one but I don’t see why they need all those lamps and horns and traffic signals. There are ten of them altogether.

SMITH: They could have put the horns behind the radiator grille and put the traffic lights into the sidelights.

MOSS: Here’s the new Rover 105. Rover owners are still as faithful as Riley owners used to be. I’m not surprised. They’ve always built a good, car and they’ve always been forward-looking. Don’t know when this turbine model of theirs will be on the road. It’ll be quite a race with Detroit, but it’s going to be a new kind of motoring when it comes. But take the 105. It’s a genuine two-pedal car, and what’s so extraordinary about it is that it’s the only British company with its own automatic transmission and torque converter. Usual good Rover driving lay-out, and plenty of room for parcels.

SMITH: One of the reasons why It has always been a favourite with women.

MOSS: Women don’t have to worry about their comforts so much nowadays. All the big manufacturers look after them. Take the styling of that Austin Estate car. I really like that red and white combination. Their colours are some of the most dashing in the Show. It’s a big selling point, now people are less conservative about colour schemes.

FLEMING: The Armstrong Siddeley is another luxurious affair at a reasonable price. Wonderfully silent engine and as fast as you like, though I think the springing’s a bit soft for really fast driving. You can’t get that comfortable ride and still go round corners at sixty.

MOSS: They’ve tightened it up on the 238, but I think its looks could be improved. There’s a sort of downward slant about the bonnet which I don’t like. Here are Bristols next door. Good fast cars and a clean, handsome body without any nonsense. They make that 2-litre work pretty hard, but it seems to like it. Rather a dull stand with just two drab-coloured cars. One of their competition models would have livened it up.

SMITH: They’ve certainly put some work into my Morris Minor. I’d like to see a long road test between this 1,000 model and the Volkswagen. I hear that the gearbox is a beauty. And I’m delighted to find they’ve put more steam in the engine.

FLEMING: I haven’t tried either of them, but I’d rather have the Morris or the little Austin every time. At least you have an engine in front of you in case you hit something. In the Volkswagen there’s nothing under that bonnet except perhaps a suitcase.

MOSS: But here’s the M.G. I must say I like the appearance of the new hard-top. I only hope that it won’t be too noisy inside. If your father has promised you a sports car for your twenty-first birthday, there are plenty to choose from these days. There's the M.G., the Austin Healey (I like those bright colours they've laid on for the American market) and the new six-cylinder should be a smooth job. Then there’s the Triumph with disc brakes on the front wheels—they’ll all be having them in time I expect—and now there's the little Berkeley, which is pretty good value at £575. It’s stripped to essentials, but somebody had plenty of initiative to put a really cheap sports car on the road. The man on the stand says they’ve got orders of upwards of 5,000 already. Anyway, I'd like to be 21 again with all those to choose from.

FLEMING: What about the Citroen? Have you tried it? I gather they’re having plenty of trouble with it in France. It’s so revolutionary there aren’t many garages who can repair it if anything goes wrong. It came out a bit too quickly, I dare say. But Frenchmen rave about it.

MOSS: It’s probably the most comfortable jar in the show, and packed full of brilliant ideas. Huge boot, wonderful visibility and every kind of gadget. It deserves to succeed and I think it certainly will once it has settled down. Let's have a look at the Skoda and see what they’re doing on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Of course this is very much a Show model. But it’s got plenty of bright ideas too—propeller-shaft running through the main chassis member, independent front and rear springing, and notice those aluminium fittings. I don’t know why we don’t take to them instead of chrome. You’ll find them on that Swiss-bodied Alvis, too. Another fine-looking car. But this Skoda looks a workmanlike Job. Rather austere, but I suppose it’s made for rather austere people.

SMITH: Is there anything else you notice looking round the Show?

MOSS: I like the new Station Wagon models. There’ll be more of them. They’re ideal for a family and particularly for holidays abroad, and the coach builders like Grosvenor and Abbott have got a fine line into them. Wheel trims are much smarter. Take a look at the Austins. There’s still too much chrome about. Vauxhalls make such a good car that I don’t know why they have to smother it in the stuff. The same applies to those tiny chrome strips on the face of the Singer. Finish seems to be getting better and better, and I hope basic workmanship is keeping up with It. Prices on balance seem more or less constant, but we're getting more for our money—extra instruments for example. That’s about all. There’s quite a lot to be proud of here. If we’ve criticised a bit, so will the other people who come to the Show.

FLEMING: If you could have your pick of the cars, what would it be?

MOSS: I’ll have an Aston Martin DB 2.4 saloon, if you’ll quieten the engine a trifle. Off-white and silver-green.

SMITH: I’ll have a Continental Bentley.

FLEMING: An Austin 105 Station Wagon for me. Elephant’s-breath grey.

MOSS: One thing we do agree on, then. We’re all going to go on driving British.


Notes: As we'll see next week, Fleming did not buy that station wagon and did not go on buying British!

The Times obituary for Godfrey Smith, future editor of the Sunday Times notes that "His first job after Oxford was as personal assistant to Lord Kemsley, owner of The Sunday Times. In 1956, he was appointed news editor, where he got to know Ian Fleming, who was the foreign manager. When Fleming’s first James Bond book, Casino Royale, was published he gave Smith a signed copy. Among his reporters was John Pearson...They were to become lifelong friends, with Pearson always referring to Smith as 'the Guvnor'."

Those of you familiar with Ian Fleming's TV treatment "Murder on Wheels" will know that the plot involves James Bond saving Stirling Moss from agents of SMERSH, who hope to sabotage an auto race. Fleming wrote "The whole brunt of this episode is, of course, borne by the motor racing. Stirling Moss has, in fact, provided me with the two crash manoeuves as described and there is little doubt that he and Mr. Vanderwell, who designed and owns the Vanwalls, would co-operate in the filming." Alas, it was never to be.


Re: Ian Fleming on Crime and Spy Fiction (and non-fiction!)

Connoisseurs’ Choice (Sunday Times, October 21, 1962)

As a further guide to would-be buyers at the Motor Show, The Sunday Times invited some of its contributors and staff, as well as some recognised experts, to say what car they would choose and why.

Ian Fleming:

I would choose a Studebaker Avanti, full four-seater V8 Gran Sport, supercharged by Paxton, styled by Raymond Loewy. Price around £3,000.

Having driven two Thunderbirds for six years, during which not a light bulb has fused and paint and chromium have not wilted, despite a garageless life, I have become wedded to American cars when they have something approximating to European styling.

I am now switching to the Studebaker, which has always produced first class cars, and
has now, with the Avanti, created something really startling—top speed with four up of over 160 m.p.h. and acceleration of 0-60 in 7.4 seconds. My model, packed with intelligent gimmicks such as switches in the roof, aircraft-type levers for the heating, disc brakes and a powerful built-in roll bar in case I turn over, is being delivered in a few weeks.



Note: In his 1964 interview with Playboy, Ian Fleming said the following about his cars:

"I like a car I can leave out in the street all night and which will start at once in the morning and still go a hundred miles an hour when you want it to and yet give a fairly comfortable ride. I can’t be bothered with a car that needs tuning, or one that will give me a lot of trouble and expenditure. So I’ve had a Thunderbird for six years, and it’s done me very well. In fact, I have two of them, the good two-seater and the less-good four-seater. I leave them both in the street, and when I get in and press the starter, off they go, which doesn’t happen to a lot of motorcars.

Now, the Studebaker supercharged Avanti is the same thing. It will start as soon as you get out in the morning; it has a very nice, sexy exhaust note and will do well over a hundred and has got really tremendous acceleration and much better, tighter road holding and steering than the Thunderbird. Excellent disk brakes, too. I’ve cut a good deal of time off the run between London and Sandwich in the Avanti, on braking power alone. So I’m very pleased with it for the time being."


Re: Ian Fleming on Crime and Spy Fiction (and non-fiction!)

Thanks Revelator, and it's hilarious to see 007 described as "Britain's answer to Perry Mason"!!!


Re: Ian Fleming on Crime and Spy Fiction (and non-fiction!)

Barbel wrote:

Thanks Revelator, and it's hilarious to see 007 described as "Britain's answer to Perry Mason"!!!

Yes, I'm not quite sure what the writer was thinking there! Are there any similarities at all? I also wonder if Bond himself would have eventually driven a Studebaker Avanti if Fleming had lived longer. After all, Bond drives a Thunderbird in TSWLM.


Re: Ian Fleming on Crime and Spy Fiction (and non-fiction!)

I don't see any similarities, no.
Felix drives a "Studillac", a Studebaker with a Cadillac engine, in DAF.


Re: Ian Fleming on Crime and Spy Fiction (and non-fiction!)

Nightmare Among the Mighty (Sunday Times, June 30, 1957)

By Ian Fleming

Every sport has its own nightmare — the dropped baton, the goal scored against your own side, running out your captain when he has scored ninety-nine; and, in your dreams, they all have the same ghastly background—the packed stands, the serried ranks of spectators, the incredulous hush and then the deep condemnatory groan.

In golf the two-foot putt missed on the eighteenth green is quickly over, and you are at once awake, sweating and whimpering. This terror must be common to even the greatest in the game, but for the week-end golfer, there is a far longer, more horrible nightmare—partnership with a world champion over a course black with the crowds.

Last week-end I endured this nightmare, thirty-six holes of it, and I live, but only just, to tell the tale.

It came about like this. Three weeks ago a friend said he wanted me to play in the Bowmaker Invitation Amateur/Professional Tournament at the Berkshire. “It’s great fun,” he said. “All the best professionals take two amateurs each, and you play a threesome against bogey. Each team puts in three cards—the professional’s for the best scratch score and the professional plus each amateur for the lowest better ball score. The amateur plays off full handicap, and if he makes good use of his strokes he and his pro can get a better ball score around 60. You can pick up when you’ve played too many. They have film stars and such like to amuse the crowds. Come on.”

It sounded fun. I said “Yes,” and forgot about it.

* * *

I forgot about it until I got the draw. I was to play with Peter Thomson, three times Open champion, and Alec Shepperson, handicap plus 1, a Walker Cup probable. I was to be on the first tee of the Red Course at 2.15 last Sunday.

That was Tuesday the eighteenth. On the Wednesday, Peter Thomson, fresh from a fine performance in the American Open, equalled the course record of Sand Moor with a 65 in the Yorkshire Evening News tournament. He followed this with a 67, 64 and 68. He won the tournament by fifteen strokes and broke a handful of records. The golfing world gasped.

Apart from praying that the biggest thunderstorm in living memory would deluge the home counties on the following Sunday and Monday (it was a two-day contest ), there was really nothing I could do about It. I am a nine handicap week-end golfer with a short, flat swing that has been likened to a housemaid sweeping under a bed. It is a fast swing with reserves of fantastic acceleration in moments of stress.

The only reason I am nine is that I obstinately try to play down to it rather than take life more easily off twelve, which I should be. I have never had a golf lesson, except from my grandmother at the age of about fifteen, and my only equipment for the game is a natural “eye” and strong forearms. Against these virtues it should be said that I remember to keep my head down only on one shot in three and that, on occasional shots, “everything moves except the ball.”

The greatest weakness of my essentially immaculate game is that I am quite unable to “repeat” my swing. Even on the putting green, my stance and stroke are at the mercy of the moment’s whim. The fact that I have played golf for some thirty years with occasional success and great pleasure is due to enjoying the company, the exercise and the zest of competition. In short, I am the quintessential amateur.

* * *

The virtues of amateurishness are all right in a friendly game, perhaps sharpened by a gamble, in the privacy of one’s home course. There the quick, sharp dunch into a bunker is a matter for hilarity only mildly tinged with bitterness. But how, I wondered feverishly as the dreadful day approached, would my insouciance stand up playing before vast crowds, with the greatest, or at any rate the second greatest, golfer in the world?

But why worry? It’s only a game. The ball won’t move. Just walk up and hit it. These and other specious exhortations were mouthed at me through wolfish grins by my friends. The worst you can do is maim a few spectators, perhaps even kill one. But the club will be insured. Have a double kümmel before you start. Take an Oblivon.

Steeled by the relish of my friends, I assumed a nonchalant mask. I looked to my equipment. The head of my driver (circa 1930, one of the earliest, surely, of the steel shafts and known around Sandwich as “Excalibur”) was loose. I had it fixed. My double-faced chipper (Tom Morris, 1935), a beloved but temperamental club, was rebound. I bought two pairs of expensive socks in pale blue. I reread the red ink passages in Armour’s How To Play Your Best Golf  All The Time, watched Peter Thomson’s unearthly progress through the Yorkshire Evening News tournament and waited queasily for H- (for Horror) Day.

* * *

H-Day dawned bright and clear. No earthquakes. No tornadoes. No thunderstorms. I drove at an even pace to the Berkshire, parked my car among the hundreds, and proceeded to the seventh fairway of the Blue Course, which a number of young gods were bisecting with arrow-straight drives and iron shots using mounds of practice balls.

I retired to an inconspicuous corner with my caddie, six balls and a No.3 iron. It took me about twenty minutes, in my usual ratio of one good shot in three, to lose four of the balls in the woods.

Then came lunch and the unwelcome news that the matches were running over an hour late. I wandered out among the dreadful trappings of my nightmare—the marquees, the huge scoreboard ablaze with the most famous names in professional and amateur golf, and already showing the results of the early starters and, in the background, the loudspeaker giving the position on the near-by 17th tee.

Henry Cotton passed me, his face a mask of concentration, and Locke, majestic, indomitable. Henry Longhurst tossed me a few phrases of gleeful commiseration. And then there were Peter Thomson and Alec Shepperson, and I was explaining who I was and apologising in advance for the dreadful things that they would shortly be witnessing.

* * *

For the first time I felt a ray of comfort. All golfers have their problems. Shepperson was a candidate for the Walker Cup team and he knew the names would be announced the next day and that the selectors were on the course. Thomson knew that every spectator would expect him to go round in level threes. We commiserated with one another over the swelling crowds and in due course there we were standing on the first tee.

The starter's voice rang out — unnecessarily loudly. Thomson drove 250 yards down the centre of the fairway.

“Mr. Iarn Fleming.”

I wiped my hands on the seat of my trousers and stepped forward. Half-conscious, I teed up and gave a practice swing, listening with half my mind for the hiss of astonishment. The crowd was too well bred. I addressed the ball and promptly knocked it off its peg. I put it on again.

Then there was a moment when the world stood still, a brief glimpse of the ball through a mist of tears, a more or less articulated swirl of motion and the blessed ball was well airborne and on its way with a slight draw to come to rest in the rough fifty yards behind Thomson’s.

Shepperson hit a beauty and we were off and away, with the crowd streaming after us. One of my chief tortures, easily foreseen, was that I should always be playing first of the trio. I hacked the ball out of the shallow heather and got it 100 yards on its way down the fairway. Thomson pushed his to the right of the green. Shepperson fluffed with a 4 wood, and there I was having to hit mine again.


I had a stroke at all the odd holes. Now it was vital that I should hit the simplest of simple shots 150 yards on to the green. I took out my blaster, with which I thought I would be safest. There was a respectful hush. Head down, you fool! Slow back! BOING!!! The ball, hit off the sole, whizzed along the ground, bumbled up the green and stopped within three yards of the pin.

Muttering something about “Dundee run-up” I strode after it, and, to cut a long story short, both Thomson and Shepperson got fives and all I had to do was to get down in two putts to win a net 4 for Thomson and our better ball. I putted, or rather twitched, the ball a yard past, missing the hole by three inches. Then, with a thumping heart, stroked, or more accurately topped, the ball into the hole amid heartfelt applause from the agonized crowd.

I will pass over the second hole where I hit a No. 7 over the green and picked up and where Thomson got an immaculate 3.

Another stroke at the 3rd. An adequate drive. A fluffed spoon and a smothered 4 iron which again rattled up on the green. Again I somehow got my net 4 to Thomson’s 5. I had “improved” twice for Thomson, but by the foulest means, and there was no question of my golf having settled down.


I forget what happened at the 4th, but at the par three 5th, having been advised by Thomson to take a 7 Instead of an 8, I at last hit the ball in the middle of the bat and got a net two, which I followed up with another net two, also well played, at the 7th. Again at the 9th, but this time again by foul means, I scrambled a net four. I had helped Peter Thomson five times in nine holes!

Those treacherous crocodiles my friends, who had come to gloat at my discomfiture, changed their tune. Now they edged up and whispered that my handicap would have to be reduced at Sandwich. I brushed them aside. The sun was shining, the course was beautiful. What fun it was playing with the Open champion!

Alas, while by dunch, scuffle and fluff I somehow played the next nine holes. I was no further help to Peter Thomson and all I can remember of the inward half is the most glorious three I have ever seen, by Shepperson, at the bogey five 15th, and an appalling shank by myself at the 17th. It was with a No. 8, off a downhill lie, and the air positively quivered with the horrible clang as the ball sped at right angles through the spectators’ legs into the deep rough.

And then the round was over, with a 72 for Peter Thomson and net 66s for Alec Shepperson and myself. No earthly good, but at least I hadn’t played Thomson’s ball by mistake, or done an air shot or killed a spectator. It was in a mood of euphoria that I returned to London.


Monday was not so good, and I did many terrible things that even now make me shudder, but it had rained very heavily and there were fewer witnesses. Thomson did a 69 and Shepperson, who by this time had been nominated for the Walker Cup, and I, repeated our 66s, which meant that at least I had been able to help Thomson on three holes.

And now the dreadful glory of the occasion is fading and this weekend I shall be playing either a new kind of golf, tempered to the finest steel by its visit to the blast furnace, or, more probably, wilted by the fierce flame.

Alas, when my friends or my grandchildren ask me how Peter Thomson played this shot or Alec Shepperson that, I shall be unable to tell them. I shall have many memories of the two men—of Peter Thomson, justly renowned for a bearing as fine as his golf, and of the modest, charming Shepperson—but of the champion’s golf I shall recall nothing but the immortal words of Leonard Crawley in last Monday’s Daily Telegraph:

“Though Peter Thomson was assisted five times by Ian Fleming, the champion had evidently spent much of his force at Leeds last week.”