or ‘How I came to love Ian Fleming, James Bond and John Barry.’
I’m not sure of the exact date, but it was likely in the late 1960′s that I was first transported into the thrilling world of Ian Fleming. His 6th novel, ‘Dr. No’, was offered to me for a few pennies by my cousin Ray, who purloined it from his Granddad. This slightly tattered blue paperback, with its intriguing spider’s web cover, soon became my favourite book, easily surpassing Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ adventures and Blue Peter annuals. The heady mixture (for a nine year old at least) of thrills, adventure, exotic locations and girls stirred something inside me, and the search was on for more of the same. The inside provided a list of other James Bond Thrillers, and over the next few years I hunted them all down.
My second Bond book turned up one day whilst I was recovering from a bout of the measles. My Mum bought ‘Live and Let Die’ to me as I lay in bed, and all of a sudden I felt a whole lot better. This wonderful gift seemed to proclaim that I was no longer my Mummy’s little boy, but a young man, authorised to read these ‘racy’ adult thrillers, full of violent deaths and pert breasts. The cover was the poster art for the film starring Roger Moore, and by this time I was already familiar with the James Bond films. I saw my first, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, in early 1970, having been taken to our local Regal cinema in Edmonton, North London by my parents. For days after I could be found hard at work designing go-karts loaded with machine guns and grenade launchers. That would impress the local gang from nearby Crescent Avenue, I thought.
The rest were bought from various bookshops in London, or during annual holidays to South Coast seaside resorts such as Brighton (where I later learnt Ian Fleming had recuperated after his penultimate heart attack). These books added to my mounting James Bond Collection, which included Corgi’s gold Aston Martin DB5, which has long since lost it’s box and hapless passenger. One of the first LP’s (remember those, made of vinyl?) I ever bought was the ‘Special 10th Anniversary Edition: James Bond Collection’ containing a selection of music from ‘Doctor No’ to ‘Diamonds Are Forever’. From an early age, John Barry was much more to my musical tastes than the Beatles or Rolling Stones. Mum would often shout up to me ‘shut up go to sleep’ as I lay in my bed humming the Bond themes out loud. When the Bond films started to appear on ITV back in the seventies, I would record the audio on my cassette recorder, and cut out the movie descriptions from the Radio and TV Times listing magazines. How I longed for a video recorder in those pre-VHS days.
It was in the early 1980’s that I discovered the James Bond British Fan Club, run by its founder Ross Hendry. Their club magazine ‘007’ was on a shelf at ‘Forbidden Planet’ in London’s West End as I perused the store for Bond books and other collectibles. It had George Lazenby on the cover, so I bought it and on the way home read it from cover to cover. A few days later, my cheque was in the post and I became a member. That started the next frantic phase of collecting 007. Books, magazines, toy vehicles, a few posters and other miscellaneous items found their way to my small, cramped bedroom and into my Bond Collection.
Since then I’ve continued in my quest for all things James Bond, reading all of the continuation novels by Amis, Gardner and Benson, and going to the cinema to see Lazenby, Connery, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan and Craig perform as Bond. I had the very good fortune to attend filming of two of Brosnan’s 007 movies ‘The World Is Not Enough’ and ‘Die Another Day’, and got to meet many of the unsung heroes of the Bond movies, the fearless men and women of the action unit and stunt team. I was alongside the red carpet as the stars walked to the World Premiere of ‘Die Another Day’ at the Royal Albert Hall. It was through my work shooting stills as a freelance photographer on ‘TWINE’ that I first came into contact with a female Bond fan from the United States. Her name was Val, and over the next 2 years we became very good friends. The Fleming Effect finally took hold of us both, and in the summer of 2002 we became man and wife. We now live happily together in the Treasure State of Montana, where we jointly run Bondpix Freelance Photography. So you could say that, thanks to Ian Fleming and his fictional alter ego James Bond, I am now living the ‘soft life’, happy and content half a world away from my roots.
And loving every minute of it! Thanks Ian, and Happy Birthday.
David Williams: Montana, USA, May 28th 2008
In Remembrance of Ian Lancaster Fleming: Born 28th May 1908 – Died August 12th 1964
‘I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time’ – Ian Fleming