Tag Archives: Ian Fleming

World Book Day 2015… well, yesterday

Driving along to work, you don’t expect the princess from Brave walking to her school.

That was how World Book day 2015 started for. As early as it was, I was most definitely not hallucinating.

I have been fortunate enough to have access to books and libraries from being a school kid. Not exactly something that was encouraged at home, but not frowned upon neither. My earliest memories of reading at school involved Captain Pugwash. I remember quite distinctly, having borrowed five famous five books by Enid Blyton. These were read, generally, when I was feeling a bit under the weather. Even now. that is the association that I have.  There was proper book consciousness if you like, at the time I went from primary to secondary school.

‘Kidnapped’ by R.L.Stevensonson will forever be associated with the Scottish headteacher at Primary school. Her idiolect and vernacular, actually, were spot on for the text and it’s almost gothic imagery.  ‘Goosbumps’ by R.L.Stein also featured heavily. Being a fan of history, Horrible Histories would have to feature as well. If it had not  been for the local libraries, I do think I would have been a bit stuck. Especially, as I one year I wanted to read the full version, and not the abridged version of Victoria Holt’s ‘India Fan’ and hunted it down.  I went through a phase of reading books from Reader’s Digest, for some reason.

Roald Dahl was always going to feature heavily. Matilda, I read at school. The BFG, as well. Probably most of what is in the treasury. There was the movie explosion of Babe, Dick King Smith became popular with ‘The Sheep Pig’. There was something special, about our English Lessons!  The BFG appeared again at A-level, and I had to compare it with ‘Alice in wonderland.’ Two texts, with a lot in common. A lot, which at years 7-11, you don’t necessarily see or then understand. Lord of the flies at GSCE, was something of an eye opener. As was reading ‘The handmaiden’s tale,’ which i read in conjuction with ‘ a girl with a pearl earring’, one summer.

Shakespeare does count, with it’s little penguin classics that appeared throughout the school years. From Julius Caeser, the scottish play-you know the one-Richard the second was the A-level text that I still enjoy til now. Part of the A level course was to compare and contrast two books. I did at first try ‘Grapes of Wrath’. Only the dustbowl, and constant ‘Rose of Sharon’ made it difficult to read. So I tried ‘Brave new world’, by Aldous Huxley. This was a good book, and would have been compared with Eutopia, which I think is by Thomas More. I didn’t get as far as More, he wasn’t calling to me. On the back of Brave new world, I also read ‘The Clockwork Orange’. I primarily wanted to see what the fuss was all about. It is graphic, there are horrible sections. But as a book, a piece of narrative. I thought it was a job well done. I even felt something for Alex, by the end of it. Talking of an Alex, I failed with ‘The Beach’.  Also read ‘1984’, thought that was another good classic. Not a fan of Bronte novel though. For my 16th birthday, I was brought the entire ‘Chronicles of Narnina’  and this lead me to read ‘the screw tape letters’ whilst doing A-Level RS. The latter was also serialised, I think, on Radio 4 about then.

I must have collected hundreds of books, clogging up rooms. Time came that these were sent off to new homes. Such as the clutch of Terry Prachett discworld novels that I found weren’t my cup of tea. Things that have stayed, are the Shakespeare, the entire range of Harry Potter, most of Sansom, that I have in Hard back. Kept still, are all of the Tudor Court Novels by Phillipa Gregory. I can’t not mention ‘The time traveler’s wide’, and ‘We need to talk about Kevin.’

Again, i appeared to have collected lots and lots. Plus, I decided to look at an e-reader. The positive being that i wouldn’t have to clog up spaces. Last summer, I spent time reading  the Bond novels , i still have two remaining. Eighteen months into Sue Grafton, I haven’t got over half way with that either. The cousin’s war series by Phillipa Gregory, no longer holds sway with me. I am still stuck, painfully, in the middle of ‘wolf hall’ and ‘Bring up the bodies’. The use of pronouns and punctuation does my fruit in. Must have deleted once already, and just want to finish how it goes. I know the story, i know it well. But the fuss does seem a bit over egged to me.

There are even gardening books, that I have, believe it or not. I bought one, so I could have a good start. Don’t worry, this are kept safe. Have even collected preserving book as well.

Reading books is nice enough, a wonderful way of exercising your imagination. The time you spend reading, changes as you get older. It becomes increasingly more difficult to shoe horn time in. The one thing that is strikingly clear though.

 

Never underestimate the power of a good book.

A year is along time for a book

This time last year, I had found the Ian Fleming ‘Bond’ novels, as well as Sue Grafton’s ‘Alphabet’ series. The festive season, saw me stuck to the e-reader because of them. I have two of the Fleming Canon left, and with Grafton, I am on ‘Q is for Quarry’. I am putting of the Fleming books, as I can see myself being sad at them ending. This was somewhat heightened, when I watched ‘SkyFall’ for the third time, as well as few of the Pierce Brosnan ones. It’s Christmas, it’s not the same without Bond is some shape for form. I don’t remember there being a single Bond movie on last year, if you don’t have Sky. Positively spoiled this year. Then the new Bond movie was announced, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit smug. I know about S.P.E.C.T.R.E! I have always liked Bond is some way, the face of Bond was just a happy bonus. Reading the original novelisation does add to the depth of the franchise. You start to appreciate the nuances to a very complex character.

With Sue Grafton, I have found myself a bit stuck. I have got as far as Q, but I can’t seem to push myself forwards and through the book. The book does have a slight columbo, seventies feel to it. Yes, I know, it’s set in the 80’s. But I think it straddles the two decades, and there is a dusty quarry involved. I would quite like to get through to the end of the series. It’s not a bad series, some books are good, at breakneck speed. Others are a bit of an amble through the countryside when it is raining.

The ‘cousins at war’ series by Phillipa Gregory is also somewhat stuck. There had been the television series, I didn’t watch it. Sort of put me off really. The way that the book was written, it was as though the book was instructions how to film it.

History has featured a little too. Two books about The Plantagenets, one by Derek wilson, the second by Dan Jones, were very easy to read. Informative and quite accessible. That said, Lucy Wolsey featured recently. In the summer, having gone to Hampton Court, I read ‘Henry VIII: King and Court’ by Alison Weir.

For counselling, I finally got around to reading ‘Counselling for toads’. A very good, character rich description of Transactional Analysis. The one big book, that i was waiting for, was of course the return of Shardlake in ‘Lamentation’. Glad I waited, and I will probably read some of it’s predecessors.

There have been a few addtions made. I have succumbed, and got the first two of the Fire and Ice saga. As well as bernard Cromwells  Warriors series, and some one called D.K. Wilson. Oh, I tried to make a start on ‘The Godfather’. I have read the first chapter, and it’s hard. it’s very difficult, with lots of detail.

Bond and his beautiful addled brain

‘The man with the golden gun’

Yeah, M is definitely Bond’s surrogate dad. And I’m having to read M as Ralph Fiennes. As much as I like Dame Judy. It’d be Fiennes all the way. And Daniel Craig. A slightly skinnier, Daniel craig, though. And maroon5, their latest studio album ‘V’ is the on loop soundtrack to the end of novel franchise.

Right from the off, the novel hits the ground running. Continuing from it’s predecessor, the transition is clear.

Plus bond is a mess. You just know he is. The last mission and his already broken brain, of course Bond is in pieces. He is bond, and not superman.

The opening, is brilliant, but a case of yes, what else did you the reader expect. Again, keeping up with the arcs is necessary. M voices this plainly, he obviously saw it all coming.

Above all. This is James Bond.

You do not rule out anything.

As a teacher of Psychology and student of counselling theory; I nearly choked on my iced lemonade. bond is treated by Sir James at The Park with ECT( the reasons for which are the brilliant beginning). Perhaps a reference to the developments within Psychiatry at the time at which Fleming wrote; the description of the procedure is strangely evocative of ‘one flew over the cuckoos nest.” I’d want to give Bond a big man hug, but in terms of counselling ethical boundaries want to listen to him. That would be an interesting situation. Bond and the person centred therapeutic approach.

We have the episodic encounter with the villain. The infamous Scaramanga. I found it clunky, and some what long and windy. Unsatisfactory, to say the least.

As ever, Bond is flesh and bone. A mere mortal, it would be rude for bond not to get damaged, dented and some what defiant. For all the poop that bond has to wade through, he should of course receive a pat on the back. The way in he says thanks but no thanks, is funny. Chiming in beautifully with how previously, bond hated being a faux aristo. One can only imagine what the Queen might say. She might even shove him out of an aeroplane.

There are two more Fleming ‘Bond’ novels remaining. The question posed beyond these two, is will I continue with the non canon books?

I dunno. Any advice?

Bond Book: the green fingered villain

‘You only live twice’

Of all the things to have in a ‘Bond’ novel, a garden being used as a weapon. ‘A garden of death’, pronounced Tiger, the head of the Japanese national secret service.

Okay, to set it into context, Bond is widowed and falling apart. Bunkered off to the Far East by a beleaguered M, Bond is trying to turn himself around. And that means Sake. Lots I of it. At least eight flasks, for one double martini.

But the horticultural aspect is amusing. Gardening is meant to be good for you. With a whole litany of positive effects.

My money, as I swiped the pages, was of course on Blofeld reoccurring. Swiss fella with an ugly wife, you start adding these things up. It does help if you read these books in order. As the reader, you are not as naive as bond; you can grasp the omniscience of Fleming as the writer. For all his braincells, Bond doesn’t seem to clock on.

He does eventually, as Tiger gives him an education and makes Bond a honorary Japanese. There is of course, a Bond girl. This one is not naive, having courted Hollywood and met the lovely David Niven.

There is of course the show down with the villain; bond having figured out who it is. All well and good, this appears to be a Fleming device. A laboured, protracted build up and wham. An episodic window where bad guy and bond meet.

The tail end, I did not see coming. It does however lend itself to the next book, ‘The man with the Golden gun’. What I did not see coming, were the words attributed to M and Mary Goodnight. A reminder, within context, of Bond’s human frailty. Summed up neatly by Blofeld terming Bond a thug directed by dolts in authority. Then there is the Bond girl, her actions are described in a vignette that makes you smile. All because the lady loves bond. Since he dressed as a ninja, that famous sales slogan seems apt.

Three more to go.

Bond and the books

Going slightly crispy in the Ibizan sun, lends itself to reading more of the Ian Fleming ‘Bond’ Novels. Steady headway is being made through the franchise. With Octopussy/living daylights, you only live twice and the man with the golden gun remaining, the journey has been something of a roller coaster.

‘The spy who loved me’ was not the best. Mainly as Bond is reduced to a bit player, who conveniently just turns up. The female protagonist-the book is written through her eyes-is clunky, naive, scared and a sap. Characteristic, of all of Flemings females. I dislike his construction of female characters. In my humble opinion, Fleming would have benefited from a chat with Joss Whedon. Whedon, knows full well that strong female characters are more than capable of having a mind of their own, without having to drop their knickers. Often displaying bigger, and better balls of steel than their male counterparts.

So I was a bit cheesed off; not particularly relishing ‘on her majesty’s secret service.’ I have always known that there was a Mrs.Bond, albeit briefly. So this was the kicker for the book. How does the worlds ultimate diamond geezer get the girl?

Well, he has an epiphany. It is that simple. James-M calls him that from time to time-has a moment. And for all his toss pot ness, you could almost give him a hug and tell him well done. He is after all, slowly killing himself. Mrs bond-Tracy-is pretty much doing the same. Two kindred spirits who could mend each other.

Alas, mrs.bond is still a damsel in distress. And you will have to read it to know what happens; if you like me, are not likely to watch the film.

The plot itself is far fetched. I did laugh, and at bond being a faux aristo. Especially, when the movies give him that feel anyway. There is brief mentions of skyfall and world is not enough. A very short shutter lens moment into Bond’s background. Christmas dinner with M, is a cosy window that reminds us of how alone James Bond is and always will be.

Blofeld is indeed there, but a broad brush stroke. Reminiscent, actually, of ‘Thunderball’. The one thing that kept me going through the book though, was the sketch from the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. The one with Her Majesty and James Bond parachuting from the plane. Now I see the link!

Reading ‘for your eyes only’ was a disappointment. A little fish, that hildebrand rarity, is all it hinges on. A book, that I really didn’t get. Oh, and guano. I think there was poop involved.

It will be a year at Christmas, I chose to investigate Bond. The investigation, continues.