Happy birthday, Bond! - Remembering Ian Fleming, the creator of 007
Tuesday | May 27, 2008
Sacha Walters, Gleaner Writer
TOMORROW is the centenary of the birth of Ian Fleming, the British author and creator of the suave super spy, James Bond, who preferred his martinis shaken, not stirred.
Fleming, who died in 1964 at age 56, fell in love with the island's beauty and purchased property in Oracabessa, St Mary in 1948. His home, Goldeneye, was an oasis for Fleming to create his affable super agent.
Although his time here was romanticised, Ian Fleming remains a mystery to many Jamaicans.
"To be honest I never knew the man. We just knew he was there," said Bobby Pottinger, former Custos of St Mary. He said Fleming was a recluse and all locals knew about him was that he wrote at Goldeneye.
"It (Goldeneye) was all fenced around. So the average Jamaican wouldn't have access," Pottinger added.
Within those walls, Fleming created super sleuth James Bond, hero of the novel Casino Royale. He would pen 14 more Bond novels many of which were translated to film.
The son of English gentry, Fleming was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy Volunteers Reserves in World War II.
His military experience inspired the Bond novels which he conceived at Goldeneye which became a getaway for the rich and famous including British playwright, Noel Coward, a close friend of Fleming's. That was the appeal Fleming brought to the parish, a sort of exclusivity.
"When you have names like Noel Coward and Fleming, people wanted to buy property near to them," Pottinger explained. "There was a class structure in the parish to some extent."
Some influential Jamaican families lived or invested in St Mary at the time Fleming lived there, including the Pringles and DeLissers. Banana was the parish's main earner, which made the banana boats one of two major attractions for tourists from neighbouring St Ann. The other was climbing Dunn's River Falls.
Today, Goldeneye is a resort, owned and operated by music industry mogul Chris Blackwell's leisure company, Island Outpost. It has five villas, one of which is Fleming House. There are also private residences on the property.
Chris Blackwell owner of the Goldeneye property. - File photos
Island Outpost has not officially announced any celebrations for the Fleming centenary but, in England, there are a host of events, which include an exhibition staged by the Imperial War Museum in London.
The cedar desk Fleming used at Goldeneye to write his books is part of the exhibition.
Fleming's birthday will mark the official publication of Devil May Care, the next Bond novel, written by Sebastian Faulks. Faulks, on the official centenary website, wrote: "In his house in Jamaica, Ian Fleming used to write a thousand words in the morning, then go snorkeling, have a cocktail, lunch on the terrace, more diving, another thousand words in late afternoon, then more martinis and glamorous women. In my house in London, I followed this routine exactly, apart from the cocktails, the lunch and the snorkeling."
'St Mary wi come from'
Former Gleaner columnist Morris Cargill was a St Mary resident in the 1950s and 1960s when he was involved in politics and the banana sector.
The Issa family operated the Tower Isle Hotel in the parish for many years.
Chris Blackwell is a member of the Jewish Lindo family which lived in the Oracabessa area.
The James Bond film, Dr No, was partially filmed in St Mary.