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Tannoy

The Tannoy switched off with an echoing click.

Again the Tannoy buzzed and echoed. ‘Transamerica regrets to announce a delay on their flight TR 618 to New York due to a mechanical defect.’

Goldfinger Chapter one

Tannoy Ltd is a British manufacturer of loudspeakers and public-address systems.

The company was founded in 1926 by Guy R. Fountain as Tulsemere manufacturing company, and was rebranded two years later as “Tannoy”, – derived from the materials used in the manufacture of its rectifiers (Tantalum / Lead Alloy).

The company quickly became a leading manufacturer of loudspeakers and public address systems, so much so that by 1946 “Tannoy” became synonymous with public address systems, and its name was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

The company remains in business to this day.

National Airlines, “Airline of the Stars”

‘National Airlines, “Airline of the Stars”, announces the departure of their flight NA 106 to La Guardia Field, New York. Will all passengers please proceed to gate number seven. All aboard, please.’

Goldfinger, Chapter one

James Bond is in Miami Airport awaiting his Transamerica flight to New York, when he hears the above announcement of a flight from a competing airline.

National Airlines was a major passenger airline which operated from 1934 until 1980 when it was taken over by Pan Am. The slogan “Airline of the Stars” appeared on the planes and was used throughout the 1950’s in reference to Hollywood movie stars flying on the airline. In 1964 they changed the slogan to “Coast to Coast to Coast.”

In 1958, National became the first Airline to fly jets domestically in the United States, first going from New York to Florida, using a Boeing 707.

We’re not told the time that Bond is in the airport, but a look at a 1958 National Airlines flight table tells us that NA Flight 106 left Miami at 10:00PM and arrived in New York at 2:55AM. But as you see, the flight did not go to La Guardia Field, but rather to Idlewild (now JFK).

(It took me a bit to figure out how to read the table.)

Capungo

And yet there had been something curiously impressive about the death of the Mexican. It wasn’t that he hadn’t deserved to die. He was an evil man, a man they call in Mexico a capungo. A capungo is a bandit who will kill for as little as forty pesos, which is about twenty-five shillings—though probably he had been paid more to attempt the killing of Bond—and, from the look of him, he had been an instrument of pain and misery all his life.

Goldfinger, Chapter One

Easy entry here, as Ian Fleming defines the term for us. In the context here, it simply means a cheap hitman or assassin.

FInding the actual term in use was a bit more difficult. I didn’t think Fleming just made it up, but I couldn’t find any references to it, other than it being the name given to a minor villain in a motion picture.

Then, on about the 10th page of Google results, I came across a page entitled “The dialect of São João da Chapada: Possible remains of a mining language in Minas Gerais, Brazil” listed among the words was:

Searching Kapiangu brought me to the Portuguese term “Capiango” which is defined as “pessoa que rouba com destreza” – literally translated means “bad person who steals with dexterity.” In Spanish, it can be translated to “clever thief”, or simply thief.

“Bad person” fits with Fleming’s description that this was an “evil man.”

Could Ian Fleming have meant Capiango instead of Capungo? Or had he heard Capungo used in the context in which he uses it here in Goldfinger?

If anyone has further information, I’d love to hear from you.

As for the price of 40 pesos or 25 shillings, the current value of that would be 1.43 GBP or $2.03 USD. Adjusting for inflation from 1958 to to 2021, that would about 13.35 GBP or $18.91 USD.

Miami Airport

JAMES BOND, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death.

Goldfinger, Chapter One

Goldfinger begins with James Bond at the Miami Airport, drinking bourbon following an unpleasant assignment in Mexico.

There has been an airport on the current site of Miami International Airport since the 1920’s.

It is the largest connection in the United States south to the Caribbean and Latin America, which is how Bond found himself there. Some early airlines which were prominent there included Pan American, Eastern Airlines and National Airlines.

Here is a good look back at the history of Miami International Airport. It has many vintage photos of the era when Bond visited.

Here is some 1960 footage from inside the Miami Airport:

Sunbeam Alpine Talbot

I’ve got you a car, Sunbeam Talbot coupé. New tyres. Fast. Right car for these roads.

Live and Let Die, chapter 16

At the tail of the line stood the black Sunbeam Alpine of Commander John Strangways, RN (Ret.), Regional Control Officer for the Caribbean–or, less discreetly, the local representative of the British Secret Service.

DR NO, chapter 1

They got to the car. It was a black Sunbeam Alpine. Bond looked sharply at it and then at the number plate. Strangways’s car. What the hell? “Where did you get this, Quarrel?”

DR NO, chapter 4

See they look the part and send them off in the Sunbeam with the roof down. Right?”

DR NO, chapter 5

The Gleaner said that a Sunbeam Talbot, H. 2473, had been involved in a fatal accident on the Devil’s Racecourse, a stretch of winding road between Spanish Town and Ochos Rio–on the Kingston-Montego route. A runaway lorry, whose driver was being traced, had crashed into the Sunbeam as it came round a bend. Both vehicles had left the road and hurtled into the ravine below.

DR NO, chapter 7

The car’s outside. You remember Strangways? Well, it’s his old Sunbeam Alpine. The Station bought it, and now I use it. It’s a bit aged, but it’s still pretty fast and it won’t let you down. It’s rather bashed about, so it won’t be conspicuous. The tank’s full, and I’ve put the survey map in the glove compartment.”

The Man with the Golden Gun, Chapter 4

The various descriptions above have me a little confused as to whether Fleming is saying that the car that Strangways brought to Bond in Live and Let Die, is the same car Strangways still had in Dr No, and was still around for the events of The Man With The Golden Gun.

There are several factors here which bear pondering. In LALD, the car is described as a “Sunbeam Talbot coupé.” A 1951 model of this car is shown here:

Sunbeam Talbot drophead coupe 1951

The first two descriptions in Dr No describe Strangways car as a “Sunbeam Alpine” which was a two-seater sports car manufactured by Sunbeam-Talbot from 1953 – 1955 and then again from 1959 – 1968. Of the first series, (which would’ve been the car described in Dr No) only 1,582 were made. Outside of the UK, US and Canada, only 175 were sent to other world markets.

Sunbeam Alpine 1953 -1955

Despite the similarities, there are some differences here, namely that the Alpine (which to add the the confusion here was also known as the “Talbot” Alpine) was a true open car, it had no roll-up windows or roof. You’ll recall that Bond instructed Quarrel to send the two men “off in the Sunbeam with the roof down. Right?”

If this was a true Alpine, it had no roof to put down. There were snap-on roofs (and windows) available, but Bond’s direction was to put the roof down. The Talbot, as you can see in the top picture, did have a roof that could be put up and down.

Then, after the car is sent off, Bond sees the news that the Sunbeam Talbot was in a fatal accident. You see the confusion?

Then finally, Mary Goodnight is driving Strangways old Sunbeam Alpine? So was the accident on the Devil’s Racecourse fatal to the passengers, but the car was able to be hauled out of the ravine and then salvaged to the point that it could be driven again? Goodnight does describe the car as “rather bashed about” so I guess it is possible, if not plausible.

But again, we’re back from the “Talbot” to the “Alpine.” My guess here is that Fleming did intend for the car to be the same all the way through, and that it was actually a Sunbeam Talbot, from which the Sunbeam Alpine was derived. It seems that the terms were pretty interchangeable during that decade, and most readers then would not have noticed.

Hillman Minx

Outside the sun blazed down on the gravel sweep. The interior of the Hillman Minx was a Turkish bath. Bond’s bruised hands cringed as they took the wheel.

DR NO. Chapter 20

James Bond has just completed his report to the Acting Governor and is now set to return to Honey in Beau Desert. You’ll recall earlier in the novel, Bond had been given Strangways’ Sunbeam Alpine to drive, but had sent two men in it, posing as Bond and Quarrel down the Devil’s Racecourse, where the men and the car met an unfortunate end. (or did it?)

So now Bond has apparently been provided with a Hillman Minx to drive. The Minx is actually a very similar car to the Sunbeam, which is a badge-engineered variant. The car was a mid-sized family car from the British car maker Hillman, and was manufactured between 1931 – 1970.

A 1957 Hillman Minx
The Turkish bath interior

S.S. Blanche

An aged tanker of around ten thousand tons deadweight was secured alongside the top of the T. It stood well out of the water, its deck perhaps twelve feet above the quay. The tanker was called Blanche, and the Ant of Antwerp showed at her stern.

DR. NO Chapter 19

The men from the SS Blanche would have dug him out.

DR. NO Chapter 20

Throughout his writings, Ian Fleming would include the names of his friends (and sometimes enemies) in his books.

This one makes me laugh. Blanche is a reference to Blanche Blackwell his (intimate) friend in Jamaica. Describing the fictional ship as An aged tanker of around ten thousand tons deadweight was, as Mathew Parker notes, “a sign that their relationship had reached the point of affectionate teasing”.

Blanche Blackwell

H.M.S Narvik

And if I may say so, sir, I submit that we should take steps to clear up Crab Key without waiting for approval from London. I can provide a platoon ready to embark by this evening. HMS Narvik came in yesterday. If the programme of receptions and cocktail parties for her could possibly be deferred for forty-eight hours or so…” The Brigadier let his sarcasm hang in the air.

DR. NO Chapter 20

DR. No has met his demise and James Bond is back in Jamaica where an emergency meeting is underway in King’s House. The Brigadier in command of the Caribbean Defence Force suggests a plan of action.

There appears that there was a ship by the name of H.M.S. Narvik. There isn’t a whole lot of information that is readily available. The real ship was a submarine support ship, which apparently supplied and supported a fleet of submarines.

There doesn’t appear to be any evidence that the vessel ever came to Jamaica, it appears most of its time during that period was in the South Pacific. I’d be interested to know how Fleming came to choose this ship to be the cited for this adventure.

HMS NARVIK (FL 10201) Underway in the Solent with a deck cargo of five LCAs. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205120861

Lord Mayor’s Show

The long garage was empty. Under the neon lights the black and gold painted dragon on wheels looked like a float waiting for the Lord Mayor’s Show. It was pointing towards the sliding doors and the hatch of the armoured cabin stood open.

DR. NO Chapter 19

James Bond has just finished Dr. No’s obstacle course and disposed of the Dr, and is now, along with Honeychile Rider looking for a means to get away from the compound, which is in pure chaos at the moment. He spots Dr. No’s “dragon” and it reminds him of a float for the Lord Mayor’s Show.

The Lord Mayor’s Show is one of the oldest annual events in London, being 802 years old as of 2020. In 1215, King John attempted to win over the city of London to his side by appointing a mayor who would be loyal to him. According to the event’s website:

The King added a careful condition: every year the newly elected Mayor must leave the safety of the City, travel upriver to Westminster and swear loyalty to him. The Mayor has now made that journey nearly 700 times, despite plagues and fires and countless wars, and pledged his or her loyalty to 34 kings and queens of England.

https://lordmayorsshow.london/history/origins

As the procession went up to Westminster by river, this is why to this day, vehicles used in processions are referred to as “floats.” In 1757 a magnificent State Coach was commissioned. The coach had “gilded coachwork and painted panels depicting London’s majesty, piety and global reach.” The Black and Gold dragon of Dr No brought the State Coach to Bond’s mind.

Lord Mayor’s Day 1958, during the events of Dr No.

Heavyside Layer

There is a million dollars’ worth of equipment up above us in the rock galleries, Mister Bond, sending fingers up into the Heavyside Layer, waiting for the signals, jamming them, countering beams with other beams.

DR. NO, Chapter 16

Doctor No is continuing to brag to James Bond about his installation on Crab Key, having just named a bunch of armed missiles that he has interfered with on behalf of the Russians.

Fleming tosses in a reference to the Heavyside Layer, referring to the Heaviside layer, sometimes called the Kennelly–Heaviside layer. This is a region of the Earth’s ionosphere, between roughly 90 and 150 km above the ground.

This region was predicted separately and at almost the same time by Arthur E. Kennelly and Oliver Heaviside. At the time the use of radio waves was in its infancy, and scientists didn’t understand why radio waves followed the curve of the earth rather than shooting directly out into space.

Heaviside, a self-taught British engineer, hypothesized in 1902 that there was a layer in the Earth’s atmosphere that forced radio waves to skim around the planet.

This led to great advances in radio technology so that by the time of Doctor No, it was possible not only to guide missiles by radio but also to intercept them.

Doctor No states that “And we track it, as accurately as they are tracking it in the Operations Room on Turks Island.”

The ninth was the top floor of the building. Most of it was occupied by Communications, the hand-picked inter-services team of operators whose only interest was the world of microwaves, sunspots, and the ‘heaviside layer’. Above them, on the flat roof, were the three squat masts of one of the most powerful transmitters in England, explained on the bold bronze list of occupants in the entrance hall of the building by the words ‘Radio Tests Ltd.’

Moonraker, Chapter 2

The term (with the correct spelling) also appears in Moonraker in a description of MI6 headquarters building.