Three days into the voyage, James Bond and Tiffany Case make plans to have a drink in the Observation Lounge.
They were thirsty for each other’s company after the three days’ separation, but Tiffany’s defences were up when she joined him at the obscure corner table he had chosen in the gleaming semi-circular cocktail bar in the bows.
I think I can see the corner table.
The Observation lounge was on the Promenade deck, at the very tip of the ship, and after Bond made a remark that upset Tiffany, she left the bar, and was “half way down the Promenade Deck” before Bond could catch up with her.
The deck was the white space along the outside edges of the boat. Tiffany was out of there pretty fast!
It is always fun to read through the Ian Fleming James Bond novels and look at phrases which are puzzling or meaningless to us today, but that readers of the time would’ve likely been familiar with. Some of these references are to items which would’ve been considered technological advances or fantastical to the general public.
In Diamonds Are Forever when Bond and Tiffany Case are traveling aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth, we get this in the narrative.
The ‘Metal Mike’ took the ship quietly on into the darkness and the small township of three thousand five hundred souls settled down to the five days of its life in which there would be all the happenings natural to any other sizeable community-burglaries, fights, seductions, drunkenness, cheating; perhaps a birth or two, the chance of a suicide and, in a hundred crossings, perhaps even a murder.
I confess, I had no idea what the metal mike was. Perhaps some of the more nautically-inclined among the readership were familiar with the term, but I wasn’t.
The “Metal Mike” was the gyro-compass or gyro-pilot, used to keep the ship on course, especially at night.
Here are some clippings about the device from when the RMS Queen Elizabeth was about to make its first postwar voyage as a passenger liner.
The Sperry company had many divisions, which have been divided off and sold. Pieces of the former company exist in current corporations such as Unisys, Honeywell and Lockheed Martin. Sperry Marine is the only part to still carry the Sperry name.
In Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond and Tiffany Case are in the smoking room of the RMS Queen Elizabeth during the Auction pool, and Bond is explaining how the cruise ship company protects itself from actually getting involved in the gambling aspect of the pool.
The girl was not impressed. “There used to be a guy in the gangs called Abadaba,” she said. “He was a crooked egg-head who knew all the answers. Worked out the track odds, fixed the percentage on the numbers racket, did all the brain work. They called him “The Wizard of Odds’. Got rubbed out quite by mistake in the Dutch Schultz killing,” she added parenthetically. “I guess you’re just another Abadaba the way you talk yourself out of having to spend some money on a girl. Oh, well,” she shrugged her shoulders resignedly, “will you stake your girl to another Stinger?”
Once again, Ian Fleming draws upon real-life events.
Otto Biederman, known as Otto “Abbadabba” Berman did accounting for some American organized crime, and was a mathematical wiz who did exactly as Tiffany says above. He created a betting system that no one else has been able to figure out. He could do complex algebraic expressions and other math formulas in his head almost instantly.
On the flight from Los Angeles to New York in Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond realizes he is getting serious about Tiffany Case. He even starts making mental plans to move her into his flat in London, (initially at least, into the spare room) and thinks of some preparations that will be needed.
Let’s see – flowers, bath essence from Floris, air the sheets …
If only that was all that was needed to move a woman in.
It is interesting (to me anyway) that James Bond of all people, is thinking of bath essence at a time like this. Now, Floris is a world-famous London manufacturer and retailer of perfumes and fragrances which has been in business since 1730, so I have no doubt that Bond was aware of the company. It appears a couple other times in the Fleming novels as well.
In Dr. No, Bond and Honey Rider’s well-appointed quarters are furnished with, – among other luxuries – Floris Lime bath essence for men.
In Moonraker, we’re told that inside Blades, Floris provides the soaps and lotions in the lavatories and bedrooms.
Bath essence is fragrance which is added to a bath, which leaves the skin soft and slightly perfumed. It is rather expensive £55.00 (or almost $100) for the bottle below, making it another luxury product that Fleming inserted into the narrative.
Bond was no doubt familiar with the shop, as it is in the St. James area and close to Blades and other places he frequented. The Floris website tells us:
Fleming enjoyed spending much of his time in the St James area of London where he would do much of his shopping and socialising. Known for his impeccable taste for quality and luxury Ian Fleming was a regular visitor at Floris where he purchased various grooming items including his fragrance of choice, No.89, named after the number of the shop in Jermyn Street.
Fleming even wrote a letter of appreciation to the company.
In Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond and Tiffany Case are returning to New York from Los Angeles. They say farewell as Felix Leiter drops them off at the airport.
There was the glint of moonlight on the steel hook as Leiter waved a last goodbye and then there was the dust settling on the road and the iron voice of the loudspeakers saying “Trans-World Airlines, Flight 93, now loading at Gate No5 for Chicago and New York. All aboard, please,” and they pushed their way through the glass doors and took the first steps of their long journey half way across the world to London.
The new Super-G Constellation roared over the darkened continent and Bond lay in his comfortable bunk waiting for sleep to carry away his aching body and thinking of Tiffany, asleep in the bunk below, and of where he stood with his assignment.
Trans World Airlines (TWA) under the direction of Howard Hughes, first coined the phrase Super-G for the Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation which began flight in 1954.
The Super-G was, like the Stratocruiser, built for comfort and style – a far cry from the airlines of today.
The flight from Los Angeles to New York went through Chicago, and took “just ten hours,” getting into LaGuardia at eight o’clock on a Sunday morning.
The sixty-eight tons deadweight of the Super-Constellation hurtled high above the green and brown chequerboard of Cuba and, with only another hundred miles to go, started its slow declining flight towards Jamaica.
In Diamonds Are Forever, after he finishes up his meeting with Seraffimo Spang and company in Spectreville, he and Tiffany Case meet up with Felix Leiter, who drives them to Los Angeles in his Studillac.
Then they were rolling easily along Sunset Boulevard between the palm trees and the emerald lawns, the dust-streaked Studillac looking incongruous among the glistening Corvettes and Jaguars, and finally, towards evening, they were sitting in the dark, cool bar of the Beverley Hills Hotel, and there were new suitcases in the lobby and brand new Hollywood clothes and even Bond’s battle-scarred face didn’t mean they hadn’t all just finished work at the studios.
They don’t actually spend the night at the hotel, it’s just a “rest-stop” in order to clean up, change, have a drink and make arrangements to fly to New York that night.
The Beverly Hills Hotel (and Bungalows) has been a destination for top Hollywood figures and Royalty and celebrities from around the world since before Beverly Hills was even a city. The hotel was built in 1912 and renovated in the early 1990’s. Ian Fleming was a guest here when he came to Hollywood to talk movie deals.
When James Bond and Ernie Cureo are being chased by the hoods in the old model Jag in Diamonds Are Forever, they take a detour in hopes of finding a place to hide from their pursuers.
“Keep goin’,” muttered Ernie Cureo. “This’ll get you near the Boulder Dam road. See anything in the mirror?” “There’s a low-slung car with a spotlight coming after us fast,” said Bond. “Could be the Jag. About two blocks away now.” He stamped on the accelerator and the cab hissed through the deserted side street. “Keep goin’,” said Ernie Cureo. “We gotta hide up some place and let them lose us. Tell ya what. There’s a ‘Passion Pit” just where this comes out on 95. Drive-in movie. Here we come. Slow. Sharp right. See those lights. Get in there quick. Right. Straight over the sand and between those cars. Off lights. Easy. Stop.”
The cab came to rest in the back row of half a dozen ranks of cars lined up to face the concrete screen that soared up into the sky and on which a huge man was just saying something to a huge girl.
“Passion Pit” was 1950’s slang for a drive-in movie theatre. Couples could go in the privacy of their own cars, and (pretty much) do as they liked.
Based on the slim descriptions Fleming gives – near Boulder Dam road, near 95, it would seem that he was referencing the Skyway Drive-in Theatre, a facility that was located off the Boulder highway and close to 95. It was closed sometime in the early 1980’s and is now the location of the Boulder Station and Casino.
While the Drive-in is long gone, the original neon sign sits decaying in a “neon graveyard.”
When James Bond and Ernie Cureo are getting together for a talk in the latter’s cab, they realize that they have company.
Ernie Cureo’s voice broke sharply in on his thoughts. “We got ourselves a tail, Mister,” he said out of the corner of his mouth. “Two of ’em. Fore an’ aft. Don’t look back. See that black Chevy sedan in front? With the two guys. They got two driving mirrors and they been watching us and keeping step for quite a whiles. Back of us there’s a little red sex-ship. Old sports model Jag with a rumble seat. Two more guys. With golf clubs in the back.
A black Chevy sedan is pretty generic, but I was interested in this Jaguar that was also tailing them. A Jaguar with a rumble seat? As the account continues, we get a few more details about the car.
They were riding easily along at forty with the low-slung Jaguar right on their tail and the black sedan a block ahead of them.
It’s low-slung, for one.
“Nice little car you once had,” said Bond. The shattered windshield had been lowered flat and a piece of chrome from the radiator stuck up like a pennant between the two wingless front tyres. “Where are we going in the remains?”
The early coupe had helmet style front fenders (wings) with no running boards, rather cramped rear seats, a leather covered roof with non-functional landau bars (pram irons) on the sides thus no side windows for the rear seat passengers, and an optional rumble seat (dickey seat).
As you can see, this 1934 S.S.I was low-slung, with a windshield that could be flattened and if you see the latches on the rear, had a rumble seat that could be opened – as far as I can tell this was the only S.S.I model that had such a feature. (Car shown may not have a rumble seat – a seat that folds up from the trunk area – but it looks enough like it could have one, which might be a detail that fooled Fleming. I tend to doubt that, though, he usually got his car stuff right.) Landau bars are those decorative curved bars where the rear passenger windows would be.
While this may not be the exact car that was chasing Bond and Cureo, it’s going to be pretty close, and should give an idea of what the
The company was originally known as Swallow Sidecar Company, became SS Cars Ltd in 1934, and Jaguar Cars Ltd in 1945.
This is a 1932 model Just a gorgeous car. Ian Fleming certainly had an eye for automobiles!
Even before it became the name of perhaps the most famous criminal organization in fiction in the novel Thunderball, Ian Fleming liked the word “spectre”.
This interesting little word, according to Collins English Dictionary can be defined thusly:
spectre (ˈspɛktə) orspecter
1. (Alternative Belief Systems) a ghost; phantom; apparition
2. a mental image of something unpleasant or menacing: the spectre of redundancy.
The usage of the word had declined and actually reached its lowest point during the time that Fleming started using it:
As you can see, it has increased somewhat in use since that time.
Here are some instances in which Fleming used it prior to Thunderball, when it became the abbreviation for the SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.
Here are some examples of its use:
Live and Let Die:
The great grey football of a head under the hurricane lamp looked like an elemental, a malignant spectre from the centre of the earth, as it hung in mid air, the golden eyes blazing steadily, the great body in shadow.
Diamonds Are Forever:
Spectreville. The Spectre Range. In total throughout the book there are 11 mentions of the two of these.
From Russia With Love:
Kronsteen…had sweated away a pound of weight in the last two hours and ten minutes, and the spectre of a false move still had one hand at his throat.
The decoding machine which is the MacGuffin of the novel is called a Spektor. (17 mentions)
Bond walked slowly up to the putt, knocking Goldfinger’s ball away. Come on, you bloody fool! But the spectre of the big swing – from an almost certain one up to a possible one down – made Bond wish the ball into the hole instead of tapping it in.
Despite the chart above, I don’t actually know how commonly this word was used in every day language. From here, it seems like a rather obscure word, which Fleming liked the sound, sight and meaning of, and enjoyed using it whenever he could, even a variation on the word in Spektor. He also used the variations Spectral and Spectrally on occasion. (also meaning ghostly)
Live and Let Die:
All through the centre of the state, the moss lent a dead, spectral feeling to the landscape.
Most of the tanks were dark, but in some a tiny strip of electric light glimmered spectrally and glinted on little fountains of bubbles…
…in the grey valleys they caught the light of the moon and waved spectrally…
From Russia With Love:
The spectral eye of the nightlight cast its deep velvet sheen over the little room.
You Only Live Twice:
The poisons listed fall into six main categories: Deliriant. Symptoms: spectral illusions…
When the novel Thunderball came out, and all the controversy and eventual court case surrounding it, one of the items at issue was the criminal organization of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and who actually came up with it. Kevin McClory claimed that he did and even later named his company Spectre Associates Inc.
From the outside, it would seem that Fleming had an affinity for the word, especially with his creation of the Spektor in From Russia With Love, and it would seem reasonable that it was a creation of Flemings. Eventually, McClory was awarded the film rights to all of Thunderball, including S.P.E.C.T.R.E and Ernst Stavro Blofeld while Fleming retained the literary rights to these.