Scott’s Restaurant, Piccadilly, Haymarket

A favorite restaurant of Ian Fleming while in London was Scott’s. During Fleming’s time it was located at 18-20 Coventry Street in Piccadilly Circus in Westminster. Four years after Fleming’s death, the restaurant moved to its current location on Mount Street in Mayfair.

Fleming went to Scott’s for lunch for many years, including during WWII when he was working for Naval Intelligence. It was the site of one of his more humorous plots. Fleming took captured German U-boat officers to Scott’s to try and get them drunk so that they would perhaps spill some intelligence.

The waiter heard the group talking in fluent German and telephoned Scotland Yard. The incident caused much amusement among the British Intelligence community. Fleming’s boss, Admiral Godfrey however, was not among those amused.

When Fleming began writing the James Bond stories, he made several references to Scott’s, putting his character in the very same table which Fleming preferred himself.

In Moonraker, Bond has a date to meet Gala Brand in the city. He heads to Scott’s and waits:

Bond sat at his favourite restaurant table in London, the right-hand corner table for two on the first floor, and watched the people and traffic in Piccadilly and down the Haymarket.

In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond is talking to Chief of Staff Bill Tanner and offers to take him out:

“I’ll take you to Scotts’ and we’ll have some of their dressed crab and a pint of black velvet.”

In You Only Live Twice, Bond is happy to have finally gotten an assignment from M, and as he exits M’s office (with his new number; 7777) he has a request for Miss Moneypenny:

Bond said, ‘Be an angel, Penny and ring down to Mary and tell her she’s got to get out of whatever she’s doing tonight. I’m taking her our to dinner. Scotts. Tell her we’ll have our first roast grouse of the year and pink champagne. Celebration.’

Originally an Oyster House, Scott’s remains one of the top seafood restaurants in the city

jack-warner-scotts
In this 1957 photo, Scotts can be seen in the background.

Scott's Restaurant
1962 photo of Scotts

Morphy, The Great Chess Player

When James Bond deals Sir Hugo Drax the Culbertson hand in their card match at Blades in Moonraker, Bond lets Drax know that he is defeated in an understated, yet powerful gesture.

Morphy, the great chess player, had a terrible habit. He would never raise his eyes from the game until he knew his opponent could not escape defeat. Then he would slowly lift his great head and gaze curiously at the man across the board. His opponent would feel the gaze and would slowly, humbly raise his eyes to meet Morphy’s. At that moment he would know that it was no good continuing the game. The eyes of Morphy said so. There was nothing left but surrender.

Now, like Morphy, Bond lifted his head and looked straight into Drax’s eyes. Then he slowly drew out the queen of diamonds and placed it on the table. Without waiting for Meyer to play he followed it, deliberately, with the 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, and the two winning clubs.

Then he spoke. “That’s all, Drax,” he said quietly, and sat slowly back in his chair.

Paul Morphy (1837-1884) was sort of the Bobby Fischer of the 19th century, an American chess prodigy who suffered from mental illness. Born in New Orleans, Morphy learned to play chess as a boy simply by watching others play. He studied law, and never considered himself a “professional” chess. There was no official world champion of chess at that time, but after defeating all of the top American and European players (with the exception of Howard Staunton, who avoided Morphy, knowing he could lose to the younger man.) he was widely considered the world’s best chess player at the age of 21.

He reduced his playing schedule quite drastically after that, and officially retired from the game in 1863 at the age of 26 to focus on his law career, which never really got of the ground. He died of a stroke at the age of 47 in 1884.

Interestingly, in the limited research I did, I found no references to the above staredown tactic Fleming mentions.

paul-morphy

 

Georgy Malenkov

After the rocket is launched in Moonraker and diverted safely out of London, M is briefing James Bond on the aftermath.

The Russians know that we know that their gamble failed. Malenkov’s none too firmly in the saddle and this may mean another Kremlin revolt.

It turned out that the Soviet Union was using Sir Hugo Drax as their agent to drop the Moonraker rocket on London.

Georgy Malenkov (1902-1988) was the successor to Joseph Stalin as Premier of the Soviet Union. It was a position that he did not hold for very long.

For a timeline, Ian Fleming wrote Moonraker during January and February of 1954 and the novel was published in 1955.

Stalin died on March 5th of 1953, Malenkov quickly seized power.

Less than 24 hours after the announcement of Stalin’s death in 1953 Malenkov appeared as Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Prime Minister, head of the Soviet Government. He was listed first among the members of the Communist Party’s policy-making body, the Presidium, and became the First Secretary of the party – all the posts Stalin had held. – NY Times.

It didn’t last long. In less than two weeks Malenkov’s main rival – Nikita Khrushchev – had led an uprising within the government and taken over as First Secretary of the Communist Party. Malenkov remained as Premier, though as Fleming notes in Moonraker, he was “none too firmly in the saddle” at the time of the events of the book. There had already been one “Kremlin revolt” led by Khrushchev.

Malenkov served almost two years as Premier and was forced to resign in February of 1955.  The novel was published in April of 1955. Part of the reason for his forced resignation was his close relationship with Beria (mentioned in From Russia With Love.) who actually claimed to have killed Stalin.

After a close Khrushchev ally was appointed Premier, Malenkov attempted to fight back, failed, and was kicked out of the Communist Party altogether in 1961 and rather than being executed was exiled to Kazakhstan where he managed a hydroelectric operation.

A reader at the time of the novel’s original publication would likely have at least a faint connection to the Malenkov reference, which is another example of how Fleming put enough truth and “real life” into his writing to make the stories come alive and more believable. The implication here was that Malenkov had collaborated with Drax to come up with this plan which would give Drax his revenge on England and the Soviet Union would have the destruction of London. Now that the plan had failed, Malenkov might have some trouble in his country, which was what was happening in real life at the time of the writing.

malekov-time

 

 

‘Reads As If It Had Been Written By Jehovah.’

In Moonraker, when Sir Hugo Drax has a captive audience in James Bond and Gala Brand, he brags about how the world will know what he has done after the Moonraker destroys London.

You don’t know how I have longed to tell my story. As a matter of fact, a full account of my operations is now in the hands of a very respectable firm of Edinburgh solicitors. I beg their pardon – Writers to the Signet. Well out of danger.

Writers to the Signet is a reference to the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet, a snide comment by Drax.

Later, after Bond and Gala foil the flight of the Moonraker, and the affair has been wrapped up, M is giving Bond a review of what’s been done in the aftermath.

Vallance got a hold of those Edinburgh solicitors before they’d opened Drax’s message to the world. I gather it’s a terrific document. Reads as if it had been written by Jehovah.

Jehovah is the personal name of God. It is somewhat interesting that M uses the name, as due to superstition, it has been removed from most translations of the bible, such as the King James version.

Jehovah is a rendering of God’s name in English that has been used for centuries. While many scholars prefer the spelling “Yahweh,” Jehovah is the form of the name that is most widely recognized. The first part of the Bible was written not in English but in Hebrew, a language that is read from right to left. In that language, the divine name appears as four consonants, יהוה. Those four Hebrew characters—transliterated YHWH—are known as the Tetragrammaton. – JW.org.

By referencing God, M suggests that the message from Drax was one in which he claims to have the moral authority to sit in judgment of and condemn England to destruction for its sins. A God-complex.

Bath Essence (and other products) From Floris

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.

stephanotis-ba-th

floris

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.

floris

Moonraker Tidbits

We’ve actually covered much of the Moonraker novel already here. There are few references and locations, particularly around the Dover area that are worthy of mention that haven’t been posted yet. I’m going to wrap several of them up into one post here:

Chilham Castle

On his way to report in on his new assignment with Sir Hugo Drax, Bond is motoring along.

Well, thought Bond, accelerating down the straight stretch of road past Chilham Castle, he could see that picture too, and if he was going to work with the man, he must adjust himself to the heroic version.

There has been a castle on this site for at least eight centuries, perhaps much longer.

chilham-castle

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Dover “Cardboard” Castle

On that same journey, he sees another historical landmark.

Bond concentrated on his driving as he coasted down into Dover. He kept left and was soon climbing out of the town again past the wonderful cardboard castle.

Dover Castle, known as The Key To England has been a fortress, stronghold and lookout for England for 20 centuries. It has the longest recorded history of any major castle in Britain Calling it cardboard is a reference to its color.

Dover_Castle

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Swingate Radar Station

After Bond passes Dover Castle he comes up to the next place of note.

The visibility was bad and he switched on his lights as he motored slowly along the coast-road, the ruby-spangled masts of the Swingate radar station rising like petrified Roman candles on his right.

Known as Swingate Chain Home Radar Station, this facility was one of five radar stations built just prior to World War II to provide early warning of enemy aircraft raids.

swingate

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Royal Marine Garrison’s Firing Range

When Bond and Gala are returning from the cliff ordeal, they pass by here on the way back to Drax’s house.

They scrambled down a steep cliff-path to the beach and turned to the right beside the deserted small-arms range of the Royal Marine Garrison at Deal.

Also known as the Kingsdown range, this former Marines training ground and rifle range was abandoned even by the time Fleming was writing Moonraker.

kingsdown-rifle-range

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World Without Want

It’s been speculated that this establishment, which is where poor Major Talon met his end, and where James Bond followed up at for a drink and chat with the proprietor, was based on The Swingate Inn, which is still there.

Swingate-Inn-01

Sea Island Cotton Shirts and Shorts

If you’ve read the James Bond books, you know that while Bond dresses rather simply, he is, like in many areas, very specific about what he likes and uses for himself.

One item that James Bond is known for is his preference for Sea Island cotton shirts and shorts.

Most passages read something like this one in Moonraker:

He had shaved, gargled with a sharp mouth-wash, and now, in a battered black and white dogtooth suit, dark blue Sea Island cotton shirt and black silk knitted tie, he was walking softly, but not surreptitiously, along the corridor to the head of the stairs, the, square leather case in his left hand.

Other books where Sea Island cotton is mentioned are Diamonds Are Forever, Dr No, The Man With The Golden Gun (underpants) and From Russia With Love.

Sea Island is not a brand, but rather a specific type of cotton. The Gossypium barbadense produces a longer “staple” of cotton, and also has a more silky feel to it, making it extremely comfortable. Think about taking your Egyptian cotton sheets and making a shirt out of them – that’s what it would be like.

The species is grown on tropical American islands and through the Caribbean, Ian Fleming would’ve certainly been familiar with it, and was obviously a fan of the fabric.

Here is a 1951 Hathaway Shirts ad for a Sea Island shirt. At the time Hathaway was the best-selling shirt on the market, so these certainly could’ve been what James Bond was wearing.

sea-island-shirts-1951

FYI – This was part of an entire series of ads starring the gentleman with the eye patch, and was the inspiration for the “Most Interesting Man in the World” beer commercials.

Phensic (and Enos)

Back in his office on the morning after his night battling Sir Hugo Drax at the bridge table at Blades in Moonraker, James Bond is feeling the effects of his alcohol and benzedrine consumption of the night before. He then seeks relief.

His headache was still sitting over his right eye as if it had been nailed there. He opened one of the drawers of his desk and took out a bottle of Phensic. He considered asking his secretary for a glass of water, but he disliked being cossetted. With distaste he crunched two tablets between his teeth and swallowed down the harsh powder.

In Thunderball, after recovering from his 11 whiskies and soda from the night before, he also turns to Phensic.

Bond swallowed down two Phensics and reached for the Enos.

Apparently when James Bond has a headache, he turns to Phensic, a product that is a combination of aspirin and caffeine. Also mentioned in the second example is Enos – I’m assuming he’s referring to Eno – an effervescent heartburn/indigestion remedy consisting of sodium bicarbonate, citric acid and anhydrous sodium carbonate to neutralize stomach acid.

phensiceno-life-01-21-1952-101-M5

 

 

 

 

 

The Mystery Of The Paintings Inside Blades

As James Bond enters the club Blades for his dinner with M and showdown at the bridge table with Sir Hugo Drax in Moonraker,  Ian Fleming, in sweeping through his descriptions of the interior of the club, makes mention of three paintings found therein. The first is this.:

M., with Bond beside him, wandered casually from table to table, exchanging greetings with the players until they reached the last table beneath the fine Lawrence of Beau Brummel over the wide Adam fireplace.

A little later we get this second note of portraits within the club.

At the far end, above the cold table, laden with lobsters, pies, joints and delicacies in aspic, Romney’s unfinished full-length portrait of Mrs Fitzherbert gazed provocatively across at Fragonard’s Jeu de Cartes, the broad conversation-piece which half-filled the opposite wall above the Adam fireplace.

I’m making the following assumptions about the artists – Lawrence is Thomas Lawrence, Romney is George Romney and Fragonard is  Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Seems safe.

George Bryan “Beau” Brummel and Mrs (Maria) Fitzherbert were both real people. They knew each other, through the future George IV.

The paintings however, as far as I can tell, do not appear to be real. I’ve found no Beau Brummel paintings by Lawrence and no “Jeu de cartes” (game of cards) from Fragonard.

George Romney was thought to have painted Mrs Fitzherbert, but it is not full-length and there is also considerable doubt that it is actually his work. Look at this page from The Metropolitan Museum of Art on that topic.

It’s possible Fleming was referring to that portrait mentioned in the link above (and shown below), but as the portrait is not full-length (but it is unfinished), I’ll have to say he wasn’t.

In looking over this topic, it is interesting (to perhaps only me) that Fleming referenced real artists but fictitious works by those artists when describing the interior of Blades, which was a fictional club, but very much based on a real one (Boodles).

Portrait once thought to be Mrs Fitzherbet by Romney.
Portrait once thought to be Mrs Fitzherbet by Romney.

 

Cicero, trusted valet of the British Ambassador in Ankara

While James Bond is trying to figure out the mystery surrounding the murder of Major Tallon and the safety of the Moonraker launch, his suspicions alight on Sir Hugo Drax’s trusted A.D.C. Krebs. He wonders, however, how Krebs could get away with anything, seeing as how he is constantly as his master’s side.

But how could Krebs possibly be involved, with Drax’s eye constantly on him? The confidential assistant. But what about Cicero, the trusted valet of the British Ambassador in Ankara during the war? The hand in the pocket of the striped trousers hanging over the back of the chair. The Ambassador’s keys. The safe. The secrets. This picture looked very much the same.

The reference here is to a wartime scandal in Ankara (capital of Turkey) in which the British Ambassador had documents stolen out of his safe and sold to the Germans by his own valet, Elyesa Bazna. He was given the codename “Cicero.”

The 1952 movie 5 Fingers starring James Mason is loosely based on the scandal, and there was also a 1956 teleplay entitled Operation Cicero in which Ricardo Montalban played the role of Bazna.

It’s another real-world reference by Fleming which was something that would’ve been familiar to his readers at the time, and which also lent some believability to the story he was writing.

Cicero
Cicero