Fugu Poison

In Dr No, once M and Sir James Molony have ended their back and forth over the health and prospects of James Bond, M queries as to the type of poison that had nearly killed Bond.

By the way, did you ever discover what the stuff was that Russian woman put into him?”

“Got the answer yesterday.” Sir James Molony also was glad the subject had been changed. The old man was as raw as the weather. Was there any chance that he had got his message across into what he described to himself as M’s thick skull? “Taken us three months. It was a bright chap at the School of Tropical Medicine who came up with it. The drug was fugu poison. The Japanese use it for committing suicide. It comes from the sex organs of the Japanese globe-fish. Trust the Russians to use something no one’s ever heard of. They might just as well have used curare. It has much the same effect-paralysis of the central nervous system. Fugu’s scientific name is Tetrodotoxin. It’s terrible stuff and very quick. One shot of it like your man got and in a matter of seconds the motor and respiratory muscles are paralysed. At first the chap sees double and then he can’t keep his eyes open. Next he can’t swallow. His head falls and he can’t raise it. Dies of respiratory paralysis.”

“Lucky he got away with it.”

“Miracle. Thanks entirely to that Frenchman who was with him. Got your man on the floor and gave him artificial respiration as if he was drowning. Somehow kept his lungs going until the doctor came. Luckily the doctor had worked in South America. Diagnosed curare and treated him accordingly. But it was a chance in a million.”

The globe-fish, or puffer fish is a member of the species of fish of the family Tetraodontidae. These fish have the ability to inflate themselves to a globe several times their normal size by swallowing water or air when threatened. The skin, liver and sex organs of the fish contain Tetrodotoxin.

fugu-fish

Tetrodotoxin is said to be 10,000 times more lethal than cyanide. As Sir James mentions, the poison interferes with the transmission of signals from nerves to muscles and causes an increasing paralysis of the muscles of the body. Bond was saved because  Rene Mathis gave him artificial respiration, and the Doctor on site thought Bond’s symptoms were similar to curare and treated as such.

Interestingly, eight years after his experience with Rosa Klebb (according to Griswold, that meeting took place on August 19th, 1954) while James Bond is on assignment in Japan for the events of You Only Live Twice where he has a dinner with Tiger Tanaka, who announces to Bond that they will be dining on Fugu fish.

‘Fugu is the Japanese blow-fish. In the water, it looks like a brown owl, but when captured it blows itself up into a ball covered with wounding spines. We sometimes dry the skins and put candles inside and use them as lanterns. But the flesh is particularly delicious. It is the staple food of the sumo wrestlers because it is supposed to be very strength-giving. The fish is also very popular with suicides and murderers because its liver and sex glands contain a poison which brings death instantaneously.’

If Bond recalls that he nearly died from Fugu poisoning, he doesn’t mention it to Tiger, and gamely goes ahead with the meal.

A very beautiful white porcelain dish as big as a bicycle wheel was brought forward with much ceremony. On it were arranged, in the pattern of a huge flower, petal upon petal of a very thinly sliced and rather transparent white fish. Bond followed Tiger’s example and set to with his chopsticks. He was proud of the fact that he had reached Black Belt standard with these instruments-the ability to eat an underdone fried egg with them.

The fish tasted of nothing, not even of fish. But it was very pleasant on the palate and Bond was effusive in his compliments because Tiger, smacking his lips over each morsel, obviously expected it of him. There followed various side-dishes containing other parts of the fish, and more sake, but this time containing raw fugu fins.

As Tiger tells Bond, every fugu restaurant has to be manned by experts and be registered with the State because of the risk of poison. Even today that remains the case.

According to Griswold, this meal took place on October 2nd, 1962. Are we to believe that Bond didn’t know what was in the spike in Rosa’s shoe, that he forgot about it, or that because of the seriousness of this assignment, he went ahead and participated in the meal?

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

Bourbon

This page will be updated as we go through the novels)

This Kentucky-based barrel-aged whisky seems to be a Bond staple when abroad.

bourbon-barrelsAn observation can be made about Bond’s drinking preferences and habits. He’ll drink a martini at a bar or restaurant or when in company, while when drinking alone or in his hotel room, he often has bourbon.

He has a few favorite brands that are specifically mentioned throughout the series. These each have their own page:

I.W. Harper’s
Jack Daniels (coming – though not Bourbon)
Walker’s DeLuxe
Old Grandad
Virginia Gentleman

Here are other references to Bond drinking Bourbon throughout the series.

In Live and Let Die, Bond orders Old Fashions on the Silver Phantom, stipulating Old Grandad Bourbon. Before meeting up with The Robber, he has a quarter of a pint of Old Grandad with his steak dinner, and  later has two double Old Grandads on the rocks while preparing to leave Tampa.

Throughout Diamonds are Forever, Bond consumes Bourbon and Bourbon and Branch water.

The opening chapter of Goldfinger is entitled REFLECTIONS IN A DOUBLE BOURBON and Bond has several before heading out with Mr Dupont.

In Thunderball, after finding the plane, Bond goes back to his room and orders a “club sandwich and double bourbon on the rocks” before phoning Domino.

In The Spy Who Loved Me, Vivienne Michel is consuming the last of her bottle of Virginia Gentleman bourbon as the story gets going.

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, while at Piz Gloria, Bond sits next to Ruby at dinner, who is having a Daiquiri, and Bond orders a double Bourbon on the rocks.

After Tracy gives Bond a detailed description of what she had for dinner, Bond tells her over the phone that “I had two ham sandwiches with stacks of mustard and half a pint of Harper’s Bourbon on the rocks.The bourbon was better than the ham.”

When Bond meets Marc-Ange to discuss the commando job on Piz Gloria, he “poured himself a stiff Jack Daniel’s sourmash bourbon on the rocks and added some water.”

In You Only Live Twice, Bond, while at the Miyako hotel in Kyoto, Bond orders “a pint of Jack Daniels and a double portion of eggs Benedict to be brought up to his room.”

Fleming himself preferred bourbon to scotch. He had the notion that it was somehow better for his heart as he explained to Richard Hughes: ‘The muscles expand under bourbon; Dikko, but they contract under scotch. ‘ He also suggested that bourbon counteracted the ill-effects of the nicotine in the many cigarettes that he smoked each day. (Foreign Devil: Thirty Years Of Reporting In The Far East by Richard Hughes)

Sadly, history proves out that Mr Fleming’s theories were perhaps not accurate in this case, at least.

Hotel Okura Tokyo

When James Bond first arrives in Tokyo in You Only Live Twice, he meets up with Dikko Henderson.

The crowd parted unresentfully to let the giant through, and Bond followed in his wake to a smart Toyopet saloon waiting in a no-parking area. The chauffeur got out and bowed. Henderson fired a torrent of instructions at him in fluent Japanese and followed Bond into the back seat, settling himself with a grunt.

‘Taking you to your hotel first – the Okura, latest of the  Western ones. American tourist got murdered at the Royal Oriental the other day and we don’t want to lose you all that soon. Then we’ll do a bit of serious drinking. Had some dinner?’

The Okura in Tokyo opened in 1962, making it indeed one of the newer hotels at the time of Bond’s visit.

Hotel Okura

 

The main lobby of the hotel is largely unchanged from the day that it opened.

okura-lobby

Shiko-Munakata-Okura

Bond and Dikko pass a few hours doing some “serious drinking in the Bamboo Bar of the Okura.” While there is no Bamboo Bar, Bamboo is prominent throughout the facility.

okura-main-lobby-horizontal-gallery

It looks like the Highlander Bar would be a good fit for Bond and Dikko.

highlander-okura

Sadly, the original building of the hotel is scheduled to be torn down in September, 2015. There is an online petition against the demolition.

 

Brandy

Page will be updated as we go through the novels.

There are times James Bond drinks brandy, or even a (few) brandy and soda(s) or ginger ale.

For the latter, he seems to drink them when flying, or getting ready to fly. Perhaps the ginger ale is for his stomach?

In Casino Royale, when Bond and Vesper have their first dinner at the inn following Bond’s recovery, they finish their meal with coffee and brandy.

In Moonraker, when playing cards at Blades, large balloon glasses of brandy, along with coffee, are served at the tables. After Bond tries the brandy, M says:

“Comes from one of the Rothschild estates at Cognac. About a hundred years ago one of the family bequeathed us a barrel of it every year in perpetuity. During the war they hid a barrel for us every year and then sent us over the whole lot in 1945. Ever since then we’ve been drinking doubles.

Also, when Bond and Gala Brand are returning from having a cliff face dropped on them, they head off to a local inn where Gala has two, and Bond has three brandy and sodas.

In Thunderball, after his experience on “the rack,” Patricia Fearing sneaks Bond some Brandy as a “stimulant.” Bond drinks two glasses, over ice.

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, while in character as Sir Hilary Bray, as he is waiting to depart for Switzerland,

Bond had a double brandy and ginger ale and stood aloof from the handful of other privileged passengers in the gracious lounge, trying to feel like a baronet. 

Bond then has another just prior to takeoff.

When Bond has escaped and has gotten back to London, he instructs Mary Goodnight to have May brew him “plenty of black coffee and to pour two jiggers of our best brandy into the pot.”

After the assault on Piz Gloria, Bond finds himself in the hands of the Red Cross, being treated for his injuries, and the Red Cross man “produced a flask of brandy out of his box and offered it to Bond. Bond gratefully took a long swig.”

In You Only Live Twice, on his way to Japan via J.A.L., Bond “ordered the first in a chain of brandies and ginger ales that was to sustain him over the Channel, a leg of the North Sea, the Kattegat , the Arctic Ocean, the Beaufort Sea, the Bering sea, and the North Pacific Ocean…

In Octopussy, the brandy and ginger ale “the drunkard’s drink” is the drink of choice for Major Dexter Smythe, who has them invariably “stiff” – “almost fifty-fifty” beginning at 10:30 am.

Brandy-and-Soda

Blades

A large chunk of the early portion of Moonraker is set at the fictional gentleman’s club of Blades.

Ian Fleming actually goes into quite a bit of detail about the background and history of Blades,

The exact date of the foundation of Blades in uncertain. The second half of the eighteenth century saw the opening of many coffee houses and gaming rooms, and premises and proprietors shifted often with changing fashions and fortunes. White’s was founded in 1755, Almack’s in 1764, and Brooks’s in 1774, and it was in that year that the Scavoir Vivre, which was to be the cradle of Blades, opened its doors on to Park Street, a quiet backwater off St James’s.

The Scavoir Vivre was too exclusive to live and it blackballed itself to death within a year. Then, in 1776, Horace Walpole wrote: ‘A new club is opened off St James’s Street that piques itself in surpassing all its predecessors’ and in 1778 ‘Blades’ first occurs in a letter from Gibbon, the historian, who coupled it with the name of its founder, a German called Longchamp at that time conducting the Jockey Club at Newmarket.

Doing a search for Scavoir Vivre brings up a book called Sporting Anecdotes, Original and Selected from 1822. It mentions a club by that name, and that The leading plan of the Scavoir Vivre was intended to patronize men of genius and talents; whereas soon became notorious as an institution tolerating every species of licentiousness and debachery. The address Fleming cites on Park street “a quiet backwater off St. James’s” is actually the location of Pratt’s club.

It is said that Fleming actually based quite a bit of Blades on the real club of Boodle’s, which is on St James’s Street, and which resides in the place of the “Savoir Vivre” club (note the slight difference) which folded in 1782.

He gives a further description of Blades as James Bond enters the club to have his dinner with M.

The Adam frontage of Blades, recessed a yard or so back from its neighbours, was elegant in the soft dusk. The dark red curtains had been drawn across the ground floor bow-windows on either side of the entrance and a uniformed servant showed for a moment as he drew them across the three windows of the floor above. In the centre of the three, Bond could see the’ heads and shoulders of two men bent over a game, probably backgammon he thought, and he caught a glimpse of the spangled fire of one of the three great chandeliers that illuminate the famous gambling room.

Boodle’s certainly fits many of the items mentioned here, the Adam frontage, and notably, the fact that it is recessed a yard or so back from the buildings on either side of it. The bow windows on the bottom floor, and the three windows in the center of the floor above.

Boodle's Club, St James Street.
Boodle’s Club, St James Street.
Boodle's from across the street
Boodle’s from across the street

The amenities and food and drink at Blades are second to none, and also described in rich detail, including the meal that Bond and M enjoyed together, as well as the club policies, even paintings on the walls.

Interestingly, Fleming refers to Boodle’s in Moonraker, towards the end of the novel, when Bond is tailing Sir Hugo Drax, the latter is lunching at Blades, while Bond sits in his car in the row of taxis outside of Boodle’s.

Both Blades and Boodle’s are also mentioned in You Only Live Twice. M was having dinner with Sir James Malony, to talk about Bond. It is August 31st.

On the next day, 1 September, those members who were still unfashionably in London would have to pig it for a month at Whites or Boodle’s. Whites they considered noisy and’smart’, Boodle’s too full of superannuated country squires who would be talking of nothing but the opening of the partridge season. For Blades, it was one month in the wilderness. But there it was. The staff, one supposed, had to have their holiday. More important, there was some painting to be done and there was dry-rot in the roof.

Fleming displays a bit of sardonic humor here. I’m sure we pity the poor souls who will have to “pig it” for a month at Whites or Boodle’s – two of the most famous and luxurious clubs in the world.

Sake

This beverage of fermented rice (closer to beer than a rice wine) is a Japanese staple, and James Bond’s drink of choice during You Only Live Twice. In fact, other than “a pint of Jack Daniels” he consumes at the Miyako, it appears to be the only alcoholic drink Bond drinks in the book.

In the first chapter of the novel has already consumed “five flasks” of Sake, the effect of which he compares to one double Martini. He says he’ll need another double Martini before the night is out.

Tiger tells Bond “We have a saying ‘It is the man who drinks the first flask of sake; then the second flask drinks the first; then it is the sake which drinks the man.‘”

The geisha madame, Grey Pearl, says that Bond is “undoubtedly an eight-flask man.”

Bond goes past the eighth flask of sake while out with Dikko Henderson. Before heading to the castle of Dr Shatterhand, during his “last supper,” Bond orders five flasks of sake to eat with his Fugo – Japanese blowfish.

sake_set