I don’t like the James Bond novels anymore.
I’m a bit sad about that as for most of my life I did and it’s a bit like an old toy finally falling irrevocably apart. I also no longer enjoy the Flashman novels of George MacDonald Fraser, but I’m not sad about that. Tastes change over a life and it’s curious, to me anyway, which are mourned and which are not. Like Mr Banks, I feel a surge of great satisfaction, though for me it is the knowledge that I shall never again read The Lord of the Rings, that burden has been taken from me. On the other hand, I was upset to discover that I now find T H White’s The Once And Future King almost unreadable. That was the first book that I read after my university final exams and as I studied Eng Lit, was therefore the first book I had read out of choice for three years. I loved it. Tried it again just before Christmas, didn’t like it and felt a pang of loss. But the Bond novels are a special case. I partly defined myself as a reader of Bond books, defending them from criticisms that seemed to mainly arise from snobbery or ignorance. Furthermore, I am now nervous about the films. What if I no longer enjoy them? After all, the reason I write is because of the James Bond films. I adored them as a child and was horrified to discover that Ian Fleming was dead and so no longer writing which, I reasoned, meant that there would come a day when there would be no more Bond films, a horrifying prospect. Then I noticed that someone else had written a Bond novel, one Robert Markham (a pseudonym for Kingsley Amis, no honestly). The relief was overwhelming and with a prelapsarian ignorance of the laws of copyright, I wrote a Bond story myself. It was the first thing I ever wrote because I wanted to as opposed to being told to by school. It was called One By One, had a Russian villain called Ivan (after consultation with my brother had elicited the information that Ivan was what most Russians are called, and him a Man From U.N.C.L.E. fan) and featured a cunning plan to kidnap scientists. I then wrote a Bond screenplay, I forget the title, which was set on a cross-channel ferry and had 007 thwarting a hi-jack attempt. Sadly, both manuscripts are lost, but I’m sure if Barbara Broccoli calls, I could put something together.
And of course I may return to the written Bond, because, as every fan of the films knows as a certainty:
James Bond Will Return.