Tuesday, 30 July 2013


I've always been fascinated by how a mere glimpse of a picture from one's past can conjure up specific recollections of a particular time and place from so very long ago.  The above book cover photo is just such an example, as looking at it instantly transports me back to my father's greenhouse on a sunny summer day in the mid-'70s, where, surrounded by tomato plants and the accoutrements of the keen gardener, I sat and immersed myself in the world of BOND... JAMES BOND as the magnified heat of the sun beat down upon me.

The book - COLONEL SUN, by ROBERT MARKHAM (alias KINGSLEY AMIS), was already a few years old by the time I discovered it in my local R. S. McCOLL's, but that didn't bother me at all, if I was even aware of it at the time.  Unusually for me, apart from a couple of scenes, I don't recall much of the story itself ('though I'm sure it will all come back to me when I read it again), but that day in the back garden greenhouse is as fresh as if it were only last week.

The copy I used to have was printed circa 1973 or '74, but the one I've just re-acquired is the first edition from 1970.  Not that it matters, as the cover is exactly the same, which is why I bought it - to more fully re-experience the memories that resurfaced upon sight of a thumbnail image of the paperback on eBay.

One day I plan to sit down and re-read it, when I can devote myself to it uninterrupted.  My father's greenhouse and tomato plants are long-gone (as is he), but some sunny day, I'll put out a chair on the spot they once occupied and try and recapture that glorious summer afternoon when I accompanied 007 as he yet again saved the world - all from the comfort of a red, white and yellow striped deckchair in a greenhouse in my back garden.

Me (and a pal) in my back garden in 1977.  My father
is reading a newspaer in his greenhouse behind me


Marionette said...

The only thing I recall about that book is the icky torture scene with the corkscrew that really bothered me. I think it's because it's such an everyday item that made it so disturbing. Machine guns and stilettos might do more damage, but we didn't have one of those in a drawer in the kitchen.

Kid said...

Funnily enough, I don't remember that. It's normally the type of thing a teenage boy (as I was when I first read it) would recall.

Barry Pearl said...

Another fun piece!

I am a huge James Bond fan.

KINGSLEY AMIS also wrote a great book about bond called “The James Bond Dossier” where he concentrated on the novels and connected them so well. It also had p[ages of “guides.” This was at a time when there were many books out about Bond, but he really nailed his subject. He also showed where he felt Fleming missed a few beats in character development.

In Colonel Sun Amis, in many ways, tries to “correct” some of those faults, mostly in the way he present “M” and his relationship with Bond.

I don’t know why he didn’t return to the Bond series, I believe it was planned for him to do another book or two. I guess they didn’t sell.

I also believe that the reason other authors have been given the assignment over the years is to keep their trademarks and copyrights all over the world.

Kid said...

I may have the James Bond Dossier, Barry, somewhere amongst my books on Bond. I also used to have James Bond's biography at one time, which I found interesting.

I read one of John Gardner's Bond books some years ago, but I have to say, I wasn't too impressed. It had a Scottish henchman called 'Caber', which just seemed ridiculous to me.

Your last remark is obviously true, but the easier way of saying it is so that the publishers can try and make money. That's the bottom line, eh?

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