Sunday, 25 March 2012

From the pages of the Gleaner

In Ian Fleming's The Man with the Golden Gun (1965), we learn that Jamaica's Daily Gleaner is one of James Bond's favourite newspapers (presumably along with the Daily Express), and he buys a copy when he arrives in Kingston on route to Havana. In Bond's earlier Caribbean adventures, Fleming only adds passing references to the Gleaner, but in The Man with the Golden Gun, we have a lot more detail.

The edition Bond purchases can be dated to the 28th January 1964 or one of two days later. This date is provided by the reference in chapter 4 to French president Charles de Gaulle's recognition of Communist China, which happened on the 27th January. According to Fleming's description, the front page of Bond's edition is taken up with coverage of new laws preventing the consumption, sale and cultivation of marijuana. Fleming notes that de Gaulle's recognition of Red China appears well down the page.

In this case, Fleming was not being entirely accurate. A trawl through the archives of the Daily Gleaner reveals that the front page headline on the 28th January read: 'FRANCE RECOGNIZES RED CHINA'. There is no reference to drug laws. The story continued to be headline news the day after. The main headline on the front page was, 'FRANCE, RED CHINA DISPUTE POLICY'. Again, there was no mention of drug laws. De Gaulle slides from the front page after the 29th January, but there are no front-page references to drug laws over the following few days either.

There are two aspects of the Daily Gleaner that Fleming did record relatively accurately. One was the style of the paper's daily horoscope. Bond reads: 'CHEER UP! Today will bring you a pleasant surprise...' John Griswold gives Bond's birthday as 11th November, and on the 29th January 1964, his horoscope read: ACCEPTANCE: If there's any sacrifices to be made, it seems that you will have to make them.'

Fleming also captured the style of property auction notices rather well. Turning to the back page, Bond sees an advertisement for an auction of a property in Love Lane, Savannah La Mar. The auctioneers mentioned – the C D Alexander Co. Ltd of 77 Harbour Street – actually existed. A notice on the back page of the Gleaner dated 27th January 1964 began:

at our offices, 77 Harbour Street, Kingston
On Friday the 14th February 1964 at 10.30 a.m.
UNDER POWERS OF SALE contained in a Mortgage:-

and ends with the name of the auctioneers, C D Alexander Co. Ltd, and their telephone number, 24897 (Fleming has an earlier phone number, 4897).


Griswold, J, 2006 Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's Bond Stories, Author House

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