Wednesday 26 August 2015

Jamaica's other Goldeneye

As GoldenEye, the film that introduced Pierce Brosnan as Bond and relaunched the series to great acclaim (and relief) after a six-year enforced hiatus, turns twenty years old, the latest edition of MI6 Confidential celebrates the film's anniversary with an interview with director Martin Campbell, an examination of the essential ingredients of the film, a look at the film's most memorable stunts, and much more.

I'm proud to have contributed to the issue myself: a small article examining the legacy of Goldeneye, Ian Fleming's winter home in Jamaica, where he wrote all the Bond books. While I was researching the article, I made some interesting discoveries about some of Jamaica's other, lesser known Goldeneyes. The article wasn't quite the place to say much about them, so by way of an addendum, here they are.

If one were to ask Jamaicans in the late 1940s, when Ian Fleming built his house, what 'Goldeneye' meant to them, many would have replied that it was something to treat minor ailments of the eyes. The Daily Gleaner was full of adverts for 'Golden Eye' treatments. Sinclair's Drug Department on King Street in Kingston sold the lotion for two shillings per bottle. The lotion was a little more expensive at Williams Drug Store on West Queen Street, selling for 2/6, but it was cheaper that Optrex (3/6), and was alternatively available in ointment form, which was cheaper at one shilling per tube. Meanwhile, Dunker & Company on Harbour Street were offering 'huge savings', selling a dozen tubes of the ointment for eight shillings.

An advert in the Gleaner for medicines, including Golden Eye
This was good news for farmers. In an article published in April 1958 in the Farmers Weekly section of the Gleaner, 'Surgeon' recommended the application of Golden Eye lotion for the treatment of 'pink eye', a type of eye infection in cattle.

There was yet another Goldeneye known in Jamaica. In 1950, cinema-goers flocked to the Gaiety cinema, among other venues, and 'country theatres' around Jamaica to see Roland Winters star as Charlie Chan investigating the mystery of why an unprofitable gold mine is suddenly making lots of money. The film, released in 1948, was called The Golden Eye

The Golden Eye (1948) on the bill of the Gaiety Cinema
As a footnote, there is a curious link of sorts between the house and the eye treatment. Fleming's house was well known for its stark design and paucity of mod-cons. Friend and neighbour Noël Coward famously referred to the house as 'Goldeneye, nose and throat'. This is a play, of course, on ear, nose and throat departments in British hospitals, but it's possible that Coward had Golden Eye lotion, a product that would have been familiar to Jamaican residents at the time, in his mind too. 

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