One of the rarest pieces of Fleming literature is possibly Ian Fleming’s 128-page scrapbook, in which he wrote down ideas, plot outlines, short sentences and even lengthy excerpts which he con-sidered to feature in future Bond adventures. He wrote the ideas from the early 1950’s up until his death and some of them are quite fascinating as well as revealing. But first of all, please don’t be jealous for me, as I also never had the chance to see it, but a closer inspection of some Fleming bio-graphical material may reveal things bondologists have never dreamed about.
The scrapbook was never published officially, the known excerpts were jotted down by a reporter of the Daily Express, who had the chance to take a look into it in February 1964. The excerpts you are about to read are taken from reliable sources: the short, one or two sentence long ideas can be found in Henry Ziegler`s Ian Fleming: The Spy Who Came In With The Gold. The two longer ex-cerpts are taken from John Pearson’s The Life Of Ian Fleming (it is possible that some editions of the book may not contain the excerpts I’m referring to).
A bunch of ideas…
True to it’s name, the scrapbook is just basically a collection of ideas without any logic to be found. During some brainstorming, Fleming organised some of them into categories as Names, People, Crime, Food, Descriptions and stuff like these, but most of them appear only as scattered references on various pages. Here are some descriptions Fleming thought were appropriate to include in upcoming adventures:
“You won’t have a lover if you don’t love…” – Not the strongest of arguments, but hey, it’s only an idea!
“She had a blunt, short-lipped mouth, proud like a half-healed wound.” – A description for a fu-ture heroine?
“Most people are unconscious up to 17, dreaming until 25, awake to 39, mad after 40, dead after 60.” – Ian Fleming’s The Meaning of Life – Nutshell Edition
“Pain is a private address. Only those who have been that way before know the unlisted number.” – Now that’s metaphor at its best!
Fleming also envisioned extreme adventures which would take 007 to new heights and lows. One idea was about the agent killing his own assistant, so he could keep his cover, another featured a battle under Niagara Falls! That’s something which should have been made into a novel… or a film!
Of course, not all ideas were dropped. Most surprisingly, the scrapbook contains a name everybody knows: Blofeld! Yes, and it seems like Fleming came up with this name long before meeting Kevin McClory… Of course, McClory quickly claimed, that the exact name may not be his idea, but the concept of an international criminal super-organisation certainly belongs to him. As we all know, McClory won both the SPECTRE and Blofeld “rights”.
Unfinished short stories
The last book of Fleming’s Bond canon, Octopussy and The Living Daylights was published posthumously after the death of the author, with the intention to collect together Bond-related short-stories which first appeared in newspapers. Some excerpts of the scrapbook may give you a hint that Fleming wanted to write more Bond short stories, maybe for newspapers, maybe to publish a collection, similar to For Your Eyes Only.
“It was like this, Mr Bond.” Zographos had a precise way of speaking with the thin tips of his lips while his half-hard half-soft Greek eyes measured the reaction of his words on the listener… “The Russians are chess players. They are mathematicians. Cold machines. But they are also mad. The mad ones forsake the chess and the mathematics and become gamblers. Now, Mr Bond.” Zographos laid a hand on Bond`s sleeve and quickly withdrew it because he knew Englishmen, just as he knew the characteristics of every race, every race with money, in the world. “There are two gamblers… the man who lays the odds and the man who accepts them. The bookmaker and the punter. The casino and, if you like” – Mr Zographos`s smile was sly with the “shared secret” and proud with the right word – “The suckers.”
Zographos was meant to be modelled after a real card dealer whom Fleming had known and portrays him as a master of gambling. It is very likely that they met before Fleming began writing Bond novels and used the character as an inspiration for another “off-page” character as well.
… a group of émigré Egyptian bankers and business-men with, it is said, a call on certain royal funds , who have for years been trying to cut in on the profits of Zographos and his Greek associates resulting from their monopoly of the highest French baccarat banks. [Casino Royale, Chapter 2]
It is unknown what was the aim of this short-story, as Fleming only wrote this short piece and no other parts of the scrapbook contain details about it. The second short-story has an even more unique starting; this one begins with Fleming’s take on everyday mornings.
“In the early morning, at about 7.30, the stringy whimperings of the piped radio brought visions of a million homes waking up all over Britain… of him, or perhaps her, getting up to make the early morning tea, to put the dog out, to stoke the boiler. And then will this shirt do for another day? The socks, the pants? The Everready, the Gillette shave, the Brylcreem on the hair, the bowler hat or the homburg, the umbrella and the briefcase or the sample case? Then “Dodo”, the family saloon out on the concrete arterial, probably with her driving. The red-brick station, the other husbands, the other wives, the clickety-click of the 8.15 round the curve by the gold course. Hullo Sidney! Hullo Arthur! After you Mr Shacker… and the drab life picking up speed and flicking on up the rails between the conifers and the damp evergreens. Bond switched on his electric blanket and waited for his hot water with a slice of lemon and contemplated the world with horror and disgust.”
Sadly, that’s only what remained from this story, and if it hadn’t been for the last sentence, we may not even recognise that it is going to feature James Bond.
The third candidate for the position of “unfinished short-story” is a plot outline which is about a millionaire who kidnaps and rapes a girl just to have a child from her. The synopsis says, that the girl proves that she was already pregnant when they had sexual intercourse, taking a revenge on her kidnapper. The only problem is, that the outline does not mention James Bond, but it could easily be a Quantum-of-Solace-like story with revenge in centre point.
An inspiration for movies?
Well, it is highly doubtful that producers and writers of the Bond movie series were aware of the scrapbook, unless they examined the two mentioned Fleming biographies in small details. However, it is very interesting, how many ideas are similar to unpublished Fleming material – even though they should be considered unintentional or at best, coincidental.
One of the lesser discussed aspects of Fleming’s writing are research projects to find new ideas. Although everyone knows how much Fleming quested to find out more about Voodoo culture only to include it in Live And Let Die, here is a lesser known area of research, namely the culture of Eastern Europe. The scrapbook includes a Bulgarian proverb, My Enemy’s Enemy Is My Friend which was considered as an ideal title for an upcoming Bond adventure. There is also a mention about a certain Mr. Szász, an ideal name for a main villain or a henchman.
Now Mr. Szász is a Hungarian name which means something like “Saxonian”. And there are many references to Hungary in the Bond movies, most of them are probably not recognised at all: there’s the speech of the Hungarian Delegate form Live And Let Die, Sandor “What a Helpful Chap” from The Spy Who Loved Me, Rosika Miklos from The Living Daylights and Gabor, Elektra’s henchman in The World Is Not Enough.
If that was a stretch for the readers, here are two ideas Fleming jotted down for further consideration:
“A masquerade ball in which the benign clown is the Russian killer and the crowd thinks that a real fight is part of the buffoonery.”
“Fight in a fun fair with a man on the rollercoaster being shot at by another on the Big Wheel.”
Possibly not the closest of parallels, but these scenes may ring some bells even for casual Bond fans, echoing scenes from Octopussy and The Living Daylights respectively. Finally, the already mentioned idea about the fight under Niagara might be considered a good idea, but the waterfall can easily be substituted for the Golden Gate Bride… Get my point?
Of course, I understand if you consider this latter chapter to be a manipulative thread from the author, but I think they echo something most of us really wish: newer movies should contain more Fleming material than they actually do.
Final notes on the scrapbook: Where is it now?
The scrapbook was owned by Fleming’s stepdaughter, Fionn O’Neill until December 1992, when she sold it at Sotheby’s in a charity auction which benefited the London Library. Apparently, it was bought by Ian’s three nieces. Kate, Lucy and Nichol Fleming paid £ 30,000 for this piece of literature history.
The Cat will return… in his next article!