From Sussex with love for Robert Wade
So where does the screen-writer behind Casino Royale, Die Another Day, The World Is Not Enough and the forthcoming Bond epic Quantum of Solace live? A glass and steel bachelor pad in the heart of the City? Or a louche Jamaican villa where he can sip martinis (shaken, not stirred), then rattle away on a gold-plated typewriter, à la Ian Fleming?
No. Robert Wade’s home is a quintessential English country cottage, set deep in the West Sus-sex countryside, with roses growing round the door. The only concession to Bond-style glamour is a hot tub in the garden.
Wade, 47, and his wife, Sue, bought the Thatched Cottage, in Binsted, near Chichester, as a weekend retreat for £600,000 during the “long summer of 2006, when it was very hot in London and our little garden wasn’t really big enough for the children”. After enjoying Christmas in the house, they decided that they loved it so much, they should move in full-time and let out their main home in Holland Park, west London.
With four children and a dog, however, the place is bursting at the seams. Despite an architect’s plan to turn the garden shed into a one-bedroom annexe, the Wades have decided to move on. The Thatched Cottage is on the market for £635,000.
From the outside, the Grade II-listed building is charming; built of brick and flint, it is sheltered by the brow of its thatched roof. Inside, it’s equally cosy, with a low-beamed sitting room, a kitchen with an Aga and, upstairs, four bedrooms with casement windows peeping out onto the world. The Wades have uncovered original flooring and decorated simply, which gives an uncrowded feel, despite the presence of Charlie, 9, Stella, 6, Rosie, 4, and Hattie, 3 - as well as Alfie the dog.
Outside are raised beds and a kitchen garden bordered by railway sleepers. The hot tub, which sits on one of the two terraces has views over open farmland.
At the bottom of the garden is the “fantastic shed”, used by previous occupants as an artist’s studio. Wade tried to work in there, but he found it too quiet, so he took an office in nearby Arundel. He also spends a couple of days a week in London with his writing partner, Neal Purvis: they met at Kent University, when they were assigned to a shared bunk.
Is it difficult to create the high-octane world of Bond in such a sleepy setting? “Because I catch the train up to town every week, I still feel plugged in to things going on,” says Wade. He also meets people when he’s in London: Foreign Office workers and real spies, who actually do these things.
“Neal and I have written a lot of these action scenes, yet we’ve never done anything active in our lives,” he says. “We read a lot, meet people and listen to their stories.”
It’s not all about hiding away in a rural idyll, either – Ward travels the world in pursuit of inspiration. He travelled to the Bahamas to discuss writing Quantum of Solace and visited Siena to watch the Palio horse race, which appears in the forthcoming film. He is also working on an adaptation of John le Carré’s The Mission Song, which is being made into a film by the production team behind The Constant Gardener. It’s easier when there’s a book to work from, he says (unlike Quantum of Solace, which was written entirely by Wade and Neal) – “because Ian Fleming was full of great ideas, and we are just normal people”.
Normal or not, they come up with exciting stuff. But while Bond is fighting the baddies and giving the rest of us palpitations, Wade is quite happy with his quiet country life.
+The Thatched Cottage is for sale with Jackson-Stops & Staff; 01243 786316, www.jackson-stops.co.uk
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