In the second installment in the series looking at
the world of James Bond, we visit Jamaica...
The World Of James Bond - Jamaica
2nd July 2004
Jamaica must be considered the most important location to James
Bond, as Ian Fleming wrote all the books at his Jamaican hideaway,
Goldeneye. Featuring in Live And Let Die, Doctor No
and The Man With The Golden Gun, Jamaica turns out to be
one of the most colourful locations in a series of books full
of vivid locations. In Jamaica we come into contact with voodoo
and a fortune-teller, a girl Friday living in the remains of a
great colonial house with wild animals and in Fleming’s
final novel, a private railway running through the mangrove swamps.
Ian Fleming had fallen in love with Jamaica when he visited the
island during the Second World War for an Anglo-American navel
conference. Fleming went with his great friend, Ivar Bryce, whose
wife owned Bellevue, one of Jamaicas most beautiful great
houses. It was also attractive to Fleming, as one of his heroes,
Nelson, had once stayed there. The conference took place at the
Myrtle Bank Hotel in Kingston, but Fleming and Bryce spent their
nights at the much cooler Bellevue in the Blue Mountains. In 1947
Bryce found him a site next to the sea on an old donkey racetrack
near the sleepy town of Oracabessa. Fleming designed his own house,
later to be christened Goldeneye after a wartime operation run
by him in Spain. Tt has the unusual feature of glassless windows
to allow the house to be cooled by the tropical breezes. Today
Flemings house is part of the Goldeneye Complex, which belongs
to Chris Blackwells Island Outpost. Chris Blackwell is the
son of Blanche Blackwell, with whom Ian Fleming had an affair
after meeting on the island, and founded Island Records. The complex
now also consists of the Royal Palm villa as well as three villas
with bedrooms named after some of the Bond girls: Honeychile is
in Villa 1, Tiffany Case and Domino in Villa 2, while Villa 3
has Romanov, Solitaire and Vesper.
Jamaica’s original inhabitants, the
Arawaks, were virtually wiped out by the mid sixteenth century
by the Spanish, who used Jamaica as a base to plunder the
treasures from Mexico.
The island was ruled from what is now known as Spanish
Town, but in 1655 the island was captured for the British,
who imported African slaves to work on the sugar plantations.
Today’s capital, Kingston, was founded in 1694 after
an earthquake destroyed Port Royal on the other side of
the harbour. The natural harbour is the seventh largest
in the world and boosted Kingston’s importance as
a trade centre, becoming Jamaica’s capital in 1872.
Above: Goldeneye - Ian Fleming’s
house in Jamaica
Above: The Blue Mountains area
||By the turn of the 19th century, the Jamaican
sugar crop was facing rising production costs and competition
from European sugar beet and with the abolition of slavery
in 1838 costs rose further with the introduction of wages
for the workers. The island also began exporting logwood,
coffee and bananas grown on small farms set up by former slaves.
Following a rebellion in 1938 the idea of decolonizing Jamaica
took hold and the island eventually gained full independence
in 1962. From this time Jamaica developed its bauxite and
alumina exports and started to develop its tourist industry.
We first learn that Bond has visited Jamaica in Casino Royale
when his cover sees him as a wealthy Jamaican. However, in Fleming’s
second James Bond adventure, Live And Let Die
, we actually
find him on the island. Like many tourists today, Bond spends no
time in Kingston as he is picked up from the airport by Commander
John Strangways, the secret service man for the Caribbean. Strangways
drives Bond to his house in the foothills of the Blue Mountains,
and updates him on the villainous Mr Big, whom Bond had already
met in Harlem. Strangways has arranged accommodation at Beau Dessert,
near to Mr Big’s “Isle of Surprise” base in the
middle of Shark Bay on the North coast and a house “on the
other side of the island”, to be used while Bond gets into
training for his assignment and also for a local to act as Bond’s
fixer and guide.
The name of the local man is Quarrel, a
Cayman Islander, and the two men leave on the Junction Road,
taking them through Castleton and Port Maria, before taking
a little road leading down to Shark Bay.
Although there is no reference to Shark Bay on the map
and may well be a fictitious name, the location lies between
Port Maria and Oracabessa, close to Goldeneye and possibly
what is known today as “James Bond Beach”.
Above: "James Bond Beach"
After a reconnaissance of the area, the two men continue their
drive along the northern coast, passing through Oracabessa, Ocho
Rios and Montego Bay. On the far side of the bay they stop for
lunch and continue their journey to the far west of the island,
to what must be Negril Beach, “five miles of white sand
sloping easily into the breakers”. Here, in a “house
on stilts built as a weekend cottage for the employees of the
West Indian Citrus Company”, Bond spends a week preparing
for his mission with an arduous training regime overseen by Quarrel
- no alcohol, ten cigarettes a day, running, swimming, sailing
and snorkeling. It is during the course of the latter activity
that we learn the true dangers of the barracuda, when Quarrel
is nearly savaged by a fish that is “capable of fifty miles
an hour over short distances, and with the worst battery of teeth
of any fish in the sea”. Every evening Quarrel massages
Bond for half an hour with palm oil and by the end of the week
“Bond was sunburned and hard” and ready to face Mr
In Doctor No, Bond once finds himself in Jamaica. He books
a single room with shower in Blue Hills Hotel “a comfortable
old-fashioned hotel with modern trimmings”, probably based
on the Blue Mountain Inn. The balcony to his room on which he
breakfasts overlooks a “riot of tropical gardens to Kingston,
five miles below” and once again he spends most of his time
with Quarrel, who takes Bond to “The Joy Boat” restaurant,
down on Kingston harbour. The restaurant is owned by his friend
Pus-Feller, named on account of his one-time fight with a big
octopus and to “the throb and twang of calypso music”
they eat broiled lobster, steak and native vegetables, washed
down with a gin and tonic with a lime (Bond) and a Red Stripe
Bond spends the following day in Kingston at King’s House,
where he meets the Governor and then the Colonial Secretary for
information on the case he is working on – the disappearance
of Commander Strangways and his secretary. Bond gets on well with
the Colonial Secretary, Pleydell-Smith, and he learns about Dr
No and his island hideaway called Crab Key, after which the two
have lunch at Queen’s Club.
Above: Montego Bay.
The following day Bond and Quarrel make
an early start for Beau Dessert, again on the Junction Road
to the North Coast. Bond is planning to make a visit to
Crab Key, thirty miles north of Galina Point in Jamaica
and 60 miles south of Cuba.
Before setting off, Bond again undertakes three days of
training under Quarrel’s supervision and the two eventually
set off in a small canoe destined for the mangrove swamps
of Crab Key.
Bond returns to a now independent Jamaica in The Man With
The Golden Gun, on the trail of an assassin called Scaramanga.
Staying at Morgan’s Harbour Hotel, a “romantic little
hotel… on the site of Port Royal”, which started in
1955 and in 1958 became a members club with only twelve rooms,
Bond finds that his former secretary, Mary Goodnight, has been
posted to Kingston and they meet for dinner at the hotel, where
they enjoy broiled lobster with melted butter and foie gras with
Following a lead that he will find Scaramanga in Savannah La
Mar, Bond and Goodnight drive through the picturesquely named
Spanish Town, May Pen, Alligator Pond and Black River. Bond’s
intended rendezvous with Scaramanga is 3½ Love Lane, a
large house that turns out to be an up-for-sale brothel. Scaramanga
hires Bond to look after security at a shareholders’ meeting
of the fictional Thunderbird Hotel, the construction of which
is running late and over budget. The hotel is being built at Bloody
Bay near Negril Beach and since the shareholders number members
of the mafia and KGB, Scaramanga must watch his back.
James Bond finally returns to Jamaica in the short story, Octopussy.
He hardly features in the story at all, but visits the house of
an ex-secret service man. We are not given any details as to the
house’s whereabouts on the island, but the man who is now
perpetually drunk, bored and disillusioned with life is clearly
modelled on Fleming’s own state of mind.
"The World Of James Bond" will visit France next...
Article by David Leigh.