On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming

Snapshot of me reading:

In my apartment in Spain: The end of February is Carnival season in Europe, and for the entire month at the elementary school where I worked, we made sea creature costumes for the Carnival parade.  The costumes were all elaborate combinations of cardboard, poster board, paint, scraps of cloth, and lots of hot glue.  Because most of the materials were off-limits to the kids (no box cutters, no hot-glue guns), guess who got to do most of the crafty-craftiness?  Yours truly.  I became a model of an efficient squid-head-cutter-outer and fitter.  Each squid head must be fit individually to each 3rd & 4th grader’s cranium; on a side note, I have noticed that noggin circumference has nothing to do with braininess.  After stapling together dozens of squid heads, I didn’t feel the need to see the costumes in action, so I skipped the parade and lazed around my apartment for the day, reading On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  There’s a bookstore in Palma run by an English chap who lets you buy 3 used paperbacks for €10, and if you bring any 3 books back, you get 1 for free.  It’s basically a library with inordinately expensive dues and a limited selection; hence the explanation for why on earth I bought (and read) a James Bond book.

The book:

The whole thing was a lark. Read it, if you ever feel like being highly entertained. There is an enormous escape-on-skis scene that has beautiful descriptions of the joy and art of skiing, and hilarious descriptions of Bond’s constant inner monologue. Bond is using all of his moves (which he informs us are called “the Arlberg crouch,” “the Sprung-Christiana,” “jinking,” and “schussing.”) Oh, for the glory days of skiing when the skis were terrible and skiers actually had to be good!  Bond is escaping the Bad Guys when he sees a train coming. (“By God, it would just about be passing the train station as he wanted to get across the track! Could he make it – take a run at the low embankment and clear it and the other lines before the train got there? It was his only hope!“) Of course he makes it, but the Bad Guy behind him isn’t so lucky. (“…there came a terrible scream from behind him, a loud splintering of wood, and the screech of the train’s brakes being applied. At the same time, the spray from the snow-fan, that had now reached Bond, turned pink!  Bond wiped some of it off his face and looked at it.  His stomach turned.  God!  The man had tried to follow him, had been too late or had missed his jump, and had been caught by the murderous blades of the snow-fan.  Mincemeat!” pp.157-158).

* from the 1969 movie. Mincemeat!

So, anyway, if you want to laugh to yourself for an hour or two, as well as enjoy the actual tension that Ian Fleming builds, pick up a Bond book from your local Palma bookstore.    6 out of 10.

On Her Majestys Secret Service

(the book cover to the left was too hilarious to pass up; the edition I read showed a suggestively bloody wedding ring in the snow– see below– but I couldn’t deny you a laugh at the suggestive blonde doubling as a ski slope.)

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