1 JUNE 1956, Page 16


SIR,—The Secret Service has had to suffer some hard knocks recently, but none, unkinder than Mr, Anthony Hartley's disparagement of the head of their 00 section, James Bond. I share an office with Bond and, since I know even more about him than does his biographer, Mr. Ian Fleming, I have exceptionally obtained the permission of M. to break the rules of silence of our Service and come to his defence.

Mr. Hartley assumes that Bond is a creature of 'Clhbland.' Bond is a member of no club. Nor is he a member of 'a new-fashioned plutocracy.' It is a matter of regret in the Ser- vice that Mr. Fleming has made no attempt to describe the character of this fine agent in greater depth. Profounder study would probably reveal that Bond is, in fact, sub- consciously in revolt against those manifesta- tions of the Establishment with which Buchan surrounded Hannay, Leithen and Sandy Arbuthnot.

Bond is not interested in 'rich clothes and rich food,' In the Service his addiction to scrambled eggs is so exaggerated as to be regarded almost as a security risk. Plain, nourishing foods such as underdone double cutlets, tournedos, and grilled soles are his normal fare, occasionally supported by such other strengthening natural foods as caviare, smoked salmon, asparagus and fraises de bois. These foods may be expensive, but they are not 'rich' in a Wine and Food Society sense. The nature of his duties makes it impossible for Bond to label himself by wearing 'rich' clothes, and Mr. Fleming is correct in con- fining his wardrobe to dark blue worsteds (tropical weight in the summer) and short- sleeved, sea-island cotton shirts in white or dark blue. The only tie I have ever seen him wear is a black knitted silk four-in-hand. He also possesses a suit of yellowing black-and- white hound's tooth tweed and a dinner jacket (perhaps a trifle 'richly' embellished with turned-back cuffs and wide-ribbed lapels).

To be candid, sex does play a part in Bond's life and, to the taste of many of us in the Service, Mr. Fleming is too free in detailing the intimate relationships which his profession throws in Bond's way, but at least Mr. Fleming does not engage in the sort of Freudian double-talk about 'mailed virgins' which Buchan put into the mouth of Leithen in The Dancing Floor. On the question of whether the secret agent of forty years ago was more clean-limbed than is the agent of today, I dare say sociologists would favour contemporary man. But the fashion in biography has changed since Buchan's day, and one .must admit that more is known of Bond's sex life than of H6nay's or Leithen's.

From his flock papered coign in the Spectator's office, Mr. Hartley yearns for the heroes of bygone days. In the Service we would certainly prefer the villains that went with them.—Yours faithfully,

'008' Regent's Park, London, NW!