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14th October, 2020

Spring continues on the south coast of New south Wales, Australia. Above you have rainbow lorikeets comfortably nesting in a tree in Corrimal plus Australian Wood Ducks with chicks at Towradgi Creek.

Here I should note the importance to our birdlife when it comes to these hollow trees. They provide protection against the elements and give birds a sense of security when they are nesting.

I have tempted to calm down an agro male Magpie with left over chicken. I am not sure if that will work. I’ll do it a few times and maybe the bird with think of me as a friendly human rather than a potential egg snatcher. There is also a psycho noisy minor on the loose.

On my journeying through the north main island of New Zealand this year, before the coronavirus shut everything down, I stopped off a couple of times at Hamilton. From the bus terminal you can see a musical score of some kind on the wall of a music store and a lane way with a bell of all things. Oh and yes there is also a Hamilton in New South Wales, Australia. The above pictures however are from the one in New Zealand.

On my trip from Auckland to Hamilton I stopped off at a curious locale called Flat Hills. There we had lunch. The food was okay but what took my interest were the dummies plus the little huts where one might stay.

Spies and criminal organizations have been with us a long time both in fact and in fiction.

In the USA in the 1920s Prohibition had allowed criminal organizations to grow and to flourish. The ban on booze, instead of eradicating alcoholism, gave criminals their chance to influence ordinary citizens and also powerful politicians. Once they got through trying to bump each other off, it gave them the opportunity to better organize for a time when Prohibition was no longer around and narcotics and prostitution still brought in illegal wealth.

The Second World War, when it was on and well after the major battles had ended, was perfect for black market activities. There were a lot of products, including medicines, that were hard to come by and so fortunes could be made in illegally supplying them. Orson Welles’ masterpiece The Third Man (1949), though fiction, takes us into one of the slimiest of the rackets that no doubt was part of post war Europe.

The dividing up of Europe after the Second World War was also an invitation to criminals to get together and make a lot of money. In the countries behind the Iron Certain, there was poverty and unrest that lasted for decades In order to make the Russian economy work there had to be heavy ’borrowing’ from the other Soviet Union countries. This ’borrowing’, however, could not go on forever and lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The people of Poland, after being freed from German rule, fell under the communist rule. For decades in Poland and elsewhere there was resistance to the communist takeover and to the local commissars who were viewed as a type of quisling.

In Poland there were phantom radio stations that broadcast American country music. This music became popular as a form of defiance and there were Poles who went on to create their own and in their own language as well. Such radio stations had to be mobile so as not to be caught by the authorities.

Well into the 1950s the people of Britain were hurting. There was this enormous debt to the Americans they were paying off. It was in installments that would not end until the mid-1990s. What’s more, there were major cities such as London where there were holes in the ground in place of buildings and housing accommodation was scarce.

Meanwhile the Americans were helping out the Germans and the Japanese in rebuilding. They wanted West Germany to be better than East Germany in part to prove that Capitalism is better than Communism. Lots of goods from the USA were flooding into parts of Germany and no doubt some of those goods made their way onto the black market. Japan was an obvious place, during the Korean War, for American military personnel to rest up.

In Australia, after the Second World War, there was an influx of migrants from all over Europe. Most of them would make good citizens. A minority were war criminals or simply criminals wanted by the police in various countries that had slipped the net. This was mentioned in the press in the 1970s. Since then Australian authorities are better connected to Interpol and other such organizations.

It appears that, in the books written by Fleming, Bond was born in 1924 and saw action in the Second World War.

It was before and during the Second World War that Ian Fleming came to understand the real spy game and how it was played.

Fleming admitted in a television interview that a spy having a license to kill was an absurdity he created and enjoyed.

Bond was and remains a chancer. One knows though that sooner or later his chance taking will get him killed but it’s never today though it may be tomorrow.

The first book and possibly the only one to be made into a television episode and put on the small screen was Casino Royale.

After that Casino Royale took a weird psychedelic turn. In the 1967 movie the original James Bond, played by David Niven, comes out of retirement and is aided by a whole bunch of pretend Bonds. Saying the film is loosely based on the novel is an understatement. But was it a fun romp? Yes. But is it considered a true Bond classic? I would say no. It’s no more a fair dinkum Bond film than ’What’s New Pussycat’ (1965), starring Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress, is regarded as an in depth study on the behavior of cats.

Since I don’t particularly like Daniel Craig as Bond, I will simply say he starred in the latest movie based on Casino Royale (2006).

In John Gardner’s Bond novels James bond is updated to suit the age in which Gardner is writing so Bond cannot have been born in 1924 but much later. He is still a chancer. In Death is Forever (1992) Bond is teamed up with CIA agent ’Easy’ St John who is new to field work. Two British agents have died under mysterious circumstances and Bond and St John have been assigned to track down the surviving members of a Cold War era intelligence network. It is a rescue mission.

Death is Forever is the first Bond novel to be published after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. This is a complex read in which ordinary looking people are the spies that can hide and also infiltrate. Who can Bond and St John trust becomes the issue as they move through Europe and also who can trust them.

In John Gardner’s Cold (1996) a plane blows up and this needs to be investigated since a woman supposedly onboard is connected to a criminal organization that spans countries. This is the final Bond novel by Gardner and though not as impressive as Death is Forever it is still a good read.

William Boyd’s Bond novel Solo (2013) takes Bond back to the 1960s. It is a time when colonialism is breaking down, especially in Africa, and small nations that have come out of this have to find ways of dealing with Western style nations out to exploit the oil and other wealth producers found in such places.

Solo is reminiscent of Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever (1956) in which Bond investigates diamond smuggling in Sierra Leone. In Solo, after a small war involving oil is settled, Bond goes rogue in search of those who came close to killing him. He knows how to go undercover and who to trust in England but the USA is another matter. In Solo there is no trace of Bond the super spy as seen in the movies of the 1960s and 1970s. William Boyd’s writing is actually better than that of Fleming and yet preserves Bond the way he was in his heyday. This is an excellent read.

Of the movies based on Ian Fleming’s work I like You Only Live Twice (1967) the best followed by Diamonds Are Forever (1971). I also like Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).

I have never liked On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) despite the stellar cast. In some respects it goes against the trend established by the earlier movies. Bond is a lover of beautiful women but not one to ever marry. It starred Australian actor George Lazenby in his first and last appearance as James Bond. Diana Rigg as Contessa di Vicenso was his love interest and the woman he wanted to wed. This is a more realistic look at Bond and at Fleming’s writing but it didn’t go down all that well with the public and I still find it difficult to watch. Telly Savalas made for a respectable villain.

James Bond will continue but how he will do so has yet to be decided.

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