As we have been Bonding – as it were – I thought I would pose a quiz question.
Although Errol embodied Bond is so many ways, Fleming, sadly, did not seem to make that connection. This was probably because he was too myopic and snobbish. In fact, he was a social mountaineer; the Edmund Hillary of social climbers.
So my question is, what is the name of the man Fleming most admired and wanted to be (and that includes physically)?
In public, Fleming often gave contradictory answers when asked upon whom he had modelled James Bond. In private, however, he frequently named my ‘mystery man’ (pictured below). I know this is true because Fleming used to stay with my father in Wiltshire, and the ‘mystery man’s’ late wife was my Godmother.
Coincidentally, he bore a striking resemblance to Errol, and the two actually met at a dinner party in Italy.
Clue 1: My ‘mystery man’ wasn’t a member of the Intelligence Services, a Government official, a writer, an ornithologist, an actor or any of the people usually mentioned. Fleming first met him in 1951 and later attended his wedding (below). (Interestingly, his wife, according to one of Fleming’s letters, was ‘my ideal of what a girl should look like, and how she should act’, which qualifies her for the distaff side of all the Bond novels published after 1955.)
Clue 2: In ‘From Russia With Love’, Fleming pays tribute to my ‘mystery man’ and his wife. When Bond and Tatiana have to flee from SMERSH, they are given false names. The names Fleming chose were their names.
Clue 3: A well-known sport was named after the ‘mystery man’s’ house.
Clue 4: The man is still living and has been called ‘the handsomest …. in England.’
So, what is his name?
My ‘mystery man’ outside his family house, and at the horse trials