The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Tag Archives: Jamaica

Is The Displaced Nation for expats, travelers — or both?

When we started up The Displaced Nation on April Fool’s Day, many people wondered: is it a site for fools, be they expats, travelers, or both?

From the perspective of outsiders — people who aren’t in the biz — that distinction may seem frivolous. After all, many travelers become expats and many expats travel.

But from the inside, it’s very clear who the travelers and expats are. Both are interested in viewing the world’s rich tapestry firsthand — but expats tend to focus on the intricacies of particular patterns, whereas global travelers want to take in as much of the picture as they can, including the tattered bits.

So, who is more displaced — the expats or the travelers?

The answer is neither. Feeling displaced is a state of mind. To continue the tapestry metaphor, part of you identifies with the new patterns you’re looking at, while another part thinks it’s a confused mess compared to the patterns you’re used to.

Not all global residents feel displaced; same for global travelers. And there are even cases where a person has never traveled except in an armchair — but has ended up feeling displaced by what they’ve read.

As a student of Shakespeare, I’m often reminded of the King Lear line:

“Who is it that can tell me who I am?” – William Shakespeare, King Lear, 1.4.230

Except that King Lear felt this way at the end of his life; many of us global voyagers get there rather earlier. Is it any wonder we feel like fools?!

Now, if you’ve noticed that our site tends to be expat-centric, it’s because two of our writers are expats and the other one (me), a former expat.

Reflecting this imbalance, I’ve started commissioning guest posts by writers — switching metaphors here, but only slightly — who can spin the kind of travel yarn that focuses on the ways travel can make you feel misplaced, displaced, out of place — and, in the process, challenge who you are as a person.

Thus far we’ve featured three such yarns:

1) My first flirtation with the lawlessness of global travel: 4 painful lessons, by Lara Sterling
Sterling has done it all, from round-the-world trips to expat stints. In this article she reports on the shock/horror she experienced after falling in love with a German traveler and following him all the way to war-torn Guatemala — only to discover he was engaged in criminal activities. Part of her was with him, fascinated — they were in a lawless land, so was there any reason to abide by the laws back home? But another part of her was repelled, and couldn’t wait to get back to the United States.

2) In search of 007th heaven, a travel yarn in three parts, by Sebastian Doggart
Doggart — a Brit who lives in New York City and blogs for the Daily Telegraph‘s expat site — tells of the pilgrimage he made to Goldeneye, the Jamaican coastal retreat where Ian Fleming wrote all the James Bond novels. As a Bond fan, he had fun identifying the sights that made it into Fleming’s stories and films. But he also felt alienated that Goldeneye had become GoldeneEye, a playground of the rich and famous — sensing that Fleming, who wrote for the masses, would not approve.

3) How foreign is Fez? A travel yarn in two parts, by Joy Richards
Richards lives in her native England and travels whenever she can. Here she describes her first foray into Fez, Morocco, which was also her first time in an Arab country. She decided to go with the flow, finding that she could relate to the Moroccan sense of shame through her parents’ values, didn’t mind “covering up” (is it any worse than being urged by the Western media to put your body on display?), and had a knack for bargaining. But the flow stopped as soon as she became aware of corrupt police tactics along with some cracks in the society’s facade.

* * *

As The Displaced Nation assumes its normal schedule next month, we hope to feature still more travel yarns.

Meanwhile, can you kindly do us a favor by answering these questions:
1) Would you like to see travel play an even bigger part in our article mix?
2) If so, can you suggest any candidates for guest posts, as well as countries/regions you’d like to hear more about?

Much obliged, as always, for your input!

 

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post on the less-than-enchanting challenges of vacationing with family.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe to The Displaced Dispatch, a weekly round up of posts from The Displaced Nation, plus some extras such as seasonal recipes and occasional book giveaways. Sign up for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Related posts:

Advertisements

In search of 007th heaven: A travel yarn in three parts (Part 3)

We welcome back Sebastian Doggart for the final installment of his story about the pilgrimage he made to Goldeneye, the Jamaican coastal retreat where Ian Fleming wrote all the James Bond novels. In Part 1, Sebastian reports on his clever ploy to gain admission to the birthplace of James Bond. In Part 2, he registers disappointment at the conversion of Goldeneye into GoldenEye, a soulless bolt-hole for the rich and famous. In this final part, he tracks down the original locations where some famous scenes in two early Bond films were shot.

Back on the cactus-studded road, fortified with a cup of 007’s favorite Blue Mountain coffee, I — along with my two Bond girls: my lovely girlfriend, Emily, and our cheeky six-month-old daughter, Alma — renewed the quest to find some legitimate traces of Britain’s greatest spy.

The movie that pays greatest tribute to Fleming’s love for Jamaica is Dr. No (1962). Filmed just outside the island’s capital city, Kingston, on the south coast, Dr. No features the first Bond car chase, as glimpsed in the film’s original trailer. (Notably, I did not encourage our red-eyed Jamaican driver to hit the accelerator and, for Alma’s sake, was relieved to see a large blue traffic safety sign saying: “SPEED KILLS. Don’t be in a hurry to eternity”.)

Also as glimpsed in this trailer, Dr. No also introduced the world to the first Bond Girl: Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder — emerging from the waves, cuddling a conch shell.

No matter that her voice was dubbed in the final film, Ms. Andress in a bikini was a vision that launched a million erotic fantasies, including my own. The beach where this iconic scene was filmed is as hard to reach today as it was for Bond in the movie. Located four miles west of Ocho Ríos, behind the Roaring River generating station, on a privately owned, rentable estate, it is approached by an unmarked track that ends at a security gate. The Laughing Waters stream — in which Bond and Honey concealed themselves — still pours into the sea.

But Bond and Honey’s actual hiding place is now a very unromantic drainage ditch.

In both the movie and the book, Honey’s beach lies on the island of Crab Key, which is Dr. No’s well-appointed hide-out. Bond and Honey make their way from the beach, through a lush forest, where they find a stunning waterfall in which to wash off.

I would do the same thing…

The cascade used for the movie is now one of Jamaica’s top tourist attractions, Dunn’s River Falls. As we reached this reputedly picturesque spot, the first thing we noticed were grotesque conga lines of cruise-ship passengers — mainly American, but with a large smattering of Chinese — clambering over the rocks. How I wished I’d had a Walther PPK pistol to silence the tour-guides as they orchestrated raucous football chants.

(Afterwards, Alma exacted her own ruthless revenge on the commercialized desecration of the waterfall. As we were waiting for our driver to pull up, a septuagenarian American couple, all sunhats and positive energy, approached us. Alma served up her gummiest, sweetest grin to the lady, whose tired face melted. “Awww,” she cooed, “you are the cuutest ba–“, at which moment she stumbled sharply and fell face first on to the asphalt. A blackish red liquid oozed from her mouth. Emily shielded Alma’s gaze from the horror. The husband yelled for help. A call went out to out to an ambulance, which — do they have one permanently stationed at the Falls to handle tourists tumbling down the rocks? — arrived within minutes. The lady was carried into the back of the ambulance, as her husband asked a fellow cruise passenger to tell the captain not to leave until she had been patched up and discharged.)

Dr. Julius No’s lair was where he entertained Bond and Honey for dinner…and concealed the laser that could disable American missiles. It also contained the nuclear reactor where he would meet his death, sinking into the boiling liquid from which he was unable to escape because of his metal hands.

The building used for the reactor’s exterior is a bauxite plant that sits beside the main road on the crescent harbor of Discovery Bay. It’s owned and operated by the American company Kaiser. Beneath its russet-stained dome is where the “red gold” that is Jamaica’s second-leading money earner after tourism is transformed into aluminium for export to U.S. refineries.

The other movie where Jamaica plays a major role is Live and Let Die (1974), the first film to star Roger Moore as James Bond.

Jamaica stands in as the Louisiana bayou for the classic scene in the crocodile farm owned by the evil Mr. Big. In the film, Mr. Big’s real name is Kananga, which was taken from real-life crocodile wrangler Ross Kananga, who was the double for Moore in the scene where Bond escapes by running over a phalanx of crocodiles.

In this clip you can see all five takes of Kananga performing this perilous stunt for Moore. The location was an actual crocodile farm called Swamp Safari, near the town of Falmouth. (It was being refurbished when we visited and is due to re-open next year.)

In Live and Let Die, Jamaica is also the fictional Caribbean island of San Monique. In the original novel, Bond comes here to track down what his MI6 boss, M, believes to be a stash of gold that was originally amassed by the notorious pirate Henry Morgan, himself an early foreign resident of Jamaica. That gold was being used by the criminal network SMERSH to fund nefarious activities in America.

In the movie, Kananga’s base was conceived of as a cathedral-like cave beneath a cemetery. It was here where the infamous drug lord kept his submarine. And it was here, in a shark-infested lagoon, that Moore kills Kananga by stuffing a bullet of compressed air down his throat, causing him to explode.

The Kananga scenes were shot in the real-life Green Grotto and Runaway Caves near Discovery Bay. They comprise a network of limestone caves and a limpid lake, 120 feet below sea level. Originally a Taíno place of worship, the caves had a recent incarnation as a nightclub — but after revelers damaged the stalactites, it was closed down. Today, tour guides are scrupulously protective of the green algae on the walls.

As my Bond girls and I wound up our 007 tour and headed back to New York, I was re-energized to write my own Bond novel. It will begin with our hero discovering that his mother, whom he has not seen since he was very young, is alive but has been kidnapped by a mysterious criminal gang.

With Bond’s fascination for women clearly linked to an Oedipal complex and an impossible love for his mother, this will set up the highest stakes of any 007 story ever. In an extraordinary final twist, his mother will be revealed as none other than…M herself!

M for Mummy! Genius!

What do you think? Will this effectively reboot the Bond franchise?

img: The intrepid Sebastian Doggart with his equally intrepid “Bond girls,” girlfriend Emily and their daughter Alma, snapped in front of Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica, with conga lines of cruise-ship passengers in the background.

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s installment from our displaced fictional heroine, Libby, who, having just said good-bye to her London home, is about to embark on her long-anticipated relocation adventure.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe for email delivery of The Displaced Nation. That way, you won’t miss a single issue. SPECIAL OFFER: New subscribers receive a FREE copy of “A Royally Displaced Tea.”

Related posts:

See also:

CLASSIC DISPLACED WRITING: Ian Fleming

As The Displaced Nation has been serializing Sebastian Doggart’s article (part 1 and part 2) about visiting Ian Feming’s Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, it seemed like a good time to take a brief look at Fleming’s writing with a Classic Displaced Writing Post.

Sebastian’s posts have been concerned with Fleming and his love of Jamaica, and while Jamaica and the Caribbean is used numerous times as a backdrop in the Bond novels, through the course of the novels Bond visits dozens of  different countries that Fleming has to conjure up for the reader.

What is clear on reading Fleming is just how important food and drink is to Fleming in order to allow him to describes new and exotic (at least for the vast majority of readers in austerity Britain of that time) locations. I don’t think it’s unfair of me to say that Fleming fetishes food and drink. At times, reading a Bond novel is like reading food porn. While the Bond films now do an expert and cynical job of name dropping as many brands as they can in 2 hours, the Bond novels don’t shy away with the name dropping of food or of alcoholic brand names. The Bond of the novels isn’t solely a Martini drinker. He’s aways one to try anything local that’s on offer. In Jamaica he’ll drink a glass of Red Stripe, in the US he’ll have a Millers Highlife beer. Throughout the novels Fleming uses food and drink to convey an alien culture, demonstrate social status, show Bond’s mood and his sophistication and ease with the world.

For ten minutes Bond stood and gazed out across the sparkling water barrier between Europe and Asia, then he turned back into the room, now bright with sunshine, and telephoned for his breakfast. His English was not understood, but his French at last got through. He turned on a cold bath and shaved patiently with cold water and hoped that the exotic breakfast he had ordered would not be a fiasco.

He was not disappointed. The yoghourt, in a blue china bowl, was a deep yellow and with the consistency of thick cream. The green figs, ready peeled, were bursting with ripeness, and the Turkish coffee was jet black and with the burned taste that showed it had been freshly ground. Bond ate the delicious meal on a table drawn up beside the open-window.

From Russia with Love (1957)

Video of some more examples –

STAY TUNED for Monday’s post, when guest blogger Sezin Koehler riffs off Alice in Wonderland to capture the curious, unreal aspects of her life in Prague.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe for email delivery of The Displaced Nation. That way, you won’t miss a single issue. SPECIAL OFFER: New subscribers receive a FREE copy of “A Royally Displaced Tea.”

Related posts:

In search of 007th heaven: A travel yarn in three parts (Part 2)

GoldenEye collageWe welcome back Sebastian Doggart for the second in his three-part travel yarn about his attempt to infiltrate the Caribbean retreat called GoldenEye, where Ian Fleming composed all the Bond books. In Part 1, Sebastian reports on his arrival on Jamaica’s northern coast and admission at the gates of the compound that marks the birthplace of James Bond — newly remade into a resort for the super-rich. Stay tuned for Part 3, where Sebastian continues his Bond-worthy quest for traces of Fleming elsewhere in Jamaica.

Alighting from the car, I was greeted by Jenny Wood, GoldenEye’s English general manager, whose plummily cheerful efficiency had echoes of Miss Moneypenny. She welcomed us warmly and introduced us to a Jamaican employee called Henry, who would take us to our friends, the Usmanovs.

As Henry led us down a stone path, I asked him about visiting Fleming’s house. He said that, the week before, Bono had been staying there, but that it was now vacant.

Thrillingly, Henry promised he would get a key and take us to see inside.

He took us through a wooded area, where the trees had all been planted by a celebrity guest. Handwritten signs showed a tamarind planted by Princess Margaret, a royal palm by the Clintons, a lime by Harrison Ford, an ackee by River Phoenix, a cinnamon by Willie Nelson, and a guava by Johnny Depp.

Surely, this was the most eco-friendly example of name-dropping in the world.

Shaken, not stirred

We came to the luxuriously simple main restaurant, which also housed a bar in the very gazebo where Fleming would do some of his writing. Henry informed us that, when British Prime Minister Anthony Eden visited in 1956, he used this as a command post.

It was a perfect spot for a quick drink. I eschewed the obvious choice of a dry martini, shaken not stirred and ordered instead Bond’s own creation, a Vesper. Named after his Casino Royale lover Vesper Lynd, it’s made of three measures of Gordon’s gin, one of grain vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet, all shaken until iced cold, and served with a slice of lemon peel in a champagne goblet.

Energized, we walked on to a wooden bridge, over an emerald waterway that drifted into the sea, through a maze of discreet wooden buildings, each bordering a lagoon, to our friends’ own villa.

They welcomed us with a rum punch, made from Blackwell’s own self-named brand. We sat on the back deck, listening to the resort’s own reggae-oriented radio station, and savoring the sweet scent of marijuana wafting from the neighboring cabana. I slipped into my bathing suit and leapt into the cool water.

On the other shore of the lagoon nestled the spa, described in the resort guidebook as a place where guests have “a license to chill,” and where Bond himself “would willingly put down his guns, girls and gadgets to lose himself — and find himself.”

I went back inside my friends’ cabana for a shower. The bedroom smelled of fresh cedar and was immaculately decorated. The bathroom, adorned with new Villeroy & Boch taps and a craw-feet tub, was outside — shielded by a bamboo fence and festooned with bougainvillea.

I hope you can swim, Goodnight.

Soon after, Henry returned to honor his promise to take us to Bond’s actual birthplace, and we said goodbye to our friends.

Henry led us to the private beach where Fleming used to don flippers and a diving mask (but no snorkel) to look at parrotfish and snapper, and to spear lobsters and octopi for his dinner. A glass-bottomed boat is now available for guests to peer for barracuda.

On the shore, hotel lounge-chairs broke the natural rhythms. A rock pool that Fleming built for his son, Casper, teemed with black crabs — the same beasts that Dr. No used to torture Honey Rider. I wondered whether Fleming and his “Jamaican wife,” Blanche Lindo, might have indulged in some related zoologically erotic games.

Overlooking the beach was a charming sunken garden which Fleming had hallowed out for dining al fresco. Shaded by a proscenium arch of almond trees, he and his illustrious chums would sit here feasting on ackee, curried goat, and grilled salt-fish.

Henry took out a key to show us inside the complex known as “The Fleming House.” The renovations have expanded Fleming’s own modest footprint to embrace four houses, all built around a new, sunken swimming pool. The main building is an enlarged version of Fleming’s original bungalow, and there are three neighboring villas, which contain guest rooms and a private cinema.

Time to face gravity!

To stay in the Fleming House is beyond most mortals’ spending power: it rents for between $7,000 and $21,000 a night, depending on the season.

To put that in context, Henry, whom Chris Blackwell was paying $60 a week, would have to work seven years — and incur no other expenditures — in order to take his family to the Fleming House for just one night.

My first impression on entering the main building was similar to that of Noël Coward,
who, in a teasing ode he wrote to Fleming, complained about the hard furniture and the airless rooms.

Totemic African statues stared threateningly down into the cavernous living room. Paintings of a conch shell and a sea-view looked as though they had been bought from the local market. The floor was made of cold, pale stone.

The master bedroom was where Fleming did most of his writing, but this too was disappointing. Below a framed black-and-white photograph of Fleming stood a bullet-wood corner desk, but Henry admitted that it was a replica.

There was no sign either of the Imperial typewriter that Fleming used to write most of the Bond novels, or of the gold-plated Royal Quiet DeLuxe portable that he later purchased from the Royal Typewriter Company in New York. (The Royal, I learned later, had been sold to Bond actor Pierce Brosnan for a reported $75,000.)

As Henry led me back to my car, past a lime tree planted by Yoko Ono, the whole place suddenly felt fake and exploitative. It seemed more a celebration of celebritocracy than a tribute to the creative spirit — more akin to Scaramanga’s island than to Fleming’s original Goldeneye.

And as the iron gates clanged behind us, I suspected that, if Fleming had a chance to see how his erstwhile 007th heaven has been transformed, he would feel that Chris Blackwell has leapt on an ugly Bondwagon — and, like Auric Goldfinger, may be suffering from a deadly Midas complex.

img: (top to bottom) Fleming’s private beach; Fleming’s sunken garden; GoldenEye villa outdoor bath; GoldenEye villa bedroom — all by Sebastian Doggart.

STAY TUNED for Part 3, in which Sebastian continues his search for 007 on the beach where Ursula Andress appeared, in evil Doctor Kananga’s limestone caves, and in Dr. No’s lair on Coral Key. And before that we have tomorrow’s post — an interview with Random Nomad Vicki Jeffels, who answers an Alice question.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe for email delivery of The Displaced Nation. That way, you won’t miss a single issue. SPECIAL OFFER: New subscribers receive a FREE copy of “A Royally Displaced Tea.”

Related post:

In search of 007th heaven: A travel yarn in three parts (Part 1)

We welcome Sebastian Doggart to The Displaced Nation as a guest blogger. Sebastian won one of our Alice Awards for a Telegraph Expat blog post entitled “Elegy to English shepherd’s pie.” Today, however, Sebastian will be giving Displaced Nation readers a break from our Alice theme, with the first in a three-part travel yarn about his chase after Goldeneye — the Caribbean retreat where Ian Fleming wrote all of his Bond books. Stay tuned for Parts 2 & 3 in the coming weeks.

On the northern coast of Jamaica, fringed by icing-sugar beaches and rocky coves, lies the holy place where Ian Fleming wrote all the James Bond novels. Now populated by the rich and famous in search of paradise, it is one of the most desired and exclusive oases on earth. Its name is GoldenEye.

Over the last two years, this secluded tract of land has been mysteriously shut to the world. The official story has been that the site has been undergoing a $75 million renovation. As with arch-villain Francisco Scaramanga’s private island, its inaccessibility has made it even more appealing as a travel destination. So when I heard that the legendary site was re-opening to a handful of invited guests, I was ready to risk life and limb to gain access.

I called the number listed on GoldenEye’s new Web site, and a lilting Jamaican voice gave me an email address for a London-based PR company. Its boss, whose broken English suggested she might in fact be the murderous Rosa Klebb, declined my request to write an article on the resort — unless I could come up with $21,000 a night.

I had neither the resources of Blofeld to satisfy her demand, nor a willingness to accept her rejection. With the ingenious forces of Q behind me, I devised a cunning plan to infiltrate the compound. Two friends were getting married and had been granted a honeymoon suite in GoldenEye. I would take my chances and show up on their doorstep for a celebratory cup of tea.

The name’s Bond. James Bond.

The approach to GoldenEye is a coastal road that passes the brand new Ian Fleming International Airport. Opened in January 2011 to cater for the super high-end tourist, it is specifically designed to welcome small jets. Rolling Stone Keith Richards, who has a house in nearby Ocho Ríos is a grateful new user.

I passed a sign marking the border of the town where GoldenEye geographically sits, Oracabessa. Once a banana port, it has fallen on hard times as Jamaica’s economy has struggled. Oracabessa’s name, a derivation from the Spanish oro cabeza, or golden head, is one of the various inspirations that Fleming has cited for his home’s own name.

No sign marked the entrance to GoldenEye. After driving past twice, I stopped and ask a local shopkeeper where the entrance was. She gave me a grave look of disapproval, as if I were complicit in a rich white man’s folly, but still had the grace to direct me to an unmarked iron gate, flanked by high walls. I pulled up and saw, hidden discreetly amongst the trees, a guard-post. I felt as nervous as if I were trying to break in to Dr. No’s lair on Coral Key.

As further ammunition to melt the guard’s heart, I was accompanied by two lovely ladies: my partner, Emily, who is even lovelier than Mary Goodnight; and my six-month-old daughter, who shares a birthday, November 11, with Bond himself.

“Good afternoon,” I said, breezily. “We’re here for tea with the Usmanovs.”

“Are they expecting you?” he asked, his wariness visibly dissolving as he glanced at my Bond girls.

“They are indeed. They’re the happy newly-weds.”

“One moment, please.”

The guard retreated into his bunker. With this level of security, I felt our chances were slim. Our friends would probably be out of their room, frolicking in the pool.

But we were in luck. The guard returned. “Drive through. Follow the path, keeping to your left. You will be escorted to the cabana of the Usmanovs.”

As the heavy gates swung open, and I scrunched over the gravel to within GoldenEye’s walls, my heart was pounding. The dream of seeing the birthplace of one my greatest heroes was about to come true…

Mr. Bond, it’s good to see you again…

The story of GoldenEye — originally spelled Goldeneye, without the upper case “e” — is an epic one. The estate’s first known owner was Henry Morgan, the 17th century Welsh pirate. He made use of its location, on a headland with a panoramic view, to look out for Spanish fleets heading for Havana. When he saw a new ship, he would send a signal to his own boat hidden behind an island, and its captain would then sail forward to claim their bounty.

Morgan used his piratic skills to help the British acquire Jamaica as a colony in 1658. He reveled in the pleasures of nearby Port Royal, “the richest and wickedest city in Christendom,” and would leave his name on every bottle of Captain Morgan rum.

Little is known of Goldeneye until the early 20th century, when it became a donkey racecourse. This is what Ian Fleming, then a commander in British naval intelligence, first saw in 1943, vowing to return after the war had ended. In 1946, he purchased the property from a powerful Jamaican land-owner, Blanche Lindo, with whom he began a life-long love affair. On the site of the racecourse café that once served banana dumplings and coconut oil, he built a white-walled bungalow.

Explaining its name in a later interview with Playboy, Fleming said:

I had happened to be reading Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers, and I’d been involved in an operation called Goldeneye during the war: the defence of Gibraltar, supposing that the Spaniards had decided to attack it; and I was deeply involved in the planning of countermeasures which would have been taken in that event.

Goldeneye became Fleming’s winter retreat, where he would spend at least two months a year. He hosted an increasingly illustrious group of friends, including Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Cecil Beaton, Laurence Olivier, and Truman Capote. His friend Noël Coward, who built his own house, Firefly, a few miles away, described his first visit thus:

We arrived before dusk. It is quite perfect, a large sitting room sparsely furnished, comfortable beds and showers, an agreeable staff, a small private coral beach with lily white sand and warm clear water. The beach is unbelievable. We swam after a delicious dinner, and lay on the sand unchilled under a full moon.

Honey Ryder: “Looking for shells?” Bond: “No, I’m just looking.”

Like Bond, Fleming was a womanizer, and Goldeneye was a fine place to woo a lady. In 1948, he brought Lady Ann Rothermere, whose response was effusive: “The air is so clear of dirt or dust, there is an illusion of a vast universe, and the sea horizon is very round.”

Fleming gave Ann a gift, the latest edition of Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies, by an American ornithologist named James Bond. He nicked the name for the hero of his first novel, Casino Royale, which he began writing in 1952, soon after he had discovered that Ann was pregnant and married her.

When writing, Fleming closed Goldeneye’s glassless, wooden shutters called jalousies, to avoid the distraction of the Caribbean horizon. He went on to create all 13 of his Bond novels in those surroundings. He would write later:

Would these books have been born if I had not been living in the gorgeous vacuum of a Jamaican holiday? I doubt it… I suppose it is the peace and silence and cut-offness from the madding world that urges people to create here…. A wonderful escape from the cold and grime of winters in England, into blazing sunshine, natural beauty and the most healthy life I could wish to live.

The Flemings’ marriage deteriorated into bickering, and Ann stopped coming to Jamaica. Our hero’s attentions turned to his “Jamaican wife,” Blanche. She was herself married — to Joseph Blackwell, an heir to the Crosse & Blackwell food family; but that only added spice to the affair. Blanche Blackwell gave Fleming a romantic gift of a coracle named Octopussy with which to explore the surrounding coves. The boat’s name became the title of the fourteenth and final Bond tale, published posthumously as part of a short story collection in 1966.

A lover of the sea, Blanche was the inspiration for Dr. No’s Honeychile Rider, whom Bond first sees emerging from the sea — naked in the book, bikini-clad in the movie. She was also the basis for Pussy Galore in Goldfinger.

You only live twice, Mr. Bond…

Blanche had a son, Chris Blackwell, who would go on to become a location manager on the movie Dr. No. He would then found the indie record label Island Records, which launched artists like Bob Marley and U2. Chris describes his first visit:

I went with my mother to a party that Ian Fleming was giving for friends. Noël Coward was there. It was a casual affair — with lunch served under the almond trees and overlooking the beach — and what I remember most is a lot of laughter.

In 1964, two years after both the release of the movie Dr. No and Jamaica’s independence from Britain, Fleming came to Goldeneye to write his last and most nostalgic Bond novel, The Man with the Golden Gun:

My own life has been turned upside down at, or perhaps even by, [this] small house … that I built 18 years ago… I sat down at the red bullet-wood desk where I am now typing this and, for better or worse, wrote the first of 12 best selling thrillers that have sold around twenty million copies and been translated into 23 languages.

Fleming died soon after, undramatically, of a heart attack, and was buried in Wiltshire, where he would later be joined by his son Casper (who tragically died of a drug overdose, aged 22) and his wife Ann.

The Fleming family held on to Goldeneye, which gradually fell into disrepair, until 1977, when they put it on the market. Bob Marley was interested, but eventually decided it was “too posh”. Encouraged by his mother, Chris Blackwell himself stepped in and purchased the property. He bought further land, increasing the estate from 16 to 100 acres and building what he called “a model for residential tourism” — a network of luxury villas that hosted celebrities including Naomi Campbell, Quincy Jones, Rachel Weisz, and Martha Stewart.

Two years ago, Blackwell shut it all down to embark on a $75 million renovation, with the goal of creating “a community of free spirits dedicated to living an inventive, balanced life where the imagination and the environment could co-exist in perfect harmony.”

We were now some of the first people to assess whether he had achieved this dream with the latest incarnation, GoldenEye.

STAY TUNED for Part 2, in which Sebastian continues his search for 007 — and for Monday’s post, where we’ll return to Wonderland for further scrutiny of its sense of humor (or the lack).

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe for email delivery of The Displaced Nation. That way, you won’t miss a single issue. SPECIAL OFFER: New subscribers receive a FREE copy of “A Royally Displaced Tea.”

%d bloggers like this: