... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

395: Chorlton Charity and Dr. No

Oxfam Books Chorlton

Chorlton (like Withington and Sale) is fantastic for charity shops. Unlike Withington and Sale it has a fishmonger, and no ordinary fishmonger at that! This one sells fresh octopus and scallops, and does sashimi-grade tuna. This weekend however I am cooking a pasta bake with saduk on Saturday, and a lamb meat loaf on Sunday. So no need for fresh fish, but there is always a need for old books. Step in Chorlton's charity shops. I got two none-Jeeves novels by PG Wodehouse, three James Bond novels by Ian Fleming, Brideshead Revisted by Evelyn Waugh, and a collection of Will Self's short stories. Damn good haul; damn, damn good haul.

So now I'm reading Dr. No by Ian Fleming. It's the first Bond novel I've ever read, and is the second time I have followed the advice of Stephen Fry and picked up the work by an author I might never have gone near otherwise. The first was, of course, the great PG Wodehouse – and thankfully I still have a staggering amount of his stories to get through. The casual old-fashioned colonial arrogance and racism displayed in Dr. No is more amusing than offensive – he uses the word Chigroes, meaning Chinese Negroes, and occasionally refers to people as being "a Chinese" instead of "Chinese". It's weird. Bond has a Jamaican assistant who, when asked if he has had his breakfast, replies "Yes, tank you, cap'n. Salt fish 'an ackee an' a tot of rum. Mos' refreshin'". Earlier, speaking about the proprietor of a bar, he says "Him owns de joint. De calls him 'Pus-Feller' seein' how him once fought wit' a big hoctopus".

Despite all this, or maybe because of it (I don't know myself that well!), I am loving reading Fleming so far. The writing is playful and creative, the intrigue is building, and Bond is just so damn cool. I'd love to see some cross-over fiction where he is pitted against Vito Corleone – that would be exciting. Gangsters seem to be into things like garbage disposal, and in Dr. No Bond is doing battle with a man making his millions by the production and export of bird shit. I think Bond and Corleone would find each other to be worthy opponents, mutually respectful despite their hatred; not too different from Holmes and Moriarty.

Thing is, writing this now is keeping me from reading so

1962 film tie-in edition by Pan Books.  The edition I bought.
Utterly incredible 1st edition cover.

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