We are delighted once again, to unveil Gerry Wadsworth latest creation! Here in his own words, Gerry discusses the creative process behind his tribute to Moonraker.
One of the many joys of the creative process and working with the Bond stories is the “what if” opportunities the character offers us. We can imagine some event that precedes a new assignment, or, conversely, conceive of a “what happens next” scenario, as Anthony Horowitz so deftly creates in Trigger Mortis, as a follow-up adventure to Flemings’ original Goldfinger. We are given a broad palette of personal characteristics, behavioral consistencies and idosyncrasies, flaws and desires, and we are able to recreate some new or imagined event within that framework, just so long as the details and character ring true to the original.
In From Russia With Love, we have within the chapter “The Soft Life” an exacting description of Bond’s favorite meal of the day…breakfast. It begins, thanks to Fleming, with a category of personal tastes: “very strong coffee from De Bry in New Oxford Street, brewed in an American Chemex and drunk black with no sugar. A single brown speckled egg from a French Marans hens, boiled for three and a third minutes and served in a dark blue egg cup with a gold ring around the top. Two thick slices of whole wheat toast, a pat of deep yellow Jersey butter, three jars containing Tiptree “Little Scarlet” strawberry jam, Cooper’s Vintage Oxford Marmalade and Norwegian Heather Honey from Fortnum’s. The coffee pot and silver are Queen Anne, the coffee cup is Minton with the same dark blue, gold and white as the egg cup.
Fleming notes that whenever Bond is back in London, and presumably at his Chelsea flat, his breakfast is always the same. This is what I imagined Bond would sit down to directly after his successful conclusion of the Moonraker affair. I envisioned this meal at his breakfast table with the addition of his gunmetal grey cigarette case, a Morland’s cigarette with the three gold bands, an empty toast rack, and for his postprandial enjoyment, a bottle of Haig & Haig Pinch Whisky that features in Moonraker as his and Gala Brand’s “last drink” whilst held prisoner of Drax. And, a ubiquitous copy of The Times newspaper of London – the only paper Bond ever read.
As the editor of Literary007.com guest-wrote for the Haig Whisky Blog:
“And it wasn’t just Bond that imbibed (on Haig & Haig) while on the job. His opposite number in the CIA’s Felix Leiter, kept up with him in the drinking stakes and often needed it more. Dare I say, in a pinch, he reached for the Haig.
It was rather fitting then, that Haig had one variety for the British market – the Haig Dimple – and one for the US market – the Haig & Haig Pinch. With a slightly higher alcohol content than its British cousin, the Pinch was matured in old Bourbon oak casks from Kentucky. Leiter drinks Haig with Bond in Casino Royalé and both can’t get enough of the stuff in Live and Let Die, drinking it down in at Sugar Ray’s in Harlem, Florida and in New York – “three inches of Haig & Haig in a tall glass with ice” to be precise. Not for nothing did Felix earn it though, after he lost a hand and a leg in a shark attack courtesy of Mr. Big.
“Don’t be Vague…Say Haig & Haig. 1950’s Bond era Advert for Haig Whisky.” In the palpably tense short story The Living Daylights, Bond makes scrambled eggs, bacon, & coffee with a “liberal tot” of Dimple Haig as he prepares to take out a Russian sniper in Berlin. But it’s not just Bond and Leiter; Bond’s slightly shady associate Marc Ange-Draco in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service offers Bond some Dimple Pinch. To his credit, Fleming mostly seems to have discerned between Dimple and Pinch depending on who is drinking it and where – with the odd question mark. The villainous Hugo Drax has a bottle on his desk in Kent, referred to as Haig & Haig, but we won’t quibble.”
So the addition of Haig & Haig has precedence and almost a pride of place in Fleming’s use of product placement throughout his stories. The idea of a breakfast painting was inspired by two guests on the Literary007 site – food stylist Charlotte Omnés and photographer Henry Hargreaves’ photo journalistic creation of Bond’s favorite foods. I originally saw my painting as reminiscent of classic Dutch still life paintings – but without the dark chiaroscuro and coloration that they used. Bond’s breakfast should be in his flat on one of those rare sunny London days…and so I tried to capture that image in watercolour.
Another of the joys of this oeuvre is finding props for the paintings. A British neighbor had Minton china, Queen Anne silver, and a coffee pot that was “as near as damn it” to Queen Anne. Another friend supplied the toast rack, and I found the 1950’s era bottle of Haig & Haig at an estate sale – it was obviously meant to be. A trip to a speciality grocer was the source for the “Little Scarlet Jam and Cooper’s Marmalade” – at exorbitant prices, I would add, And since Norwegian Heather Honey from Fortnum & Mason was a creation of Fleming’s fertile imagination, I posed an empty honey jar as the substitute.
The ALR editor kindly sent me a copy of The Times from the UK and I set up the front page as might be created in the 50’s in black and white, with M’s disinformation campaign as the headline, and a “photo” of the Moonraker taking off from the Cliffs of Dover.
Interesting how history – and the ability of governments to lull their populace with disinformation – repeats itself to this day!