Stuck on Crab Key Island with … Robert Rakison

This week’s castaway is Robert ‘Raki’ Rakison. He is a lifelong aficionado of the spy genre, particularly Ian Fleming and James Bond. He said:

‘I was brought up on Buchan, Rider Haggard, Conan Doyle, Kipling, Tolkien and Dumas. I then became a voracious reader of fiction like Faulkner, Hemingway, Huxley, Orwell, Graves and Waugh, as well as SF and fantasy. At ten I read FRWL, probably my Dad’s copy (I loved the Chopping cover) and thought it was fantastic, and then read Dr No a bit later as a paperback (with a great Peff cover). When Honeychile Ryder walked out of the sea naked, that was it! I was totally hooked on JB. So Crab Quay is the only place for me…..

001. Casino Royale (1953)

My first choice just has to be CR, the first, the best and still the most iconic JB book. Without it nothing else would have mattered – the casino theme that permeates the books, continuation books and films; the martinis and champagne; the carpet-beater torture scene (particularly as portrayed by John McLusky in the first JB comic strip in the Daily Express). I’d really like it to be the HB 1st (though the First Edition Library series has a good facsimile, see the picture), with the DJ realised by artist Ken Lewis based on IF’s initial design. Ken also realised the DJs for LALD and Moonraker (MR). If I can’t have the 1st, I’ll make do with the “Vesper” DJ, which appeared on the 4th edition (1957), designed by Pat Marriott (who also did DAF and Dr No). Neither Lewis nor Marriott, with great respect to them, ever reached the heights of Richard Chopping’s outstanding covers, which became synonymous with the series.

Read more: Following the Money: Ian Fleming and the Origin of Casino Royale

002. Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories (2008)

Frieda Toth included Octopussy (a very nice Chopping DJ), but this collection has all the JB short stories in one book, from FYEO and Octopussy, as well as The Property of a Lady, first included in The Ivory Hammer – The Year At Sotheby’s for 1962-63, then in Playboy in 1964 and finally in the UK Pan PB (1967), and 007 in New York, first included in the US edition of Thrilling Cities (not in the U.K. Edition and not in the latest 2009 reissue) – so its first proper publication in a JB connection (it also has JB’s recipe for scrambled eggs!), though it appeared in various magazines too. The new foreword by Henry Chancellor, author of JB: The Man and His World, is also excellent.

Read more: A Quantum of Gold Dust Redux: The Bond Movies’ Continued Mining of Ian Fleming Material

003. The Spy’s Bedside Book (1957) by Graham and Hugh Greene

This is a terrific anthology of spy miscellany from anybody who had any pretensions to write in the spy genre prior to 1957. It is dedicated “To the immortal memory of William Le Queux and John Buchan”. The Folio Society published an illustrated version in 2006 with a very interesting Introduction by Stella Remington, as a supplement to Grahame Greene’s original. It includes three extracts from Bond novels – Foreign Travel (FRWL), Blanc de Blanc Brut, 1943 (CR – see 001 and the Tipple below) and Vodka with Pepper (MR). There’s a bonus of two extracts from Invasion 1940, by Peter Fleming, Ian’s older brother – A Little Black Beret and A Segment of German Sausage – about German spy activity in the U.K. and Ireland. Invasion 1940 is a really excellent book about the invasion of England that never was. It was published in the US as Operation Sea Lion.

Read more: Adventures in Greeneland with Ian Fleming

004. You Only Live Twice (1964)

I’d have to have a Chopping DJ, and this is my favourite with the chrysanthemum, toad and dragonfly. It’s a pretty good novel too. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the film, released in 1967. Set in Japan, the most far flung and exotic of the Bond locations, both in the books and the films, IF visited Japan and Tokyo in 1959 for his Sunday Times series that was later published in book form as Thrilling Cities (1963). Clearly IF was nervous to be visiting our “bad enemies”, but came away enamoured, like many Brits, the Japanese giving us The Seven Samurai (made into The Magnificent Seven and others made into Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name Westerns), sake and sushi, amongst others. IF was shown round by his Australian friend, Richard “Dikko” Hughes and Torao “Tiger” Saito, editor of This is Japan, a promotional annual in which an article about IF’s trip later appeared. The pair were immortalised in YOLT as Dikko Henderson and Tiger Tanaka. Martijn Mulder’s new book, On The Tracks of 007: YOLT 50th Anniversary Guide to Japan has just been published with an Introduction from Norman Wanstall, sound editor on YOLT, who won the Oscar for Best Sound Effects for Goldfinger in 1965.

Read more: Richard Hughes: Ian Fleming’s Man in the Orient

005. The Seven Deadly Sins (1962)

IF was part of the Sunday Times editorial board and suggested this idea for a series, but heard nothing more until he’d left. It was then followed up and he was asked to write the Foreword for the book version. He also suggested the authors for each section, six of which the paper followed. So it seemed to me that on Crab Quay, I’d need some sort of spiritual guidance or even moral compass, and this fitted nicely. The Sins are envy, pride, covetousness, gluttony, sloth, lust and anger. In his Foreword, IF suggested his so-called Seven Deadlier Sins – avarice, cruelty, snobbery, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, moral cowardice and malice. In 2008 Benjamin Pratt’s book IF’s Seven Deadlier Sins and JB’s Moral Compass: A Bible Study with JB was published. I haven’t read it, but there’s an interview with the author on Artistic Licence Renewed has written articles about the Seven Deadlier Sins and I think we’re just waiting for snobbery, to complete the series. If the series completes before I go to Crab Quay and is published in book form, I’ll take it instead!!

Read more: The Spectre of Accidia: Bond and Fleming’s Greatest Foe

006. The Life of Ian Fleming (1966) by John Pearson

Like Frieda, I’d have to have a good IF biography, but there are so many to choose from. So I’ve considered a few – You Only Live Once: Memories of IF (1975) by IF’s Eton school-chum Ivar Bryce; Andrew Lycett’s IF (1995); and The Man With the Golden Typewriter: IF’s JB Letters (2015) edited by Fergus Fleming (IF’s nephew). However for me, the first and the best is John Pearson’s, the UK 1st edition of which also has a nice DJ designed by artist and author Jan Pienkowski, of Haunted House pop-up book fame. John also wrote JB: The Authorised Biography of 007 (1973).

Read more: John Pearson and the James Bond Authorized Biography

007. Bond Girls Are Forever (2003) by Maryam d’Abo and John Cork

I’d probably need a bit of glamour and this survey of the BGs and the films up to DAD is the best, with a picture of Ursula Andress on the DJ, the first and still perhaps most iconic BG, as well as other good articles and themes throughout the book. It was accompanied by a rather good TV documentary, hosted primarily by Maryam. I did look at others such as J.M.Paland’s French JB Girls (1985) – a bit slight and my French isn’t that good; Graham Rye’s The JB Girls (1989) and follow-up iterations – also a bit slight, but very good photos; Tim Greaves’ The Bond Women 007 Style (2002) – good interviews and content, but no photos; Frederic Brun’s German Die JB Girls (2012) – again with Ursula on the DJ, moderate photos, but my German’s not that good; and finally the French JB Girls: L’album des 50 ans d’un mythe (2012) – again Ursula on the DJ, good photos, several from BGs Are Forever, but well set out and with lots of content, more up to date, but my French is still not that good. So that leaves me with my first choice, which is the most nicely produced book anyway.

Read more: Bond Women Redux: From Trigger Mortis to Spectre

008. Funeral In Berlin (1964) by Len Deighton

The 4th impression from November 1965 was issued as The Ipcress File film came out, so that issue had a promotional band added. On the front was a photo of Deighton and Michael Caine “Star and author of The Ipcress File – filmed by the producer of the JB films” (Harry Saltzman of course) and on the back a photo of IF and Deighton “Len Deighton’s The Ipcress File was chosen by IF as the thriller of the year”. We know that IF and Deighton famously had at least one lunch together, from which there are other terrific photos. The promo band should not be on the proofs or 1st editions, but we know it has made its way incorrectly onto a number of them. Deighton’s 3rd “Harry Palmer” novel will give me a bit of respite from IF. I’m a big Deighton fan too, anyway…

Read more: Len Deighton Lunches with Ian Fleming


‘Diamonds Are Forever’. In this case the David Arnold version from his 1997 album Shaken And Stirred: The David Arnold JB Project with singer David McAlmont. I was privileged to go to the DA concert at the Barbican in June 2015, when David McAlmont also sang DAF. Of course the original version by Shirley Bassey is best known and she’s the iconic (I’m overusing that word!) JB singer… there are a couple of interesting cover versions, most recently from Kanye West using it in a hip hop mix, and Arctic Monkeys. Maybe I can sneak in the whole Shaken And Stirred CD?


Bollinger RD 2002 Champagne. JB is primarily a champagne drinker (me too). He drinks martinis/vespers in  7 books or short stories and 6 films, whereas he drinks champagne in 7 books etc and 19 films (using the statistics from David Leigh’s book The Complete Guide to the Drinks of JB). And the overall favourite is Bolly – 2 books and at least 11 films. So this 2002 Bolly, recently disgorged on 24 June 2014, was given to me by my kids for a significant birthday and we drank it together. Mellow, toasty, ripe and smooth, so that’s the one for Crab Quay (preferably a Magnum or even a Jeroboam). Other JB choices seem to be Taittinger (see 001 and 003 above), Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, Krug and Pommery.

Luxury Item

A paperweight from the Fontainebleau (the “Fountain-blue”) hotel in Miami, where in Goldfinger (1964), JB (Sean Connery) meets Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) and stops Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) from cheating at cards, only for Jill to be killed by being painted gold. Dink (Margaret Nolan) is by the pool with JB and Felix Leiter (Cec Linder). Margaret, not Shirley, was the Golden Girl in the film’s titles. The reality is that, disappointingly, it was all filmed at Pinewood, with one real helicopter shot being used. I’ve been twice for conferences and the design by architect Morris Lapidus has withstood the test of time.

5 thoughts on “Stuck on Crab Key Island with … Robert Rakison

  1. Great narrative and Crab Key log, Raki!
    Makes me want to chuck it all in and find an island that I can bring all your stuff to!
    We could be related…I had the same reaing list that you had!
    Best to you and yours…

  2. Some great choices Raki.
    I definitely concur with your choice of Pearson’s IF biography. It was definitely the best.
    Also, that Deighton cover brought back some memories. It seems like yesterday.
    That said, if I were to take a Deighton – and I surely would – if it wasn’t ‘Ipcress’ it would be ‘Horse Under Water’. What a great book that was and is. Why they never made that the follow-up movie remains a mystery.

    • Absolutely right on “Horse Under Water”…David. It was the first one I read and perhaps the most memorable – especially since it didn’t get subjected to the film industry dumbing down effect that most movies get – or worse…turned into a Schwarzenegger he-man do it all by his lonesome! Hope you’re doing okay this Holiday season – email me when you can. I have a surprise painting to share!

      • Thanks Gerry and David.
        I agree that Horse is a great Deighton. The Crab Key challenge was to find something with an IF/JB connection, and I wanted a Deighton, so the promotional IF/LD Ipcress band. Also I like Funeral (and all the “Harry Palmer” books). Nevertheless, apart from being a great story, Horse is satisfying on the collector, as well as literary, level, with its crossword insert and endpapers, and also it has at least three 1st edition states. However, my favourite Deighton is Blitzkrieg……

        Hope to see you in London as I’m not going to be in Richmond VA in the foreseeable future.

        Kindest regards


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