Wednesday, 2 September 2009

285: More Gay Espionage 3 - James Bond

“The Spy Who Minced in from the Cold”
by Stanley Reynolds in “Punch” 30 July 1975

CHAPTER 1: Mince for Breakfast
'There’s the hell of a flap on," Miss Moneypenny said as Bond walked into M's office early that morning. "He's in a terrible tizz, I'll tell you."
Bond had been day-dreaming about his weekend in Paris with Jean-Paul from F Station and the evenings he had spent at Fouquet's drinking Americanos-Campari, Cinzano, a large slice of lemon peel and soda; always Bond stipulated Perrier - and the luncheons at the Cafe de la Paix where he always had luncheon in Paris when he wasn't having luncheon at the Rotunde or the Dome where the food was good enough and it was amusing to watch the people but they were not like Vefour, the Caneton, Lucas-Carton or the Cochon d'Or which were great restaurants without the tarnish of tourism of the Tour d'Argent or Maxims.
Paris and Jean-Paul had been fun. Bond was almost sorry Jean-Paul had turned out to be a double agent working for S.M.E.R.S.H. But then Bond had had the pleasure of strangling Jean-Paul with his own piano wire in a wood in the little village of Fourquex, just outside St Germain, on the N184 near the junction of the N307 to St Nom and the D98 which Bond always took to avoid the heavy traffic on the Paris-Nantes and Versailles autoroutes. Then there had been that incredible chase down the glistening ice mouth of the Gloria Express bob-run on a one-man skeleton bob with nothing to eat during all that Alpine chase but a foot of garlic sausage, a hunk of bread and a bottle of Pis-de-Chat - when up in the restaurant on the Zugspitze Emile would be doing his Krebsschwanze mit Dilltunke, crayfish tails with rice and a cream and dill sauce.
Now it was M who was doing his nut.
"Take a pew, luv," M said. M winced.
"Oh this job!" he said. "Sometimes I wish I were back in Austin Reed's. Honestly I do. Russell Harty wanted me on his show but I told him, 'It's the anonymity, dear, it must be preserved at all costs.' How was Paris? Hell, I suppose, in August. But at least, James, you have the fun of meeting those great big meaty boys from S.M.E.R.S.H. All those Slavonic cheekbones. Sheer Heaven! I was telling Mick the other day. . . but sometimes I don't think Mick really understands. I mean, not really. But what can you expect from someone like Mick? A dear boy but she was seconded from Special Branch. Trench coats galore! James, you'll never know the trouble I've had with her and her trench coats. 'There's more to spying, dear,' I told her, 'than looking like some grotty old man after a bit of rough outside the Sloan Square tube station gents,' I said, I did."
Suddenly M's manner changed. He tossed a report across the desk to Bond. "I suppose you've heard of this scandal A. J. P: Taylor has kicked up. Well, just between you, me and the Number 11 bus, ducks, Her Majesty's Secret Service has been dropped right in it. It's not that the Minister minds. He's a positive sweetie. So long as you keep her off the creme d'menthe. But these gruesome crewcuts over at the C.I.A. are getting more sweaty-palmed than usual about security. I had, if you'll excuse the expression, Lamont T. Knockwurst Junior in here yesterday telling me his boys are positively reluctant to liaise with the Firm ever since Taylor did the naughty on us. I mean, it's just too butch for words but you know what the crewcuts are like, all six packs of lager and Penthouse."
"Crash dive?" Bond asked, using the phrase the Firm had borrowed from the boys in the Submarine Service to mean bad news-or worse.
"Oh, crash crash crash!" cried M, waving his hands in despair.

CHAPTER 2: Fanny's Devine
BOND sat toying with a Rehrilcken mit Sahne and an Imperial Tokay. No matter what Richard Boston might say about the demise of real beer and the octopus tentacles of the brewery conglomerate with their plastic pint pots, Bond thought, there's a lot of life yet in your old British pub. But Bond's heart was, not in his
Rehrticken mit Sahne. His heart was in his Tricker's boots; 9½ triple A, made from the special last run up for him by a little Hungarian around the corner who also did a jim dandy boeuf Stroganoff every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Cleaved in twain by a buzz saw he had almost been by that Beastly Dr No, buried in sand up to his Egyptian cotton collar and breathed upon by S.M.E.R.S.H. men with borscht on their breaths - these exploits were mere bagatelles to the fate that awaited him now in the form of Miss Fanny Devine of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and the C.I.A.
M had arranged a piece of liaison work between the Firm and the C.I.A., putting Bond alongside the nubile and svelte Miss Fanny Devine, the Madame Bovary of the C.I.A., in the hope of dispelling Washington DC's fears of limp wrists in the old Firm with a masculine display of the old...
Bond recognised her immediately by the long golden hair, silk to the roots, the big wrap-a-round Mary Tyler Moore smile, and the tank top T-shirt with the words C.I.A. RULES NO MESS O.K.? emblazoned across Miss Fanny Devine's twin bows.
"Hi!" she said, coming to Bond's table. "You jus' gotta be Jimmy Bond. I'm Fanny Devine. Hey, you gonna spy with me, huh? Great! Say, what's that guk you're eatin'? Looks like saddle of roebuck with a smitane sauce or I never read Fanny Farmer's Boston Cookbook. Hey, you some kind of a food freak? You into that gourmet jazz? Kinda fifties that trip, know what I mean? Do they do a peanut butter 'n' lettuce sandwich here?"
Bond felt a distinct rising of the gorge.
"Actually," Fanny said, "I packed some jelly sandwiches before I skyed in from D.C. this ayem." She produced this noxious fare. Bond's gorge rose. M! M! M! he thought, how could you do this to me? Can you still be jealous that I stole that 19-year-old Corcian with the eyes black as beluga away from you? Bond ordered a martini and. . . shook it.

CHAPTER 3: AC From DC -With Jelly
BOND wondered if he wouldn't have been better off staying in men's wear at Austin Reed's.
He put an arm gingerly round Fanny Devine's neck and puller her close to him and kissed her long and passionately, trying to think of pleasant things like firing a hot Walther into M's face or thoughts of Hans, who had had the antique shop near the Nymphreburg Palace, and how awful he (Bond) had felt when he had to get Hans with a poison Weisswurst in the Franziskaner Keller that night drinking Steinhager when he learned Hans was from S.M.E.R.S.H. and actually had a wife, three kids, a dog, and a turret lathe in a shed in the back garden of his semi-detached in No 10 the Vier Jahreszeiten.
Bond could feel Fanny Devine's breath coming in hot pants, pre-shrunk blue denim with fashionably ragged edges, £7.99 at better boutiques everywhere. Bond knew what the Firm expected of him. This was. . . Crash Dive!
Trembling he felt for those twin orbs so like the real honey dews you could only get at Kristato's round the corner from the Excelsio bar where they served a Negroni with Gordon's, which was the only way to serve it. Bond felt a stinging slap and opened his eyes. To his amazement Fanny Devine's eyes blazed with fury.
"Fresh guy!" she spat angrily. "Men! men! men! they are all the same, after one thing 'n' one thing only. An' we thought you wuz all different over here in London, England."
Bond dared not hope. "You mean ?"
"That's right. I'm Woman's Lib 'n' th' only true liberation for us gals is to make a complete break 'n' rupture with a male orientated 'n' masculine structured society. "
"Fanny, you mean you are. . ."
"Yes, gowan 'n' laff. I'm gay. Or tryin' to be. It's kinda hard for a normal average girl from Shaker Heights but I have taken my cue from the leaders of Woman's Lib 'n' have shaken off the grubby gropin' paws of men, men, men - all except Dads 'n' President Ford of course." Fanny rose and saluted then sat again.
Bond was thunderstruck.
"As soon as I finish my current tour of duty," Miss Devine said, "I'm goin' back to Bennington to get my Ph.D in modern free association dance 'n' I'm comin' outta th' closet, yes siree bob, I am. But until then mum is th' word, schlepp. Unnerstan'?'
Bond felt Fanny Devine, munching a jelly sandwich, which he had prepared himself, sipping a frosty bottle of 7-Up, and he returned to M where he found his chief busily dressing for the Liza Minelli Look Alike Contest scheduled for that evening at the Bosun's Mate.
"Well?" snapped M eagerly.
"Do I ever miss?" Bond replied, a secret smile playing about the corners of his lips, for M's seams were crooked.
"Not that, ducks," M said. "I mean this rhinestone choker.. Do you think it's too tacky? Mick thinks so but I said, 'Listen, cheri, is tat the essence of Liza or is tat the essence of Liza?' He's turned nasty ever since I got honourable mention in the Julie Christie Look Alike last April. 'Dear boy,' I said, 'what's the use of being a spy if you can't get yourself disguised when duty calls?' "
Bond tossed his report on the desk and headed for the door.
"So you squared us on that Taylor rumour? That was peachy of you, ducks,"
M said. "The Firm won't forget. Beyond the call, and all that. But tell me, James," M's voice dropped into a serious key, "how. . . was. . . it?"
"Not too bad," 007 replied, "but nothing like the real thing."
"Well, toujour gay, duckie," M said, "see you at the Bosun's Mate and if you wear a rhinestone choker too, I'll take away your licence to kill, honestly I will."


This follows Alan Coren’s lead in “Punch”. Coren’s comedy homosexuals are bitchy and only concerned about fashion. This is written in response to public comments made by the historian A.J.P Taylor that British intelligence was riddled with homosexuals. Despite being a James Bond parody, the title is a parody of le Carre’s “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”. Unlike Cyril Connolly’s “Bond Strikes Camp” parody, the campness here is immediate and up-front. Never having read one, I don’t know how this compares to “The Man from C.A.M.P.” books, although those were written in the late 1960s for a gay audience. If I didn’t know that this had been written for “Punch” but instead thought it had appeared in “Christopher Street” or “Jeremy”, early gay magazines, how would I feel about it then? Since the gay dialogue is overplayed, and M as a drag queen is going it a bit far, I think I’d conclude it wasn’t intended as a funny parody featuring homosexuals, but that it was being funny about an idea of homosexuals. The parodying of homosexual attitudes, not of Bond as gay, is the joke. In the same way that “toujours gai” becomes “toujours gay”. Unlike Connolly, here the gays have to play straight, rather than straights as gay. As in Connolly’s piece, all the concern in Fleming’s novels about connoisseurship and international travel does transfer easily into a gay lifestyle. The “Liza” stuff ties its to its time. While the Lesbian conscious-raising is not entirely wrong in general, but certainly isn’t quite right in its specifics. Of course, lesbians aren’t unknown in Bond, so it maybe Reynold’s attempt to subvert the kinky lesbians of Bond-world with the more earnest politicised lesbians who were making themselves known.

1 comment:

François said...

I actually found this funny.
But it's nothing like “The Man from C.A.M.P.” books. They're not parody of spy novels, but rather straight (no pun intended) spy stories with gay characters. I think they're very entertaining, too.