A novel’s protagonist only becomes a truly unique character (‘character’ meaning something like ‘the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual’) when he or she has (like we all do) small, peculiar personal details or quirks.
What follows is a list of excerpts featuring James Bond’s personal tastes and preferences as written down in Moonraker (1955), Ian Fleming’s third James Bond-novel.
Daily (office) routine when not on a mission, Bond’s car, Bond’s salary, Bond’s flat
Bond took out his black gunmetal cigarette-box and his black-oxidized Ronson lighter and put them on the desk beside him. He lit a cigarette, one of the Macedonian blend with the three gold rings round the butt that Morlands of Grosvenor Street made for him, then he settled himself forward in the padded swivel chair and began to read.
It was the beginning of a typical routine day for Bond. It was only two or three times a year that an assignment came along requiring his particular abilities. For the rest of the year he had the duties of an easy-going senior civil servant — elastic office hours from around ten to six; lunch, generally in the canteen; evenings spent playing cards in the company of a few close friends, or at Crockford’s; or making love, with rather cold passion, to one of three similarly disposed married women; week-ends playing golf for high stakes at one of the clubs near London.
He took no holidays, but was generally given a fortnight’s leave at the end of each assignment — in addition to any sick-leave that might be necessary. He earned £1500 a year, the salary of a Principal Officer in the Civil Service, and he had a thousand a year free of tax of his own. When he was on a job he could spend as much as he liked, so for the other months of the year he could live very well on his £2000 a year net.
He had a small but comfortable flat off the Kings Road, an elderly Scottish housekeeper — a treasure called May — and a 1930 4½-litre Bentley coupé, supercharged, which he kept expertly tuned so that he could do a hundred when he wanted to.
On these things he spent all his money and it was his ambition to have as little as possible in his banking account when he was killed, as, when he was depressed, he knew he would be, before the statutory age of forty-five.
Eight years to go before he was automatically taken off the 00 list and given a staff job at Headquarters. At least eight tough assignments. Probably sixteen. Perhaps twenty-four. Too many.p. 11-2
Bond sat by himself and ate a grilled sole, a large mixed salad with his own dressing laced with mustard, some Brie cheese and toast, and half a carafe of white Bordeaux. He had two cups of black coffee and was back in his office by three.p. 33
Reading, his looks
He was home in fifteen minutes. He left the car under the plane trees in the little square and let himself into the ground floor of the converted Regency house, went into the book-lined sitting-room and, after a moment’s search, pulled Scarne on Cards out of its shelf and dropped it on the ornate Empire desk near the broad window.
He walked through into the smallish bedroom with the white and gold Cole wallpaper and the deep red curtains, undressed and threw his clothes, more or less tidily, on the dark blue counterpane of the double bed. Then he went into the bathroom and had a quick shower. Before leaving the bathroom he examined his face in the glass and decided that he had no intention of sacrificing a lifetime prejudice by shaving twice in one day.
In the glass, the grey-blue eyes looked back at him with the extra light they held when his mind was focused on a problem that interested him. The lean, hard face had a hungry, competitive edge to it. There was something swift and intent in the way he ran his fingers along his jaw and in the impatient stroke of the hairbrush to put back the comma of black hair that fell down an inch above his right eyebrow. It crossed his mind that, with the fading of his sunburn, the scar down the right cheek that had shown so white was beginning to be less prominent, and automatically he glanced down his naked body and registered that the almost indecent white area left by his bathing trunks was less sharply defined. He smiled at some memory and went through into the bedroom.p. 33-4
Ten minutes later, in a heavy white silk shirt, dark blue trousers of Navy serge, dark blue socks, and well-polished black moccasin shoes, he was sitting at his desk with a pack of cards in one hand and Scarne’s wonderful guide to cheating open in front of him.
His looks, and what’s alien about him
And what could the casual observer think of him, ‘Commander James Bond, GMG, RNVSR,’ also ‘something at the Ministry of Defence,’ the rather saturnine young man in his middle thirties sitting opposite the Admiral? Something a bit cold and dangerous in that face. Looks pretty fit. May have been attached to Templer in Malaya. Or Nairobi. Mau Mau work. Tough-looking customer. Doesn’t look the sort of chap one usually sees in Blades.
Bond knew that there was something alien and un-English about himself. He knew that he was a difficult man to cover up. Particularly in England. He shrugged his shoulders. Abroad was what mattered. He would never have a job to do in England. Outside the jurisdiction of the Service. Anyway, he didn’t need a cover this evening. This was recreation.p. 43-4
“I’ve got a mania for really good smoked salmon,” said Bond. Then he pointed down the menu. “Lamb cutlets. The same vegetables as you, as it’s May. Asparagus with Béarnaise sauce sounds wonderful. And perhaps a slice of pineapple.” He sat back and pushed the menu away.p. 59
The wine-waiter was pleased. “If I may suggest it, sir, the Dom Perignon ‘46. I understand that France only sells it for dollars, sir, so you don’t often see it in London. I believe it was a gift from the Regency Club in New York, sir. I have some on ice at the moment. It’s the Chairman’s favourite and he’s told me to have it ready every evening in case he needs it.”
Bond smiled his agreement.p. 60
Vodka with pepper
When M. poured him three fingers from the frosted carafe Bond took a pinch of black pepper and dropped it on the surface of the vodka. The pepper slowly settled to the bottom of the glass leaving a few grains on the surface which Bond dabbed up with the tip of a finger. Then he tossed the cold liquor well to the back of his throat and put his glass, with the dregs of the pepper at the bottom, back on the table.
M. gave him a glance of rather ironical inquiry.
“It’s a trick the Russians taught me that time you attached me to the Embassy in Moscow,” apologized Bond. “There’s often quite a lot of fusel oil on the surface of this stuff — at least there used to be when it was badly distilled. Poisonous. In Russia, where you get a lot of bath-tub liquor, it’s an understood thing to sprinkle a little pepper in your glass. It takes the fusel oil to the bottom. I got to like the taste and now it’s a habit. But I shouldn’t have insulted the club Wolfschmidt,” he added with a grin.p. 61-2
Bond uses a ‘lil benzedrine to stay sharp
Bond took the envelope that was handed to him and slit it open. He took out a thin paper packet and carefully opened it under the level of the table. It contained a white powder. He took a silver fruit knife off the table and dipped the tip of the blade into the packet so that about half its contents were transferred to the knife. He reached for his glass of champagne and tipped the powder into it.
“Now what?” said M. with a trace of impatience.
There was no hint of apology in Bond’s face. It wasn’t M. who was going to have to do the work that evening. Bond knew what he was doing. Whenever he had a job of work to do he would take infinite pains beforehand and leave as little as possible to chance. Then if something went wrong it was the unforeseeable. For that he accepted no responsibility.
“Benzedrine,” he said. “I rang up my secretary before dinner and asked her to wangle some out of the surgery at Headquarters. It’s what I shall need if I’m going to keep my wits about me tonight. It’s apt to make one a bit over-confident, but that’ll be a help too.” He stirred the champagne with a scrap of toast so that the white powder whirled among the bubbles. Then he drank the mixture down with one long swallow. “It doesn’t taste,” said Bond, “and the champagne is quite excellent.”p. 66
When he’s not at home, Bond prefers to sleep safely
Before he got into bed he took his shoulder-holster from the chair where it hung beside his discarded clothes and removed the Beretta with the skeleton grip and slipped it under his pillow.p. 159
The extra-sensory alarm clock did not fail him. Punctually at seven, his mouth dry with too many cigarettes the night before, he forced himself out of bed and into a cold bath. He had shaved, gargled with a sharp mouth-wash, and now, in a battered black and white dogtooth suit, dark blue Sea Island cotton shirt and black silk knitted tie, he was walking softly, but not surreptitiously, along the corridor to the head of the stairs, the square leather case in his left hand.p. 160
Scrambled eggs ‘n bacon
In Dover, Bond pulled up at the Café Royal, a modest little restaurant with a modest kitchen but capable, as he knew of old, of turning out excellent fish and egg dishes. The Italian-Swiss mother and son who ran it welcomed him as an old friend and he asked for a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon and plenty of coffee to be ready in half an hour.p. 162
Bond appears to have changed his newspaper-reading habit, because in From Russia with Love it’s stated that Bond only ever reads The Times
He felt more cheerful after an excellent breakfast. He read the Express and The Times and found a bare report of the inquest on Tallon.p. 163
“Rather like Hoagy Carmichael in a way”
He could probably shoot all right and talk foreign languages and do a lot of tricks that might be useful abroad. But what good could he do down here without any beautiful spies to make love to. Because he was certainly good-looking. (Gala Brand automatically reached into her bag for her vanity case. She examined herself in the little mirror and dabbed at her nose with a powder puff.) Rather like Hoagy Carmichael in a way. That black hair falling down over the right eyebrow. Much the same bones. But there was something a bit cruel in the mouth, and the eyes were cold. Were they grey or blue? It had been difficult to say last night.p. 170
Bath and a brandy after
A hot bath and an hour’s rest at the accommodating Granville had been followed by two stiff brandies-and-sodas for Gala and three for Bond followed by delicious fried soles and Welsh rarebits and coffee.p. 211
Moonraker. Vintage: London (2012). ISBN: 9780099576877.