The Undertaker’s Wind

Live and Let Die Chapter 17

Paw-paw with a slice of green lime, a dish piled with red bananas, purple star-apples and tangerines, scrambled eggs and bacon, Blue Mountain coffee – the most delicious in the world – Jamaican marmalade, almost black, and guava jelly.

As Bond, wearing shorts and sandals, had his breakfast on the veranda and gazed down on the sunlit panorama of Kingston and Port Royal, he thought how lucky he was and what wonderful moments of consolation there were for the darkness and danger of his profession.

James Bond is in Jamaica to put an end to the activities of Mr Big. He has a week or so to wait until the Secatur comes back to the island, so he is going to get in some serious training, while at the same time allowing his hand to heal. Bond is introduced to Quarell, who will be his guide and fitness trainer on this mission. The Quarell of this novel and of Dr No bears little resemblance to the Quarell as portrayed by John Kitzmiller in the movie version of the latter book. This Quarell has “the blood of Cronwellian soldiers and buccaneers in him and his face was strong and angular and his mouth was almost severe. His eyes were grey. It was only the spatulate nose and pale palms of his hands that were negroid.” He refers to Bond as “Cap’n” – the highest title he knows.

As they drive to the other end of Jamaica, Quarrel points out the sights of the Island. I tried to use Google Maps to follow the path they took, and could, for the most part, but my efforts to get an outline to post on here was unsuccessful. They go through Castleton, Agualta Vale, Port Maria, Shark Bay, Oracabessa, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay before arriving at their secret destination. Once there, Quarrel makes preparations while Bond goes for a swim. As the sun sets, Quarrel makes reference to the “Undertaker’s Wind”

‘On-and-off shore breeze de sailors call it,’ said Quarrel. ‘De Undertaker blow de bad air out of de Island nighttimes from six. till six. Then every morning de “Doctor’s Wind” come and blow de sweet air in from de sea. Leastwise dat’s what we calls dem in Jamaica.’

Quarrel looked quizzically at Bond.

‘Guess you and de Undertaker’s Wind got much de same job, Cap’n,’ he said half-seriously.

Bond laughed shortly. ‘Glad I don’t have to keep the same hours,’ he said.

Quarrel makes dinner while Bond starts his reading of books on the tropical seas, works by Jacques Cousteau among others. He wants to learn up on all that he might encounter in these waters while completing his mission. What he reads gives him nightmares.

The next day his training routine begins, it consists of running, swimming, rowing a canoe and underwater hunting. They shoot a barracuda that is hanging around, and it comes after them, Bond swings his spear just as the fish is about get Quarrel. The spear ends up between the jaws of the fish, and after killing it, they have to twist the spear out of its jaws and find bright deep scratches in the metal of the spear. That was about the extent of the excitement of the week, and by the time the end of the weeks arrives, Bond is suntanned, in shape, and down to 10 cigarettes a day and hasn’t had a drink in a week.

He gets an update on Leiter from Strangways after they return to their rest-house. The CIA man has lost and arm and a leg, and has been having plastic surgery to rebuild his face. Bond also receives the news that the Secatur will be at the Isle of Surprise tomorrow, and that Solitaire is on board.

Never before in his life had there been so much to play for. The secret of the treasure, the defeat of a great criminal, the smashing of a Communist spy ring, and the destruction of a tentacle of SMERSH, the cruel machine that was his own private target. And now Solitaire, the ultimate personal prize.

Onto Jamaica

Live and Let Die Chapter 16

It is 2:00 a.m. as James Bond leaves the Ourobouros warehouse after having seen The Robber to his gruesome death. Bond heads out of town on the four lane concrete highway towards Tampa. Remember those old concrete highways? Riding on them in your car was like riding a train…thump…thump…thump… Many sub-highways today which used to be major highways back in the 1950’s were originally concrete, which has been tarred over. In many cases I can still detect the thumps where the edges of the concrete sections are buried under layers of tar. Bond finds a bar that is open and has himself another Double Old Grandad on the rocks, apparently his drink of choice in Florida. In New York it was Haig and Haig, but since coming South, its been Old Grandad.

After cleaning himself up and examining his throbbing hand, (The splint broke while punching The Robber) Bond discourages the bartender’s attempts at conversation and eventually moves on. He finds a cheap motel relatively close to the Airport, where he showers and immediately falls asleep. He sleeps until noon, and then writes his report for the FBI. He doesn’t mention finding the gold coins at the warehouse, for fear Mr Big should intercept the message and then move his operations. Bond is eager to get out of Florida and the FBI is eager to see him leave, as evidenced by the man in the unnecessary raincoat hanging around at the Airport. Before he leaves, he calls for an update on Felix…no change, still unconscious.

The next two and a half pages chronicle Bond’s flight from Tampa to Jamaica, by way of Nassau. Things get a little bumpy on the second leg of the journey, causing him to have bit of an internal panic.

And the forty little heavier-than-air people, fallible within the plane’s fallibility, vain within its larger vanity, fall down with it and make little holes in the land or little splashes in the sea. Which is anyway their destiny, so why worry? You are linked to the ground mechanic’s careless fingers in Nassau just as you are linked to the weak head of the little man in the family saloon who mistakes the red light for the green and meets you head-on, for the first and last time, as you are motoring quietly home from some private sin. There’s nothing to do about it. You start to die the moment you are born. The whole of life is cutting through the pack with death. So take it easy. Light a cigarette and be grateful you are still alive as you suck the smoke deep into your lungs. Your stars have already let you come quite a long way since you left your mother’s womb and whimpered at the cold air of the world. Perhaps they’ll even let you get to Jamaica tonight.

Eventually though, the plane does land safely and James Bond, sweating, rapidly gets off the plane. The airport is the Palisadoes Airport, which is now the Norman Manley International Airport – the main airport in Kingston, Jamaica.

He is greeted at the airport by Strangways, the chief Secret Service agent for the Caribbean. (Strangways will figure large in a future James Bond adventure on Jamaica.) They go to Strangway’s house on the Junction Road below Stoney Hill. They have a drink – Whiskey-and-soda and Bond settles in to listen to the story Strangways has to tell. Much of the story is background…legends of pirate treasure on a tin piece of land, the Isle of Suprise in a place called Shark Bay. For two hundred years, people have been searching for treasure and found nothing. Six months ago, the Island was purchased by a anonymous New York syndicate purchased the island, and the Secatur started dropping anchor there.

Interestingly, the Ian Fleming collection at Indiana University (Scroll way down on page) contains Fleming’s personal copy of Live and Let Die, with a note from Fleming on the inside cover. Part of it says :

The underwater chapters are based on Cabritta Island, Port Marcie, Jamaica, where Bloody Morgan careened his ships and which is still supposed to contain his treasure.

An interesting tidbit indeed.

In this picture you see the Island in the left hand side of the picture, looking out from one of the hillsides surrounding the bay. The crew of the Secatur has been law-abiding and orderly, working under the guise of obtaining rare species for Ourobouros, Inc. They’ve been sailing out, filled with fish tanks, about every two weeks.

No one has been able to get out there and see what they’re doing. Three people have died trying, including two swimmers brought in from the Naval base in Bermuda. Since the Island is now owned by an American…they’ve discovered the anonymous New York Syndicate is Mr Big…there is a lot of red tape involved. Bond has to get out there and see for himself what is going on.

Strangways informs Bond of the arrangements he’s made at a place called Beau Desert. There’s a house there, Strangways has gotten them a car, a Sunbeam Talbot, probably much like the one pictured here.

He’s got a man to act as Bond’s “factotum” (an assistant who serves in a wide range of capacities.) He is a Cayman Islander named Quarrel, another character who will figure large in a future adventure. Bond is to rest of and get a week of training in before he is to swim out to the Island when the Secatur comes back into port. Bond requests from equipment from London to assist him in his mission. A frogman suit with compressed air bottles, spares, a good underwater harpoon gun, underwater torch, a commando dagger, a new fangled shark-repellent, and oh yeah, a limpet mine, with plenty of assorted size fuses. Bond has a mission and a plan.