Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Spy Who Loved Marmalade

The Spy Who Loved Marmalade

As proof that marmalade often crops up in unlikely places, I have been reading Andrew Lycett's gripping and eye-opening biography of Ian Fleming, in which my favourite preserve puts in two surprise appearances.

First, in From Russia with Love, we learn that in James Bond's just-off-the-King's-Road flat, there are three glass jars, containing Tiptree strawberry jam, Fortnum's Norwegian heather honey and Cooper's Oxford Vintage Marmalade. It is the marmalade of choice for cold-blooded government assassins, apparently. Cooper's must have been thrilled.

Second, it tells how Fleming once returned to Goldeneye, his Jamaica retreat, to find that his housekeepers had been neglecting their duties. 'There was paint peeling off the eaves, chips and cracks all over the floor, and not one bottle of marmalade or preserves.'

At which point I realise that this is what is missing from my life: a second home somewhere with hot and cold running staff, who, if I am away for any length of time, will fill up my pantry with homemade marmalade.

Fleming had his faults, as the biography makes painfully clear, but any man requiring a stock of marmalade as a basic priority can't be all bad.


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