The next James Bond definitely has to be black and he definitely has to be played by Idris Elba (The Wire; Luther). Anyone who thinks to diverge even slightly from this now officially accepted view, to be held by everyone everywhere in the world on pain of excommunication, is a racist.
We know this because of the recent experiences of children’s author Anthony Horowitz, who briefly committed heresy over the weekend when he dared to suggest that Elba was perhaps too “street” to play a suave, Eton-educated, Senior-Service-trained, half-Swiss, half-Scots secret agent.
“Clumsily, I chose the word ‘street’ as Elba’s gritty portrayal of DCI John Luther was in my mind but I admit it was a poor choice of word. I am mortified to have caused offence.”
But what would Bond’s creator Ian Fleming have thought? We cannot know for certain because, unfortunately, he has been dead for half a century.
Our only hope is to use our code-breaking skills to decipher some of the clues in his original Bond novels.
Live and Let Die (1954)
The “Baron Samedi” basement dive was swinging to the latest jazz music sounds. A sea of faces, each one of them of a duskier hue than are generally to be found of a Wednesday afternoon in the library of the Carlton Club, turned suspiciously towards the pale figure in the white tuxedo framed in the entrance doorway. Bond’s SIS training snapped into action, as he recalled with lightning insight, that this was not the West End of London, but Harlem, a region of New York especially popular with the city’s Negro community. He strode nonchalantly to the bar. “Martini. Shaken, not stirred”, he commanded, before remembering his cover. “Sir, boss, massa, hi-di-hi-di-hi-di-hi, Minny the Moocher,” he added, slipping effortlessly into the “Jive Talk” he had learned on passing out top of his linguistic and cultural training course at the School of Oriental and African studies.
Next to him, a large negro curled his lip.
“Let’s see you dance, boy,” said Mr Big.
In an instant, Bond was on the dance floor. Frozen. He tried to make sense of the cacophony of jungle-like drum-beats, twanging double-bass-notes, and screeching saxophone sounds, emanating from the jazz music ensemble playing wildly and demonically nearby.
“Sax”, Bond muttered to himself. “Must remember, the instrument is known colloquially as a ‘sax'”. But this, he realised to his growing horror, was the only part of his training course he could remember.
Mr Big laughed a deep, throaty, menacing laugh.
“I see you be havin’ some kind of trouble in de rhythm department,” he said.
Bond knew that his cover was blown.
Dr No (1958)
The giant crabs drew closer, their enormous claws clicking evilly, cold crustacean malevolence in their black, stalky eyes. Bond found himself almost admiring the sinister Oriental genius of the inscrutable No. With the fiendish cunning and refined cruelty so prevalent in the East, No had guessed that being eaten alive by giant crabs is every Englishman’s darkest and most secret fear.
Bond raised his eyes heavenwards, as if in acceptance that this time there could be no escape from the narrow chamber in which he had been imprisoned.
An opening. An escape hatch, set into the wall. Nine, no, ten feet above his head.
But Bond knew it was no good. During his years in the Royal Naval Reserve and with SIS he had acquired many skills. But there were some physical shortcomings which no amount of training could transcend.
Foremost among these was the one that came vividly to Bond’s attention at this moment.
Jumping, damn it. Why had he always been so perfectly useless at jumping?
Pussy Galore’s searching fingers pinched playfully at Bond’s chest hairs. Then, in caressing motions, they explored downwards. Past his tummy button –
“Once a navel man always a navel man,” quipped Bond.
– thence, below the waist band of his bespoke Brioni swim shorts, handstitched by virgins in sleepy villages of the Abruzzo.
She felt. Then felt again, just to be sure.
“But it’s so, um” she began, trying, without much success, to hide the disappointment in her voice.
Quickly Bond slipped a hand over her mouth.
An awkward blush had stolen across Bond’s cheeks. But he maintained his poise. This was, after all, a line he had rehearsed many times before.
“Did no one ever tell you that good things come in small packages?” said Bond.