Bond for a day in London: exploring the city’s old world charm – news

By Stuart Forster

Posted: Thu, Oct 28, 2021, 3:41 PM

We are in the city of spies. During the Cold War, there were around 5,000 operational spies in London. Now the security services estimate there are around 12,000 active spies in this country – in London, in particular, ”our guide Andy said, eliciting murmurs of surprise and – recalling Roger Moore playing 007 – raised eyebrows. participants in the new Bond. for a one day experience.

Dressed in a Union Jack waistcoat and round metal-rimmed glasses, our red-haired tour guide spoke with a seriousness that caught our attention. A dozen of us were seated around a boardroom style table in a private room at the Civil Service Club in Whitehall. Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, the world’s most famous fictional spy, was no stranger to these pieces. Andy explained that during World War II the building was used as a clearinghouse for interrogations.

Admiralty House where Ian Fleming was based during WWII

Admiralty House where Ian Fleming was based during WWII

At this time, Fleming was working for the Naval Intelligence Department and was based nearby in the old Admiralty building. After finishing our breakfast, Andy led us to Whitehall and waved to the premises in which Fleming had been employed. He served as a personal assistant to Admiral Godfrey, the man who later modeled the character M in the Bond novels. Fleming’s duties included liaising with other intelligence services. He played a key role in the development of the Trout Memorandum, outlining more than 50 ideas for deceiving and disrupting the enemy during World War II. “Ian Fleming is just as interesting as James Bond. He created a commando unit called 30AU. The only job of the assault unit during the Normandy invasion was to enter with the forces, find the enemy headquarters, grab whatever intelligence they could find and bring it back to London… Fleming was a black horse. What you see in Bond is what Fleming would like to be. What Fleming did is what Bond is. The two are inextricably linked, ”said Andy.

He then invited us to get into luxury leather-seat cars past the long-established Mayfair clubs on the way to Camden. On Camden High Street, we descended the steps of the AGL Airsoft to perfect our target shooting, firing gas powered pellets. “We like to involve guests in the story and root everything in good historical accuracy with great stories,” said Brendan Murphy, CEO of Imagine Experiences. The company began offering its immersive tour ahead of the global release of No Time To Die, the fifth and final Bond film starring Daniel Craig.

Horse Guards Building in Whitehall

Horse Guards Building in Whitehall

On our way back to the St James area, we debated which actor played the best 007. My vote went to Craig but Sean Connery beat him. We also discussed if a woman could play the role at some point. We were dropped off in front of the Floris perfume store on Jermyn Street. Andy explained that Floris’ scents are mentioned in several Bond novels. Fleming himself wore No. 89, an eau de toilette named after the house number of the perfumery. The store has supplied perfumes to well-known personalities, including Marilyn Monroe, Noel Coward and Winston Churchill. The family business was started in 1730 by an ancestor of Edward Bodenham, the current director of perfumery, to whom I asked what it meant to him that Floris was mentioned in the Bond novels. “We are very proud. It’s an honor, ”he replied. “Being a Bond enthusiast myself and having read all the books, you know how much Ian Fleming really takes the time to appreciate every detail of what he wears or drinks – it’s all in the details. There is a specific reason he chooses anything and it has to do with the quality of it, so it’s very flattering to be mentioned in the books and the fact that he was a customer. .

Leaving Floris, smelling a little Bond, thanks to a No.89 spray, we transferred to Queen Anne’s Gate where Mansfield Smith-Cumming established the British Secret Service in 1909. After discussing counter-surveillance techniques, Andy Drove us to the nearby St Ermin’s hotel. to discuss the role of Special Operations Executive secret agents in the burning down of Nazi-occupied Europe. Moved but not shaken by the day’s ideas and anecdotes about Fleming, Bond and the spy world, I had already planned to see No Time To Die at the end of the tour.

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