Octopussy & The Living Daylights

With no more unfinished Ian Fleming manuscripts to publish, Glidrose Productions collected a couple of previously published short stories for a second posthumous book, first nearly two years after the author’s death.

Octopussy and The Living Daylights Cover

Author: Ian Fleming
Publication date:
 23rd June 1966
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Cover artist: Richard Chopping

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The first story, Octopussy, is a conversation between Bond and a treacherous retired Royal Marine major. The major, living in Jamaica and seriously ill, is clearly based on Fleming himself, in fragile health when the story was written. The Living Daylights is a gripping story of Bond waiting to assassinate a Soviet sniper. This story is used in a short sequence of Timothy Dalton’s first film.

In 1967 a third story, The Property of a Lady was added to paperback editions. It had first appeared in Sotheby’s annual journal, The Ivory Hammer, in November 1963 and is fairly unremarkable. Finally, in 2002, a fourth short was added to the collection. 007 in New York first appeared in the New York Herald Tribune (as Agent 007 in New York) in October 1963 and features James Bond’s own recipe for scrambled eggs. It also appeared in the US edition of Thrilling Cities to balance Fleming’s harsh comments about New York.

What we say

Octopussy, is far from a typical Bond adventure and features a character, much like Fleming himself, living on the north shore of Jamaica and numbing himself with alcohol as he waits out his remaining days. His life is turned upside down with the arrival of James Bond at his door. The story previously appeared in the Daily Express in October 1965.

On the other hand The Living Daylights is probably the Fleming’s best short. First published in the Sunday Times in February 1962, the story is set in West Berlin before the construction of the wall and concerns Bond’s tense wait for a defector to make the run across the wasteland that separates east from west. The Russians have been tipped off and have a sniper waiting on the other side.

The Property of a Lady is fairly unremarkable, while 007 in New York is really only interesting because it gives the recipe for “Scrambled Eggs James Bond”.



Sent to Jamaica to confront Major Dexter Smythe about his involvement in the death of Hannes Oberhauser at the end of World War 2, James Bond is a bit player in Octopussy.

After being orphaned before the war, Bond had stayed with Oberhauser in Austria, and was taught to ski by him. Mostly the story concerns Smythe’s recollection of the events leading to Oberhauser’s death, which for Bond is personal.

After two heart attacks the alcoholic Smythe is drinking himself to death, much the same as Ian Fleming at this stage of life. Each morning at 10:30 he pours himself “the first of two stiff brandy and ginger ales”, which he calls the Drunkard’s Drink. When Bond arrives he is offered “the local poison” – a rum and ginger – lying that he prefers the ginger by itself. Somewhat out of character, Bond declines.

The Living Daylights

After trying out a sniper rifle ahead of an assignment in Berlin, Bond tells the range officer “I’d like to buy you a drink, but I’ve got an appointment in London”. He speeds to London Airport in his Bentley “so as to have plenty of time for a drink, three drinks, before the takeoff”. From there he is booked on a BEA flight to Berlin via Hanover.

A double agent is due to make the dangerous crossing into West Berlin on one of three evenings between 5 and 7:30. Having made it to East Berlin with Russian atomic secrets, the KGB is on his tail, including a sniper known as Trigger.

After arriving in the West Berlin flat overlooking the no man’s land between East and West, Sender shows him around. He has stocked the kitchen with some basics and there is also a bottle of Dimple Haig.

When Bond wakes at noon he cooks himself scrambled eggs and bacon with black coffee with a “liberal tot” of whisky. Afterwards he decides between an afternoon at a brothel, or a walk in the forest beside lake Wannsee. The forest walk wins and after a hard two hours he stops at a restaurant above the lake. There he orders “a double portion of Matjeshering, smothered in cream and onion rings, and two Molle mit Korn” – pickled herring accompanied by schnapps washed down with draught Löwenbräu.

At around 5pm Bond returns to the flat and gets into position to provide covering fire. He and Sender keep watch for any sign of the agent attempting to cross until 7:30. During this time Bond keeps himself occupied by watching a blonde cellist from an East German orchestra rehearsing across the border. He then showers and has “two large whiskeys-on-the-rocks in quick succession”.

When he returns to the flat on the third evening, Sender objects when Bond has a “stiff drink of the whiskey” and threatens to report him. Just after 6pm, agent 272 finally appears. When Bond sees Trigger across the divide he takes aim. But rather than a man, Trigger is the blonde cellist Bond had been watching. Noticing that Bond changes his aim and hits her gun, Sender confronts him afterwards, telling him his orders were to kill Trigger.

Bond pours himself a glass of whisky. “Scared the living daylights out of her. In my book, that was enough”, he tells Sender.

007 in New York

In the last story of the collection, James Bond has just arrived in New York. While he is driven to his hotel in a Cadillac Bond reflects on the city’s neighbourhoods restaurants, hotels and shops and makes plans for his stay.

For lunch he doesn’t want to go to the 21 Club because “the expense-account aristocracy” had resulted in higher prices and lower quality. However, he does decide to go there for old times’ sake and have a couple of dry martinis made with “Beefeaters with a domestic vermouth, shaken with a twist of lemon peel” at the bar.

The Oyster Bar at Grand Central serves “the best meal in New York”, namely oyster stew with cream, crackers, and Miller High Life. However, he decides rather than sitting up at a bar he’d prefer to eat in more comfort and read the paper.

In the end he decides a corner table at The Edwardian Room at the Plaza is what he wants. “They didn’t know him there, but he knew he could get what he wanted to eat”. There he’d have another dry martini then smoked salmon and “the particular scrambled eggs he had once [..] instructed them how to make”. Handily, Ian Fleming even gives the recipe for Scrambled Eggs James Bond!

After dinner he wants to find a bar that Felix Leiter had told him about, which was “the rendezvous for sadists and masochists of both sexes. The uniform was black leather jackets and leather gloves. If you were a sadist, you wore the gloves under the left shoulder strap” because “it would be fun to go and have a look”.

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David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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