ODDIE, BILL ODDIE
In 1952, at the age of 44, whilst on his annual 2-month holiday at Goldeneye in Jamaica Ian Fleming wrote the book Casino Royale - simultaneously inventing the character James Bond. In an interesting twist, Fleming eponymously named Bond after a bird-watcher and the author of a book on his bookshelf "Birds of the West Indies - a guide to the species of birds that inhabit the Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles and Bahama Islands”.
Holidays provide a chance for pause and contemplation. They allow us to consider our lot from a distance. Rather than the relaxation and idleness for which they’re better known, the retreat from our daily lifestyle can provide a rare opportunity to be more creative and to exercise and indulge those other vital parts of our character that we've ignored. So it evidently was with Fleming and indeed so it seems it is with me: I'm currently by a pool in the French countryside. Spurred on by this recollection of Fleming’s holiday action, my own recent 40th birthday, and the inspiration of others, I've decide to engage in similar creative activity and finally get around to start writing. In that mental picture one holds of oneself I’ve lived my whole adult life as a writer (albeit unpublished and unknown). The fact that I’ve never got quite got around to writing anything beyond e-mail being a minor impediment - [and potentially the cause of that disconnect between how I see myself and how others see me]
It is said that Fleming wrote Casino Royale as a means of escapism, not only from his impending marriage and personal financial concerns, but from post-war rationing and a general foreboding uncertainty about the fate of the British Empire. Certainly dwindling British influence and the ascendance of the foreign powers all seem to feature as part of the Bond canon. In an obvious repeat of the British nation’s predicament I can't help but feel that I have very much in common with Fleming right now. Ironically, in creating Bond, one could argue that Fleming actually struck a retaliatory blow against the dulling of British influence and forged a “blunt tool” for the continuation of British cultural hegemony on a global scale that continues to this day. Inspired by this thought and led to egotistical delusion by a poolside cocktail (and perhaps too much sun) I did therefore contemplate calling this whole website venture “Oddie-Bill-Oddie.com” after the only other bird-watcher apart from James Bond that I can name. I held some vain hope that history might repeat itself and that in a bizarre twist my own holiday frivolity might somehow eventually serve to embolden my own children's generation.
Fleming reportedly wrote fast and edited later - luckily I followed his example here too. Upon more sober re-reading of the above I've come to fear that Fleming, despite not always noted as a being a good writer was a significantly better one than I. Un-lubricated I can’t escape the realisation that not only will this webpage fail to have any cultural impact whatsoever but that anything even obscurely referencing Bill Oddie is a bloody stupid name for a personal website. I’ve also noticed that drinking whilst writing also gives one a tendency to bounce themes and thoughts around a bit in the execution. Alas. Hopefully for you dear reader this has at least all come off a bit like a story told with great enthusiasm at the bar of your favourite establishment by someone you’ve just met and would like to know more. Certainly if you had been drinking when you read it I can assure you that your whole experience will have been much greatly improved - whether or not you liked any element of the writing or have even made it this far being an irrelevance. If you have made it this far I’d like to congratulate you - pull up a stool and let me pour you another. I can’t promise the writing will get any better but I can report that I’m having great fun - and I’ve always found that fun can be a quite infectious.
As we say here - Cheers!