FOR your eyes only. Is there anything more to learn or say about Ian Fleming that has not been well-told already?

That’s the question posed in Nicholas Shakespeare’s introduction to this excellent, albeit lengthy, account of the life of James Bond’s creator. Turns out there’s lots but let’s concentrate on the Scottish angle …

001: Identity

FLEMING saw himself as Presbyterian and Scots; he was known to put “Scottish” down as his nationality. His father even called him “Jocky”. Ian’s people were from Dundee. His paternal grandfather was one of the world’s richest bankers whose first home was a two-roomed cottage in Lochee.

The National: Revealing the truth about the Scots author behind Bond, the world’s most famous secret agent

Grandpa Fleming was proud of his Dundee accent. Reading On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, we note 007 sends M a telegram turning down an honour where Bond identifies himself as “A SCOTTISH PEASANT AND WILL ALWAYS FEEL AT HOME BEING A SCOTTISH PEASANT”. We might add another J to Dundee’s famous trio of jam, jute, and journalism: James Bond.

002: Geography

WE learn the Fleming family estate is a “110,000-acre slab of land on Loch Tulla in north-east Argyllshire called Black Mount”. Here be grouse shooting and deer stalking. There are mentions too of stays in Arnisdale, Inverness-shire; the Glenelg Inn; Glenborrodale on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. The family would go “north in August and September like migrating birds”.

003: Personality

AGED five, in Ouchy, Lausanne on Lake Geneva, Ian had a hissy fit over the attention paid to his talented elder brother, Peter. He had to be “carried screaming and kicking from the Beau Rivage Hotel”. Ian’s background was privileged, “overprivileged, even” but was he, as the clichéd accusation against the Scots insists, mean?

Shakespeare says the Flemings caught the tube to Heathrow which sounds very sensible given the fees London taxi drivers charge. Ian’s niece, Gilly, is defensive: “We’re not mean … we’re just dreadfully, dreadfully careful – very, very ‘ribby’. We turn off lights.”

004: Politics

AT Eton, Ian treats people badly, he’s rude and a rotter, he dreams of being Prime Minister. Shakespeare quotes Phyllis Bottome on the school’s “strange faults and absurdities; its isolationism; its defensive arrogance; its inconsiderate insolence, and its deep unconscious selfishness”.

All this is a timely reminder of Boris Johnson’s background during his Covid inquiry interrogation. Ever privileged, Fleming loses £13,000 in today’s money betting on the outcome of the 1945 election. That other Etonian, Winston Churchill, like Johnson, was chucked out.

005: Caledonian Antisyzygy

THE old Jekyll and Hyde thing. Ian the adult – who could look in some lights like Reinhard Heydrich’s cheeky kid brother – had duelling polarities. In his twenties, he’s something of a user, a misogynistic sex pest with his “endless cuckolding”. As the Canadian comedian Norm Macdonald might say, “the guy was a jerk”. But the Second World War made a man of him. Ian sets up his own commando group – 30AU – a gang of scalphunters that includes a burglar who was “the only man to escape twice from Peterhead Prison”.

Ian saw 30AU as “Border raiders going to steal English cattle from Scottish bases”. Their targets were intelligence caches, scientists and scientific secrets. In time, Ian chairs the Joint Intelligence Committee and may even have given the Yanks a blueprint for setting up the CIA. We might see him as a true inglourious basterd, the type that wins wars.

006: Diasporic

LIKE many Scots, Ian got around. We meet him in Moscow where the “unpainted and weather-stained houses” reminded him of the Gorbals. He’s in Madrid and Lisbon keeping Spain out of the war. There are trips to Switzerland, Delhi, Norway, New York … and Goldeneye in Jamaica of course. And there are golf trips everywhere.

007: Golf

HE learned to play with his formidable granny. Ian was a member of Royal St George’s in Sandwich; he dreamed of being Captain. He played with a handicap of nine – the same as Bond and Goldfinger.

The National: ICON: Sean Connery as James Bond

008: Sean Connery

THE pair first met at the Savoy and Ian thought Sean looked like someone “who could kill”.

Connery himself thought Fleming “A real snob”.

Ian Fleming’s life reads like a pacy William Boyd novel. Nicholas Shakespeare has made a grand and thrilling job of its telling. But was Fleming the complete man? Not on your (little) Nellie.