OHMSS enthusiast FRED BRYANT took a trip to
    Piz Gloria, and like James Bond before him,
    escaped to bring us this debriefing.
    This article was originally published for 007 MAGAZINE OnLine in 2007.



One of my favourite Bond books and films has always been ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. At the beginning of the book we briefly find James Bond reflecting on his early childhood and we swap the roast partridge for a Cadbury’s flake and the Taittinger champagne for lemonade!

This is also the book in which Bond meets and finally gets married, to a Countess, but with very tragic consequences. When I first read this book at the age of 13 I actually cried at the sudden and tragic end, in fact nearly 40 years on it still holds an emotional impact for me despite obviously knowing the eventual outcome!

James Bond by John McLusky OHMSS Comic Strip

I still find it a hugely enjoyable read, with Bond on the trail of what was to become his arch nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the guise of the Comte de Bleuville. From the hallowed halls of The College of Arms in London to the snow peaked top of a Swiss Alp the pace moves a plenty; to say nothing of Biological Warfare and Christmas dinner with M at his home Quarterdeck! At the time I first read the book the Daily Express were running the excellent John McLusky strip serialization of the story. By then his drawings of Bond had taken on the “craggy good looks” of Sean Connery and it was a combination of this image that stayed with me for a long time whenever I read the book.

Therefore, when I went to see Peter Hunt’s filmed version of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969 I found it was George Lazenby’s slightly more youthful appearance, rather than his portrayal, that I felt was all wrong. This was one of the very later books in the Fleming canon and Bond is a lot older and more world weary than he was say in CASINO ROYALE. Likewise with EON’s series of films, Connery had also matured in the part and, as has been said before, this could have been his greatest acting achievement in the role of James Bond

In the end though this can only be conjecture and supposition. What I have come to realise though over time, and to a degree with my own maturing years, is that Peter Hunt had made something very special when he directed this film, which I now feel very strongly is a great tribute to Ian Fleming’s writing and should be more admired by people than it actually is.

Like his predecessor and friend before him Terence Young, Peter Hunt introduced a great deal of style to his production and sought to remain faithful as much as possible to Fleming’s original story, this despite strong opposition from the money people at United Artists. It also has one of the best actresses in the role of a Bond Girl, Dame Diana Rigg.

Diana Rigg poses atop the
Schilthorn Mountain at
Piz Gloria in 1969

Also, for me, one of the most magical things about OHMSS has always been the wonderful winter sports setting. This liking for an Alpine location may have stemmed in part from the fact I was actually born in a place called Klagenfurt in Austria. My father Fred senior, an NCO in the British army, was stationed over there when he met and married my mother, Irmgard. My mother, the eldest of five sisters was born in Germany, but the family had subsequently moved to Austria prior to WWII where they settled in a small village called Nikolasdorf.

As a young child growing up we would sometimes go and visit my grandparents in the winter, travelling by steamer across the English Channel, my mother and me, her sister Erica, who had also married a soldier, and her eldest son Bobby. We then carried on the journey from either France or Holland, depending on which route we were taking, via overnight express train down into Austria. Those continental rail journeys for me, although long and sometimes boring, were at the same time both exciting and filled with anticipation. I still can recall the smells of steam trains, the wood panelling on the carriages mixed with exotic tobaccos, eau de cologne, real coffee, green apples and garlic! The excitement of each new station with the added smells of vendors plying their wurst potato pancakes and pretzels and then eventually the almost quiet of the final train journey through snow filled countryside. It is very true when Proust states that smell has such a strong power to vividly bring back memories.

Diana Rigg & George Lazenby pose for photographs

Nikolasdorf is set in a valley surrounded by mountains and pine forests. Winter times were especially fun for my cousin Bobby and I as we would go out schlitten fahren (sledging) all the time with some of the local kids up on the high slopes. Each time daring one another to set off from a higher spot and take more risks by building little mounds out of the snow at the bottom to aim our sledge for, and a brief, but exhilarating ride down the slope before taking-off down to the next slope. Then eventually return home at the end of the day a little sore, exhausted, hungry and very, very wet!

Bond Girl Joanna Lumley enjoys the Swiss air

Due to its location a lot of the local children would also use skis to get around the area. On one occasion we were invited to have a go at skiing ourselves down the road through the village which was on a slight slope. Because we had taken a shine to a couple of the girls, and they in turn were intrigued by the two English boys, we gave it a go, but with some pretty awful results!

Many years later, when I worked in the travel industry, I went with my great friend Graham Rye on a winter sports holiday to the Austrian Voralberg. However, at the time, although we paid next to nothing for the trip, thanks to it being a special travel agents deal, we didn’t have enough money between us at the time to actually afford to hire skis and give it a go!

It was not until 2006 at the ripe old age of 54 that I did finally get to realise a desire to actually ski properly, well sort of; and in the very area they had filmed OHMSS. Before I go on though I think I should recap how this nearly a lifetime’s ambition came to fruition.

For 27 years I have been very happily married to my long-suffering wife Carole, who dislikes the snow and cold weather and has always refused to go on a Winter Sports holiday, despite my protests that it would not be as cold and miserable as she thought it would. Instead, we would always go somewhere warm and sunny like the Greek islands, which we in fact did several times and thoroughly enjoyed, both before and after we had our children.

However, whilst Nick, our eldest son, was at University and fast approaching his 21st birthday in January 2006, we both scratched our heads about what we should do and/or buy him to celebrate his coming of age and, hopefully, impending graduation

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