‘Seems to me I’m getting all balled up in high politics. Not my line of country at all. But is this stuff really as vital as M. says?’
‘Absolutely. If you get hold of it, your grateful country will probably buy you that chicken farm you’re always talking about.’
‘So be it. Now, if you’ll give Hamilton a buzz I’ll go and start learning all about the mysterious East.’
‘Kangei! Welcome aboard,’ said the pretty kimono-ed and obi-ed stewardess of Japan Air Lines as, a week later, James Bond settled into the comfortable window seat of the four-jet, turbofan Douglas D C 8 at London Airport and listened to the torrent of soft Japanese coming from the tannoy that would be saying all those things about life jackets and the flying time to Orly. The sick-bags ‘in case of motion disturbance’ were embellished with pretty bamboo emblems and, according to the exquisitely bound travel folder, the random scribbles on the luggage rack above his head were’the traditional and auspicious tortoiseshell motif. The stewardess bowed and handed him a dainty fan, a small hot towel in a wicker-basket and a sumptuous menu that included a note to the effect that an assortment of cigarettes, perfumes and pearls were available for sale. Then they were off with 50,000 pounds of thrust on the first leg of the four that would take the good aircraft Yoshino over the North Pole to Tokyo.
Bond gazed at the picture of three oranges (no! after an hour he decided they were persimmons) in a blue bowl that faced him and, when the aircraft flattened out at 30,000 feet, ordered the first of the chain of brandies and ginger ales that was to sustain him over the Channel, a leg of the North Sea, the Kattegat, the Arctic Ocean, the Beaufort Sea, the Bering Sea and the North Pacific Ocean and decided that, whatever happened on this impossible assignment, he would put up no resistance to his old skin being sloughed off him on the other side of the world. By the time he was admiring the huge stuffed Polar bear at Anchorage, in Alaska, the embrace of JAL’s soft wings had persuaded him that he didn’t even mind if the colour of the new skin was to be yellow.
DIKKO ON THE GINZA
THE huge right fist crashed into the left palm with the noise of a .45 pistol shot. The great square face of the Australian turned almost purple and the veins stood out on the grizzled temples. With controlled violence, but almost under his breath, he intoned savagely.
They all bludge.’
He reached under the low table and then seemed to think better of it and moved his hand to the glass of sake, picked it up and poured it down his throat without a swallow.
Bond said mildly, ‘Take it easy, Dikko. What’s bitten you? And what does this vulgar-sounding colonial expression mean?’
Richard Lovelace Henderson, of Her Majesty’s Australian Diplomatic Corps, looked belligerently round the small crowded bar in a by-street off the Ginza and said out of the corner of his large and usually cheerful mouth that was now turned down in bitterness and anger, ‘You stupid pommy bastard, we’ve been miked! That bludger Tanaka’s miked us! Here, under the table! See the little wire down the leg? And see that wingy over at the bar? Chap with one arm looking bloody respectable in his blue suit and black tie? That’s one of Tiger’s men. I can smell ’em by now. They’ve been tailing me off and on for ten years. Tiger dresses ’em all like little CIA gentlemen. You watch out for any Jap who’s drinking Western and wearing that rig. All Tiger’s men.’ He grumbled, ‘Damn good mind to go over and call the bastard.’
Bond said, ‘Well, if we’re being miked, all this’ll make sweet reading for Mr Tanaka tomorrow morning.’
‘What the hell,’ said Dikko Henderson resignedly. ‘The old bastard knows what I think of him. Now he’ll just have it in writing. Teach him to stop leaning on me. And my friends,’ he added, with a blistering glance at Bond. ‘It’s really you he wants to size up. And I don’t mind if he hears me saying so. Bludger? Well, hear me now, Tiger! This is the great Australian insult. You can use it anyways.’ He raised his voice. ‘But in general it means a worthless pervert, ponce, scoundrel, liar, traitor and rogue – with no redeeming feature. And I hope your stewed seaweed sticks in your gullet at breakfast tomorrow when you know what I think of you.’
Bond laughed. The torrent of powerful swear-words had started its ceaseless flow the day before at the airport – Haneda, ‘the field of wings’. It had taken Bond nearly an hour to extract his single suitcase from the customs area, and he had emerged fuming into the central hall only to be jostled and pushed aside by an excited crowd of young Japanese bearing paper banners that said ‘International Laundry Convention’. Bond was exhausted from his flight. He let out one single four-letter expletive.
Behind him a big voice repeated the same word and added some more. ‘That’s my boy! That’s the right way to greet the East! You’ll be needing all those words and more before you’re through with the area.’
Bond had turned. The huge man in the rumpled grey suit thrust out a hand as big as a small ham. ‘Glad to meet you. I’m Henderson. As you were the only pommy on the plane, I guess you’re Bond. Here. Give me that bag. Got a car outside and the sooner we get away from this blankety blank madhouse the better.’
Henderson looked like a middle-aged prize fighter who has retired and taken to the bottle. His thin suit bulged with muscle round the arms and shoulders and with fat round the waist. He had a craggy, sympathetic face, rather stony blue eyes, and a badly broken nose. He was sweating freely (Bond was to find that he was always sweating), and as he barged his way through the crowd, using Bond’s suitcase as a battering ram, he extracted a rumpled square of terry cloth from his trouser-pocket and wiped it round his neck and face. The crowd parted unresentfully to let the giant through, and Bond followed in his wake to a smart Toyopet saloon waiting in a no-parking area. The chauffeur got out and bowed. Henderson fired a torrent of instructions at him in fluent Japanese and followed Bond into the back seat, settling himself with a grunt. ‘Taking you to your hotel first – the Okura, latest of the
Western ones. American tourist got murdered at the Royal Oriental the other day and we don’t want to lose you all that soon. Then we’ll do a bit of serious drinking. Had some dinner?’
‘About six of them, as far as I can remember. J AL certainly takes good care of your stomach.’
‘Why did you choose the willow-pattern route? How was the old ruptured duck?’
‘They told me the bird was a crane. Very dainty. But efficient. Thought I might as well practise being inscrutable before plunging into all this.’ Bond waved at the cluttered shambles of the Tokyo suburbs through which they were tearing at what seemed to Bond a suicidal speed. ‘Doesn’t look the most attractive city in the world. And why are we driving on the left?’
‘God knows,’ said Henderson moodily. ‘The bloody Japs do everything the wrong way round. Read the old instruction books wrong, I daresay. Light switches go up instead of down. Taps turn to the left. Door handles likewise. Why, they even race their horses clockwise instead of anti-clockwise like civilized people. As for Tokyo, it’s bloody awful. It’s either too hot or too cold or pouring with rain. And there’s an earthquake about every day. But don’t worry about them. They just make you feel slightly drunk. The typhoons are worse. If one starts to blow, go into the stoutest bar you can see and get drunk. But the first ten years are the worst. It’s got its point when you know your way around. Bloody expensive if you live Western, but I stick to the back alleys and do all right. Really quite exhilarating. Got to know the lingo though, and when to bow and take off your shoes and so on. You’ll have to get the basic routines straight pretty quickly if you’re going to make any headway with the people you’ve come to see. Underneath the stiff collars and striped pants in the government departments, there’s still plenty of the old samurai tucked away. I laugh at them for it, and they laugh back because they’ve got to know my line of patter. But that doesn’t mean I don’t bow from the waist when I know it’s expected of me and when I want something. You’ll get the hang of it all right.’
Henderson fired some Japanese at the driver who had been glancing frequently in his driving mirror. The driver laughed and replied cheerfully. ‘Thought so,’ said Henderson. ‘We’ve got ourselves a tail. Typical of old Tiger. I told him you were staying at the Okura, but he wants to make sure for himself. Don’t worry. It’s just part of his crafty ways. If you find one of his men breathing down your neck in bed tonight, or a girl if you’re lucky, just talk to them politely and they’ll bow and hiss themselves out.’
But a solitary sleep had followed the serious drinking in the Bamboo Bar of the Okura, and the next day had been spent doing the sights and getting some cards printed that described Bond as Second Secretary in the Cultural Department of the Australian Embassy. ‘They know that’s our intelligence side,’ said Henderson, ‘and they know I’m the head of it and you’re my temporary assistant, so why not spell it out for them?’ And that evening they had gone for more serious drinking to Henderson’s favourite bar, Melody’s, off the Ginza, where everybody called Henderson ‘Dikko’ or ‘Dikko-san’, and where they were ushered respectfully to the quiet corner table that appeared to be his Stammtisch.
And now Henderson reached under the table and, with a powerful wrench, pulled out the wires and left them hanging. ‘I’ll give that black bastard Melody hell for this when I get around to it,’ he said belligerently. ‘And to think of all I’ve done for the dingo bastard! Used to be a favourite pub of the English Colony and the Press Club layabouts. Had a good restaurant attached to it. That’s gone now. The Eyteye cook trod on the cat and spilled the soup and he picked up the cat and threw it into the cooking stove. Of course that got around pretty quick, and all the animal-lovers and sanctimonious bastards got together and tried to have Melody’s licence taken away. I managed to put in squeeze in the right quarter and saved him, but everyone quit his restaurant and he had to close it. I’m the only regular who’s stuck to him. And now he goes and does this to me! Oh well, he’ll have had the squeeze put on him, I suppose. Anyway, that’s the end of the tape so far as T.T.’s concerned. I’ll give him hell too. He ought to have learned by now that me and my friends don’t want to assassinate the Emperor or blow up the Diet or something.’ Dikko glared around him as if he proposed to do both those things. ‘Now then, James, to business. I’ve fixed up for you to meet Tiger tomorrow morning at eleven. I’ll pick you up and take you there. “The Bureau of All-Asian Folkways.” I won’t describe it to you. It’d spoil it. Now, I don’t really know what you’re here for. Spate of top secret cables from Melbourne. To be deciphered by yours truly in person. Thanks very much! And my Ambassador, Jim Saunderson, good bloke, says he doesn’t want to know anything about it. Thinks it’d be even better if he didn’t meet you at all. Okay with you? No offence, but he’s a wise guy and likes to keep his hands clean. And I don’t want to know anything about your job either. That way, you’re the only one who gets the powdered bamboo in his coffee. But I gather you want to get some high-powered gen out of Tiger without the CIA knowing anything about it. Right? Well that’s going to be a dicey business. Tiger’s a career man with a career mind. Although, on the surface, he’s a hundred per cent demokorasu, he’s a deep one -very deep indeed. The American occupation and the American influence here look like a very solid basis for a total American-Japanese alliance. But once a Jap, always a Jap. It’s the same with all the other great nations – Chinese, Russian, German, English. It’s their bones that matter, not their lying faces. And all those races have got tremendous bones. Compared with the bones, the smiles or scowls don’t mean a thing. And time means nothing for them either. Ten years is the blink of a star for the big ones. Get me? So Tiger, and his superiors, who, I suppose, are the Diet and, in the end, the Emperor, will look at your proposition principally from two angles. Is it immediately desirable, today? Or is it a long-term investment? Something that may pay off for the country in ten, twenty years. And, if I were you, I’d stick to that spiel – the long-term talk. These people, people like Tiger, who’s an absolutely top man in Japan, don’t think in terms of days or months or years. They think in terms of centuries. Quite right, when you come to think of it.’