Long In 1959, Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, was commissioned by the Sunday Times to explore some of the world's most exotic cities. Travelling to the Far East and then to America, he left the bright main streets for the back alleys, abandoning tourist sites in favour of underground haunts, and mingling with celebrities, gangsters and geishas. The result is a series of vivid snapshots of a mysterious, vanished world.
Fleming wote, 'On November 2nd, armed with a sheaf of visas...one suitcase...and my typewriter, I left humdrum London for the thrilling cities of the world. All my life I have been interested in adventure and abroad. I have enjoyed the frisson of leaving the wide, well-lit streets and venturing up back alleys in search of the hidden, authentic pulse of towns. It was perhaps this habit that turned me into a writer of thrillers.'
In today's episode, Fleming flies to the USA and visits the garage in Chicago where the St. Valentine's Day Massacre took place. In New York, he thrills at the sight of the traffic lights changing from red to green in unison all the way down Park Avenue.
Read by Simon Williams
Abridged by Mark Burgess
Copyright Ian Fleming Publications Ltd 1963
Produced by David Blount
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.