007: shaken, not stirred, and licensed to booze

Bond’s drinking habits means he was more likely to die from liver disease than in the line of fire

  • Fictional spy was knocking back between 65 and 92 units a week
  • In Casino Royale he quaffs over 39 units then jumps in his Bentley
  • Most he ever drunk in a day was 50 units in From Russia With Love

“A dry martini. Just hand it to me, and I’ll do the shaking myself.”

This, according to British doctors, is somewhat how James Bond would have been in real life.

007 boozed so much that in reality he would have had the tremulous hands of a chronic alcoholic, according to an offbeat study published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

If statistics are any guide, Bond would have died from alcohol- and tobacco-related diseases in his mid-fifties, it says. The last thing you’d want him to do is dismantle a bomb or give you a lift home.

Patrick Davies, from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, and a colleague read all 14 Ian Fleming novels over a period of six months.

They totted up Bond’s alcohol consumption and found he was way over the recommended limit for safe drinking by men.

The NHS recommends no more than three or four units a day – 28 units a week – while Bond was drinking on average between 65 and 92 units a week.

The researchers said the stress of ‘working with international terrorists and high stakes gamblers’ may have driven him to drink excessively – before getting into his Bentley.

The novels reveal he was more in danger of dying in a road accident or from liver disease than an enemy’s bullet, say the researchers in the British Medical Journal Christmas issue.

Dr Davies, from Nottingham University Hospital, said ‘James Bond is a functioning alcoholic, which really isn’t very consistent with his ability as a spy.

‘You wouldn’t want a high functioning alcoholic having to dismantle a bomb.

‘In Casino Royale he drinks more than 39 units then jumps in a car (his 1930 Bentley 4.5 litre) and has a high speed chase, crashes and then spends 14 days in hospital.’

This would be eight pints of beer followed by eight glasses of wine, while his weekly consumption, 92 units, is approximately one and a half bottles of wine a day.

‘In real life a normal person wouldn’t be able to function like that, it would be impossible.

‘You wouldn’t be able to stand straight, let alone having the clarity of thought.

And the paper darkly questions Bond’s supposed success as a womaniser.

Given the vast quantities of drink he consumed before bedding a conquest, the evidence may not have stood up, it says.

The conclusions are made by a trio of British doctors who read all 14 of the original James Bond books authored by Ian Fleming, noting when and what the character drank.

Two of the novels were excluded: The Spy Who Loved Me, written in the first person by a waitress and thus deemed an unreliable source; and Octopussy and The Living Daylights, a compendium of short stories that also fell short of the mark because it was not one single coherent tale.

That left 12 novels, which yielded 123.5 days for analysis.

Of these, 36 days were booze-free because Bond was incarcerated or in hospital.

This leaves 87.5 days, during which Britain’s top spy glugged down a whopping 1150 units of alcohol, or 92 units a week – four times the recommended amount.

“James Bond’s level of alcohol intake puts him at high risk of multiple alcohol-related diseases and an early death,” says the tongue-in-cheek investigation.

“The level of function as displayed in the books is inconsistent with the physical,

mental and indeed sexual functioning expected from someone drinking this much alcohol.”

On a cruel note, it concludes: “James Bond was unlikely to be able to stir his drinks, even if he would have wanted to, because of likely alcohol-induced tremor.”

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