For a man who worked in Naval Intelligence during the Second World War and lived on Jamaica, Fleming was rather dull. The IWM had tried very hard, with quotations on the walls in gold paint, exhibits hidden in desk drawers and delightful Christmas stockings hand-decorated by a youthful Ian and his brothers, but the bits involving Bond were really more interesting than the life of his creator. I especially liked a wall of paperbacks in different editions and languages.
I think the problem is that I've read and heard so much about the parallels between Fleming and Bond, and the 'who was Bond really based on?' debate, that there wasn't much that was new for me. The most interesting-looking of the interactive displays was also tantalisingly broken.
I did like the glimpses of Fleming's thought processes and sense of humour revealed by his manuscripts and correspondence - did you know Moonraker was originally titled Mondays Are Hell? - but there wasn't nearly enough of it for me. My partner in crime and I emerged past Daniel Craig's bloodstained shirt and a Get Well card sent to Bond from Fleming's publishers feeling rather 'oh, was that it?'
Still, there is so much at the museum that I didn't begrudge them the entry fee for For Your Eyes Only. We were there all day and barely scratched the surface of its contents. Most of the large exhibits in the main hall; The Trench and The First World War as research for an upcoming weekend in Ypres; Most Secret War, which I saw when it opened and looks a bit dated now; and Breakthrough, an exhibition of paintings from the archive. This was the surprise hit of the day: my companion reckoned it was the most interesting thing he'd seen, and I fell in love with Paul Nash's Battle of Britain to the extent of buying it on a postcard, though it's less impressive when it doesn't take up half a wall.
The IWM gift shop, by the way, could have been designed specifically to separate me from my money: they have aviation Stuff, WWI Stuff, Stuff with 'Top Secret' on, camouflage-print Stuff, and currently, of course, James Bond Stuff. I was reasonably restrained, considering.
I always forget how tiring just trekking round a museum can be. Luckily we had a dinner and Dr Who invitation from mykreeve, so I didn't have to go home and cook.