Saturday, 7 November 2015


Hello Again, Mr. Bond

As with the Rolling Stones I’ve no memory of my existence without James Bond somewhere in it. I expect to live out my end of days without the Stones functioning as a working band (though I promise to buy the repackaged and re-mastered scraps to the bitter end). I suspect that Bond will see me out because a fictional character well tended is forever. And anyway, isn’t a silencer screwed on to the end of a pistol barrel in silhouette too cool for words?  Mick and Keith are immortals and tough, but human beings cannot defy the inevitable indefinitely. Agent 007, licensed to kill, is something else altogether.

The catch up question of my scattered family has always been, ‘What are you reading these days?’ I recall a phone call with my father some 20 years ago; my employer had recently relocated me to Calgary from Edmonton and Dad was in Ottawa. I answered his question: ‘From Russia, with Love,’ I said. I felt a bit sheepish as my tastes and my father’s ran more toward John le Carre. ‘It’s a long commute to the office,’ I explained. My father replied, ‘I’ve always got time for a good story.’

Armed with parental permission I read every single word Ian Fleming wrote about James Bond. And then some. I don’t agree with the lives of fictional characters being extended beyond their creators’; something gets lost when a new author takes up the quill. Yet, I’ve read Bond novels written by John Gardner, Sebastian Faulks and Jeffery Deaver. The grail of the continuations is Colonel Sun by English comic novelist Kingsley Amis (father of Martin) writing as Robert Markham. My life’s sole remaining mission is to stumble upon a used copy somewhere, in a second hand shop or at a rummage sale.

During one of my gigs as an advertising production manager I spent a lot of other people’s money with a particular printer in Toronto. This firm held a contest to promote its new digital on demand services. Second prize was a complete set of Bond films on DVD. I e-mailed my counterpart requesting her to put the fix in. I had no qualms about blatantly demanding graft. After all, the 007 gun logo is along with the Stones’ lolling tongue the most recognizable trademark in pop culture; I was just conducting business.

I have viewed them in sequence three times. My favourite, prior to the 21st century franchise reboot, is From Russia, with Love because it is fairly true to the novel upon which it’s based. The Timothy Dalton movies are dogs, but he is the actor who most resembles Fleming’s descriptions of the MI6 agent. The Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan eras descended from decent into farce. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service starring George Lazenby is overlooked and underrated; it too doesn’t stray too outrageously far from Fleming’s novel. I sold Ann on Casino Royale by telling her that it wasn’t Bond so much as just a really good movie.

Yesterday the fourth Bond film featuring Daniel Craig opened in Edmonton. We had friends over last night; at 55 I was the youngest baby boomer in the room. My sister is visiting from PEI. Stats Guy dropped by as did Netflix Derek. Our mutual excitement over the release of SPECTRE was animated. The universal enthusiasm surprised me somewhat as Bond movies don’t play in art houses and one’s tastes mature over time. Consensus between two people is often elusive enough; all of us agreed to attend a SPECTRE screening en masse, the way we did as kids in the 70s. Of course, given our ages, it’ll have to be a matinee. I think cinemas still have those?

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