Sunday, 19 February 2017

we're all james bond now

we could be heroes just for one day . . .

I was looking down over a ski slope in the Pyrenees last week as I was sitting on a chairlift thinking about how lucky I felt being able to slide down the sides of mountains. What I mean is that the World has changed so much in my sixty one years.

When Ian Fleming started writing the James Bond books in 1953, he gave an impression of being very worldly-wise and attempted to provide an exotic life for his hero. In truth much of what he created was rather naïve. The traits he gave Bond were mostly his own such as his favourite brand of toiletries and his love of scrambled eggs. There has been much written over the years about the vodka martini he drinks - including Daniel Craig's Bond ditching the drink in favour of a different one. Most people don't really care, I'm sure, but evidently the Fleming drink is not supposed to be particularly pleasant. Not being a cocktail drinker I really don't care. However, there is a point to my ramblings here.

Whilst skiing in the Pyrenees last week as opposed to our usual haunts of the Alps, we skied off-piste briefly which added a frisson of excitement to the proceedings. It struck me again that whilst taking great pleasure in the activity, back in the post-war years when Fleming was writing it would have seemed like life on another planet for many of his readers.

As many people have probably grown up with the films rather than actually reading the books, Bond has become synonymous with an exotic and exciting lifestyle. This lifestyle must have seemed extraordinarily fascinating back then in those harsh and austere days of rationing. Rationing was brought to an end on 4th July 1954, two years before I was born. Bond's easy familiarity with fine dining, cocktails and how to undress ladies without fumbling like Captain Hook must have fueled many fantasies of a smarmy, charmed life.

This life now very much seems to be with us. Many of us have been to exotic locations, eaten far more interesting foods than Bond ever seemed to and driven some very flashy cars too. The amount of things my car can do seems way beyond even the worst excesses of the awful Roger Moore years of the Bond franchise. Mind you, I still haven't found the ejector seat or machine guns but I'm fairly sure that Nissan have provided them.

We use communication devices and can track people via their phones and cars if we are suspicious enough of our partners. Mrs Dave can just look at her wrist to read her texts without even checking her phone due to her exercise doo-hickie. When I want to check a fact I can google it or use the Wikipedia app on my phone within seconds. It's quicker to check a recipe online than it is to look it up in a book too. The pleasure of looking things up is still there though. Having instant access isn't always the best thing in my very humble opinion.

Air travel is definitely something that has changed over the years. Loads of people seem to have been to the most far-flung parts of the World quite happily and experienced some very diverse cultures. In Fleming's time very few - only the very rich - really travelled abroad. Flying must have been very exciting. Probably not the long slog through airport security that we have to endure nowadays. Given how much we have to take off and put in a tray now I'm surprised they don't just tell us to walk naked through the security checks and have done with it.

Cameras. Let's not talk about cameras.

So, exotic holidays, food and drinks are available fairly cheaply nowadays. Our technology is so advanced (even if our battery technology hasn't kept up) that we can keep in touch and have instant access to many forms of knowledge. We drive cars a that many of us still can't work out all the things it can do. I have a pen that is a stylus for my phone, two different screwdrivers, a spirit level and a short ruler. A useful item for me, mainly to tighten the screw on my glasses and write quick notes with. You can use it to stir tea too. Mind you, the refill is so short you can't write many notes with it.

Still, with all this going on I feel that we are all James Bond now. Okay, without the murder and violence, but I'm sure some people manage that too.


Mike C. said...

Have you watched The Ipcress File (1965) lately? Now that really does show how far we've travelled. I saw it recently and it's both hilarious -- like a bad episode of the Avengers -- and enlightening at the same time. Tinned mushrooms? Nah, mate, I prefer *French* tinned mushrooms.

The thing is, though, think how different the lives of the super-rich are from ours today. Private jet, personal staff... I believe Johnny Depp gets through two million dollars a MONTH.


Dave Leeke said...


I must admit that it's been a year or two since I watched it but, yes, it does have a moment in Time feel about it. Interestingly, Len Deighton's novel about an alternative Britain starts on tv tonight, I quite liked his stuff. Also, of course, his cartoon strips about French cooking were well-known in the 60s too. That brings us back to the French mushrooms comment.

Still, Mr Depp and other super-rich types are way out there in excess for most of us. It looks like The Donald has cost US tax payers more in a month for his travelling habits than Mr Hawaii 5 O cost them for a whole year. But my point hopefully still stands that we can all feel a little bit like Bond nowadays as we have technology and travel possibilities available to us in an "unpresidented" way!


Mike C. said...

"Bomber" is a good one -- he really helps you understand the grim business of flying repeated raids over Germany in WW2.

But, yes, you're right, it's hard not to feel super-sophisticated eating a packet of sea-salt and basalmic vinegar crisps, with a wheatgrass and flaxseed chaser. Put everything on the red!


Dave Leeke said...

A wheatgrass and flaxseed chaser? Blimey, you're posh. Eh, Santa, pass us that bottle will you?

Zouk Delors said...

Hope you had a parachute ready to deploy when you skied off a cliff edge, Dave.

"The name's Bond -- James Bond."
"Just step through this metal detector for me, please, Mr Bond [beep!] ... er ... are you, by any chance, carrying a metallic object under your left armpit?"

Which also reminds me of this joke I recently heard about the German arriving at Warsaw airpot:

"Walter Schmidt"
"No, just a holiday"

Dave Leeke said...

The backpack I take when skiing seems heavy enough to be a parachute! Good point about the old Walter PPK, I guess spies have to pick up guns in the country they get to nowadays. I like the un-PC German joke. Cheers!

Zouk Delors said...

Still, good to know it's that much harder for terrorists like Bond to export death these days, eh?

Perhaps the more up-to-date version of the joke should be:

"Mohammad Ahmad"
"No, I'm a refugee from war and famine".