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Writings of Albert Morris
Article 9 - Another chapter in the life of 007

TO MARK the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, Penguin is to reissue the entire set of 14 stories. For aficionados of the hard-hitting, quick-moving, straight-shooting, Martini-fancying, British-to-the-backbone-and-jawline, secret agent - and typical product of the best of the Scottish public school system - these books will come in timeís nick, by the skin of Goldfingerís or Rosa Klebbís teeth, and not a moment too soon.

James Bond is, as one would expect of our arcane but highly-active defenders of Britainís national security, still on the qui vive to thwart villains who might plan to steal the drainage secrets of Glasgow or blackmail some MSP, prominent in the dizzying champagne, all-expenses-paid, free-trips-abroad world of power, money and opulence that is the Scottish parliament.

Here, at 84, with two hip replacements, an espionage, all-weather deaf-aid fitted and two double hernia operations behind him, is another chapter in the life of 007, licensed to kill, preferably before taking his anti-conjunctivitis eye-drops.

Bond pressed the accelerator of his Scottish-built, Mark IV Astley Ainslie turbo-electric Zimmer, an ingenious contrivance resembling a metallic mix of East German Trabant automobile and tricycle, for maximum speed.

Using creative driving, he mounted pavements, scattering age-old pensioners in their tottering, terrible-tempered tracks, making muggers leap muttering for safety and putting the fear of an afterlife filled with community service into the minds of panic-stricken bank robbers, and lurched onto the road again at a roaring, rivet-starting 27 mph causing traffic wardens to leap like salmon in the spawning season and cyclists pedalling in the wrong direction in one-way streets to consider the true paths of road-using wisdom.

Bond looked into his specially-magnified rear-view mirror and glimpsed a sinister, digestive-biscuit-coloured invalid car purposefully following.

Were they onto him? And if they were ...? Bondís worry and indigestion lines deepened.

At headquarters, where he had tried and yet again failed to toss his crash helmet in an arc onto the antlered hat stand, M - just back from his second cataract and first prostate caper but still retaining many of his mental marbles at 92 - blew his nose with cool professionalism and wheezed a warning. "Never let your guard drop and always remember to keep your bullet-proof, thermal chest protector on even in high summer"

Miss Moneypenny, still strikingly handsome as she expertly inserted an ephedrine inhaler into her nostrils, also warned Bond that his danger days were not over and that he should always have a germicidal chest rub handy to counter inclement secret service nights.

As her cold-reddened eyes gazed with sensual, chest-rubbing appreciation at him, Bond felt his scalp, comfy under his regulation espionage toupee, start up the old tingle and he reckoned his chances of taking her, now 74, out for a warm Ovaltine and tonic wine were moving inexorability to the far frontiers of possibility.

Bond sped on, at the same time checking the Zimmer - the latest creation of the Special Services Department - that was equipped with the latest counter-espionage devices that the best brains of Britain could devise. These included spare wig compartment, international pension book, inflatable anti-haemorrhoidal ring for the driverís seat - "Bond, kindly stop larking about with it" - collapsible alloy-crutches-cum .22 rifle, spare heart-pacer batteries and a monthsí supply of surgical stockings.

The pursuing vehicle seemed attached to Bondís Zimmer as if by an invisible umbilical cord. Bond coughed desperately - a sound that once made fearful men pale and reach for their anti-bacteria nose tissues - and pressed the accelerator harder. He felt his right leg give at the knee - a characteristic of the limb following a drop in barometric pressure.

With a bit of subtle accelerator play, however, he coaxed the gutsy little machine into a tyre-scorching 31.5 m.p.h. It was useless. As inexorable as the onset of a common household cold, the invalid car, began to draw up alongside.

As a last desperate resort, Bond tensely swallowed six MI5-strength, instant energy pills and waited for the showdown. Was this, despite his field-service inhaler, Bondís last gasp? Pulling over to the side of the road, he saw the driverís window lower and, to his horror, found himself gazing into a menacingly-rolled, sawn-off copy of Arthritis News held in a very shaky hand.

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