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
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
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
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.