I am a massive Bond fan. Ever since I can remember, Bond has been something I could all day, every day; and as a child I usually did! Even in adulthood I relish a new Bond film and despite many a grumble from critics and press, there has never been a bad one! Agreed, some are better than others, but each is a classic in itself and, more importantly, of its time.
I think it is often forgotten these days, but Bond was a book first and then the films took over. When Ian Fleming created the character of James Bond for his first novel, Casino Royale, in 1953 he essentially created an idealised version of himself: the man every women wanted to be with and every man wanted to be. His own background from the war was full of espionage and chivalry and these ideals are what the Bond character still has in spades.
Cinema going audiences first met Bond in Dr. No in 1962, gambling at Le Circle at Les Ambassadeurs impeccably dressed in a bespoke midnight navy dinner jacket with a shawl collar and turn-back cuffs in black barathea. It was the definitive introductory moment where a gorgeous Sean Connery first uttered what would become the character’s signature statement: “Bond. James Bond.” I doubt there are many boys, and men for that matter, who haven’t uttered those words out loud in an effort to be a bit Bond.
Since then, audiences worldwide have been enthralled with this idea of a man whose job is to travel throughout the globe to solve problems, fight bad guys and save the day, occasionally finding time for a vodka martini and a beautiful woman in a stunning hotel suite. He does it all for King and country with the quintessence of refined manly elegance in bespoke trend setting suits together with the best tech and cars that Q Branch can dream up. What boy upon first seeing or reading Bond wouldn’t want to be this man of men?
My first Bond movie experience was during the Roger Moore era. I would be there on Christmas with as much anticipation of the Bond film listed in the Radio Times as I would be for the gifts under the tree. I would have a video cassette at the ready so I could re-watch it until I knew the script off pat. Over time my collection of VHS tapes grew and I finally understood what everyone was talking about when they said the Sean Connery movies were better, that’s not to say I agreed, but they are so different in style and feel. The fun of Moore felt very different to the gritty Dr. No and From Russia with Love. But once I had seen Goldfinger and Thunderball my admiration for the Connery films grew. You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever were never my favourites but both have things within them I love.
One of the things that has always appealed to me about the Bond image is that it is one of razor-sharp efficiency. It’s getting the job done and, of course, looking good doing it. It’s about attention to detail and the importance of aesthetics without distracting or drawing unwanted attention. It’s about a quiet, stealthy elegance. Impeccable but never fussy and, perhaps most importantly (to Quote Moore at the climax of The Spy Who Loved Me)……. ‘Keeping the British End Up!’
Whilst he is a god among men, no person would be able to have any kind of ‘normal’ existence as him. There are parts of the Bond mystique that I’ve always appreciated. He is a bit of a loner, as am I, though not on his rigorously anti-social level. His work style validates my own preference for working alone as opposed to being immersed in a group. We both take great pride in our work and in doing it our way, thriving on efficiency with a distaste for time wasted. And while Bond and I prefer to work alone, we both need a network of others to support us in our quests. We both also answer to higher authorities. He answers to M, and I answer to James Woods, our Schools Plus founder. Unfortunately I have to make do with a phone and a laptop but I shall be suggesting to Mr. Woods that we look at a possible Q branch of Schools Plus. At the moment we have to make do with our trusty computer whizz, Mike Goodman who designed, built and maintains the software that keeps our business running (no offence Mike).
Bond would never go to a business meeting, to a nice dinner or to an evening at the theatre in anything other than a well-tailored suit and tie, and neither would I. Though my wife might have many a cross word to say should I spend out for Tom Ford, Omega and Crockett & Jones, I make it happen in my own way, if all men tried to follow the dress sense of Bond we’d look a very tidy nation for sure.
Bond is a fantasy. The escape into a world of international intrigue for two hours is wildly enjoyable, which is the point of the films. I’m well aware that I’m not I’m not an assassin, I’m not in danger and I’m not saving lives (that I’m aware of). I also understand that in order to look like Daniel Craig in a suit, it helps to look like Daniel Craig out of a suit, which I most certainly don’t. But the design of the character and his world provide a fabulous template for a man interested in living well and presenting oneself with a certain sophistication.
Even though he isn’t real, Ian Fleming was real, and so were founding producers Harry Saltzman, Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and now Cubby’s daughter Barbara and the directors, designers, actors, stunt-men and other creatives who have all contributed to this icon. The Bond aesthetic is one that inspires me to raise the bar and pursue a higher standard in my own life and with my little blog here. Maybe people appreciate it or maybe they laugh at it. I don’t really care, because at the end of the day it gives me great pleasure (and James Woods makes me do it……. lol).