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I think all boys who grew up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s have a bromance with James Bond. I don’t mean the actors who portrayed him for the past fifty-five years. I mean the fictional super spy himself. He’s a boy’s idea of where they see themselves at 25 – confident, in charge and playing with the best toys in the universe.
I’m of the mind we carry some of those identifying Bond inclinations well into our lives. Who amongst us hasn’t slipped into a satin tux in the fitting room at Men’s Warehouse and not caught a glimpse of 007 staring back from the full-length mirror? Why do half of all sports car drivers look like they’re on Medicare? We all want to look young, feel young and defeat SPECTRE… before moving on to the Early Bird Special.
Even our President has been acting out his inner Bond for decades. At 71, he’s still trying to look the part – the suit, the hair, the plane, the women. Like Bond, he believes he’s infallible and the rest of us are only guests in his world. The big difference between them is no one would ever accuse Agent Trump of being secret or keeping a secret. Also, I don’t believe 007 ever had a grudge against Rosie O’Donnell.
My own association with the Commander began at the age of 12. I had gotten my hands on some Bond paperbacks – "Dr. No" and "The Spy Who Loved Me." I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to make this detour from my favorite series, "Freddy The Pig", so I kept the books safely hidden. In fact, they featured some racy scenes (at least for a 12 year-old), so I would study these under the covers at night using my old Cub Scout flashlight.
Thus the Bond books, movies and secret agent himself became part of my pubescent worldview - a fictional archetype but an influence nonetheless. And there it remained dormant for many years, until one day…
I was in a chopper low over the sea, descending towards the grounds of Goldeneye. Yes, the Goldeneye, nestled in a glamorous cove on the Jamaican coast. The only thing missing was the familiar 007 brass section blasting in the background: Da da… da dahhh!…
This is the estate where Ian Fleming lived and fathered James Bond. It all started here. The chopper settled neatly, next to the beach. Jumping from the craft, I quickly assessed the situation for any hostile operatives. But all I saw were a couple of tourists on beach chairs. They smiled and waved.
Still, my own inner Bond had been stirred (not shaken) within me. I took in Fleming’s home with its expansive view of the sea. This was a perfect spy villa – elegant, discrete and easily accessible by mini-submarine.
However, Ian Fleming is long gone and his capacious estate, the birthplace of Bond, is now a resort. Its beaches, waterways and lush grounds accommodate a collection of tasteful vacation cottages. Nothing esoteric or mysterious but still quite lovely.
I came here to produce some video with a small crew and soon found myself unpacking my bag in the 007 Suite. This was Fleming’s actual home… his actual bedroom. While I’m sure much had changed in décor and accoutrements since his day, one thing remained. It stood there in the corner of the bedroom as it had for some seventy years. I tentatively approached its simple form.
Here it was - the small wooden desk where ex-spy, Commander Ian Fleming wrote all 14 Bond novels. At this solitary station, he created a universe of intrigue and excitement for millions… perhaps billions. Such was the power of his pen (and his Royal portable typewriter).
Naturally, I had to sit at this throne of adventure to see how it felt. Perhaps I would be inspired to write the 15th Bond novel. I settled in, my arms resting on the smooth desktop and anticipated plotlines of action, romance and maybe some great villains. I quietly meditated on all that had come before me on this sacred spot….
And then… Nothing.
Well… apparently, the magic wasn’t in the desk.
Guava by Johnny Depp
We began our shoot by covering the lush grounds. Of course they didn’t just have lots of beautiful trees and plants. This being Goldeneye, the gardens were dotted with what I called celebrity foliage.
Little signs let us know - here was a Tamarind tree planted by Princess Margaret. Now we come upon a Guava Tree set into the ground by none other than Johnny Depp. Here is a Cotton Tree courtesy of Sir Richard Branson himself. And so on….
We dutifully recorded these celebrity plantings when I realized I was itching all over. My arms and hands and legs were swelling up – a battlefield of eruptions. There were mosquitoes everywhere, all over us… or was it just me?
No one else seemed to be bothered by the little dive bombers… maybe because my crew was Jamaican. They had probably developed immunity to these nasty squadrons of mosquitoes. I’ve heard the little pests are attracted only to some people. They probably don’t attack secret agents. I don’t recall ever seeing Bond on the big screen furiously scratching a bite through his polo shirt. No, they just go after fair-skinned tourist types like me.
Clearly they were trying to tell me something. Ok, we had enough of the lush grounds, so I led a charge to the other side of the property to find relief at the beach.
We set up on the beach, just down the hill from Fleming’s villa. It was rumored this was the spot in the first Bond film, “Dr. No”, where Ursula Andress, the very first Bond Girl, emerged from the sea in a bikini, a 10 inch knife strapped around her waist.
That movie scene was forever imprinted on my ripening 10 year-old brain – the erotic collage of the sparkling sea, a beautiful woman, a white bikini and a lethal weapon. Adulthood had looked so promising at the time.
I fixated on that same spot and found myself wading into the ocean. There was Bond magic here. Almost immediately, I felt it up and down my legs - the sting of the salt water against my fresh mosquito bites. The effect was electric… but in a bad way. I wanted to cry out but I sucked it up. That’s what James would have done, if he had mosquito bites on legs… in the ocean.
I took in the beautiful cove, the stately villa beyond. The place echoed a world I could only imagine. I couldn’t stand it anymore – I had to scratch my legs. I reached down to give myself a deep, mauling scrub, the more disfiguring the better – anything to stop the itching. That’s when I discovered I had left my Blackberry in my cargo shorts, in the lower cargo pocket. The part that was soaking up the sea.
I quickly yanked it out and looked at the familiar screen. But now not so familiar – it was blank, dead. I shook it and smacked its back, like one would a half-drowned sailor. No response.
This wasn’t like dropping your phone in the toilet and shaking it back to life. Neptune himself had pierced my phone with his trident sealing its briny fate. Infuriated, I shouted and stumbled onto the beach. Images of Ursula Andress were quickly replaced by those of Dr. Julius No… I had been foiled.
Dripping and shaking the phone, I staggered into the villa and on to the bedroom. Slumping at The Desk, I studied the inert Blackberry. What would Bond do? Forget Bond. What would Q do?
Yes, this was the very desk where Q had also been conceived. Q, the brilliant inventor of all Bond’s devilish gadgets. What would the father of all tech wizards do in a crisis like this? I needed inspiration.
I stared at the Blackberry and channeled Q, father of the ejector seat, the underwater jet pack and the grenade ballpoint pen. I took a few deep breaths. Perhaps there was a digital way of injecting electricity into the phone to jump-start it, the way one would resuscitate a failed heart. Or maybe I could generate some sort of plasma field around the instrument, energizing the infused salt in the microprocessor to re-create an active circuit.
What? I didn’t even know what any of that meant. Where was I getting these ideas?
Then it hit me like a great blue spark: I’ll just open the damn case. Stick the thing in the sunlight… and let it dry out. So that’s what I did. I took out every component I could pry loose and laid out the guts of the thing along Ian Fleming’s windowsill.
And hoped the soft Jamaica breeze and the forces of good would triumph as they always had in this tropical retreat of cold war morality.
My Mission Report
Then I changed my wet shorts, put my faith in the sun and trotted back down to the beach.
If I had to deliver a report to Q, I would have let him know that I continued with my mission. And, that his inspiration had served me well. That evening I came back to my (Ian Fleming’s!) room just as the sun was setting over the Caribbean. I gathered up the various components of the Blackberry off the windowsill and snapped them back into the little case.
Without so much as a flicker, the little phone instantly awoke. I’d like to say it was because of good old American ingenuity but I think it was made in Canada… or China. With help from England and Jamaica. It was an international effort.
It was nearing dinnertime so I slipped on my white dinner jacket and put the phone in my breast pocket, near my heart. Well… actually I just put on a sports shirt and jeans, but inside, I was wearing a white dinner jacket.
I had my specially issued device with me. It was up and running. As was I - ready for my next mission.
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