Baby, You're the Best – James Bond is Forever
by Kelly Snape @lostinindiepop
Bonds always have and always will be Sunday afternoons. My first, glimpsed through a fug of cigarette smoke from amassed relatives in my Nana's front room, was almost certainly Moonraker. Richard Kiel's Jaws, rather than Moore's Bond leaving a lasting impression on me as a kid, as he did for many of my generation. But if you come to love Bond, like I love Bond, those Sunday afternoons – like, I imagine Saturday afternoons at the football, if you're so inclined – have a way of permeating into the other days, weeks, months, years and decades of your existence.
My (now ex-) husband, a talented engineer, had an odd job ('scuse the pun) that combined practical scientific knowledge with jumping out of helicopters for a living. He'd nearly, very nearly, worked somewhere else. But we don't like to talk about that. We lived, for a while, in the picturesque riverside village where Richard Chopping (who drew the original covers to the Fleming novels) had lived. As spouses we had little in common but what we did share was a love of all things Bond.
At some point we progressed from just being armchair Bond fans and for a while, all the day trips and weekends away I planned seemed to have some sort of Bond connection. The Ian Fleming Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum (I had to be forcibly removed from DC's bloodstained shirt).....Bonds on the big screen in the Barbican on our anniversary weekend (Connery on the big screen makes so much more sense)....the Sunday lunch hotel pianist, who when I requested a Bond theme played us a medley of every single one and some rejected Bond themes to boot....three days in an obscure part of Austria just so we could visit the opera set from the Quantum of Solace on the way home...a trip to BAFTA to watch Guy Hamilton talk about Goldfinger....Vesper Martinis in a fancy hotel bar in Brighton...three nights in Monaco for my 30th including a trip to the Casino de Monte Carlo, where I asked him to order me a Vodka Martini (it tasted like meths...not that I've tasted meths but you get the idea). My then husband's Dad was unemployed, his Mum was a cleaner, my Dad left school at 16 with no qualifications. There were times in our new life where we had to pinch each other.
And yet...all was not well. Or at least I wasn't. In 2006, I was diagnosed with depression. It was a feeling of heaviness within my soul that never really went away. But I distinctly remember the first time that feeling left me, just for a few hours. It was somewhere between the word “considerably” in the pre-title sequence and the last shot of the opening titles of Casino Royale. It was like someone had given me a shot of adrenaline: my brain had crisp, clear thoughts again and I remembered there was Bond before I was born, Bond in the now and Bond in the life yet to come. Thank god there was Bond in the life yet to come. And no, it wasn't just the homage to Ursula Andress. Let's address this right now. Daniel Craig's biceps are eleven kinds of awesome, but I couldn't understand why everyone was raving about his exit from the sea and not how masterfully he was wrestling around on the floor with Solange...An adrenaline shot indeed. It was normally a short 15 minute walk back from the cinema to home. That night we got a taxi.
Adrenaline shots (unlike diamonds) don't last forever and a few years later cosy Sunday afternoons curled up in front of Bond were replaced with stony silences and marriage guidance counselling. Unlike, say, The Simpsons, which I couldn't watch for years, Bond didn't feel like he belonged to “us”, he was most definitely mine. He was mine as I bought in New Year's Eve alone watching Casino Royale on a laptop in what had been our and was now my bedroom, until a few weeks later when I was forced to start a new uncertain life, alone and soon-to-be unemployed in a grotty flat. He was mine as my friend Lynne kept me from despair, showing me Roger's worst hits on what otherwise would have been lonely, rainy Sundays. And thankfully he was still mine as, years later, over a hundred miles away, I sat watching Skyfall in Sheffield's Odeon. I'd say I was watching it alone but you never feel alone amongst other fans. A packed house at 5pm in the evening. A Mum with her eight year old to my right, an eightysomething four rows behind me, all waiting for our hero to return.
When we got married, I'd wanted Nobody Does it Better as our first dance but this was swiftly vetoed by my fiance. Knowing what I know I now, nearly four years after our divorce, I suspect he feared living up to the title. I couldn't possibly comment. Despite some rocky years, I'm still a romantic at heart, which is why my favourite piece of Bond music isn't a theme song but instead is City of Lovers, David Arnold's refashioning of his earlier Vesper theme from Casino Royale. It accompanies, what is to my mind, five of the most romantic minutes of cinema ever, running from the scene where Bond throws Vesper onto his hospital bed, then through the section as they sail into Venice and ends as they leave their hotel room, Vesper putting her arm across Bond's chest, the absolutely picture of romantic, filthy, gorgeous love. Until a few minutes later, when she disappears off with the treasury's money and meets a grim, watery end, the way that Bond girls so often do. David Arnold, the heir to John Barry, just gets it, so, so right. Every soaring delicious romantic string. Heavenly. I've played this three minutes of soundtrack on my mp3 player whilst travelling on buses, trains and even walking around my local Asda. It never fails to lift the mundanity of life into a glorious adventure.
A penchant for fancy hotels, a fascination with a certain type of ego, a place where brutality meets seduction; three decades of Sunday afternoons in the presence of arguably the most famous fictional character on the planet can't help but weave a thread through your life. Bond got me through the bleakest of times and he's still here in the glorious now, as I knew he would be, and will be in the life yet to come. Some people have football, or Doctor Who or an allotment. I have an alcoholic, womanising hitman with a penchant for sadism and serious commitment issues. And, in his current guise, utterly delicious biceps. Nobody does it better, makes me feel sad for the rest. I love you, 007. Baby, you're the best.
and as a bonus, here's Monty Norman talking us through writing the Bond Theme