Bond Farewell Essay

Ever since I can remember I have dreamed about today. It should have been so special, the most important day of my life, the once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from the only person who had so much to offer me. We were supposed to be flying out on our first mission together. Now it seems that it’s all too late. My dreams lie in tatters on the floor with the dust that lines the corridor.

I joined MI5 two months ago and am on my first “assignment” after a gruelling training course. I hadn’t imagined this scenario. There won’t be any action, gizmos, or scantily clad beautiful ladies! I suppose I should be grateful that I have succeeded this far in my training but I believed that the first mission might be more spine tingling and action packed than this. I am going to visit James Bond in hospital; he has only been given a few more days to live. Some Russian spy has poisoned him and I will never rest until he is six feet under. M has suggested I try to learn as much as I can in the next twenty four hours, or as long as this unfortunate, brilliant man has left to live.

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What a situation to put me in. I never imagined my first meeting with my idol would be under such horrendous circumstances. When I think back to my teenage years I always saw myself rescuing the world with Bond: fantastic shootouts, hand-to-hand combat, returning to MI5 as successful brothers in arms.Instead, I am nervous about meeting my hero because now I have no idea as to what to expect.

I suspect he will be a shadow of his former self; indeed, I don’t even know if he is going to be conscious. I do know I have an unquenchable need to find out more about what he did; how he did it and why he did it. After all he is the reason I am what I am.

I want to emulate him in every possible way, except by dying this way of course!So I am standing in this green corridor. Why are hospital corridors always green I ask myself? It’s such an awful colour. There is that unmistakable smell which seems to ooze from every brick in the wall. In front of me is the white door, which is the only thing separating me from this incredible man. I realise that I am more nervous than I thought I was going to be. My palms are sweaty and I can feel my heart beating.

All the things I practised saying in bed last night seem so trivial and pointless now. The main thing is that I don’t want to look a complete idiot, and above all I don’t want him to die while I’m there – I’ve never seen a dead body. No doubt that will change in the next few weeks.As I open the door and enter the room he looks round at me and has that cheeky grin, while his right eyebrow lifts quizzically. Here he is at last, lying there invaded by a mass of tubes, glass bottles hanging from a metal stand and the slow drone of a machine which pumps life into him. It was never meant to be like this. He looks pale and grey, his hair needs combing and he has the beginnings of a grey beard.

“Mr Bond, good morning. My name is Ed Campbell, pleased to meet you”. Well that certainly wasn’t what I had planned to say. What do we do next? I can’t really shake hands can I?”Come in” he says “The name’s Bond – James Bond, pleased to meet you.” I am aware that I have a silly grin plastered on my face. I couldn’t have picked a better opening line myself. It would be great if I can earn the right to my own catchphrase which would become associated with me.

Fortunately he realises how awkward I feel and rescues the situation by staring at my bruised face and says nonchalantly “I see you’ve been on the training course then! Where shall we begin?” He starts to tell me a little bit about himself. How he was born in Germany but was raised in Scotland and England and prefers to think of himself as Scottish. When he was eleven his parents died in a climbing accident which he says he found very hard to come to terms with. His aunt and uncle who became his guardians sent him to school at Eton College which allowed him to become an individual and fight his own battles. He goes on to talk about Cambridge University where he achieved a first in Oriental Languages. “Not much good to a western spy.

The closest I’ve been to China in the past twenty years is a number fourteen from the Eastern Express in the High Street.”A pretty nurse opens the door, asks if he is still comfortable, and offers additional pain relief. He requests mouth to mouth resuscitation, her face turns red, and she scurries off assuming he doesn’t need anything else. We are left to continue on our own.James says he has really enjoyed his time in the Royal Navy and is very proud of having achieved the rank of Commander. He smiles to himself and recalls Q and his gizmos.

For example, in 1962 when he had to kill Dr No, he used the Geiger counter gadget supplied in order to find the radioactive rocks hidden in a boat. Bond tells me how he had been so eager to join MI5 that he had been forced to lie about his age.The agent winces as he adjusts his position in the bed. “Do you want to do this another time?” I ask.”No, no I don’t think we have another day left” he says in a rather faint voice. The amazing thing is that there is still the unmistakable twinkle in his eye. He has so much to give but no life to give it with.

Why do I have to see him like this? I need to take strength from his courage in the face of death and use that to gain the most from the little time we have available. Somehow this seems such an insensitive time for a conversation. Surely we all have a right to a dignified death without an inquisition.

Surprisingly, James asks me to make sure that his son Suzuki who is at school in Eton knows exactly what caused his father’s death and that MI5 don’t try to cover it up. “Why isn’t he here?” I ask, “There must be a lot you want to say.” The Commander explains that MI5 cannot afford to let the rest of the world know that James Bond is dead. He would prefer that his son retain a memory of his father which depicts how he was. So I agree to his request, this is the least I can do for someone who has served his country so faithfully for the last thirty years. The terrible shame is that the boy has no idea that his father is only twenty miles away eking out the last moments of his life.”Do you think you could manage to pour another dry martini into the drip?” he quips.

I reply, “Would that be shaken not stirred?” This lightens the atmosphere and we seem to start to feel more comfortable in each other’s company. He says that the food smells absolutely diabolical and he’s glad he can’t eat it, and would like to know why Fortnum and Mason can’t send in a little liquidised something for him. His upper class background has left him with a liking for the finer things in life, and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. His food and drinks have to be prepared specifically the way he likes them.

Coffee has to be black without sugar and it has to be from De Bry in New Oxford Street and brewed in an American Chemex.I try to steer the conversation towards past missions, after all the reason I am here is so that I can learn from him. I want to know if I can rely on M and Q or whether their reputations are ill-founded. He becomes as animated as a dying man can when talking about the cars. From the 1933 Bentley his uncle had taught him to drive when a mere twelve years old; the sophistication of the Aston Martin DB9 with the number plate: BMT216A, to the absurdity of the underwater car. He is keen to stress both M and Q should never be doubted, if anyone has a bad word to say concerning them then I should consider if that person is genuine too.

He stops to sip some of the Perrier sparkling water next to his bed, which I help him with. I ask him about his weapons and he says that the 25 Beretta was a woman’s gun so he told M to provide a Walther PPK which was more accurate and had a greater distance. This was later upgraded to the Walther P99 which he never really felt close to.

He gave up smoking in the 1980’s, but says this had been harder to do than killing Scaramanga. James’ face takes on a wistful look recalling that he used to look forward to a custom-made Mooreland, and if nothing else it gave Q an opportunity to hide something useful in a lighter. “If I didn’t smoke he had to think of something else that would not be suspicious; mind you Q loved the challenge “.

The Commander highlights his perpetual fear that too many people would know who he was. He warns me not to become complacent and be constantly aware that the press could discover who you are and write about your exploits, and that would be a certain death sentence. I find it amazing that he has remained a secret given the tenacity of the tabloids. It shows how clever and ruthless he really is, but I also wonder how much MI5 had to pay to cover up or silence some journalist who thought he had made the scoop of the century.”Surely you must have just a few regrets?” I comment lightly.He tells me to assume the worst of everyone, to trust no-one especially women.

He says that it is all too easy to let down your guard around the fairer sex. “They’re rather crafty you know one toss of that long hair and they think you’re putty in their hands.” Bond also points out that he has always been well-known to his enemies and how he has been manipulated, fooled and tricked on more than one occasion both by the British Government and the enemy. He says that MI5 has often expressed their concern that he is not taking the job as seriously as they would like.

M has sometimes tried to change his approach. The Commander says that he gives the impression that he is too laid back and relaxed, but stresses that this is the only way he can cope with fear in certain situations; the need to kill and to survive.James becomes more animated when the subject turns to his escapades and particularly some of the fights and the gadgets. He says that I should never try to rely on gadgetry because it can go wrong, but there were times too numerous to mention when it had saved his life. He is very proud of his watch which conceals a high tensile wire which he used to abseil down the outside of a five storey building while the KGB was shooting at him from the rooftop. The drawback was that they could only be used once.

He emphasises the need to maintain a high level of fitness and suggests I go on a judo training course because it improves balance and teaches you to be more alert. He advises that I have a pain bypass, however MI5 are experts in teaching soldiers how to cope in torture situations.The doctor appears and says that Mr Bond is beginning to tire, and that I can only spend another ten minutes with him now but it is possible that I can return later. I feel suddenly rushed and stressed.

I need another day at least, and I want to get so much closer to him. Here lay the man who has tackled the most powerful villains and managed to escape virtually unharmed, and who now only has memories to sustain him in his final hours. There is no talking his way out of this situation, no shooting it with the trusty Walther.

He is not going to survive the last mission.”So how did they poison you?” I ask limply,”I can’t be sure, but I think it was a plate of dodgy oysters,” he replies painfully.The poison is unknown; so there is no antidote. That was the point of this last mission to identify a deadly biological weapon. The drug has almost achieved its aim.

I suppose I should be grateful that it takes so long to work, without that time I would not have had the opportunity to ask these questions. It seems so cold somehow to quiz someone on their deathbed.The Commander asks me almost breathlessly to thank Miss Moneypenny. He suggests I pass on a kiss from him and thinks it would be fun to carry on the tradition of throwing my hat on the stand from the door.His breath begins to rasp even more, and he can’t speak as many words with each one.

The fingers that were once so sure are now fiddling agitatedly with the bedspread.James looks me straight in the eye and says to always suspect everyone when at work. Try not to become too attached to anyone, and then you don’t have to lie to them or become responsible for them. He says talk can be the strongest survival technique. He managed to talk himself out of being lasered in half by Goldfinger. Then the talk stopped. Bond was looking at me although he was no longer seeing me.

Suddenly I am aware of that terrible noise, the high pitched whine from the machine by his bedside. His eyes stare at the ceiling. His body is limp.”Oh God he has gone,” I say out loud. I don’t quite believe it and feel sure that someone can save him. Slowly I turn and leave the room. I am not as afraid as I thought I would be at seeing my first dead body.

The doctors and nurses are running down the corridor pushing the crash trolley “It’s Mr Granger” shouts the ward sister. It seems such a shame that he has to be anonymous in death.Stunned I leave the hospital and summon a passing taxi. “Eton College” I say firmly as the driver opens the window.


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