CommanderBond.net
  1. The 007th Chapter: Nobody Lives For Ever – The Hook

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    A literary amusement by Jacques Stewart

     

    They say one should never meet one’s heroes.

     
    Curious. Meeting one’s villains must surely be avoided, unless you’re a fictional vigilante billionaire with repetitious escapades to feed to the jaded. A psychotic orphan assaulting a greasy clown isn’t entertainment. Usually. Equally, a STD-riddled orphan tackling a “Fos-Ter Bro-Ther” bodes ill. Those neither heroic nor villainous aren’t sufficiently interesting to bother with so, dragged to one logical conclusion, the proposition means one never meets anyone. Dragged to an illogical conclusion, it means no more ickle babbies. Dragged to a preposterous conclusion, it means that to engineer our extinction one needs not hijack spacecraft, cultivate toxic blooms and curate a galactic brothel; just invent the internet and wait for nature to take its course as humanity isolates itself. Still, the prospect of reading piffle like this could justify cracking out the orchid gas to accelerate the process. The more one coughs along life’s long belch, the more one wishes Moonraker comes to pass.

     

    The idea is we risk being disappointed by those onto whom we transpose our delusions of a better self, whether they know / care we are so doing or would welcome it rather than injunct. Heroism – worship of any sort – must justify the pedestal. When one does unscab one’s hero’s flaws, whose fault’s that? Theirs. They’re to blame for being shorter / smellier / heterosexualier than one was manipulated into believing, and as insignificant, frail and as much of a git as anyone. When that Mr Craig said he would rather slit his wrists than do 007 actoring again (nurses claim they have it hard), even those who habitually forgive his patented truculence on the off-chance he would ever thank them for it, struggled to “defend” the grumpy line-reciter for this one. They needn’t have bothered. The wisest approach would have been to invite him to get on with it to see if that entertained us more than his latest film, as his life is ours and all he is for is to deliver us from ourselves. That he did not do so was presumably in fear that his bid for oblivion would have engaged more than “SPECTRE” (not unduly challenging) and thereby realisation, at the drip of the last drop, that all his ostensible achievements had wasted time, ours most importantly. We do hate to be wrong, and their being not what we imagined them to be is patently their responsibility. We’re better off not idolising anything at all, so we can’t be disappointed when bad things happen despite all devotion paid. How can God let bad things happen? If you don’t believe in God, you can’t anger about that: peace on Earth and goodwill to all men ensues. Maybe we don’t want that. Having deluded expectations of others dissatisfied gives us purpose because once we’d solved poverty, famine, global warming, racism, child labour and cured both cancer and the cruel torment that causes millionaires to self harm because they have to learn some dialogue and jump about a bit once every three years, we needed something to bitch over lest we became overwhelmed with our brilliance.

     

    Idolising fictional characters is yet more preposterous: what life guidance can one draw from the likes of (random pick) James Bond? He’s not real, y’know; at best, a blithely rapey imaginary chum whose all-over-the-place attitudes are guided by A Word From Our Sponsors, a corporatised committee-designed avatar commoditising gullible, rationed wish-fulfilment, corrupting us into coveting souldevouring consumer items because if we do, we too will face down supervillains, pull always-initially-stroppy dolly birds and generally “win”, and this is a better use of our time than dragging drowned refugee children from the sea or ensuring an elderly neighbour has company and food on their plate. Ah, they say (“they” say a lot, and it’s habitually bollocks), but liking and – insofar as one’s budget and moral desolation stretch – emulating Bond is escapism from such real horrors and, further (they’re on a roll now), escaping from those things recognises they exist, not deny. Yeah, but… is running away something 007 would do? His inspiration has meant nothing. If there’s any metaphor to this tosh, surely it’s that one faces moments of crisis, not scarper and self-indulge in corrupted spinelessness. Consumption is cowardice. This might have been lost amongst all those cars and watches. Wear that Omega and people will think you’re like James Bond. True: James Bond’s a colossal tit, too.

     

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2017-07-12
  2. The 007th Chapter: Role of Honour – Rolling Home

    Role of Honour 007th Chapter

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A literary musing in several paragraphs, cunningly delivered by Jaques Stewart.

     

     

    Through sad eyes clouded by disbelief, one often sees superfluous continuation 007 novels reviewed – with a pun I’ve just realised is a pun (bit thick, me) – as “gilt-edged” Bond.

     

    This is a guilt-edged 007th Chapter.

     

    You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.

     

    There are worse enterprises than these bolt-on Bonds. To some they bring joy, and a measure of pleasure to detractors; otherwise why read them? Masochism has more nourishingly gigglesome sources than “reading”. Is it for a “fan” to pick at (…potentially) well-meant endeavours, and sow undermining thoughts? Rest of humanity has established it needs no opinion of these books as it scrabbles for food, water and huge televisions. Is mine so necessary a pose? Pose is all it is; lazy sneering testing no orthodoxy, inflicting doubt in my intended victim – that’s you, hi – via the sly pretence of strained preening about a book. An onslaught with nothing to slay, and less to say. What purpose iconoclasm that dismantles no icon? Beyond a shrinking circle, these books pester few. Or is that the justification? “I wouldn’t, if you were better”. That’s bullying. One stares at the screen, wondering what one would “write” about a real concern. The screen stares back with “fnarr” and “Hotels; again” and points its accusing cursor, we two mutually aware that tackling something challenging would, as it cannot fail to do, expose paucity of intelligence and lay bare great fear. Instead I inflict frustration onto a subject inconceivably a deserving recipient of whatever it is I think I’m doing. I jump willingly into my oubliette of writing silly things via a perfidious avatar. At least I’m not posturing on Twitter; a sole redemption, with an added bonus that I cannot crave further attention by announcing that I am leaving it.

     

    The converse must, though, bear truth: celebrating these books is equally pointless, and hasn’t worked. Persons favouring them can (and do) suggest there’s responsibility as a “Bond fan” to laud provision of “more Bond”, but this exposes their irresponsibility in avoiding the issue whether these are sufficiently “Bond” to merit the word “more”. It’s not as if without these volumes “James Bond” will disappear from a public consciousness to which it is decades-nailed as lazy shorthand for gullible consumerism. Arguably, “Bond” is so much a cultural touchstone that it has outgrown the books and films. One view has it that continuing 007’s exploits in either medium is unnecessary as it has gone beyond both sources into some metacultural state and is dependent for survival not on the print or screen iterations, but on its continued adoption as a convenient style barometer for suits, cars, exotic holidays, music, advertising, contemporary sexual mores (hopefully), sunglasses, handguns (regrettably) and wristwatches (even more regrettably). Another, that such media may as well continue to be flung at us and do any old thing because if Bond is now independent of its dual genesis and viral within so much else, what damage can the occasional duff book or film really cause it? No-one’s going to care that Role of Honour isn’t super or SPECTRE is $300 million of Bond film and that’s all it is, when there are baubles to buy and subliminal personal delusions to feed. Perhaps that’s why new Bond often gets a “pass” despite its quality: we would shake our own purchase-cultivated self-worth if we were to think it crap. Some say it’s always best to be positive; presumably they’ve never had a blood test.

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2017-05-07
  3. …gilded tombs do worms enfold.

    The place Ian Fleming came to was peculiar. It had an Adam facade, yet it also was much larger than Boodles. It lay in the mid of woods stretching to the horizon, yet there also was a vast park with a golf course, and a beach reminding him of his own on Jamaica. And at times the place was situated at the side of a mountain range, peaks showing white against the blue skies. This recalled memories of one of his favourite books, though Fleming couldn’t tell exactly which one, or even whether he had written it himself or not. It occurred to him the question simply wasn’t important, and so he didn’t ponder it.

     

    When he arrived Fleming felt very anxious at first. But soon he calmed down. Everything was very civilised here, there were proper meals – though Fleming wasn’t all that fussy about food – there were other people, some of which were friends and loved ones, others just amiable chaps he had interesting conversations with. Fleming played golf often, alone and in company. He took long walks through the endless woods or along the paths between the mountains. He swam often and read a lot. Drinks were a pleasure again, without each glass calling for another. Fleming’s sleep was deep and quiet; his dreams never left a troubling aftertaste when he woke the next morning. In fact he didn’t remember having any dreams at all. Ian Fleming was at peace with himself and enjoyed being here.

     

    At times part of him did wonder what kind of place this was. But every time the question formed itself in his mind it just as soon lost all relevance. What did it matter? The days and nights went by, turned into a pleasant sequence of golden blurs, and Fleming admitted to himself he was much more at ease than he could remember having been for a long time.

     

    One day the usher appeared with a man at his table.

    ‚Ian Fleming?‘ the man asked.

    He seemed vaguely familiar and so Fleming rose.

    ‚I am. And you would be…? Please help me out, I have a feeling I should know you,‘ he said as they exchanged a firm handshake and his visitor accepted a seat at his table.

    ‚I am James Bond. I am your James Bond, the secret agent you invented. In a way you are my father.‘

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2017-03-21
  4. The 007th Chapter: Icebreaker – Rivke

    A literary meditation by Jacques Stewart – this time cunningly presented as a rerun. It’s summer time after all…

     

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    A famous episode of Hancock’s Half Hour is “The East Cheam Drama Festival”. Hancock, Hattie Jacques, Bill Kerr and Daniel Craig Sid James grapple “Look Back in Hunger” and “The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven and the songs that made him famous” and, titweepingly magnificently, “Jack’s Return Home.” In a coruscating exposure of the zeitgeist, poverty-stricken Joshua (Hancock) and wife Martha (Hattie) are menaced by landlord Jasper Stonyheart (Sid). It’s complex. Their son Jack is presumed dead – impaled by “the Zulus” – but Martha claims she insured his life, so all is well. Inopportunely, Jack (Bill) returns home, penniless. So Martha shoots him. ©BBC Worldwide, amongst others (prob’ly).

     

    Hancock: Aha, me old darlin’, you’ve shot Jack.

    Hattie: Yes, and I took out a policy on you as well, so watch it.

    Hancock: Wait a minute, I have a surprise for you. For thirteen years, you have thought I am Joshua, your husband.

    Hattie: Well, aren’t you?

    Hancock: No; stand back while I take my wig off. There…

    Hattie: Good heavens! Frederick!

    Hancock: Yes, Frederick. What do you say to that, Jasper Stonyheart?

    Sid: I’m not Jasper, I’ve been wearing this wig and pretending to be Jasper. This is who I really am. There!

    Hancock: Good heavens! Jonathan!

    Sid: Yes, Jonathan. I didn’t trust either of you, especially you, Martha.

    Hattie: And you were right not to, Jonathan, for you see, I am not Martha!

    Hancock: Not Martha?

    Hattie: No! There, now do you recognise me?

    Hancock: Gad! It’s Gladys.

    Hattie: Yes, Gladys, the girl you wronged.

    Hancock: Then who pray is the poor wretch we’ve killed?

    Bill: Fear not! You didn’t kill me! I was saved by my silver cigarette case. There! Do you not recognise me without the wig?

    Sid: Yes, I should have guessed – Ronald!

     

    Welcome to Icebreaker.

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2016-07-12
  5. The 007th Chapter: Licence Renewed – King of the Castle

    A literary meditation by Jacques Stewart (yep, this one should have come before For Special Services, you get a cigar…)

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    In my youth (that’s not a location update) I set a “quiz” for my College. Brain-mashers like “Abbreviations excluded, name the only U.S state written using one line of typewriter keys” (Alaska; no-one knew (no-one cared)) and “Name the only country written using one line of typewriter keys”. Peru, but some “body” said Eire (fair point), another that “it’s Republic of Peru, actually, I know thart, actually, because I gap-yeared tharh, actually, licking yurts, communing with my spirituality, yah, and photocopying for my uncle at KPMG Lima.” There was such a fight. I encouraged it. Ectually.

    I also had a round on “James Bond”. This was 1993 (hence “typewriter”), with 007 as relevant and welcome as anything else dead for four years that sane folks hoped would never return, like Eastern European communism, that Dr Who children’s programme or the Ayatollah Khomeini (give him time). Select questions went:

     

    1. Which two Bond films to date do not feature a helicopter? (Child-like optimism to say “to date”, but child-like I was (rather than current lifestyle choice of childish), and brilliant. Precocious, smackable little weasel)

    2. Why is A View to a Kill unique amongst the Bond films? (Keep it clean. In early 2015, this answer still holds)

    3. Which author has written the most James Bond novels?

     

    There were others, such as Q’s I.Q. to the nearest five points (it’s five; trick question), something something watches something (it really doesn’t matter) and Anne Fleming’s inside leg measurement (loads of people knew it; some reputation, that) but I’ve forgotten the rest.

     

    Question 1? Yes, you, with the mittens…

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2016-05-09
  6. Peter Janson-Smith dies

    According to various sources, Peter-Janson-Smith, Ian Fleming’s long-time literary agent, has passed away aged 93.

    Janson-Smith was a key figure behind the success of the James Bond novels. His relation to Ian Fleming started in 1956, when Janson-Smith got the job of selling the foreign language rights for the Bond books.  After Fleming’s death in 1964, he became a board member and eventually chairman of the board of Glidrose Publications (now Ian Fleming Publications), which he remained until 2001.

    In 2010, Commanderbond.net published an extensive article on Peter Janson-Smith by Bond continuation author Raymond Benson, which was also published in the March-April issue of Cimespree Magazine of the same year. Unfortunately, the images to the article went lost during an update a while ago.

    Condolences to family and friends.

    Heiko Baumann @ 2016-04-16
  7. The 007th Chapter: For Special Services – Invitation by Force

     

     

    A literary meditation by Jacques Stewart – cunningly presented out of sequence…

     

     

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    Contains huge spoilers. Of a book over thirty years old. Isn’t it terrible, that news about The Titanic? Bet you can’t guess who Darth Vader really is. I think I’ve drunk wine younger than this book. Once, with regret. 

     

    I’m thinking… Ronseal.

     

    I haven’t succumbed to product placement (yet) but as I age, I dwell on how to keep wood. If none-the-wiser, or just aghast at the squalor of that joke, Ronseal is a creosote (this won’t get more exciting). Other brands are available but Ronseal stands out for possessing a bouquet that smacks-up dead quick dirt cheap, and having been advertised with the slogan “it does exactly what it says on the tin”, a phrase that has entered the wider lexicon, like those “Keep Calm” things – Keep Calm and Drop Dead – and “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and cultivate Type-2 diabetes”.

     

    This springs to mind not through an urge to paint the fence – one engages the little people for that, how charming they are with their “vans” and their “views” – but because I hold a-mitt a 1987 Coronet UK paperback of For Special Services. It looks chewed. There’s a distinct – dog?  – toothmark at the moment Bond eats a tuna sandwich and drinks Perrier. I might be blaming the hound unfairly; could have been me, enraged at this dumbing-down / plebbing-up of 007. There’s another incision just as Bond crams his gut with “chicken pie” and Apple Jonathan – presumably not Sir Jony Ive, although since Bill Gates gets an oblique reference in Role of Honour one can’t dismiss the thought. Fair’s fair, both meals are comforting beige stodge, so I might have been trying to join in. “Beige stodge” seems apt, somehow.

     

    Back to the “point” – the selling (or selling out) of Gardner Bond. Can’t judge a book by its cover, say “they”. Codswallop: the cover has “James Bond” in letters larger than both title and author, there’s a silhouette of a dinner-jacketed man taking aim and the base has “007”, big and bold. Little else upon which to judge it, frankly. It does exactly what it says on the tin. The book has James Bond 007 in it, although moot whether it’s ectually Ken Spoon (or Ron Seal). For Special Services might be open to many criticisms – on their way, lovey – but terminal ambiguity is not one. There is nothing else this could be. Anyone spotting you reading it – once they’ve stopped pointing fingers and whispering (although that’s nothing to do with the book and you know it) – would be in no doubt about what it was; similar absence of doubt in their deciding to flee, chop-chop quick.

     

    The back cover risks undermining this single-mindedness, instilling anxiety whether such tin-based-promise will come true. Things start “well”, boasting that Bond comes armed “with a new pair of Sykes-Fairburn commando daggers and a new Heckler & Koch VP70 hand gun”, as if that can impress non-mental people, and evidence of a burgeoning trend that hardware gets top billing. Still, the book delivers, narrating inanimate serial-numbered murder-things in greater detail than its characters. Possibly the point is that 007 is just an inanimate serially-numbered murder-thing too. Mr Gardner, you scamp. As if that wasn’t enough tedious name-checking of story-hijacking objects, the “turbo-charged silver SAAB 900” clanks back. The author’s note thanks SAAB (GB) Ltd for “proving that the James Bond SAAB really does exist” even if they don’t any more. Karma caught up with them. Because it wasn’t driving a frickin’ SAAB.

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2015-12-24
  8. The 007th Chapter: Icebreaker – Rivke

    A literary meditation by Jacques Stewart

     

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    A famous episode of Hancock’s Half Hour is “The East Cheam Drama Festival”. Hancock, Hattie Jacques, Bill Kerr and Daniel Craig Sid James grapple “Look Back in Hunger” and “The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven and the songs that made him famous” and, titweepingly magnificently, “Jack’s Return Home.” In a coruscating exposure of the zeitgeist, poverty-stricken Joshua (Hancock) and wife Martha (Hattie) are menaced by landlord Jasper Stonyheart (Sid). It’s complex. Their son Jack is presumed dead – impaled by “the Zulus” – but Martha claims she insured his life, so all is well. Inopportunely, Jack (Bill) returns home, penniless. So Martha shoots him. ©BBC Worldwide, amongst others (prob’ly).

     

    Hancock: Aha, me old darlin’, you’ve shot Jack.

    Hattie: Yes, and I took out a policy on you as well, so watch it.

    Hancock: Wait a minute, I have a surprise for you. For thirteen years, you have thought I am Joshua, your husband.

    Hattie: Well, aren’t you?

    Hancock: No; stand back while I take my wig off. There…

    Hattie: Good heavens! Frederick!

    Hancock: Yes, Frederick. What do you say to that, Jasper Stonyheart?

    Sid: I’m not Jasper, I’ve been wearing this wig and pretending to be Jasper. This is who I really am. There!

    Hancock: Good heavens! Jonathan!

    Sid: Yes, Jonathan. I didn’t trust either of you, especially you, Martha.

    Hattie: And you were right not to, Jonathan, for you see, I am not Martha!

    Hancock: Not Martha?

    Hattie: No! There, now do you recognise me?

    Hancock: Gad! It’s Gladys.

    Hattie: Yes, Gladys, the girl you wronged.

    Hancock: Then who pray is the poor wretched we’ve killed?

    Bill: Fear not! You didn’t kill me! I was saved by my silver cigarette case. There! Do you not recognise me without the wig?

    Sid: Yes, I should have guessed – Ronald!

     

    Welcome to Icebreaker.

     

    We’re in a hotel room. Again. A formula emerges.

     

    Some label Bond “formulaic”, usually to disparage the films and/or books as poorer endeavours than ventures that would assault their Gran to grab a tenth of Bond’s money attention money. Optimistic rivals occasionally claim to better 007 with “reality” or “pop music”, then implode into obscurity whilst Bond rumbles on, chiselling the best ideas from their lukewarm corpses but otherwise as untroubled in its way as a triple-hulled supertanker is by one sickly anchovy. “Formula” – the disdain clinging to 007 films for decades, grot from the Bond factory family, complacent and undeserving of serious critique or awards. Populist with a capital Pee, consumer goods as soulful as a hubcap in a hedge, made for a stunningly plebby denominator that can’t do hard Italian neorealist cinema and sneered at as anti-artistic crap. F’rexample, every decade Sight & Sound conducts a poll of the greatest films of all time: A View to a Kill’s never on it. Some say that’s their loss (the same some who can’t have seen any other film ever made, mind), but indicative of an attitude as lofty as the hillock of cash sat upon by those making 007.

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2015-12-15
  9. Title of new “Young Bond” novel revealed

    “Heads you die” is the title of the second YOUNG BOND novel penned by Steve Cole.  It will be published in paperback by Red Fox in the UK on 5th May 2016.

    Following series creator Charlie Higson, Steve Cole published his first Young Bond novel “Shoot to kill” in November 2014.

    heads you die

    Stefan Rogall @ 2015-10-11
  10. Homme de lettres complet – Ian Fleming’s James Bond Correspondence

    The Man With The Golden Typewriter coverIn his day Ian Fleming used to be not just a journalist and author, he also was – little surprise there – an avid writer of letters. Over the years he corresponded with famous contemporaries and friends – amongst them Raymond Chandler, Somerset Maugham and Noël Coward – as well as with editors, readers and fans all over the globe. Ian Fleming’s nephew Fergus Fleming now compiled and edited a volume of Ian Fleming’s Bond-related letters that Bloomsbury publishes this Thursday, October 8th. On 400 pages readers will catch a backstage glimpse of Fleming’s writing process, on the thought process that went into many curious details of the original Bond novels, and also on the effect the Bond phenomenon had on his creator.

    You can order the book at Amazon UK and of course also at your local bookstore. Fans in the United States will have to be patient until November 3rd.

     

    Helmut Schierer @ 2015-10-07
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