“Goodbye, Mr Bond”
(Ernst Stavro Blofeld)
I’ve not penned a limerick-as-eulogy for a while, but the life of Bond actor Roger Moore deserves comment. He died at the grand old age of 89 and the obituaries that have poured forth have been uniformly warm and gracious in respect of the fundamental decency of the man.
He was always humerous and self-deprecating in interviews, something that was not a PR affectation, but, judging from the many personal reminiscences of the public, it was both genuine and borne of the belief that he had been extremely lucky in his life.
Personally, I think he passed muster as Simon Templar in The Saint and as Lord Brett Sinclair opposite Tony Curtis in The Persuaders more than he did as James Bond (I’m in the miniscule minority that thinks Timothy Dalton was and remains the best Bond). Nevertheless, as a Bond he remains an icon.
So here is my erstwhile homily:
St Peter may think that it’s quaint,
(But, then again, maybe it ain’t),
(A ‘Bond’ now in Heaven)
Was already known as a Saint!
Postscript: Various newspapers have printed a number of the public’s reminiscences of meeting the man behind the raised eyebrow. Today’s online edition of The Independent printed the following anecdote (long but well worth reading) under the headline:
Roger Moore dead: This anecdote about the James Bond actor just keeps getting better as you read
‘What a man. What a tremendous man.’
“Sir Roger Moore died at the age of 89 yesterday, and tributes have poured in for the kind and benevolent James Bond star from friends, family and fellow actors.
None sum up his gentleness and good humour quite as perfectly as this anecdote from Mark Haynes however, a scriptwriter from London who had a chance meeting with Moore at an airport when he was seven.
“As a seven-year-old in about 1983, in the days before First Class Lounges at airports, I was with my grandad in Nice Airport and saw Roger Moore sitting at the departure gate, reading a paper. I told my granddad I’d just seen James Bond and asked if we could go over so I could get his autograph. My grandad had no idea who James Bond or Roger Moore were, so we walked over and he popped me in front of Roger Moore, with the words “my grandson says you’re famous. Can you sign this?”
As charming as you’d expect, Roger asks my name and duly signs the back of my plane ticket, a fulsome note full of best wishes. I’m ecstatic, but as we head back to our seats, I glance down at the signature. It’s hard to decipher it but it definitely doesn’t say ‘James Bond’. My grandad looks at it, half figures out it says ‘Roger Moore’ – I have absolutely no idea who that is, and my hearts sinks. I tell my grandad he’s signed it wrong, that he’s put someone else’s name – so my grandad heads back to Roger Moore, holding the ticket which he’s only just signed.
I remember staying by our seats and my grandad saying “he says you’ve signed the wrong name. He says your name is James Bond.” Roger Moore’s face crinkled up with realisation and he beckoned me over. When I was by his knee, he leant over, looked from side to side, raised an eyebrow and in a hushed voice said to me, “I have to sign my name as ‘Roger Moore’ because otherwise…Blofeld might find out I was here.” He asked me not to tell anyone that I’d just seen James Bond, and he thanked me for keeping his secret. I went back to our seats, my nerves absolutely jangling with delight. My grandad asked me if he’d signed ‘James Bond.’ No, I said. I’d got it wrong. I was working with James Bond now.
Many, many years later, I was working as a scriptwriter on a recording that involved UNICEF, and Roger Moore was doing a piece to camera as an ambassador. He was completely lovely and while the cameramen were setting up, I told him in passing the story of when I met him in Nice Airport. He was happy to hear it, and he had a chuckle and said “Well, I don’t remember but I’m glad you got to meet James Bond.” So that was lovely.
And then he did something so brilliant. After the filming, he walked past me in the corridor, heading out to his car – but as he got level, he paused, looked both ways, raised an eyebrow and in a hushed voice said, “Of course I remember our meeting in Nice. But I didn’t say anything in there, because those cameramen – any one of them could be working for Blofeld.”
I was as delighted at 30 as I had been at 7. What a man. What a tremendous man.”