…Went to Granny’s. Watched the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever…
A truly seminal moment, this: the first time I’d ever seen a Bond film on television.
It wasn’t my very first introduction to 007. That had happened the previous summer, when I’d gone to see A View to a Kill at the cinema, largely on the recommendation of Jimmy Greaves who’d popped up on TV-am one morning barking of how it contained “the best car chase” he’d “EVER seen”.
I don’t think I entirely followed the plot (I was only nine years old) but I remember being dazzled by the stunts, smitten by the music (I bought the single and borrowed the soundtrack from the town library) and terrified in equal measure by the finale on the Golden Gate Bridge and the bit where Grace Jones went to bed with Roger Moore.
My mum and dad hadn’t been keen on me seeing it, however, and since then had pointedly tried to stop me watching any Bond films on television.
For on this day 25 years ago I blatantly and enthusiastically exploited the less-regimented, more ITV-friendly environment of my grandparents’ house to lap up, for the first time, Bond on the small screen.
What an introduction. Maybe it was because it was the first of its kind I saw outside of a cinema, or maybe because it was and is still so damn entertaining, but Diamonds are Forever remains my favourite Bond film.
I know it’s missing the properly exotic locations, the properly enormous set-piece stunts, a properly sinister diabolical mastermind and a proper contingent of leggy lovelies.
Yet there’s something about the seedy, sarcastic, shameless atmosphere of Diamonds are Forever that I find, and probably found even all those years ago, bluntly compelling.
I remember, way back then, being particularly gripped by the scene when Bond dangles high above the Whyte House on a bit of rope he’s fired from a gun that he had tucked down his trousers. It seemed such an impossibly dangerous, yet obvious, thing for him to do. John Barry’s eerie incidental music to this particular sequence wormed its way into my brain that night, and has stayed there ever since.
So began an enduring obsession with all things 007 that has surged and subsided in waves across the years, reaching notable peaks in 1987 and 1995 and petulant troughs in 1989 and 2002.
Some days I change my mind and feel inclined to name The Spy Who Loved Me as the greatest of them all. It’s certainly the film I would direct anyone new to the franchise towards as an example of the perfect textbook big screen Bond.
Then I remember Connery exchanging quips with a rat while stuck down a drainpipe, or floating across the sea in a huge inflatable cushion, or pretending to snog himself, or apologising to some hoodlums for being caught with “more than my hands up”, or saying the phrase “alimentary, Dr. Leiter”, or observing to Plenty O’Toole that she must have been named after her father, or merrily bashing Blofeld’s escape pod to bits, or calling Tiffany Case a “bitch” while stuffing a cassette tape down the back of her pants.
And I change my mind back again, with unabashed joy.