Wednesday 29 July 1987

…This morning I went out on my bike at 8.00am for a ride through the rain and
the huge puddles.
It’s the best time to go out because there’s absolutely no-one about.
Not even the cat from down the road.
People seem to be so lazy during the summer, waking up at 9am each morning
instead of 6.15am like me…

I seem to have fundamentally misunderstood the notion of a summer holiday – perhaps deliberately so. There’s an adolescent-hued streak of contrariness creeping in here, though whereas most would display this by staying in bed as long as possible, I did it by getting out of bed as early as possible.

But there was logic to this. There was television to watch, which I didn’t have time to do during term time. Plus there is (still) something appealing about riding a bike a) very early in the morning and b) in the rain. I did it just the other week, in fact, though only because I’d got up at 5.45am to see the Olympic torch relay and had some time to kill before going into work.

Yes, I know. And yes, I can hear you shaking your heads.

Tuesday 28 July 1987

…I bought a book called The Official James Bond Movie Poster Book which is
enormous, much bigger than A4, possibly A3 in size, and which is brilliant…

Indeed it was, and indeed it is:

Dalton in Kingsland (a reference purely for Londoners)
I scoured its pages with obsessive attention to detail, inhaling every possible piece of information about a series of films the majority of which I still hadn’t seen. The posters I was less interested in, at least from a design point of view. This was perhaps just as well, as some of them are dreadful:

Dear oh dear

Others, meanwhile, appear to feature actors who have to my knowledge never played James Bond. Who, for instance, is this?

Roger Moore not pictured

This poster for A View to a Kill manages to defy all rules of aesthetics by flattering both Roger Moore and Grace Jones:

What a view...

The answer to the poster’s tagline being, naturally, “no”.

The book also contains some outrageous claims for The Living Daylights. The reader is told: “Dalton tackles a very contemporary role.” In other words, the film is set in the present day. Get away! The blurb continues: “He likes to think of Bond as a man who always lives life on the edge – revelling in fast cars, involved with beautiful women and threatening situations. Dalton’s Bond, with its ever-present threat of danger, looks set to write another chapter in the history of 007 at the cinema.” Yes – one of the worst, but thankfully one of the most short-lived.

The less said about the next 10 years, the better

And for the next eight years, nobody would do it worse.

Friday 24 July 1987

…I cannot quite describe how it felt to see The Living Daylights.
I also cannot quite describe what happened in it.
There was plenty of action and not so many love scenes.
But I will have to see it again to work out exactly what was going on…

I did indeed go and see it again, a couple of weeks later. And I have seen it several times since. But I still can’t work out exactly what is going on.

The film has one of the best-ever Bond themes, a smashing soundtrack, enticing locations (you can never go wrong with the Iron Curtain) and some superb action sequences.

But Timothy Dalton never once looks like he’s enjoying himself, the plot is incomprehensible (not in an endearing way, like Octopussy, just downright stupid) and there aren’t enough gags. There’s a bit where Bond appears to team up with al-Qaida, plus an entire run of dialogue stolen from The Man With The Golden Gun (“We have a saying too… and you’re full of it.”)

There’s also the dangerously tedious sequence where 007 is being given a dressing-down by Saunders, head of Section ‘V’, Vienna. We know this, because his first line is: “Saunders, head of Section ‘V’, Vienna.” He continues: “You’re BLOODY late. This is a mission, not a fancy dress ball.” “We have time,” Timothy Dalton replies, boringly. And this happens in the first 10 minutes! When we should be being told, repeatedly and excitingly, that the person who has replaced Roger Moore is the best thing since, well, Roger Moore!

I couldn’t really articulate my response to The Living Daylights in 1987. I’d enjoyed it but not as much as I’d hoped. It was all a bit… different.

It was the last time I’d see a new Bond film in the cinema for eight years. The next time round I knew exactly how to articulate what I felt, which was a fusillade of joy.

Got the hump, Timothy?

Wednesday 22 July 1987

…I have arranged for Eddie to come round on Friday afternoon so we can
go and see The Living Daylights together at the cinema.
I made Mum drive me past the cinema so I could be sure what times it was on…

We’d only got back from Devon the previous day, but evidently I wasn’t going to waste any time in organising what for me would be one of the real highlights of the summer.

I think the film must have been out for a good couple of weeks or so. I remember reading about it in the newspaper while we were away, and being hopelessly envious of what I presumed to be every other person in the entire country who’d already seen it.

Like around 97% of what I wrote in my diaries of 25 years ago, this all seems laughable now. But I was really quite anxious, insufferably so, that I would miss the chance to watch The Living Daylights in the cinema, and hence not get to see it for A FURTHER FIVE YEARS until it had its TV premiere.

I was also gripped with impatience, fuelled by a sense that I hadn’t paid enough attention to the Bond franchise two years earlier, when the previous film had been on general release.

Back then I’d only decided to go and see A View to a Kill on the recommendation, as I’ve mentioned here before, of Jimmy Greaves on TV-am.

Yes, had it not been for Greavsie, I might never have fallen in love with 007. Well, I probably would have done eventually, just not in time to see a gurning Grace Jones towering 30ft high on the big screen: a grisly experience at any age, but positively bonechilling to a naive nine-year-old.

A quarter of a century later, I can see The Living Daylights whenever I choose. I don’t want to, because unlike 25 years ago I don’t think it’s the best thing ever. It’s not even the best Bond film of The Greavsie TV-am Years. But I didn’t know any of this in 1987. All I knew is that I had to see the film before it, and the summer, left town.

"Salt corrosion! Atmospheric anomoly!"

Friday 10 July 1987

…Everyone except me was packing for tomorrow, and it was one of those days when it was best to keep out of the way because even if you picked up or touched something in one of Mum and Dad’s thousands of cases one of them would shout: “Don’t touch that you idiot, I’ve put that in a very special place for a reason,” even though the thing was just lying there in a crumpled heap on top of some clothes.
I am the only one packing tomorrow, because I don’t mind getting up early…

Like last year, I didn’t take my normal diary on holiday with me, instead keeping a separate journal in a notebook. Like last year, this notebook no longer exists.

So also like last year, this blog will therefore be going on holiday, until the 11-year-old me returns from Devon and picks up his usual, non-travelling pen once again.

Wednesday 8 July 1987

…Tried to make a paper aeroplane that you could work by string but it ended up to
be another of those things in my bottomless rubbish bin…

Of all the things I mention in today’s entry of my diary, this is the most curious. Annoyingly, I don’t give any further explanation as to what I was trying to do with the plane. Nor why I was even bothering with such a blatant time-filling exercise. How would you even “work” a paper aeroplane with string? Isn’t the whole point that they fly unaided?

Three days into the school holiday and I was already embarking on tasks doomed for failure. At least I hadn’t yet resorted to going on trips to the council rubbish dump.