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!"

Tuesday 21 April 1987

…Went to the cinema to watch Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home.
All I can say is that it was funnier than the other three films…

I remember laughing loud and long at the “colourful metaphor” scenes. The phrase entered my vocabulary for a while. How my schoolmates wept with hilarity* whenever I suggested that “perhaps now is the time for a colourful metaphor” or when I warned that “you better not let the teacher hear you using that colourful metaphor”.

I also remember enjoying the scene on the bus where Spock kills a punk rocker for playing his music too loud, after which all the other passengers applaud politely.

Whenever I’ve happened to see the film again I’m reminded that it makes no sense whatsoever. By flying around the sun you can go back in time? Wouldn’t robbing two whales from the 20th century and tossing them into the sea several hundreds of years later cause immense disruption to both ecosystems? And as for the bit where Kirk sells his spectacles for a quick bit of cash, then reassures Spock that he’ll get them again because they were given to him in the future… Dear oh dear.

It’s enough to make you reach for a colourful metaphor.

*They did not.

Friday 20 February 1987

…Didn’t get dressed till 8.43, ooh I could do with a D…
…Went to Granny’s this morning while Mum went to work [it being half-term].
While there I read 94 pages of Goldfinger, before finishing it this afternoon
THEN we went to the cinema to watch Basil The Great Mouse Detective…

My attempt to get into Ian Fleming’s Bond novels only lasted a couple of months.

After soldiering through a pathetic, paltry three (this one, Live and Let Die and From Russia With Love) I gave up. I stupidly and naively thought they would bear more resemblance to the films than was actually the case.

The only reason I got through 94 pages of Goldfinger so fast was because I couldn’t wait to reach the laser beam bit. Instead all I found was a circular saw and, later, some lesbians. Had there really been that many lesbians in evidence when I’d watched the film a few weeks earlier? I was confused.

A few days after this entry, unable to reconcile the differences between the books and their big screen cousins, I decided to devote my life to the devouring of the latter rather than the former. I haven’t read another Fleming novel since.

"I said, well, we don't go out looking for it!"

Monday 11 August 1986

…Had lunch early because we went to the
1.20pm showing of Pinocchio at the cinema,
which is where I discovered that the James Bond film
A View to a Kill is being shown again.
I’ve been to see it once but I want to go again.
Mum said she’ll think about it.
You know what the answer will be: No…

Having watched A View to a Kill again a month or so ago, I can see why the 10-year-old me would be so desperate to see it.

It still boasts some of the best stunts and action sequences in the entire series. The climax atop the Golden Gate Bridge is still terrifically exciting. There’s also fun to be had up the Eiffel Tower with the likes of Monsieur Aubergine, though they might as well have called him Citizen Camembert and had done with it.

In terms of stuff that is truly worth praising about the film, there’s not much else. But for a 10-year-old, that was more than enough.

Only later did I start to go off the film, thanks to a) Roger Moore being older than the mother of his female co-star; b) the utterly un-Bondlike sequence where Christopher Walken machine-guns hundreds of innocent workers inside the Silicon Valley mine; and c) Grace Jones’s gurning.

This scene does not appear in the film - Moore's the pity

Friday 4 July 1986

…End of summer term at school and end of another school year.
Watched Raiders of the Lost Ark this afternoon…

I have to confess to being somewhat surprised we were allowed to see this film.

Perhaps it was an expurgated version, because I can’t quite believe our teachers would have let us watch some of the more grisly moments, in particular the final 10 minutes.

Thanks a lot, Al Gore
Had it even received its terrestrial TV premiere by this point? If not, we must have watched a copy on commercial video, which I’m guessing would have been uncut.

The more I think about it, the more this screening might have come about on the suggestion of one of the pupils in the year above me, for whom this was their last day at primary school, and who might have “recommended” Raiders of the Lost Ark because their “parents said it was a fun film”. Hmm.

It would have gone down very well, however, and definitely have been seen as a step up from Clash of the Titans the other week, or The Dark Crystal which was our pre-Christmas treat.

I think this might even have been the first time I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark, officially the second best Indiana Jones film. We didn’t have a video recorder at home, and had it been on television my parents wouldn’t have let me watch it.

All in all, this was a fine if unexpected diversion from stacking away the chairs of another school year. Though I would dream of melting heads tonight, and for many nights to come.

Friday 13 June 1986

…Practiced Assembly.
Did more computer printing and some Peak 7 pages.
Instead of Art this afternoon we watched the film Clash of the Titans which is the story of Perseus in Greek mythology

There was now just one week to go until the assembly. By my count I’d already endured at least half a dozen rehearsals for something that was only going to be about 15 minutes long. Yet apparently still that wasn’t enough.

Many times in my life I have found myself over-studying and over-refining something to the point where it ceases to be in any way entertaining. I think this was the first of such lumpen occasions.

Clash of the Titans, however, is something that never ceases to be entertaining, chiefly because it’s not meant to be studied, simply enjoyed. It was almost the end of term, indeed the end of the school year, so this would have been sold to me and my class as a treat.

And coming after weeks and weeks of work on our own pathetic attempt at puppets, it most definitely was.

My puppet, yesterday