Monday 31 August 1987 (Bank Holiday)

…Today, as you might have guessed, was a Bank Holiday.
I am getting more and more nervous as there is only one day left until I start at
Woodbrook – one single 24-hour day until I have to face the terrors of a new school.
There was a treat in store this afternoon, however, when we went to Beaumont
Leys Swimming Centre.
I’ve been there before, but still enjoyed the water chutes, the slides, the wave
machines and the fountains.
But why no Bond films, even though it was a Bank Holiday?

I’ve certainly got my priorities right here. Less verruca plasters, more bazooka masters!

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!"

Saturday 4 July 1987

…Went to a second-hand bookshop and bought Moonraker,
then to WHSmiths where I bought the Living Daylights theme…

Hundred thousand changes, everything's the same

This is a fantastic Bond theme; it’s easily one of the top five of all time (pity about the film, though more on that anon).

Apocryphally it was a nightmare to record and produce, though it doesn’t show. It’s a smashing valediction for John Barry, for whom this was his last Bond score. I’ve always particularly loved the drum fills at 0:33, the way the bass creeps up the scale at 0:53, those casual da-da-da harmonies at 2:15, that unexpected chord at 2:42, and then the sudden and strangely poignant breakdown at 2:46. Like the greatest Bond theme of all, this just keeps on giving. Heavens, there are about half a dozen different melodies before we’re even halfway through.

It’s tantalising to wonder, however, what the Pet Shop Boys would’ve come up with, had the film’s producers stuck with their original plans.

As for Christopher Wood’s Moonraker, or rather James Bond and Moonraker, this follows the same template as his earlier novelisation, with precisely the same strengths and stumbles.

Wood’s prose during the love scenes is just as excruciating as before (“Her mouth came on to his, warm, moist and strong… Bond drove a tiger from his loins…”) but occasionally he catches you out with a deft turn of phrase (“England in winter matched the bleak asperity of Bond’s spirit.”)

I enjoyed it, though, as I did everything to do with 007 that summer.

A very regrettable incident has occurred