The Oldest of Old Flames

The sky is blue, the Black Dog is in his kennel and this week I spent a precious day with the Oldest of Old Flames, aka OOOF.

I’m not a bloke usually found whistling first thing in the morning, being more of a night howl.

But at circa 7am this week as I stood there watching the kettle not boil, I began whistling away like Roger bloody Whittaker calling after his dogs.

If you must know, it was Hotel California by The Eagles (1977).

I nearly dropped a scalding kettle over my toes at the sudden shock of it all.

I don’t know why I was whistling and I can’t remember the last time I heard that song.

More importantly of all, I can’t really remember whistling in the morning for years, not having had a great deal to whistle about.

So in that idle moment this week, it really felt like something had changed.

That, perhaps, the world looked a few shades brighter for the first time in years.

The sky is blue, the Black Dog is in his kennel, and all I can blame this outbreak of howling on is that this week I spent a day with the Oldest of Old Flames, aka OOOF.

And an OOOF day it turned out to be too.

Regular unlikers of this column will know that I finally tracked her down in April.

We hadn’t seen each other this century and I think we last spoke on the phone around the turn of the Millennium, circa 1998.

We first got together at 14 which is 36 years ago, and were last a fully-fledged item back in 1994 when we were both 22.

We went our separate ways that summer as we wanted very different things from life. I basically wanted her to be more fully in mine and she didn’t.

I had the career tied to one place, and as an international jet-setter from Spain, she understandably had other places to go.

Yet here we are again in 2022, both aged 50, both single, both in Cumbria.

And as I got off the train on Wednesday afternoon and threw my arms around her, all the old fireworks started to go off.

It was like being reunited with a missing piece of myself. Like in Terminator 2 where that fella’s limbs grow back.

Except for me it was a bit of old broken heart.

Being a cool, independent lone wolf, I decided against an on-the-spot proposal of marriage until after lunch.

Sitting there in a distant pub with warm sun streaking through the windows and OOOF chattering away and stroking every pet in the place, the decades melted away.

It could have been 1993 all over again.

I’d forgotten quite how dark brown her eyes are and how much I enjoy looking in them.

Even one of the late mother’s favourite songs randomly chunked on to the old jukebox like a karmic ghost was playing DJ.

Paul Simon’s Graceland (1986) – which I last heard at her funeral.

OOOF’s cats curled endlessly around my legs and purred, and her pet parrot wasn’t sick all over me.

I can’t put my finger on what it all means. Is it chemistry, coincidence, kismet, or lager carbohydrates?

We have both stood on our own two feet but it was very special to roll back the years and be a couple again. Me agreeing with everything I disagree with!

The train had barely left the station before I got a text telling me the day was PRECIOUS! (Her capitals).

If you and a significant ex ever find yourself in the position to mend burned bridges, I would recommend you try it.

It does wonders for the state of mind and you might find yourself whistling Hotel California near a hot kettle in an open dressing gown.

As for OOOF and I, there are large, personal, hurdles.

And typically, on my long and contemplative train journey home, I saw that blasted single Magpie who seems to follow me around all the time.

I saluted it with both fingers and started to whistle the tune to Graceland.

Dr No Offence

What on earth will the next generation of Bond films be called? Licence To Dull? Octofussy? Diamonds Are Culturally Appropriated?

I have £10 lodged with my bookmaker on the next James Bond being played by Regè Jean-Page.

When I placed the bet last year, the odds were a lot more distant than they are today.

This morning Regè is the 9/4 favourite with Tom Hardy now a distant 8-1.

To be honest I couldn’t care less who the next James Bond is or isn’t, as I won’t be watching.

Not having a television connected to the outside world, I have never seen Regè Jean-Page in anything.

Regular ignorers of this column – 100 views last week and five likes – will know that I have started mixing up my words which is a time of the signs, I suppose.

This week, I managed to say ‘Bames Bond,’ although it may be an unintentional Freudian slip given the currant climate.

I won’t be watching any of the next James Bond films. In Daniel Craig’s entire five film output, I’ve watched about 20 minutes and turned off.

By the time he came around, I was bored of the genre.

I was also immediately turned off by him turning up on a speedboat for the Press launch wearing a life jacket.

That told me all I needed to know about British society and burst the Bond bubble for me, as impressive as Daniel Craig rocks a pair of budgie smugglers.

I never really warmed to his stoney-faced Bond either. With his steely-eyed, pouty profile, I always wondered whether he was secretly sucking on a Murray Mint.

His cold-hearted assassin depiction was truer to Ian Fleming’s original literary character but it didn’t leap out of the screen for me, and he played it too cold.

I never liked Pierce Brosnan as Bond either. He always came across a little out of his depth for the role and played it too Transatlantic.

A bit Remington Steele. A bit Dynasty.

The awful truth is I haven’t really enjoyed a James Bond film since A View To A Kill (1985) starring Roger Moore, then 58.

Sadly, I think 1985 was probably the last time I was young enough to suspend disbelief for a full 90 minutes.

It makes me a terrible old cynic, resigned to watching the Roger era, particularly The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), my favourite Bond.

If it’s anything to go by, I do see a lot of Daniel Craig Bond films in the DVD sections of charity shops, which is more evidence it isn’t a classic?

At least I knew Roger was hamming it up and had one eye firmly on the fourth wall and not taking himself too seriously.

I also liked the fact that he needed a girdle in the later Bonds and enjoyed the dry delivery of his clever one-liners: “I’m now aiming precisely at your groin, so speak or forever hold your peace.”

A View To A Kill wasn’t the best Roger or Bond film, but it had a lot going for it.

Duran Duran poking fun at themselves in the title track. The mesmerising Christopher Walken playing an electric-haired Soviet industrialist.

The legendary Grace Jones as a flat-topped paragliding assassin, and Liverpool-born David Yip in a supporting role as a CIA agent.

Readers of a certain vintage will remember him as The Chinese Detective (1981), which I liked as a little boy.

Connery was also good but was never my generation’s Bond. I suppose your favourite Bond is often the one you grow up with.

But what on earth will the next generation of Bond films be called in these hysterical times?

They will be under tremendous pressure not to exclude or upset anybody, and the next generation of Bond will need to be as inclusive as possible.

The Spy Who Bored Me? Octofussy? Licence to Dull? Dr No Offence? Diamonds Are Culturally Appropriated? The Trans With The Golden Gun? Live and Let LGBTQ+? A View To An Equitable Outcome For All?

May I suggest A Quantum of Bollocks?