Intermezzo - Bond on Bond
Dear readers have been asking me to reveal more about myself - the true Bond. They sense my reserve, and the reasons for it - historic from a lifetime's work under a spotlight, and currently from a shyness to share the vulnerability that comes with age.
Having led a rather public life - one that necessitated travel around the world - I have never really sought set down roots. The closest, I suppose, is my small apartment at Ormond Yard, St James, giving me a short walk to Downing Street, MOD Whitehall, and importantly around the corner in Duke of York Street, the Red Lion Public House.
My London apartment is where I hang the few Savile Row suits that I still possess, my handmade shoes from Jermyn Street, and a modest supply of single malt whisky from Skye. Yes, I have some books, but they are collected on one shelf where they gather dust. Perhaps I should part with them, but in moments of nostalgia they bring back memories of my youth.
London and St James seems a distant dream, now supplanted for the time being by Buenos Aires, and my ‘borrowed’ rooftop apartment here at Palacio Haedo.
When I spoke to ‘M’ of my intention to come to Buenos Aires she looked over her half glasses in a familiarly questioning way, saying nothing, neither approving or disapproving. Two days later a key was slipped under my apartment door, with a handwritten note saying, “Park on the roof, drink the fresh air, and say hello to Raul”.
My forte had been dealing with situations rather than solving problems, so here, I thought, was a task for Q.
“Why Bond, it’s obvious isn’t it”, he jabbered, inspecting the note and the key, “the fresh air’ has to be ‘Buenos Aires”; ‘the Park’ must be the Ministry of National Parks in Recoleta where Raul Ocampo is still stationed, and this double sided key, typical of Buenos Aires, almost certainly fits the door to the mothballed MOD apartment on the top terrace”.
“How the hell did you work that out so fast”, I retorted - to which he simply smiled his annoying smile and said, “Bond, get out of here...enjoy the trip and don’t come back”.
Buenos Aires came as a surprise. I was able to walk down a street without looks, stares or comments. Age brings an invisibility, but 7,000 miles from London on another continent provides an extra layer of privacy. Occasionally the observant passer-by does a double take before dismissing their questioned recognition. And, naturally, that suits me fine.
Argentine tango was altogether another thing, and arguably the most difficult mission of my life to date. No written instructions. No equipment. No support. Just me in Buenos Aires and the most daunting task in the world.
And that was when I met Moneypenny.
What you have to understand about Argentine tango is that from day one you need all the help you can get. Not simply the best teacher and a half-decent pair of shoes, but encouragement and affirmation from your tango partners. The experienced Portenas would breathe heavily with impatience and thereafter avoid my cabeceo. Not until I had spent months of practice and threatened to drop my shoes in a street skip did tango slowly start to fall into place.
Moneypenny had little idea about tango, but she did have natural rhythm and a love for the music. As a dance partner, she was perfectly formed. Recognising me and knowing of my past she was perfectly positioned. But for her youth (or maybe because of it) she was an ideal companion.
But, I have said enough about me; and maybe too much about Moneypenny. Perhaps we should get back to the story - after all, that is why you are here, isn’t it?
What did I have to lose really? I had made no real plans, I just bought the ticket, threw a few things in my backpack and ran away....
Moneypenny I take the note, start to walk towards San Telmo while trying to make sense of what I had just seen. Was this a secret...
Mr Bond I flash a smile towards Nancy the waitress, and without a word she arrives with a second champagne glass for Moneypenny, who...