In which Bond goes on the run
Ashley brings another perfect Martini, slides it across my table, and I realise that Hammond has signed the drinks to M’s tab as he left. I look down at the single key in my hand and my mind drifts off to bowls of strawberries, canes of raspberries and warm, ripe tomatoes.
My next image is of Richard Hammond and the mysterious Paul snaring Moneypenny as she races ahead through the Amazon jungle, or more likely in some seedy back street of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. I think to myself, ‘perhaps Hammond will write to me and I can share his adventure with you?’
The Martini is cool on my lips as I close my eyes to enjoy the moment.
Thirty minutes later I am again in Piccadilly, walking towards the Circus. It is now too late for breakfast and a tad too early for lunch. In any event, two Martinis have taken the edge off my appetite, and as I stroll I conjecture what lays ahead. After so long in Buenos Aires, London seems both tame, and remote. With no desk nor Moneypenny at the Ministry - not even a locker - I felt like an intruder. I sense that my connection with the capital is fading.
The panel was quite clear in their intention, “We are keeping you here in London for the next ten days whilst we run a few more checks”. Ten days...and then what? What if Hammond fails in his mission to locate Moneypenny? For how long will I be held here in Westminster? After only 24 hours, Ormond Yard is starting to feel like a prison. Another shower blows across as I reach Regent Street. ‘It is time to pack a bag’, I say to myself as I cut down Church Place and track back through Jermyn Street.
“Mireille, can you meet me at the apartment? Oh, and book the car out for routine maintenance - don’t for heaven’s sake mention my name”. Replacing the receiver I slip a few toiletries into my bag, a clean shirt and my flying jacket. I pick up the Panama, noticing the key hidden beneath the brim, and slip it into my pocket. I slam the apartment door and descend the stairs. ‘Like old times’, I mutter to myself and cross into the shade of the yard to await the car.
“James, what on earth are you up to now”, she greets, grabbing my leather bag and eyeing my Panama with suspicion. “Can you get me to Tilbury without hitting the radar?”, I ask, “I have a ship to catch”.
We head out towards Poplar and then onto the A13, turning south towards Chadwell St Mary, and then to the docks. “Alors, James, are you really up to this?”, questions Mireille, “you are not as young as you used to be. How long will it take you to get there?”. “If I reach Barcelona by Tuesday, it will be 22 nights, all being well”. “And if not, James?”.
I reach into my jacket pocket and pull out the key. “If not, Mireille, I’m afraid you will have to be on allotment duty instead of me. Don’t forget to water the pumpkin”. With that, I swing from the passenger seat, grabbing my bag from the footwell, and head out towards a tall figure wearing a fluorescent jacket at the check in booths.
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...