Why even the longest-serving civil servant must finally hang up his Walther PPK
Bond eased himself carefully out of bed as his alarm chirped annoyingly from the far side of the bedroom. He’d put it there so that he’d have to get up in order to silence it; otherwise, as he knew from rueful experience, it was too easy to fumble for the OFF button and return to his increasingly seductive slumber.
From the foggy recesses of his martini-addled brain a prompt was trying to make itself felt. Something about the date…
Oh, yes! Bond remembered: April 13th, his birthday. The morning of April 13th 2021 meant that Bond was now one hundred and one years old, and the years had not been kind. Aside from being shot, stabbed, poisoned, and coshed, Bond had subjected his body to nearly ninety years of alcohol and cigarettes. Thanks to the generous MI6 health plan he’d had three kidney transplants, two lung transplants, a liver transplant, and a state-of-the-art pacemaker fitted to his increasingly unreliable blood-pump. After the unflinching generosity of Her Majesty’s Government he didn’t overly mind having to pay for his own hair dye.
What he didn’t disclose to the nosy doctors of Harley Street, however, was that his secret weapon was the carefully calibrated overdoses of testosterone, HGH, and Cialis he consumed each day. Where ordinary men watched football or spent hours in front of a screen gazing impotently at webcam girls, Bond was still a player. In his mind, despite the wrinkles and the receding hairline and the inevitable old man’s paunch, he was as handsome and charming as ever. Any twenty-one-year-old supermodel would be proud to be squired around town on his arm.
Except, as he had to admit, there hadn’t been as many supermodels lately as he’d been accustomed to in the old days. Although he’d had the most recent (and absurdly young) Q craft his Tinder profile to show him fifty-three years ago standing by a Gulfstream II with his then-new Aston Martin DB5 parked discretely (but not too discretely) nearby, he was nowadays more likely to attract somewhat desperate twice-divorced housewives living in Surbiton with a semi-professional drinking habit than to match with the kind of girl he felt was his due.
Wanting to take his mind off this sad state of affairs, Bond shuffled to the bathroom. It had been a whole two hours since he last emptied his bladder and he could barely hold himself back. He stood watching the warm stream trickle slowly into the lavatory and wondered if his Lethal Weapon would ever see action again. So many conquests, so many names forgotten, and now… just empty time stretching out uncertainly ahead of him. We never know, he thought to himself, when it’s the last time. We only know later, when it’s too late to change anything.
Bond would have shrugged but these days his shoulders were too arthritic for that kind of stunt, so he opened the cabinet beside the sink and reached for his morning glass of whiskey, a single malt from a little-known specialist distillery he’d discovered when chasing two Bulgarian operatives across the glen back in 1956. The chase had ended inside the distillery with Bond shooting one and drowning the other in a vat of the golden liquid. The result had been to add something subtle to the peaty smoky flavor and ever since that particular region of the Scottish Highlands had become notorious for the consistency with which each year a lone Eastern European visitor will mysteriously vanish, never to be heard from again. And Bond, each Christmas, received a consignment of 52 bottles from the grateful distillery whose sales volume had increased significantly since that eventful episode so many years ago.
Bond took a handful of the tablets he called his pick-me-uppers and used another generous measure of whiskey to swallow them down. Then he injected himself with the day’s testosterone gel and within moments felt something akin to his old energy returning to him.
Pausing only to smoke four cigarettes, Bond prepared his usual breakfast: a double martini, shaken thanks to his constantly trembling hands.
He stared out the window. In the distance, across countless rooftops, he could just about discern the shapes of the tall buildings that increasingly disfigured the London skyline. Prince Charles was right, Bond thought. Architects have done far more damage to the city than all the Nazi bombs put together. He particularly loathed River House, so far removed from the smoky wooden-lined offices of Century House by Waterloo Station. It hadn’t been secure, so no doubt the Soviets had heard every secret ever muttered therein, but it had possessed character and an ambience entirely missing from the soulless Lego-like creation at 85 Albert Embankment. A building Bond could now enter only as a visitor, on special occasions.
The world had changed around him and Bond didn’t particularly like the fact.
As he downed his second martini, spilling only a little on his worn silk pajama shirt, he thought about all the decades he’d spent trying to protect the nation. All the people he’d killed, all the agents he’d run, all the betrayals, the lies, the pain. And for what? What had been the point of trying to protect a country where politicians were thrilled to sell the nation down the river in pursuit of personal gain and where ignorant stupid citizens eagerly voted for national suicide?
Bond shook his head carefully so as not to hurt his aching trapezoid muscles. Basically, he’d wasted his entire life. His whole career, his ethos, his professional abilities, had all been pointless. In the end the mindless stupidity of Brexit wiped out everything he and every other security operative had tried to protect over the course of long decades. And he was stuck with the remnants of his life in a small flat that was poorly insulated and in which the sounds of his neighbors were a constant presence. Or, to be accurate, the sounds of the television programs and Youtube videos his neighbors watched morning, noon, and night. Apparently they were getting precisely as much sex as Bond himself: none at all.
When he ventured out onto the streets clutching his Senior Citizen’s London Transport pass, he hardly recognized his fellow-citizens. When he’d been young everyone had been lean and active, almost impossible to believe nowadays. Although British dentistry meant most people had kept their mouths firmly closed unless about to eat or drink something, they had been at least able to prize themselves off the sofa and do more than waddle to the fridge for yet another health-killing snack. Now everyone was fat, everyone stumbled and shuffled and waddled instead of walking, and everyone had the same dead fisheyes as they gawped ceaselessly at the tiny screens they carried in front of them like holy relics.
Putin didn’t need to exert himself to undo Britain; the British had done all his work for him. No need for novichuk when ordinary people were poisoning themselves every day on a diet of Kentucky Fried Cancer and McSlop triple-bypass burgers.
A depressingly familiar weariness threatened to defeat the testosterone and alcohol Bond relied on to get him through each dreary day. Part of him wanted to go back to bed, burrow under the covers, and sleep the hours away. But somewhere in the recesses of his much-damaged brain something was trying to emerge. Something connected with his birthday…
And then Bond remembered.
Years ago, never imagining that he’d actually live this long and half as a joke, Bond had mailed himself a birthday gift. At the time he’d still been relatively youthful, barely into his eighties, and still full of jaded optimism and cynical hope. Now where had he stashed it…?
Two hours and five martinis later, Bond found the package buried under old perforated range targets. It wasn’t easy to unwrap now that his fingers were bent with arthritis but eventually he succeeded and the package disgorged its contents.
Bond smiled. He felt a stirring of the old excitement that used to accompany each new mission. He reached down and ran his right hand over the surface of the passport. Carefully he opened it: Jerome Bondel, born 13th April 1963 in Auvergne France. Passport issued 3rd December 2019, due to expire 2nd December 2029. The British may have crashed out of the greatest human endeavor since the collapse of the Roman Empire but Bond, thanks to this perfectly authentic passport, was still solidly Remaining. Next to the passport were the deeds to a modest but entirely sufficient farm with accompanying buildings, one of which was a garage in which sixteen years earlier he’d carefully housed one of the first new Aston Martin V8 Vantage cars, in left-hand drive and thus suitable for Continental adventures.
Although Bond had survived countless brushes with death he’d literally bought the farm back in 1999, using his French alias, as a bolt-hole in case things went wrong. Well, he thought, you can’t get much wronger than Brexit.
Bond looked around his tedious little flat knowing he’d never see it again. There was nothing holding him to the rainy little island nation now. He was a shell of a man, but Britain was now less than a shell of a nation. It wouldn’t be long before the Scots declared independence and Bond didn’t want to stick around to see the white inbred English lower classes taking out their ire and misplaced sense of grievance on their darker-skinned compatriots.
Seven hours later Bond was gazing out the window of Air France flight 0707 on his way to Toulouse, sipping a nicely chilled glass of Pol Roger. His French had never been particularly good as he’d spent most of his time at the British Army’s Foreign Language Wing (since renamed in good Politically Correct fashion as the Language and Culture Center) studying Russian and dallying with local barmaids. Living in France would be an excellent opportunity to improve his French. And who knows? Perhaps there would be a beautiful young(ish) farmgirl eager to help the mysterious and charming English gentleman learn the ways of her country…
Bond relaxed into his First Class seat and smiled. He was only one-hundred-and-one years old. He had all the time in the world ahead of him.