“And of course certainly in my life there were no Aston Martins and Ferraris. Bicycles if you were lucky, and Ford Escorts. That sort of level.”The words of Dame Eliza Manningham Buller, former head of MI5, describing what it was really like on Her Majesty's Secret Service provide a handy opportunity for a bit of recycling as New Year's day entertainment - it looks as if I was closer to the truth than I knew.
(This piece first appeared in 2011, in response to the news that the MoD were selling off assets such as expensive watches to fund a cash shortfall.)
On Her Majesty's Cheapest Service
James Bond sipped his drink and looked at his wristwatch once more. The digital display read 10:25. He got to his feet, pushing aside the polystyrene box that held the last few crumbs of his Big Mac. Carrying his large 7-Up, he went to the door of the restaurant and looked out.
It was still raining. His imitation Converse would be soaked through long before he reached the Premier Inn. If only M would let him take a minicab on expenses.
Turning up the collar of his Burton jacket, Bond stepped out into the street and walked the ten yards to the Silver Dollar Amusement Arcade. Two girls smoking in the doorway made way for him to pass; a hint of Burberry's 'Touch' lingered in the air where they had been standing.
Bond selected a slot machine and began to feed in 50p coins. He was gambling with his own money now; M had been very firm about allowances when they last met. One of the girls from the door had followed him and stood beside the machine, watching him closely. He looked up and caught her eye.
"Gum?" she said, offering a packet of Wrigleys Extra.
"Don't mind if I do." Bond took a piece. "What's your name?"
She leaned closer to him and giggled, her Elizabeth Duke earrings chiming in sympathy. Her breath was warm on his neck and smelt of Bacardi Breezers.
"It's Lauren, but my friends call me Chardonnay," she said.
"Chardonnay? I like it. Smooth, and with a touch of oak. Tell me, Chardonnay, where would you like to wake up tomorrow morning?"
The girl looked up at him from under eyelashes heavy with Rimmel Volume mascara.
"Dunno, really," she said, "As long as I'm in time for school, yeah? I got double geography first and 's the only GCSE I'm goin' to get, innit."
"B***er!" said Bond. Turning on his heel, he walked outside onto the pavement and lit a Lambert & Butler.
Since the Ministry cuts, the job just wasn't the same, somehow.