Thanks to Skyfall, the new Bond film directed by Sam Mendes, we know more about James Bonds’ back story than ever before. We know he used to live in a big drafty house in Scotland which was implausibly isolated from the rest of the world. It must have been hard persuading the other parents to bring over their kids for one of little Jimmy’s parties. We know that he still owns the same 1964 Aston Martin DB5 that he used to drive… hang on. How old is Bond supposed to be? Perhaps they should bring Shaun Connery out of retirement just to aid with continuity. And we know he can take a drink whilst a scorpion sits on the back of his hand (if the scorpion is so dangerous and unpredictable, then how did the scorpion get on to his hand in the first place?) But there are many things we still do not know, and we will never know about Bond. Here are ten things that go well beyond the limits of Bond’s mystique.
1. Duvet cover
Stripes? Plain? Floral? Or maybe a print featuring Spiderman? We will never know what duvet covers are kept by Bond in his linen cupboard. And that is because nobody – absolutely nobody – looks glamorous whilst changing their duvet cover. It is physically impossible to look good whilst putting on a duvet cover, because it is so bloody hard to put them on.
We all know what he looks like in a dinner jacket, but none of us remember his socks. Bond’s sock drawer is a mystery that will never be solved. Does he buy packs of three from Marks & Spencer? Or perhaps he gets the kind with coloured heels and toes to make them easy to match? Or does Bond spend his civil service salary on fabulously expensive Zimmerli 100 percent cashmere dress weight over-the-calf socks? Even in IMAX, one black sock looks just like another.
3. Learning languages
Bond always seems to be fluent in any language, wherever he goes. But what is the secret to learning so many languages? Does he listen to Linguaphone recordings whilst he is working out? Maybe the secret agent spends all spare time hanging around the local college. That might explain his rapport with women of every nationality. This would also fit with the Bond mythology, which demands that he picks up his linguistic skills by flirting with beauties from the four corners of the planet. But that would not work in practice. He might learn a hundred different words for boobies, but barroom chat is unlikely to cover the Russian for: “give me the cipher for the ballistic missile detonation sequence”.
We all know Bond is tremendous behind the wheel. He is so good, you have to wonder why he does not swap the girls, glamour, risks and rubbish salary of an intelligence agent for the girls, glamour, risks, and riches of a Formula One racing driver. But in addition to his licence to kill, Bond must also have a licence to drive. Did he pass his test first time? Was he taught by a parent, or by a British School of Motoring instructor? Does he consistently remember the routine of ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’? And does he give people the finger when they cut him up?
5. Personal computing
With the transition from Connery to Craig, we assume that Bond became computer literate along the way. But apart from when Q supplies the gadgets, how does Bond browse the web? Does he prefer Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer? And what name does Bond use for his Facebook profile? Will Bond be installing Windows 8, or is he the kind of guy who sometimes heads down to the Apple Store for a Garageband tutorial? Is Bond the kind of guy who helpfully corrects an error he spots on Wikipedia, and has Bond ever downloaded porn?
6. Sweet or sour
When ordering takeaway, or heading to an oft-frequented Indian or Chinese restaurant, everybody knows their favourite dish. Is Bond a fan of chicken tikka masala, or would he opt for vindaloo? Does Bond like his noodles, or does he prefer egg fried rice? Does Bond ever get his food delivered, or is his address too secret to share with Domino’s Pizza? Perhaps Bonds avoids having a regular order because that would make it too easy to poison him.
7. The first time
Everybody has a first time – that first occasion when you buy a record, or a CD, or download a music track (what other ‘first time’ did you think I was referring to?) But what was the first song bought by Bond? Did he like Madness, Public Enemy, or maybe The Police? Was his first record sung by Celine Dion, or maybe Whitney Houston? Perhaps it was by Jive Bunny or maybe Jethro Tull. It is difficult to imagine the teenage Bond’s tastes – he might have gone to warehouse raves, or maybe he was a goth or an indie kid. But then again, probably not. A lot of teenage music is about love, heartbreak or having a good time. Kids who grow up to be frosty-faced killers must start out liking Beethoven, the Sex Pistols or Alanis Morissette.
8. The other first time
Okay, there is a first time for something other than buying records. And even James Bond was once a virgin. So what was Bond’s first sexual encounter like? Was it with the girl next door? If it was the girl next door to Skyfall then it is a miracle he ever met her, never mind shagged her. Did Bond lose his virginity during freshers’ week at university? Was it over disappointingly quickly, or did he think about golf just to last a little longer? Or is Bond’s womanizing a from of overcompensation for time spent in an all-boys boarding school?
9. The other drink
Thanks to product placement and society’s obsession with alcohol, we all know how Bond likes his Martini, what brand of beer he chugs, what wine is in his cellar and what whisky is in his hip flask. But if you invited Bond over during the middle of the day, what refreshing beverage would he ask for? Would he want a cup of tea, and if so, with milk or lemon? If given the choice, would he opt for green tea or redbush? Does he keep craving the stimulation of coffee, or would he ask for a Pepsi? Or is Bond the kind of unfussy house guest who just wants water out of the tap?
Funnily enough, Sean Connery is not the oldest Bond. Roger Moore holds that distinction; he was born in 1927. Daniel Craig is, unsurprisingly, the youngest Bond. Craig was born in 1968. With a mere forty years between the oldest and youngest Bond, it becomes apparent why some of the character’s characteristics may be difficult to determine. But putting the year aside, on which day does Bond celebrate his birthday? After twenty-three movie outings, nobody has ever stopped to wish him many happy returns. Even if Bond carries a fake passport, there must be something written for the birth date. Has Bond ever had a birthday party, and who would he invite? When was the last time somebody baked him a cake, and how many cards does he get each year? And if you asked him how old he was, would he lie?