Britain’s M15 says secret agents are “beyond it” by 50. - report.

Bond appeared in the doorway, “The name’s Bond. James Bond.”

Grant of M15 said, “Who?”

“You know,” said Bond, “007! Licensed to kill and all that.”

“And all what?”

“Well, it depends on the season… but I’m also licensed to drive a vehicle that can do 320km/h, with machine guns in the hubcaps and an 88mm cannon disguised as an exhaust pipe and a grenade launcher in the boot and…”

“What on earth do you drive – a Soweto taxi?”

“An Aston Martin, actually.”

“Isn’t that a football team?”

“You’re thinking of Aston Villa,” said Bond.

Grant, “Anyway, old man, the name’s Grant, Sebastian Grant, 9800956. If you’ve been sent by Sir Andrew, I suggest we move!”

Grant vaulted through the window to avoid being seen by those who (or even whom) he knew would be watching the front entrance. He landed lightly, three floors down. Bond followed, but landed astride some railings. He winced visibly and Grant, retrieving Bond’s tripod walker, noticed the old man’s eyes smarted, just a little.

“You OK?”

“Fine! Got this damned brittle-bone problem. Don’t worry – I can set my old bones myself once we’re in the car.”

Both 007 and 9800956 were gunning the M15's Jag XJ 220 (with stereo radio and tape deck) along the M25 when 007 asked, “Tell me, old boy, whatever happened to Botvinik?”

“Old Botty – the Russian spymaster? He retired. We gave him a part-time job at M15, tidying up our files. He was more familiar with them than we were. We’ve given up chasing Russians, of course. Nowadays we buy their secrets through a mail-order catalogue. It’s the Arabs now.”

”Grant, I must confess I don’t know why Sir Andrew sent me to you. My game was chasing Russians. Of course, once we realised most of the M15 and CIA chiefs had been Russian agents all along the situation became uncertain and we spent a lot of time chasing each other – often round our own desks.

Bond began to reminisce … “Once I turned 50 they gave me an Austin Mini – imagine! One day I was chasing Botvinik in his Fiat 1100…” Bond laughed at the memory and was instantly racked by a paroxysm of coughing.

“Anyway, we drove straight into a canal! I said to myself, ‘Bond, this is the end of the road! You’re past it!’”

Bond wiped some dribble off his club tie, the thin end of which hung lower than the fat end.

“But surely, Grant old boy, Arabs must be easier to spot? Look, there’s one!”

“By jove, Bond! It’s Ali Salim Salim Ali, licensed to deal in Scuds. Hold tight!”

The rocket-assisted XJ 220 soared over the top of the Arab’s SL 960 (four-door with disc brakes), touching down just in front of it. Ali Salim immediately pulled off the road, grabbed his secret plans, umbrella and sandwich tin and sprinted into the fields with Grant in hot pursuit and Bond in cooler pursuit.

As Grant disappeared into the distance, Bond, out of puff, lay in the grass and closed his eyes.

He sensed a shadow fall over him and found himself gazing up into the liquid brown eyes of Princess Fabiola Aman Ik Aman the famous Arab spy.

“Hello, James,” she breathed.

“Hello, my dear,” said Bond.

“Can I loosen your tie?” she sighed.

But Bond was already snoring.

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James Clarke