One of the curiosities of modern warfare and espionage is the British decision to make their most successful spy of the day known to the public. Generally, spies are kept secret, with great care being taken to keep their covers from being blown.
In the 1960s, however, the country of England (or Great Britain) decided that it somehow served their interest to publish and make movies about the exploits of their best spies. Some have suggested that this was to scare the opposition. If so, it hasn’t worked. We can discuss that another time.
The first person to receive the title of “England’s #1 Spy”—or, “James Bond” for short—was a Scottish lad named Sean. Tall, debonair, and with a voice that would have been instantly memorable to all (some have suggested that it was his voice that actually settled England on this new idea of spying because it was so easy for opposing forces to detect transmissions sent by this spy), Sean was the prototype for all James Bonds (sometimes called “Commander James Bond” or just “Oh, James!”) that would follow.
Following five spectacularly successful missions—if one can accept the maxim that it is better for the one to die to save the many (or, in these cases, that thousands should die to save the millions)—Sean retired from the title of James Bond.
England then hired someone from one of their outlying territories to take over the position of James Bond, chief of spies (who was given the number “7”, presumably to convince foreign powers that there were six other spies of even greater worth out there). The new spy was another tall, debonair young man, this time from Australia, and named George. George only led the British spy agency, MI6, for one mission, after which he got married. The official story—this, too, was a new thing: putting out an official story about a spy, but it had some precedent having previous published in Japanese papers that James Bond had died—was that George was retiring from the James Bond service following the tragic death of his wife but the rumors persist that George merely faked his wife’s death and went off to live a life of ease—probably in Jamaica—with his beloved Tracy.
Suddenly without a James Bond and no one in the training pipeline,Britain talked Sean into coming back for one more mission while MI6 trained a new apprentice. While Sean was blowing up a satellite with the aid of a woman in a bikini, MI6 was training a man named Roger to take his place. Handsome in an effeminate way, Roger brought a strange sense of humor and a year of experience in the American west to the job, leaving almost a decade later when it seemed that his missions were becoming just too silly to bother with. It was, after all, the early ‘80s and there wasn’t a lot to do, what with the Cowboy American president having vanquished all worthy foes. He did, however, before retiring, kill the man who had supposedly killed Tracy, in some weird attempt to facilitate the fiction that all the James Bonds were the same man and not distinct individuals with singular looks and a shared sex addiction.
At some point in these years, many debate the actual year, Sean came out of retirement and, of his own accord, took up the title of James Bond and, without authorization, saved the world from almost the exact same threat it had faced in one of his earlier missions. It has only been recently that MI6 would even acknowledge that his mission ever took place, so it remains shrouded in some secrecy.
It wasn’t until a few years later that England saw the need for another James Bond and hired a man named Tim. Handsome, like the others, but strangely well-read in the works of former spies of England, Timothy served in two missions with distinction before quietly retiring as it didn’t seem like England needed James Bonds anymore.
When the need did arise,England hired an ex-patriot working in Los Angelesas a private eye to take on the job of James Bond. Even when new to the job, however, he seems to have been aware of previous MI6 business well enough to tell the new boss where the old boss kept his liquor. Many people were initially reluctant to accept the newby in the job of James Bond, and may reasons why have been suggested, but it is this writer’s contention that the reason this James Bond was often viewed with some disdain was that none of the women spies he worked with were as pretty as the woman who ran the American detective agency. After serving with distinction for four missions, this James Bond—code named Pierce—retired to a quiet life in America with his wife and children.
It wouldn’t be until years later that England would again hire a James Bond, this time not out of necessity but, apparently, out of an overriding sense of, “Eh, why not?” In keeping with that attitude, the powers that be (whoever “they” may be) decided to conduct a world-wide search to find the most boring, most-non-charismatic person on the planet. Finding a man named Daniel whose personality was practically non-existent, they quickly set out to insert him in missions that, while vague in objective, were obtuse in outcome.
We can all thank England for using the James Bonds to keep the world safe and, I think I speak for everyone when I say: I wish they would bring back Sean.