Bond sighed and sat down at his desk, pulling towards him the tray of brown folders bearing the top-secret red star, And what about 0011? It was two months since he had vanished into the 'Dirty Half-mile' in Singapore. Not a word since. While he, Bond, the senior of the three men in the Service who had earned the double 0 number, sat at his comfortable desk doing paper-work and flirting with their secretary.
He shrugged his shoulders and resolutely opened the top folder. Inside there was a detailed map of south Poland and north-eastern German. Its feature was a straggling red line connecting Warsaw and Berlin., There was also a long typewritten memorandum headed Mainline: a well-established Escape Route from East to West.
Bond took out his black gunmetal cigarette-box and his black-oxidized Ronson lighter and pout them on the desk beside him. He lit a cigarette, one of the Macedonian blend with the three gold rings round the butt that Morlands of Grosvenor Street made for him, then he settled himself forward in the padded swivel chair and began to read.
It was the beginning of a typical routine day for Bond. It was only two or three times a year that an assignment came along requiring his particular abilities. For the rest of the year he had the duties of an easy-going senior civil servant -- elastic office hours from about ten to six; lunch, generally in the canteen; evenings spent playing cards in the company of a few close friends, or at Crockford's; or making love, with rather cold passion, to one of three similarly disposed married women; weekends playing golf for high stakes at one of the clubs near London.
He took no holidays, but was generally given a fortnight's leave at the end of each assignment -- in addition to any sick-leave that might be necessary. He earned £1500 a year, the salary of a Principal Officer in the Civil Service, and he had a thousand a year free of tax of his own. When he was on a job he could spend as much as he liked, so for the other months of the year he could live very well on his £2000 a year net.
He had a small but comfortable flat off the King's Road, an elderly Scottish housekeeper -- a treasure called May -- and a 1930 4½-liter Bentley coupé, supercharged, which he kept expertly tuned so that he could do a hundred when he wanted to.
On these things he spent all his money and it was his ambition to have as little as possible in his banking account when he was killed, as when he was depressed, he knew he would be, before the statutory age of forty-five.
Eight years to go before he was automatically taken off the 00 list and given a staff job at Headquarters. At least eight tough assignments. Probably sixteen. Perhaps twenty-four. Too many.
Monday, July 27, 2009
From pp. 008-009 of 1955's Moonraker, in which Bond goes to the office: