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From Surrey with love ~ Catching Bullets: Memoirs Of A Bond Fan/ Mark O’Connell (Review)

July 9, 2013

catching_bullets_memoirs_of_a_bond_fan_mark_o'connell

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Author: Mark O’Connell

Year: 2012

Publisher: Splendid Books

ISBN-10: 0956950574/ ISBN-13: 978-0956950574

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Ah yes, those Bond fans of you out there (of which I know there’s one or two), will be only too aware that a certain 007 opus, 1983’s Octopussy, no less – the India-cum-circus-cum-Cold-War-cornucopia – has just celebrated it’s 30th anniversary. In which case, George’s Journal is marking the occasion by putting up yours truly’s review of this most excellent book, which this scribe first had published on foremost 007 website mi6-hq.com last year. Why post it on one’s own blog right now in the name of Octopussy, though? Well, that flick is undoubtedly the Bond movie that started it all for the book’s author Mark O’Connell, as if you read his terrific tome, you’d only too happily discover…

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Many James Bond fans like to make claims about genuine connections they have with their cinematic idol – for instance, I got enormously excited around the age of 10 when rumour had it Roger Moore was moving into a house in the posh country lane down the road from me. As it goes, this claim of mine is rather rubbish, as Sir Rog never moved in. Mark O’Connell’s, however, is much better; in fact, it’s a king of such claims, as his grandfather Jimmy was for several decades chauffer to the man behind the cinematic Bond himself, Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli.

It’s this happy coincidence for O’Connell the enormous Bond fan that’s the spur to his writing Catching Bullets: Memoirs of a Bond Fan (in addition to him being an enormous Bond fan, of course). Principally a memoir of his first encounters with each of the official 22 Bond films – each of them being a ‘bullet’ he originally ‘caught’ at different ages either at the cinema, on video or on TV – this book ends up being much more. It’s almost a pseudo-autobiography filtered through different aspects of his life, as an ‘80s Surrey schoolboy through to becoming a successful TV comedy writer, that coincided with and are related to those important Bond experiences (every Bond fan knows their interest/ obsession tends to affect almost every other aspect of their life at some point, whether they like it or not).

Extremely witty, nicely dry but also very warm when it comes to the world of Bond (especially that of Roger Moore and, in particular, 1985’s A View To A Kill and 1983’s Octopussy), this is a nostalgia-fest of a fess-up to 007 fandom. It’s chock-full of anecdotes of Bond-esque-themed children’s parties, visits to the local petrol station to get a Bond fix on VHS when that Bank Holiday’s just too far away to wait for telly’s next Moore or Connery offering, and the despair of not being able to purchase the latest TV Times magazine while on Cubs camp just to marvel at its coverage of ITV’s next Bond film.

It’s a tale then of a life as a Bond fan lived, with all its glorious highs and (semi-)disastrous lows, with which any and every 007 enthusiast will surely identify – from making a childhood pilgrimage to an abandoned Sussex mine just because it was a Bond location for five minutes to delicate negotiations with a partner to mount a framed Bond film poster in pride of place in the lounge; from naughtily getting in to see the ‘15’-rated Licence To Kill as a mere 13-year-old to ripping an adored, ruined-forever A View To A Kill t-shirt passed along by a kindly grandfather employed by Eon Productions themselves.

Indeed, the presence of grandfather Jimmy throughout makes for an intriguing link between O’Connell’s fanboy existence and the fantasy factory that was the Pinewood Studios-ensconced Cubby and his fellow filmmakers. Something that at times has afforded the lucky but very humble O’Connell more than just passed-on Bond memorabilia. But what exactly? Well, why not let Mark O’Connell tell you himself by catching Catching Bullets – the tale of being a Bond fan by a Bond fan that surely no Bond fan should be without.

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You can purchase Catching Bullets: Memoirs Of A Bond Fan here

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Further reading:

Read George’s Journal‘s review of Octopussy here

See George’s Journal‘s Octopussy image collection (including behind-the-scenes pictures) here

markoconnell.co.uk

twitter.com/Mark0Connell

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