Being Right

Not really. I don’t have an Aston Martin. Wish I did though. The title is from a chapter in an Ian Fleming book, which sees James Bond dashing through Europe in the chase for Auric Goldfinger.

“Bond settled back into second and let the car idle. He reached for the wide gunmetal case of Morland cigarettes on the neighboring bucket seat, fumbled for one and lit it from the dashboard.”

“The car was from the pool. Bond had been offered the Aston Martin or a Jaguar 3.4. He had taken the D.B.III. Either of the cars would have suited his cover — a well-to-do, rather adventurous young man with a taste for the good, the fast things of life. But the D.B.III had the advantage of an up-to-date triptyque, an inconspicuous color — battleship gray — and certain extras which might or might not come in handy. These included switches to alter the type and color of Bond’s front and rear lights if he was following or being followed at night, reinforced steel bumpers, fore and aft, in case he needed to ram, a long-barrelled Colt .45 in a trick compartment under the driver’s seat, a radio pickup tuned to receive an apparatus called the Homer, and plenty of concealed space that would fox most Customs men.”

Those are passages one could read over and over again. Reminds me of this bit from Damon Runyon’s “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown”:

“Now one Sunday evening The Sky is walking along Broadway, and at the corner of Forty-ninth Street he comes upon a little bunch of mission workers who are holding a religious meeting, such as mission workers love to do of a Sunday evening, the idea being that they may round up a few sinners here and there, although personally I always claim the mission workers come out too early to catch any sinners on this part of Broadway. At such an hour the sinners are still in bed resting up from their sinning of the night before, so they will be in good shape for more sinning a little later on.”

Images from that filled my college days (and nights). Of course, for some, the quote may read familiar as it was used in the CD sleeve of Workshy’s “The Golden Mile”.

Perhaps a life’s regret (there are a possible few; but then again too few to mention) is that I never got to do the Golden Mile. There’s supposed to be one in Singapore and another in Belfast. The World’s End is about 12 pubs, starting with The Old Familiar and ends — naturally — with The World’s End.

Frankly, I’m not even sure it’s a place.

The point is to spend the evening going to a string of pubs until one gets blindly “pissed” (i.e., drunk). The moment has passed. There are certain things one can do at 27 that’s just idiotic at 47.

Like Paris.

Amidst the mayhem in The Day of the Jackal, even Frederick Forsyth was moved to write:


“The brilliant afternoon that had warmed the friendly pavements of Paris throughout the day faded to golden dusk, and at nine the street lights came on. Along the banks of the Seine the couples strolled as always on summer nights, hand in hand, slowly as if drinking in the wine of dusk and love and youth that will never, however hard they try, be quite the same again. The open-fronted cafés along the water’s edge were alive with chatter and clink of glasses, greetings and mock protests, raillerie and compliments, apologies and passes, that make up the conversation of the French and the magic of the river Seine on an August evening.”

I wonder if Manila, not Metro Manila but Manila itself, could recover or acquire such character.

For now, the best thing really is to spend much time out of the city. And look upwards, pondering Eliot: “Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky.”

And on and on until “Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, the muttering retreats, of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels, and sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells.”

Then finally to “the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo.”

The drive sighs and melds into its final turns, the roads covered by fallen leaves. Verlaine:

“The long sobs of autumn’s violins, wound my heart with a monotonous languor.”

Which is perhaps apt as these lines signaled the start of Operation Overlord — that part regarding the violins meant that the Normandy invasion would happen in two weeks; the one regarding languor meant that D-Day starts in 48 hours. In which case, the French Resistance should start sabotaging stuff.

Speaking of the resistance, when asked what was he rebelling against, a young Marlon Brando gruffly replied (mumbling, of course): “What do you got?”

But the drive is done and the reverie has faded. Back to work.


Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.

Twitter @jemygatdula