We All Know It Flies but It Really Does Fly

Yesterday was Saturday and, for reasons best left unexplored, we drove through the same town we had driven through on the Saturday before. Are you with me so far? While driving through the town yesterday, the revelation came to me with something akin to a blinding flash of light.

“Wait,” I said, to Patricia, who was alongside me in the shotgun seat.


“It’s been a week.”

“What’s been a week?”

I could hardly say it. It had been a week since we last drove up this street in this town. A full week. Seven days. But it couldn’t have been. It simply couldn’t. It seemed like yesterday or, at the very most, the day before yesterday. Not a week. Not an entire week.

Sorry to prattle on about this, about something that I reckon we all experience all the time. It’s just that this particular instance of it was so pronounced. It was remarkable. So here I am, as I do, remarking on it.

It wasn’t like a memory-loss thing, or anything like that. I audited my week a little as I drove along, and it was all there. University Challenge, lots of work, first rehearsal, power outage, Sky box going up the Swannee, chips on Friday and here, in the car again, in this town, one Saturday later. No amnesia, no dotage.

Just time.

Time flies.

I was at a thing a few weeks back and, on the back of a nice discussion about time travel movies, the idea of the actual viability of time travel came up. One of my favourite people, a committed scientist, patiently explained why time travel simply was not possible and stoically weathered the ensuing storm of the Back to the Future fanatics shaking their heads and saying, ‘But it might be. It might.’ Afterward he took me aside and whispered an explanation of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to me and, truth be told, I was not much the wiser afterward. I’m more of a smart-arse than an intellect. The complexity of time eludes me.

Except in practical, day-to-day terms. Time moves slowly sometimes. It drags along and we look at the place where we used to wear our watches and wish that things would hurry the hell up. That certainly happens sometimes. But generally, time moves fast. Time flies and it sometimes blinds us at how very fast it can go.

I find if I’m moving fast, time goes quickly and if I’m moving slowly time goes slowly, except when I look back on the slow time it also seems to have gone pretty darned quickly.

(Hopefully, by now, you’ll have gone past the sneaking suspicion and reached the firm conclusion that there isn’t going to be any sensible resolution to this little musing. The object of this weekly exercise is to reflect a little on something-or-other that happened in the week preceding. And, although the aforementioned power-cut, sky box breakage and the Friday chips are all events ripe for further exploration, the fact remains. This past week went bloody fast.)

In maths, you do a little sum, and it leads you to a bigger sum. (I’m about as good on maths as I am on Relativity). If the little sum is that the week commencing 11th Oct 2021 flew, then the bigger sum is also one we are all very familiar with.

Life is short.

It’s a week for stating the obvious, isn’t it? We should make it a national holiday. One where we all sit around remarking on how green the grass is or how wet that water is. I bet that day might drag a bit, at least until it was over and then it would seem like it actually went… oh, you get the point.

But time does fly, and life is short. This week proved it or reminded me of it or… something like that anyway.

In another chat from the past couple of weeks, I defiantly proclaimed myself to be middle-aged. The reply I got was a bit smart but also a bit thought-provoking.

“Well done,” the person replied, “I’ll see you when you’re 116.”

It’s true, innit? At 58, I’m not going to see the same span again. In truth, I’ll be lucky to see another fifteen years.

And time is flying.

And I don’t do very much. I work and make some dinners and watch a little TV and fall asleep on the couch and tumble to bed and get up and work. And the weeks and the months and the years roll around and, like that past week, you sometimes wonder where they went and how they did it so quickly.

This is the end. No, not that end. The end of the piece. Ideally, I would come out of this with some resolve, some drive to do better. If I can’t slow time down (and I can’t) then I should do more with my allocation. As they said in that movie (when the guy quoted Jack London) “I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

Yes, I should do some of that. I should ‘Ride, boldly ride’ like they said in that other film.

But I probably won’t. I think I live my life more from song quotations than movie quotations so I’ll just ‘keep on keepin’ on’, as I do. No great revisions to the script, no great reinvention, just 'keep on keepin’ on.' That’s all…

…but, man, that week went quickly, didn’t it?

Metal Gear Bond Kicks the World Back Onto its Axis

I can’t ever tell you if a film is good or bad. I just can’t. All I can do is tell you if I liked it or not, it’s for you to draw your own conclusions from there.

So, this won’t be a review of the new Bond movie. It will just be one of my typical Sunday morning short pieces. Except, this time, it’s about how I went to see a particular movie at the first opportunity so that it could be all mine rather than just an amalgam of what every else might say about it.

I only do this ‘Early Bird’ thing with the Bond movies and it’s a long-standing tradition. The first night of ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ was my first non-parent accompanied evening show. Even back in the London/Timothy Dalton days, I would be into Leicester Square on the opening Friday evening. Making up my own mind before everybody else told me what to think. It’s always been a rare opportunity to catch something before everybody else does. The movies have always come out on this side of the world a week before America gets them so, just for once, we could be ahead of the game.

Enough, already. Tell us about your day at the movies, Ken. How did it go?

I sloped off work. Four O'clock on Thursday. I work for myself so it’s not quite a salacious as is might sound but it’s still a thing I never do. I hatched the plan on the Sunday before. I rarely do anything purely for myself. That makes me sound like a saint, which I’m patently fucking not, but I do tend to overlook myself sometimes in the rush of everyday life. Would I, could I, continue the tradition of seeing these silly old flicks the moment they came out? I could. I would.

The cinema was only letting fifty people in. That suited me just fine. I hadn’t been in over two years, and I didn’t need it to be a buzzing occasion. In fairness, it felt a bit like coming home although I haven’t been the most faithful of attendees, even pre-pandemic. The audience was made up of a few couples with quite a few dad and son combos, which was nice. There was also a few solo males like me. To be expected. I bought a bag of Maltesers and, true to form, had most of them eaten before the iconic gun barrel sequence even rolled. Then we were off.

I can’t tell you if a film is good or bad. I just can’t. 

But I can tell you that I really, really liked this one.

Do with that what you will. I have to be a little careful. Bond films, for me, are a lot like the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol. They both come on the scene all massive and boisterous but, as time ticks on, they deflate and come to seem more ordinary. This continues until they appear on ITV4 for the twentieth time, and you can’t bear to look at them again. This happened most notably with the most recent Spectre. Only 'From Russia with Love' has retained, and even improved on, its initial sheen. The others have faded like a festive season. But in their ‘Early Morning, Christmas Day’ mode, when everything is bright and shiny and new, man they can be really something. And, sitting there in Mayo Movie World in the dark, with the dregs of my sweetie bag in my lap, this new film was really something.

For me, Daniel Craig’s - and Purvis and Wade’s - crowning achievement has been to redefine the character as a man. Where other JBs might delight in late night gambling, clandestine affairs, and myriad assassination, Craig’s man has evolved in someone who tends to find his joy in people. From being a misogynistic clothes horse, JB has become a fella who talks just like we do (90% of the time) and who doesn’t suffer bloody fools gladly. If not a depth, there is at least a firm reality to him.

You might have got a sense by now that I’m not going to tell you much about the actual film, beyond that I liked it. You can get all that plot stuff elsewhere. Like I said, this is not a review. I will say roughly three things about it, none of which will spoil your film or your day.

Firstly, director Cary Joji Fukunaga and cinematographer Linus Sandgren have delivered a beautiful product. I had often thought how I’d like to see JB in action here in Ireland and the Skyfall finale, with its Scottish setting, came close to that. But the foggy Norwegian Woods section of the new film come closest of all. It is a beautiful thing. There is also what I would call a ‘Metal Gear Solid’ sequence in the film where JB has some bigwigs in his earpiece telling him how things stand while he ruthlessly picks his way through a ‘level’, dispatching villains hither and yon. For me, it is pure video game cinema and, as an antidote to all the caring and feeling that necessarily goes on elsewhere in the flick, it is very welcome.

Reservations? Well of course there are some. Elements sometimes fee shoehorned into the plot to satisfy respectful nods to earlier times. Like the poison garden from Fleming’s novel ‘You Only Live Twice’ or Dalton’s V8 Volante, which has a dust sheet whipped off it like it’s going to do something brilliant and then it doesn’t. Some characters have nothing to do and are just there because they were there before. One particular minor casting choice seems very strange indeed. Bad guy Malik is just okay, and Waltz is largely neutered.

But these are quibbles. For two hours and forty-five minutes, I became immersed in the show. And though it’s a fine movie (in my opinion only) nostalgia and relief certainly played their part in achieving that. After a long pandemic run, I was back in a cinema and Metal Gear Bond was kickstarting my normal life. In the end, what with one thing and another, was there even a hint of a little_

No! Big guys don’t do that. Nuh huh. Never.

I sat through the end titles, as I always try to, even though the lights might be up, and the clean-up folk mobilising. Hans Zimmer delivered his ‘BRAAMS’ moment after we heard a golden oldie favourite all shined up. And then those old familiar final words on the screen ‘James Bond will Return’.

Of course, he will. When I was a kid, this end message would always give me a buzz. This time, not so much. It is a compliment to the film that I actually considered that there could perhaps be no more. That everything that could be done, had been done. We’ll see what happens, I guess.

Finally, as Daniel Craig finishes his tenure, I’ll give him the best kudos I can. As a lifetime fan of the series, everything allowed, he has, in my opinion only, been the best of all James Bonds.

You just can’t say more than that.

Further Afield

Back in 2017, I did a post about my younger son heading off on his school trip to Barcelona. The quiet joy and the dull ache of it all. You can have a look at it here if you’re bothered. This week, four and a half years later, and he’s off on a plane again. This time, though, he’s not coming back on Saturday night.

It’s all good. He turned twenty-one just after he left and he’s a seasoned university-goer who is well-used to living away from home and looking out for himself. He’s been looking forward to going and will be back in this country come Christmas. So, it’s all good.

Still, the tug.

Neither of us had been to an airport for a couple of years. Where have all these cars come from? We have to go up and up and up through the multi storey car park to even get a smell of a parking space.

The automatic bag check in machine nearly defeats us at the first hurdle. No matter what touch pads we touch or how we present the damn case, the device will not co-operate. All around us, people are weighing their bags, attaching their sticky labels, and moving on while we remain confounded. It is almost enough to make you say, ‘sod it, let’s just bugger back home and try again next year when it’ll all be easier.’ But no. It turns out we have chosen a machine where someone has abandoned their check-in in mid process. A quick shift to another machine and everything is fine. We are as good at it as everyone else at this.

A brief discussion about going through security, which has always confounded both of us a little. ‘Best take the Docs off, stick ‘em in a tray. The eyelets might set some bloody thing off.’

Then it’s the departure gate, up the long escalator that seems to get you halfway up into the sky already. That’s as far as I can go, Buster. A brief tight hug. Weave your way through the simple maze of queueing-barriers. Round the corner past passport control. A fleeting wave and gone.

I find a quiet spot. He’s never flown on his own before. There’s security, find the gate, fly, land, find the baggage, get the transfer, find the place, find the room, get settled… ‘Know what, though? It’ll be fine. The Dude is calm and resourceful. Everything is doable, nothing is all that hard.

The occasional text throughout the day confirms all this. Everything gets done. Any glitch is waltzed through. I’m an old fool to ever consider worrying. But you do, don’t you? It’s hard not to.

It reminds me of something I’ve forgotten or at least of something I know but which isn’t as much to the forefront of my mind as it used to be. It’s just this. You have to do hard things to do great things. The easiest route to everything is not always the best. You have to occasionally pull up a stake, shake your leaves a bit, stretch out to the sun.

I’m only writing this for all the parents and young adults who are feeling that university separation tug in this current week. I don’t think you are alone, and I don’t think you should feel that you are. Everybody feels the tug, I reckon, it’s only natural. Plus, as with most everything, our Pandemic has made it all that little bit harder. We’ve all been comfied-up together for a long time and, even if it hasn’t always been totally idealistic for everybody, it’s still something we’ve got used to having. It makes the tug that little bit jerkier.

So be easy on yourselves, parents and children of the newly separated generation. If I know anything, it will get easier quite quickly, even if it never quite gets A-Okay.

Our practically grown-up kids are off on something like a slightly qualified Star Trek mission. Boldly going where it sometimes feels like nobody has ever gone before.

And they'll be fine.