…..Let it never fade away!”

John Barry (1933-2011), “The Living Daylights.”

I’ll admit to having had considerable difficulty processing that lyric these past several months ever since my 10 night ordeal at the Ottawa General Hospital last July. It seems so counterintuitive, so counter-instinctual!!  You don’t spend days in a hospital,…… you spend nights! Long, lonely, sleepless nights. The bandwidth capability of their local WiFi connection was so limited that I couldn’t even access YouTube for musical distraction.

The only thing I could make work was this interview on the life and music of Britain’s most famous film composer (five Academy Awards no less!!), John Barry, who died last February. The man who gave the Bond franchise its sound track. So I played it over and over again until I could anticipate the fused entry of every cymbal, horn, twanging bass guitar, blaring trumpet, bell, whistle, and drum to every Bond song ever written.

It’s incredible that none of Barry’s Academy Awards were for a Bond song! Put that down to Hollywood spite and envy. I envy him for two things. Well, two beyond his musical genius that is. The first was his white Maserati and the second his marriage to Jane (Belle) Birkin back when London truly swung. It was something else! Dolly birds in mini-skirts!! I know. I was there!!

Pictures of her appearance in Toronto a couple of weeks back, reveal that Belle Birkin, now in her mid sixties,  is still a seriously HOT woman!!! The fact that she could couple up with that uglypuss Serge Gainsbourg gives hope to us other merely mortal men!! Hitchhiking around Europe in the 60s, you could be forgiven for mistaking their Je t’aime as the national anthem for what was then the new European Union (how’s that working out these days???). It was that ubitquitous!!!

John and Jane – The Swinging Sixties.

Now I’ve been a Bond fan from the start. But lying there flat on my back in the dark on a hospital bed with more tubes running in and out of me than I care to remember, my life at its lowest ebb,  unable to move and without the visual distraction of the guns and girls, this was the first time I was able to seriously contemplate the music which underpinned the most successful franchise in the history of the movies. It was Barry posthumously throwing me a lifeline of hope.  I’ve had him seriously on the brain ever since. Not only were his Bond themes the sound tracks of movies, taken as a whole it was the music of the cold war…my war.

I think that’s where my aversion to the dark comes in. Long, black days and nights of the arctic winter!! That and the fact that I’ve always been a Dylan Thomas sort of guy (Rage, rage …against the dying of the light!). Then too it could have been those freaky, scary night dives in the South China Sea where the sharks can sense you a mile away and you can’t see your hand in front of your goggles!! And I’ve always hated having to put the camera away just when the short-eared owls come out due to the fading light.

Last week my good friend Jenny attended the Hallé Orchestra’s memorial tribute to John Barry at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Had I known in time, I would have popped across the pond to join her. Keep the tradition alive so to speak. Last time I heard the Hallé, it was with her and future husband Bill  at Ely Cathedral in July of 1970. The orchestra was under the baton of the great Sir John Barbirolli, playing Elgar and Vaughan Williams. Fantastic orchestra! Even more fantastic cathedral!! What an experience!!! It was one of the last concerts Sir John was to give. He died two weeks later of a massive heart attack in his London flat. Boy, did I ever squeak that one in!!

This week Nikon announced their long awaited (catastrophic tsunami in Japan, diluvian floods in Thailand!) flagship D4 camera. Not quite the revolutionary advance for which many had been hoping.

Set our hopes up way to high…..living’s in the way we…. DIE!

(Ah, excuse me for a moment while I have a private talk with Mr. Barry. “John, I love you and all that, but could you please stay out of my head long enough to finish this post?? OK??  Thanks!”)

But the D4 will be a tremendous camera nevertheless with outstanding low light capability. This is intriguing. Since most wildlife opportunities happen around sunset and sunrise this capability is an absolute necessity. For that reason alone I’ve put  my name down for pre-order.

So, while my photog buddies will be doing their best modern day imitation of Dylan Thomas and packing away their equipment with barely suppressed curses, I’ll still be clicking away (short-eared owls beware!)…….   “IN THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS!



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