(Published on this site 12-7-2002)
On Friday 28th of June the Ian Fleming Foundation and EON Productions held their annual charity James Bond Golf Classic and Gala Dinner at Stoke Park, Slough. For the Bond fans amongst us Stoke Park is where Bond beat Goldfinger at golf and made love to Paris in Tomorrow Never Dies. This year's charity was The Variety Club.
As well as the golf match featuring showbusiness and sports stars there was a gala dinner in the evening. A feature of the yearly galas is the presentation of the 'Goldeneye' award. Named after Ian Fleming's home in Jamaica this is presented to a person who has made 'a significant contribution to the success of James Bond'. Past recipients have included Albert R. Broccoli, Terence Young and Michael G. Wilson. This year the IFF board voted to honour John Barry.
The evening began with a champagne reception in the Great Hall as we gathered ready to take our seats in the large marquee. Members of the Bond cast and crew at the reception included John Cleese, Samantha Bond, Rick Yune, Rosamund Pike, David Arnold, Michael G. Wilson, Lee Tamahori, Vic Armstrong, Peter Lamont, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and, of course, John Barry accompanied by his wife Laurie and son Jonpatrick. Music was provided by Kenny Clayton on the piano ( Kenny worked with Matt Monro on 'From Russia With Love').
Others I remember being at the dinner were Caroline Munro, Shirley Eaton and Maryam d'Abo. And Billy Zane, who was completely bald. With his white tuxedo he looked like a young Blofeld! Just missing the pussycat. Nice guy tho'. Asked my name and wished me luck. Vic Flick was supposed to be playing too but I don't think he was there. (Comment by Geoff Leonard made in the discussion group: "Indeed he wasn't. He told me he had far too much work on to travel, in the end. I suppose flying from LA to London could have been rather expensive, too!)
After an hour or so the 500 guests took their places at the 50 tables in the giant marquee. A stage was located at one end of the tent from where the night's entertainment and presentations would take place. The MC for the night was Samantha Bond (the current Miss Moneypenny) who began by welcoming everyone to the dinner, especially the Guest of Honour, John Barry.
The food menu was as follows:
- Citrus fruit terrine with smoked salmon.
- Grilled supreme of chicken stuffed with apricot and mango chutney, served with roast ratatouille, baked potato cake and sage and onion jus.
- Champagne and Strawberry jelly with marinated fruits and raspberry coulis.
At the back of the room was the 'silent auction'. Bond memorabilia was laid out on tables along with sheets of paper to write down bids. The highest bid for each item at the end of the night won. Jonpatrick Barry went away with a full set of Bond diecast model cars for £300.
Whilst we ate, original music from the Bond films was played as background. Following presentation of the golfing awards (the main prize being won by George Lazenby's team with John Cleese doing his best Basil Fawlty and walking off with one of the prizes) the entertainment began.
First up were the Opera Babes who sang a couple of tracks from their number one album, followed by 'their tribute to John Barry'. Unfortunately, they picked 'From Russia with Love', composed by Lionel Bart!
Next was a live auction hosted by hypnotist Paul McKenna. Amongst the prizes were tickets to the Die Another Day premiere and party, and a sword used in the film (eventually going to David Arnold). Two of the most eagerly bid for prizes were those donated by John and Laurie Barry. The first was a signed score to Goldfinger complete with the baton used to conduct the orchestra; the second, dinner with John and Laurie in London. Both went for thousands of pounds.
David Arnold then introduced Bond author Raymond Benson who played a selection of John Barry's Bond music on the piano.
Then came the presentation of the 'Goldeneye' award to John Barry. Although this was supposed to be the highlight of the night it passed by very quickly. David Arnold made a short presentation speech mentioning how John Barry had influenced him since he started writing film music and how John Barry has more Oscars than any other Englishman and than 'the great John Williams'. John Barry walked onto the stage to a standing ovation and made an even shorter acceptance speech thanking the 'Bond family' and stating how honoured and gratified he was to have been honoured with the award. A surprise to everyone was a letter read out praising John Barry and his influence on the Bond films, the actors playing Bond and on the history of films in general. The letter was signed by Roger Moore. There then followed a disco until the early hours.
Personally, I will best remember meeting and talking to John Barry for the first time. When I mentioned that I was from Hull he told me that his father once owned the Astoria cinema (now a bingo hall) located just around the corner from where I live. When John introduced me to Laurie I said that I had congratulated him on his award 'from one Yorkshireman to another' and she whispered to me, "Yorkshiremen are the best in the world". Obviously I had to agree!
After meeting David Arnold he told me that his music for Die Another Day would be 'the same but different'. When I asked him if the sword he had won in the auction was to use on Madonna he just said, 'this will come in useful during the next few weeks'! He has also written a song with Don Black (also at the dinner on John Barry's table) for the film but does not know if it will be included in the final cut.
Samantha Bond, as well as being gorgeous, was more than happy to talk and sign autographs. And Billy Zane (Kate Winslet's 'fiancé' in 'Titanic') was very friendly too.
From the group I met Andy Dickenson and son Joe who now has a taste for expensive champagne and Bond girls!
A very friendly, good, night was had by all.
Next up for the dinner suit should be the Die Another Day premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in November.
Andy Dickenson adds:
My own little extra memories include everyone we spoke to being so generous with their time and so friendly. I took the opportunity to ask my favourite (you're all bored with it now) question of JB. About the vocal to Inside Moves that was sung live on Pebble Mill at One around the time of the film - by Catherine Howe. He looked baffled and suggested that as 'Dick Donner' was involved, he could have been responsible (!?) Still a mystery then. I only regret not asking Don Black. Maybe Someday!
I was moved to chat to John Glen briefly and reminded him that I approached him over 20 years ago after the last taxis had gone from the premiere for For Your Eyes Only, to congratulate him. He was appreciative then, and says he remembers it now. I also wrote to him afterwards asking about future involvement from Barry, and he replied in longhand with a considered answer. Three films later, the rest is history! A true gentleman.
Vic Armstrong was ebullient and introduced his wife Wendy (daughter of George Leech the stunt arranger on OHMSS and herself a double for many Bond girls). He claimed to be desperate to be given a shot at the director's chair. Understandable. I think it's kind of sad that those days have passed. Especially when you consider the classics OHMSS and Living Daylights. I rest my case.
Finally.....and bizzarely! John Cleese actually intitiated conversation with me! In the loo! I was able to tell him that my father did several odd jobs for his late mother who lived in our old home town of Weston Super Mare. Again....an utter gentleman.
Rob Snow and Andy Dickenson