There was an irony in the black ice, Q,
but it was weather, not wit, that slipped
your shaken Renault Megane into
the Fiat Brava, on the A27, near Firle,
East Sussex (where you were born),
so life, like any marginal success, skirled
with sex and death, and killed you.
At 85 your name has become an initial.
The ironies, for such hounds, mount
when it is found you were out signing
autographs, only a month after release
of the new Bond, The World is Not
Enough, in which you retired through
a hole in the floor, descending slow
and turning your serial cameos
into a serious lapse of taste - low
comedy, not a gold gadget, fobbing you off
the set you were Fool of and for, though
the James' never lasted - like heady kings -
as long as your black tenure giving toys
(gold laser-pens and torpedo-ready cars)
to the hard playboy at the heart of England.
The pay, let alone the world, was not enough
either, sources said, as you lay hours cold,
levels dropping below minus ten Celsius;
while moguls and stars of the franchise
made a killing, your coded man was paid
by the day, for From Russia With Love
earning four hundred pounds for three.
By the 80s, you were a face we knew,
a brand we trusted, but not able to capitalize,
yourself, on the quasi-infamy of Q, locked
into a small, stiff role stuffed with sight gags
and little else, like a boarding house
for broken circus acts, caught in the circle
of nothing more to do, but nothing less.
Each film, they offered the part, you bit.
Stupid not to have. If not well, it paid,
and some money is preferable to none
in the trade, in which you lived, skint.
Your word. Producer Cubby had the girls
and the homes to show for his hits, the fun
of being behind the whole thing. Bonds
had more fun, too. An old man now, in
a young man's game, you were the spy
in the fish-eye of gain, seeing what others
caught with power's sensual bait. Angles
and machines eluded you, the final irony
in a filmography of them: big hands
and a clumsy way with tools meant
you never really did invent exploding
cocktail shakers or planes that unpacked
themselves, like metaphors, from valises.
Living from Bond to Bond, stirred by
need to get up and go do the Q routine,
not hi-tech by choice, but old industry,
you served again and again, always
aging, ever returning to your Bexhill
dump - dilapidated, you claimed,
even if the Georgian home had a pool -
obscurity met fame's fate head-on:
a new way to die and for you, regain
a kind of face, at agency's far end:
at last Llewelyn, Desmond Llewelyn.
Free Williamsburg | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
| August 2000 | Volume 6