Saturday 29 September 2012

The Typewriter Collection No.5: Smith-Corona Standard, circa 1937

EDIT- While editing my last few posts about watches, I inadvertently managed to edit this older post about my Smith-Corona Standard. I saved it to drafts, but thought I should just re-post it in the interests of keeping my records intact. This was first posted here sometime in the middle of 2011, so don't panic if you've already seen this post. I'm not sure if the comments already posted about this post will be deleted. If they are, my apologies to those of you who responded at the time. BTW, it's still a cool typewriter.

Gotta include the profile shot. This thing almost starts to look like some kind of miniaturised grand piano, with its flat-top design.

Picture courtesy of

Love these glass-topped keys.

This is why I'm always calling these things machines. I marvel at the intricacies of typewriters and how they operate.

This is a solid and slightly imposing looking typewriter. Once I get a new ribbon for it, it'll get a little more regular use.
While writing the typecast above, I noticed that the letter 'e' was punching holes right through the a Thompson machine gun!
Maybe that's why it was sticking?
Who knows?

Thanks again for reading!

The little snippet stuck to the top of this typecast is taken from "Red Wind" by Raymond Chandler. First published in "Dime Detective", January 1938.
This edition taken from "The Big Book of Pulps", Edited by Otto Penzler, Published by Quercus, 2008
ISBN 978-1-84724-824-4

Adventures In The Wristwatch Trade - Doin' Time For Thirteen Years.

Picture courtesy of
The Omega Railmaster, based on a model from the '50s. Clean sparse dial for those times when all you need is the time.

***EDIT: 8/8/2015 - This post was originally written using a mixture of various typewriters along with the standard Blogger template. I decided to change it all to the Blogger template to give it a cleaner look.***

This is something that I wrote a few weeks ago and posted up on a wristwatch forum that I frequent. It pretty much sums up some of what I learned over eleven years of high-end retail. Thank God I worked in a store selling watches because I would not have lasted so long in the place if I were selling some other kind of product. I don't know about the rest of you who may work in the retail sector, but for me, if I don't have an interest in the product, then I find it difficult to get excited about it when customers walk in the door to buy it. This would probably explain why I never took that job in a lighting store five years ago. 

I started selling watches in 1999 and finished up in January of this year (2012). Looking back, it appears that I must have been paying attention because there are a few things that I learned during my time in the world of high-end wristwatch sales.

                                 The more polite the customer, the less chance that he/she will ask for a discount. So, I'd knock ten or fifteen percent off the price anyway. Sorry, Boss!
'May I help you?'
                               Not all salespeople are out to stiff you. They generally have a maximum allowable discount that they can offer you, and this percentage will be different for each brand. It is, after all, a business, designed to make a profit. If you're not happy with the discount offered you, then you obviously don't have to buy from them. Simple as that. Remember, though, they're in the business of selling, so if they give you a discounted price, chances are it's as low as they can go. Usually.
Oh, and if a salesperson pounces on you as soon as you walk in, it could be for a couple of reasons;

1) He/she works on commission and has no sense of fair play with other staff.
2) Company policy is to acknowledge the customer within 20 seconds of them walking in. 
or maybe...the salesperson could actually be a decent and honest human being who wants to help you choose the watch that best fits your purpose, lifestyle and budget. I'm not kidding here, people. Not all sales staff are sharks. Perhaps you're thinking of real estate agents. 

                             I once spoke on the phone to a customer who complained that my price for a Breitling SuperAvenger with diamond bezel was higher than that being offered by my competitors. I had called my Head Office to get the absolute best price. This guy wasn't happy with it; "But how come your price is higher when you're selling the exact same product, for Christ's sake?', he asked. 
' I don't know. Maybe they pay their staff peanuts, maybe their rent is cheaper, maybe the store operates under candle-light instead of electricity', I responded.
I then listened to him tell me that my Head Office was 'a bunch of idiots and if you have bunnies that are happy to pay that price to some sales guy on a thousand bucks a week', (boy, was he wrong about that figure!), 'then good luck to ya, but I'm not paying that price.'
'Fine', I thought. Nobody's forcing him to purchase. He then went on to inform me that he had his own construction business and that he was married to a beautiful wife. Geez, I usually just ask for name and address details when making a sale. I ended the conversation by telling him that I hoped he enjoyed his new watch when he got it, but before I hung up, I was sorely tempted to tell him that diamond bezels really only belong on a lady's watch...or a pimp's.
Thanks for a twenty-minute phone call where you made me feel dirty about working in this industry, Frank.
Oh, one more thing- it's actually pronounced 'Franck Mee-oo-ler', not 'Mull-ah'.

Franck Muller make some great watches. The Casablanca model of theirs exudes a wonderful 1930s aesthetic. I've always been partial to the salmon-dialled model.

Picture courtesy of 

As for the above-mentioned Breitling SuperAvenger, it looks like this;

Picture courtesy of 

See? It's a well-made watch, to be sure, although not to my taste at all. The diamonds are set with the same expertise employed by master jewellers. It's just not a terribly masculine looking watch, despite its 46mm diameter case. Just my opinion. There's a reason why diamonds are a girl's best friend. It's because they're 'girly'. 
'Nuff said.

                                 Repair time-frames and deadlines almost always lengthen. Probably due to the fact that your watch repair is at the mercy of over-worked watch technicians who work for companies that take on more repairs than they can handle in a reasonable time. Then there's spare-parts delays, postal and delivery mix-ups, etc, etc. 
Picture courtesy of and

RUDENESS...on both sides of the counter

This topic probably needs its own website! Rude salespeople do exist. As do rude customers. A rude customer dealing with a polite salesperson, or a rude salesperson dealing with a polite customer, will produce the same result- a less than pleasant experience for the both of them. 

A NOTE TO RUDE SALESPEOPLE- Being smarmy, short-tempered or condescending to a customer gets you nowhere in the long run. I've worked with enough of you over the years to find that you wind up with a poor reputation in the industry and customers tell their friends to avoid your store at all costs.

AND A NOTE TO RUDE CUSTOMERS- Buying a wristwatch should not be some kind of Alpha-male blood-sport or pissing contest between you and the salesman, nor should it be an exercise in sexist behaviour if dealing with a saleslady. If you're parting with some serious cash to buy a watch, then it might as well be as pleasant an experience as possible. There are already enough nasty goings-on in the world. The same goes for snobbery. A high-end wristwatch boutique attracts both snobby salespeople and snobby customers. It's up to you both if you care to deal with them. 

AND FINALLY, A NOTE TO POLITE SALESPEOPLE- Rude customers are out there. They are just plain ill-mannered, so don't take their behaviour personally. They are rude to all salespeople and waiters.
And probably children, the elderly, and dogs, too.

Sales Training
                          I hate this crap. I've sat through a few of these over the years, where some dude shows up and begins telling us how to sell. He (and it's usually a guy. In a bad suit. You know, the ones with shiny patches along the shoulder where their car seat-belt has rubbed against it a million times, but this guy will wear it to death before he goes out and SPENDS MONEY on replacing it. With another $120.oo suit just like it. Usually in black, and not in a good way, like the cast of Reservoir Dogs or Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black.)...where was I? Oh, right, so, he begins talking, going through various scenarios for trying to pry as much money from a customer as possible, and he ends this with;
'Don't take "No" for an answer. If a customer is in your store, he is there to buy. If he walks out empty-handed, then YOU haven't done your job properly.'

                                           I suppose, Doctor, it all goes back to that time I was looking for a shirt...

FLASHBACK to circa 1989. I walked into a menswear store in the city. I did a casual lap of the store and then-

Salesguy - 'Hi. What are you after?'
Me - 'Oh, nothing really. Just looking.'
Salesguy- 'Oh yeah, what are you looking for?' 
Me - 'I dunno. Maybe a shirt.'

Six minutes later and I'm standing in front of a full-length mirror as the salesguy threads an alligator-skin belt through the waist-band loops on the trousers of the double-breasted suit that I had on. The only clothes of my own were my shoes, socks and underwear. 

Now, I knew that I wasn't going to buy this ensemble, and I felt bad that he'd gone to all the trouble. However, I felt mad at myself for not being firmer with him when he first raced off to get this suit off the rack.
I decided on two things that day- Firstly, I would be a little more definite in future when I say 'I'm just browsing, thanks', and secondly, I was never going to be that kind of salesperson if I ever wound up working in retail. That salesguy is now a millionaire, with his own line of clothing boutiques. Truth be told, he's actually a pretty nice guy and I've dealt with him a few times over the years when he's come into my store to look at watches. No hard feelings. He was just doing his job and his method worked for him, but I've never wanted to be a pushy salesperson. 
So anyway, back to the sales traaining. Yes, they emphasise a high level of service (for a while, anyway), but it's all really only designed to close a sale. It's not genuine. One more thing- if this sales training is so slick and effective, then that would mean that any store that implements these techniques must be making an absolute killing.
In reality, five or six months later, whatever you've learned in these training sessions has worn off, or your competitors are shaving an extra few percent off their prices and getting the sales, and all the training in the world can't beat a cheaper price elsewhere in these hard times. 
                                 The more expensive the watch, the greater the chance that it will come back with a problem under warranty. Not always, mind you, but it does happen. Some customers equate 'expensive' with 'indestructible' and they are always quite surprised when their $15,000.oo wristwatch suddenly stops working on the 14th green. That sudden shock on the watch as your nine-iron hits the Slazenger B51 can sometimes work its way along the club and your hands, to the point where something gets knocked out of alignment inside the watch. 
These types of customers are usually pretty shocked to then hear that the service and/or repair cost will be in the neighbourhood of $1200-$1500. 
It is, after all, like having a Mercedes-Benz strapped to your wrist, sir. It's not a Ford Escort. It will be pricier to maintain an IWC or Jaeger-Le Coultre than a TAG Heuer or Longines.
I could probably understand if this was twenty years ago, before the internet came to town. Nowadays, however, there is such a wealth of information out there about wristwatches that there's really no excuse for not gaining a little knowledge about a product prior to making a purchase. 
Especially if you're shelling out ten or fifteen grand. Sir.

One Bad Customer Can Ruin Your Whole Day 
                                                                             Actually, make that a whole week. Some folks can just be plain childish. One lady didn't like the fact that her watch would not be repaired under warranty without the actual warranty card being sent off with the watch. It's standard procedure. I explained it all to her quite clearly. It's not our store's policy, it's the watch brand's policy. Needless to say, she hadn't brought the card with her.
'I don't like what you said. I want to speak with the Manager.', she stated.
What the hell did I do?
The Manager came over and accepted the watch without the warranty card, thus going against everything that we'd always been told with regard to warranty repair procedures. In the end, I filled out the Repair Card, adding that the Warranty Card had been "lost in a house fire". Might as well go all-out. However, I had a bad taste in my mouth about employing a sneaky tactic because of one petulant customer. 
So remember, kids, always keep your warranty cards. And please, don't anybody give me that old line "The customer is always right". That phrase was first coined way back around 1915.

                                  A lot of Sales Reps think that their brand was the first to do anything. They'll glance at a competitor's watch on display and say something like; 'Oh, looks like Brand X copied our design. Look at the arrow-shaped hands. They're like the ones on our TimeTeller 3000."
That's when I have to delve into my own watch knowledge and say stuff like; 'Actually, those hands are based on a vintage model of theirs from 1955. A lot of brands had similar designs back then, but these guys were the first to used hands of that shape.'
Being into wristwatches, I've always looked at a wide variety of brands, whereas a lot of these Reps only tend to concentrate on their own brand's current output, without knowing what came before or the finer points of their brand's history. And they pretend not to hear me when I give them these tidbits of history; 'Yeah, they copied our design. ..yeah.'

Here's an example;

Above is the Omega Planet Ocean. The dial and hand design is based on one of Omega's original dive watches from 1957.

And here we see the Breitling SuperOcean Heritage 42, based on a design of theirs from, yep, you guessed it, 1957. There were many other, more obscure brands that used this style of hands on their dive watches throughout the '50s and '60s. It was a popular design, meant to offer distinct differentiation between the hour and minute hands to avoid any confusion whilst diving.

Yes, sometimes, you just have to lob in a potential hand grenade to keep things interesting. I served an elderly couple a few months ago who had come in to look at men's rings. The man would have been in his mid to late eighties and he tried on a few rings. It was all very serious. As he put on another one, I asked; 'Is this an engagement ring that you're looking for?' It was obviously meant to be a gag.
They both looked up at me, and with straight expressions on their faces, they answered;'No'.
Which made it all the funnier to me.

                                       Go ahead and buy a watch off the internet if you want. There are many, many reputable dealers out there. And there are also some pretty shady ones as well. Most watch collectors already know this, but I'm talking to those of you who want to come into my store to ask me why my price is more expensive than the price you found on

How should I know? I have more important crap floating around in my head at any given time. 
However...if you do buy your watch off the internet from a less than legitimate dealer and something goes wrong with it and you then bring it in to me to send it off for warranty repairs, I'm gonna give you the cold, hard facts regarding courier fee & insurance ($20.oo), for my store to send it off, and I'll also explain to you that the brand will most definitely charge you to repair your watch because you didn't purchase it from an Authorised Dealer, and so therefore, your Warranty card means nothing to them. 
Oh, and don't even think about calling me in a week to ask how your repair is going. It'll come back when it comes back. But don't worry. I'll be polite as can be when I speak to you, but you won't care about politeness or good customer service. You only care about price. That's why you went with an unauthorised internet seller to begin with. 
Are we clear?

Around 180 or so parts go into a mechanical wristwatch movement. Some watch movements have more, depending on whether or not there are any other functions that the watch performs, such as date, or chronograph (stopwatch) function. Throw in a moon-phase disc and it gets even more complicated. Many of these parts are moving parts, too. The tolerances are quite tight, also. A screw turned an eighth of a millimetre too tight will prevent the entire movement from running.  And, all of these parts have to fit into a case that's around 40mm in diameter. It's an intricate ballet that goes on inside a wristwatch. 
And that's why I cringe so much when somebody pulls out an iPhone to check the time.

Here's what a one hundred thousand-plus dollar Breitling for Bentley Mulliner Tourbillon watch is meant to look like. Actually, this one is in rose gold, so it's probably got another fifty grand attached to the price.

Picture courtesy of

Needless to say, the customer's watch didn't look like this one. A quick word about tourbillon watches. The mainspring in most mechanical watches is anchored down. Gravity can affect the time-keeping, which is why all mechanical watches will fluctuate on a daily basis, anywhere from 3 or 4 seconds to as much as fifteen or twenty. With a tourbillon movement, the mainspring sits in a little 'cage' which rotates once every minute to compensate for these fluctuations in timekeeping. It's one of the specialised 'complications' that few watch-making houses are capable of producing due to the workmanship and precision involved. 'Complications' is just another word for 'functions'. It's a term used throughout the industry. Bear in mind that my description  of how a tourbillon works is very basic. It's not that I think you're all idiots who wouldn't understand a more convoluted explanation. It's just that, over the years, I've had to come up with an explanation for customers that wouldn't take more than a sentence or two. When you say these things a thousand times a day, you learn to get it down to the shortest possible form that still makes (some kind of) sense.

*Breitling for Bentley- In recent years, there have been a few high-end watchmaking companies that have aligned themselves with luxury car manufacturers. Breitling created a range of watches which used design motifs from Bentley cars and commemorated some of their classic automobiles from the past. They also supply the dashboard clocks for the current Bentley range. It's a partnership that has proved fruitful for both brands.

The Buzz

It was always a good feeling when a customer had tried on numerous watches in different styles and brands and he/she finally made a decision. Their eyes would light up. It was more noticeable with men, since a wristwatch is a truly male accessory.
They would smile whenever they looked at the watch on their wrist. And, as they headed for the door with the shopping bag in their hand, I'd notice them glance at their wrist a couple more times before they left the store.
And that's when I'd know that I had done my job properly.
For all parties concerned.

The absolutely beautiful IWC Portuguese hand-wound. This model is based on a watch from 1939. The story goes that two Portuguese Jewellers asked the International Watch Company (as IWC were known back then) to produce a wristwatch that was as accurate as a Marine Chronometer. Ships had large clocks on board that were set on gimbals to allow for any rocking motion caused by heavy seas and these were said to be highly accurate. IWC went to their drawing board and later announced that it could produce a wristwatch that was as accurate as these Marine Chronometers, but they would have to use a pocket watch movement, which meant that the finished product would be a pretty large wristwatch for the 1930s. And so, they went ahead and created the Portuguese model which measured (I think) about 44mm in diameter at a time when most wristwatches were still around 30mm-32mm in size. The watch above retails for about $10,000AUD.

Those That Mind Don't Matter, Those That Matter Don't Mind

I met some nice people, too, over the years. Actually, I met a lot of nice people. They were always a pleasure to deal with and to go that extra mile for.
Some of them had similar interests to my own. One guy came in to buy himself a Breitling and he was wearing a Rolex Submariner 5513. Ahh, my Grail Watch. The one that got me hooked on wristwatches way back when I was eight years old.
He bought it in 1975. We got to talking and his wife mentioned that he too was a Bond fan and that he even had an Aston Martin. It was an early '70s DB V8. Cool.

Oh, yeah, I dealt with a handful of celebrities over the years as well;

* Sold a watch to Carlos Santana. Nice guy.

* Sold an Oris to Chad Smith, the drummer from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. It was a 44mm Big Crown and he was buying it for lead singer Anthony Kiedis. I told him I thought "The Zephyr Song" was a great track. He smiled and said; 'Thanks very much.'
He was weraing a steel Rolex Daytona Chronograph that he'd picked up in Mexico.
* Got Adam Levine's (from Maroon 5) autograph for one of my female co-workers who was too shy to ask him. He happily obliged. 

* Spoke briefly to singer/songwriter John Mayer about a Chanel J12 that he was looking at. After he left, we thought that he was shopping around for a gift for his then-girlfriend, Jessica Simpson. If I had know just how big he is into wristwatches, we probably would have talked each other's ears off. He's actually very knowledgeable about Rolex watches and has gotten onto a few forums in the past to discuss vintage models. 

* One of my colleagues was serving this couple one day. I glanced over at them. The girl was pretty. Long blonde hair. Very tall, too, but I didn't get a good look at her face. 
After they left, my co-worker came up to me and said; 'Did you see that couple I was serving? She was in a James Bond film. Her name was uh...Ivana.'
'WHAT!!!??? Ivana Milicevic? That was her? And you didn't call me over!? What's wrong witchoo!!??'
Ivana Milicevic appeared in Casino Royale (2006) as Le Chiffre's girlfriend, Valenka.

Picture courtesy of

My one near-brush with a Bond Girl. Dammit. Still, it puts me within six degrees of separation with Bond himself, Daniel Craig. I suppose that's something. I'm stretching it, aren't I?
I guess if he had called me over, I probably would have blasted any chance of a sale, since I would have spent more time talking Bond films than watches.
Better that he didn't.

* Liam (or maybe it was Noel) Gallagher from Oasis came in with another guy one day. They headed to the Franck Muller display case, looked at it for about ten seconds before one of them said; 'Dey 'aven't got it.'
They then made a bee-line for the door and I never saw them again. 

The Omega Speedmaster Professional. First produced in 1957, it has been in uninterrupted production ever since, with a few minor changes to its design. A classic watch among collectors. I've already covered this watch elsewhere on my blog, so I won't go into too much detail here. 
Oh yeah, it's been to the Moon.

* Australian swimmer Grant Hackett came into the store once. The 2008 Olympics Edition of Omega's Lifetime Magazine had just been delivered a few days earlier and there was a profile inside it about US swimmer Michael Phelps. 
I resisted the temptation to go up to Mr Hackett with the opened magazine and a pen and say in a nasally American accent; 'Can I have your autograph?'

* Oh, I almost forgot. I sold a Longines to somebody who later became our Prime Minister. 

That's a circa 1962 Omega Seamaster I'm wearing here. This watch is from what I, and many others, consider The Golden Age of Watchmaking. Most of the technology used in wristwatches today was pretty much perfected by the time this watch was produced. Any improvements over the last five decades have been more to do with better alloys and production methods.
I bought this watch about ten years ago when they were reasonably easy to find in such clean condition. A virtual impossibility these days. Here's a close-up;

After serving some customers, they would often say to me; "Thanks very much for your time."
And I would always reply; "No problem. All I have is time."


The opinions expressed herein are my own. The watch knowledge, such as it is, is also my own and may not match the knowledge of somebody out there who knows much more about wristwatches than I do.
Chances are, I've probably forgotten more about wristwatches than I've retained. So if there's anything in this post that you'd like to know more about, well, Google is your friend, as they say.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday 23 September 2012

Hey Cameron (Living In The Woods), I Might Have Something For Ya!

Geez, such poor grammar and spelling errors. I must have been tired when I wrote this.

Excuse the dust. I'll remove the old stick-tape and vacuum & wash the inside of the tray.

I'll be sure to give these a wipe-down with a damp cloth.

They appear to have been used, but look in pretty good condition.

All different fonts, as far as I can tell. Not sure if they'll fit your machine, but, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

E-mail your address or postage info if you'd like these, Cameron. They might as well go to somebody who'll use them for their intended purpose.
Although, I'd like to see a key-chopper try and hack these to pieces to make cufflinks.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Bond Fan Fiction No.5: Part 2

For those of you who've read the previous installments, here's a little more. I'm not 100% satisfied with this one, but what the hey. 
For those of you who may be reading these for the first time, you might need to go back to the first ones, since these are posted up on Blogger in reverse order based on date of posting. So, the installment previous to this one is the first part, needless to say.
Oh, my apologies for the layout. I cut & pasted parts of this from my computer from my second (or was it third?) draft.

"Women of Mass Destruction" Part Two

The RPG-7 was first manufactured by the Soviets in the mid 1960s and was used to devastating effect on battlefields from Vietnam to Iraq. It was primarily designed as an anti-tank weapon and a great deal of its popularity was due to its very low recoil when fired.

The shell zipped in through the open window and detonated just above the door to Room 417. The sound of the impact was deafening. Purdey’s body tensed and Bond felt the entire suite shudder as plaster, wood and steel was torn from the room’s frame-work and smoke filled the air. He heard the sound of steel hitting steel as shrapnel ripped through the sofa’s backrest and collided with the padding and springs within. One persistent fragment had penetrated through the backrest and sliced a deep gutter along Purdey’s left shoulder.

The room became quiet while panicked screaming was heard from the hallway outside. Somebody hit the Fire Alarm button while other guests ran from their rooms in fear. Bond waited a few more seconds then placed his hands flat against the floor. He pushed his body upwards as if doing a press-up and the backrest edge of the sofa lifted off the floor at a right-angle. He used his left elbow to push the sofa high enough until it tilted back with its own momentum and landed to rest on its four wooden feet with a dull thud.
“Was it good for you?” he asked.
“Yes, sensational. The Earth moved.” She replied as she sat up.
He smiled at her then before seeing the shoulder wound that she had sustained. A thick crimson stain ran down the Versace bathrobe’s sleeve.
“That bitch!” he barked, grabbing the damp towel Purdey had used on her hair and tying it around the quietly bleeding cut.
“Press here, darling.” he said.
“You saw her? Did she do this?” Purdey asked with a grimace as she pressed the towel down on the wound.
“It was her alright.” he replied.

Satisfied that Purdey’s wound was under control, Bond reached under the nearby bed and retrieved the weapons case. He and Purdey were fortunate in that the double bed’s mattress and base had taken the brunt of the blast and diffused much of the shell’s impact. Opening the case, he extracted the main body of the dismantled VSS Vintorez sniper rifle and slid the scope off its mounting rail. Bond knelt down onto the destroyed sofa and looked out the window through the scope’s rubberized eyepiece. He scanned across the fifth-floor windows of the Hotel Imperiale across the river. Nothing stirred. Markov was gone.
Of course she was.
Bond swore. He put the rifle body and scope back in the case and shut the lid.
“We need to get out of here. Firstly, we’ll get you patched up. Then we have to get to Danneman’s daughter. She knows more than she’s let on. You need help getting dressed? Shoulder okay?” he asked as he assisted her up from the floor.
“No, I’m alright, James. The shoulder’s fine. I’ll just be a minute.”

Purdey quickly scurried into the bathroom. Without shutting the door, she removed the robe and Bond was momentarily distracted by the sight of her naked form. She was a vision, spoiled only by the narrow ribbon of blood which ran down her arm and now crept over the steel bracelet of her Rolex. She reached down and turned the faucet on. Hot water began filling the white porcelain basin. He turned away and began to assess their situation as he sat down on the battered sofa and slipped his shoes on, but his mind began to fill with too many questions; how did Markov know they were in Paris? What else did she have planned? Was she there to disrupt the NATO Summit? Was she still in their vicinity?

Interpol had recently elevated Markov’s status to ‘terrorist’, to be arrested, if spotted, “with extreme use of force where necessary”. Then there was that young man Bourne from the CIA, with orders to shoot on sight. It seemed that everyone wanted a slice of Irina Markov. She was a fox to be torn apart by hounds.

But Bond needed her alive. There were too many unanswered questions to this puzzle and Markov had the answers. That was clear.

Purdey emerged from the bathroom five minutes later dressed in black Levi’s and a blue Balenciaga shawl-collared woollen sweater. Attached to the left side of her waistband was an empty black leather holster. On her feet was a pair of black Nike trainers. Her left shoulder was padded with a small hand towel. The bleeding had slowed, but it hurt like all hell. She didn’t let on to Bond just how bad it felt.

Bond flung open the sliding door of the hotel room’s wardrobe and took out his navy blue single-breasted Kilgour jacket and Burberry trench coat. He turned to Purdey.
“Which jacket do you want, leather or denim?” he asked.
They would be traveling light. She knew she could only take one. But she was a woman after all. The thought of leaving any of her clothing behind mildly incensed her. With any luck, however, the front desk would organize to have her property returned to the London offices of Universal Exports, attentioned to Mr. James Bond.
She was fond of the Armani denim jacket that she had bought to celebrate her appointment with MI6. However, the black leather Rick Owens jacket was an item she would never be able to afford again. She had bought it on sale at Harrods a few months earlier and was incredulous at the low ticket price when she took it off its rack.
“No, that’s the price alright. Grab it…or I will!” the salesgirl had said at the counter after scanning the tag. Purdey’s Amex card almost ignited at the speed with which she withdrew it from her purse.
“Leather.” she replied as she quickly stepped forward and snatched it from the wardrobe. Besides, she reasoned, this jacket would provide a thicker layer than denim, and it’s slightly tighter fit would keep the towel in place on her shoulder.
She slipped it on, trying not to wince in front of Bond. If he had looked at her then, he would have noticed her biting her bottom lip.

Bond took his Tod’s suede overnight bag from the wardrobe, opened it and extracted his Walther P99 and its nylon holster. He quickly strapped it on. He then put on the Kilgour jacket, knowing that the gun’s bulge would be noticeable, but then the Burberry trench coat would cover it up. He also took the Lenovo ThinkPad notebook from the bag, flipped the screen lid up and pressed the Shift key. The computer powered up from hibernation mode quickly. Bond pressed a series of keys in sequence. A small notepad screen appeared. He typed in the phrase “Burn, baby, burn!” wondering if the tech-boys in Q Branch who created these silly commands had girlfriends. Bond then turned the notebook upside-down, depressed a latch underneath and slid the hard drive out of it. This he put into the overnight bag. He lay the computer down onto the bed.

The sound of other guests heading for the Fire Escapes grew fainter as Purdey reached under the bed and retrieved the weapons case. She had already picked up her Chanel overnight bag from a stool next to her suitcase in the bathroom. This she would not leave behind. From it, she removed the Beretta PX-4 Sub-Compact and slid it into the holster on her hip.
“Ready, darling?” Bond asked.
“Ready, darling.” Purdey replied.
“Here.” Without waiting for a response, Bond took the Chanel bag from her and placed it inside his overnight bag which had ample room. He then zipped it closed. Purdey smiled at his thoughtfulness.
“Come on, then. We’ve got to get down to the car park. Stay sharp.” Bond said as he tapped the Enter key on the notebook that sat on the shredded mattress. A timer appeared on the screen and commenced counting down from 0:30.

They left the room, stepping over the blackened door which had been ripped from its hinges by the blast. The smell of smoke still hung in the air. The sprinkler system did not activate when the Fire Alarm sounded. Because the system was in fact inactive. This was due to a mix-up by the hotel’s Maintenance Division. The company hired to program the sprinkler units were due to come in earlier that week, but someone had forgotten to write up the booking time for the work so it had to be rescheduled for the following month. Heads would roll because of this blunder.

Up and down the hallway outside their room, all was silent. The fourth floor of the hotel had cleared. Bond and Purdey quickly made their way to the Fire Escape exit door and headed downstairs towards the basement level car-park.

Back in Room 417 of the newly-opened Palazzo Versace Hotel, the notebook’s countdown timer reached zero. The computer emitted a series of five short beeps before the small Q Branch-installed square of C4 detonated, obliterating the notebook and blowing a decent hole in what was left of the mattress.

On the Fire Escape stairs, Bond and Purdey carefully negotiated their way over various items of clothing and baggage that had been dropped by fleeing guests. All was quiet save for the sound of Bond’s black leather Lobb slip-ons ‘click-clacking’ on the steps while Purdey’s footsteps were near-silent.

Moments later, they reached the basement car-park. Bond carefully pulled the exit door open with one hand while he gripped the P99 with his other. After their narrow escape in Room 417, he was taking no chances. The car-park was filled with cars, but devoid of people. He did a quick scan of the row of parked cars and located the Aston Martin Vanquish. It was roughly 40 metres away, parked four spaces from the exit ramp that led to street level. He planned to get himself and Purdey out of Paris and take the coastal road to Madrid. Bond would radio ahead to Sinclair from Station M who would be waiting at the safe-house. Once there, they could properly tend to Purdey’s shoulder.

Bond turned to Purdey who waited in the stairwell doorway.
“The car’s just up ahead. We’re almost there. Stay close.” he said as he took her hand and began leading her towards the Aston Martin. She had the weapons case slung over her good shoulder and the Beretta in her free hand.

Purdey took a long slow breath and momentarily recalled the week of training she had been given with the VSS Vintorez at the Service’s underground rifle range. Her instructor was a man named Major Mallory, a former SAS sniper. “Now, Miss, unless you’re courting a shiner, don’t put your face right up against that scope or you’ll be wearing heavy eye-shadow for a month after the recoil’s done its job.” he had cautioned. His teaching had been thorough and by the end of her instruction, she had attained a score of 98 percent. Mallory was suitably impressed; “Could’ve used you back in the Falklands, Miss. Not that we were there, of course.” he had said with a wink.

A long shadow briefly appeared against the wall of the ramp as the rumble of a car engine quickly grew louder, snapping her out of her reminiscences.
Monica Purdey wasted no time. She raised the VSS, feeling a sharp stab of pain as the rifle’s butt pressed tight against her wounded shoulder. Her left elbow rested on the bonnet of the Audi to stabilise the gun. Seconds later, a black Mercedes-Benz G-Class Gelandenwagen 4 wheel-drive slithered into view.

Looking through the scope, she lined the cross-hairs up against the driver’s side of the G-Class’ tinted windscreen. Purdey took a quick, deep breath and held it. A second later, she fired. There was a fraction of a second’s delay before the sub-sonic round emerged from the barrel, a peculiar idiosyncrasy of the VSS. The round flew from the silenced barrel with a ‘woomp’ sound. Purdey felt the recoil slam into her shoulder, but the mixture of fear and adrenalin masked any sensation of pain. The bullet hit the windscreen, easily shattering it…and the driver’s sternum. His Kevlar vest offered no protection at all. Reflexively, the driver stepped down on the accelerator pedal before he died. The Gelandenwagen veered to the right with a roar of its engine and slammed into a parked BMW, four cars away from Bond’s position. It was now positioned directly opposite Bond’s Aston Martin.

Bond was huddled down behind the Opel and he waited. He could see the 4 wheel-drive well enough through the Opel’s driver and passenger side windows. There was no movement. Ten seconds passed. Then five more before the Gelandenwagen’s driver’s side doors were flung open. Four men exited the vehicle and crouched low. Two of them shook their heads, dazed by their van’s impact with the BMW. Weren’t expecting a sniper round, were you, gentlemen?, thought Bond with a grim smile. They were armed with Heckler & Koch MP5K sub-machine guns. They meant business. Markov had hired the best. Probably recruited from one of the many Private Military Corporations that had sprung up in the years since September 11th, 2001.

Purdey panned the scope slightly to her left and saw Bond in her cross-hairs. A few seconds later, he turned to look at her. She saw him hold up four fingers. She turned the gun back to the Gelandenwagen, but opened her right eye as well to allow for maximum peripheral vision. In the event that one of the men tried to move away from the van, she would see them. Then suddenly, one man made a quick dash for Bond’s Aston Martin and crouched behind the car’s sleek metallic silver bulk. But he moved too fast for Purdey to get a lock on him. There was no way they could know that was his car, Bond thought to himself. The other three men stayed behind the safety of the crashed Gelandenwagen. They didn’t know where the sniper fire had come from. Bond had noticed that the man who now hid behind his Aston Martin had a small black satchel slung over his shoulder when he made his dash. These men had brought enough ammunition for a small war, he thought to himself.

Then one of the men did something odd. Bond saw him lie down on the car-park floor behind the 4 wheel-drive’s rear tyre and place his cheek down onto the concrete. The man then brought a hand to his face and Bond saw that he held a small monocular. The man looked through the eyepiece.
Dammit, they’re looking for feet under cars!, thought Bond. He moved back further along the length of the Opel and retreated behind the rear tyre. He hunched down, hoping that, from this angle, both rear wheels of the Opel would provide a wide enough segment of cover to hide his presence from the men four cars away. He prayed that Purdey had seen the man lie down too and was taking precautions.
Too late. The man on the ground yelled out her position to the others.
The eruption of gunfire was instantaneous and the sound of it reverberated around the concrete walls, floor and ceiling of the underground car-park.

The gunman positioned behind Bond’s Aston Martin fired a three-round burst at Monica Purdey. The bullets glanced off the bonnet of a silver Maserati parked four spaces from her. The Heckler & Koch MP5K sub-machine gun was a superb close-quarters weapon with an effective range of around 25 metres. However, the gunman knew that, from this distance of just over 32 metres, his attempts at bringing Purdey down would be futile. He had to get closer to her. He called out to his three associates who were still huddled behind the crashed Gelandenwagen. Bond heard him bark out an order in Russian. The gunman then fired off another two bursts from his MP5K. This gave one of the others enough time to run over and take cover next to him behind the Aston Martin. This man carried a weapon different to the MP5K that his partner held. Bond glanced through the Opel’s window and saw it for an instant, but he recognised the long barrel and thin stock with the padded end. It was a M14EBR sniper rifle. He felt his stomach muscles tighten. A moment passed before the second gunman turned to call out to the other two men behind the Gelandenwagen. Bond saw a small cylindrical tube tossed through the air from the van to the Aston Martin where the second gunman reached up to catch it one-handed. Bond knew the weapon by its distinct, telescopic shape with the flat firing button at its centre. It was a M72LAW Anti-tank rocket launcher. Bond’s mind raced and he felt his confidence dwindle. At just 90 centimetres long, fully extended, the M72 had a muzzle velocity of 145 metres per second and fired a steel-tipped shell that could easily penetrate 2 feet of reinforced concrete. It would make mince-meat of the Audi which sheltered Purdey, leaving her at the mercy of the other gunman’s M14 sniper fire.

Monica Purdey saw it all happen as well, but she was uncertain as to what the hit-team’s end-game was. She peered through the scope of her VSS and couldn’t see Bond anywhere, but she caught a brief flicker of movement near one of the Gelandenwagen’s tyres. She quickly edged herself away from the Audi and pressed her back against the concrete wall next to it and crouched down. In this position she looked through the scope again at the van and saw the heel of one of the gunmen’s feet protruding beyond the curved outline of the tyre. She took another breath, held it and then fired. This time, a stab of pain tore through her wounded shoulder as the silenced round pierced the air of the underground car-park of the Palazzo Versace hotel. The gunman behind the Gelandenwagen let out a scream as the bullet pulped his Achilles tendon.
As he began to fall in agony to the ground, three things happened- Monica Purdey chambered another round, the two gunmen behind the Aston Martin began yelling at the men behind the Gelandenwagen, confused as to what had just occurred, and Bond quickly made a low dash behind the rear of the Opel and, staying low, made his way towards the BMW where the Gelandenwagen had crashed.

Purdey took another deep breath while her heart pounded in her ears. Through the scope, she saw the wounded man fall to the ground. He was now framed between the front and rear passenger-side wheels of the van, clutching at his right calf in searing pain. Before he had a chance to get behind cover, she fired again. This second shot hit the base of his neck from behind, killing him instantly. Monica Purdey began to feel nauseous. Through her jacket, she felt a trickle of sweat roll down her left arm before shakily chambering another round in the VSS. Her eyes welled up slightly, but she fought back the release of tears. She quickly wiped them away with the back of her hand, reminding herself that what she had done had been necessary. She had no desire to die in a car-park in Paris. And she would not let Bond die there either.

There was another storm of gunfire aimed in Monica Purdey’s direction. All three remaining gunmen fired at her. This was done to distract her, but it also worked to distract them from Bond’s presence. He took the opportunity to dive out from the cover of the BMW and fire at the gunman behind the Gelandenwagen. The bullet caught him in the right temple, shattering half his skull.

The first gunman behind the Aston Martin scurried low along the wall to the left and halted two cars away, behind a silver Lexus. This maneuver reduced his distance from Purdey by fifteen feet, thus putting him within an effective range of her with the MP5K. But he wasn’t planning on using the sub-machine gun. He and the other gunman armed with the M14 sniper rifle were about to obliterate Monica Purdey from the face of the Earth.

The first gunman, now behind the Lexus, fired four short bursts in Purdey’s direction in an effort to keep her pinned down. This gave the second gunman behind the Aston Martin time to set the M14’s bipod down on the bonnet of Bond’s car.

From behind the BMW, Bond couldn’t see what was happening so he traced his path back to his previous spot behind the Opel. Looking through the windows again, he saw the sniper setting up his weapon on the Aston Martin’s bonnet, but if Bond were to take a shot at him, he would be spotted by the first gunman behind the Lexus parked almost directly opposite the Opel where Bond hid.

Bond knew their game-plan. It was how he would do it. The gunman behind the Lexus would fire a rocket at Purdey. If the blast didn’t wound or kill her, it would surely spook her enough to the point where she would make a dash from the Audi to better cover. However, this would leave her exposed briefly. The nearest cover would either be the car-park’s exit door, through which she and Bond had come earlier, or the other row of parked cars opposite where she was. Either position was a distance of about eight metres. Not much, but with two professional killers lying in wait, it would be a suicide run. If she remained behind the Audi, the first gunman would keep firing rockets until he killed her or flushed her out from hiding.

These men were good, thought Bond. The man behind his Aston Martin was positioned slightly to the right of his associate two cars away, giving him a clear line-of-sight to Monica Purdey’s position up ahead.

But James Bond had one last ace up his sleeve, or rather, in his pocket. It was meant for other purposes, but he knew he had no choice. If he and Purdey were to get out of this predicament alive, then he would have to resort to it. He made his way to the back of the Opel and dropped to his knees.

It was then that multiple things began to happen.
Bond fished his car keys from his pocket.
The first gunman quickly loaded the M72 rocket launcher.
The second gunman positioned himself behind the M14 sniper rifle.
Bond pressed a button on his ignition key. The key flicked out like a switchblade.
The first gunman peered over the bonnet of the Lexus, the M72 on his shoulder.
The second gunman lowered his eye to the M14’s scope.
Bond pressed the button rapidly two more times.

Thanks for reading!

Credits: typecast on an Olympia Splendid 99, an Olympia SM3, and a Smith-Corona Sterling. 

Based on characters created by Ian Fleming.