There was something about that smile, a sensitive, mischievous curl of the upper lip, a quizzical smile, a smile that said “I like you; I appreciate you, but don’t count on me.”
Sean Connery had irresistible charm, with a hint of underlying menace that said “I can take you on, and win.” To me, it was atavistic, a female reaction to a strong male. It said “Let’s dance and see what happens.”
I met Sean Connery twice. The first time I was at Edna O’Brien’s house in Putney. It was a party and I was heavily pregnant with my first child, my stomach protruding well beyond my feet. I was wearing a cream wool maternity dress and was halfway up the stairs to the bathroom when he walked into the downstairs hallway.
I leaned over the banisters and his face was on a level with mine.
“Hello,” he said, in that gravelly Scottish burr. He had just filmed his first Bond, and I was already smitten. But wait! It was the same face, the same voice, but—no hair! He was bald on top. Did James Bond wear a toupee?
All this went through my mind in a flash:
I’m meeting James Bond!
I’m nine months pregnant! Dammit!
He’s gorgeous, but he has no hair!
But his voice, his smile, he’s so tall and good-looking!
“Hello,” I stammered.
“I see you’re having a baby,” he smiled.
My knees went weak. I, the loquacious journalist, had no words. I think I blushed. I wished I wasn’t pregnant. I wished I’d never met my husband.
His smile resonated. He was just so nice. How could James Bond, the action hero who killed villains with no qualms, also be so nice?
“Yes,” I replied. “Any day now.” He smiled again and moved away and I went upstairs to the bathroom.
To me there is no other Bond: Roger Moore, Daniel Craig paled in comparison. Roger was too smooth, too sophisticated, too English and looked like he couldn’t fight a man and win. Sean was tough, he had a strong, tall body. You knew he could win. He could protect his woman, or the world for that matter.
Daniel Craig is good, but he isn’t Sean. He never had the same effect on me. Sorry Dan.
I got my wish. I met Sean Connery a year later, when I was definitely no longer pregnant. My husband and I lived in Deodar Road, in Putney, a row of modest houses that backed onto the River Thames.
It was, at the time, an artistic enclave. Ralph Steadman, the artist, lived down the road with his wife, Sheila. Our landlord, Ted Allen the writer, lived above us on the third floor. He was friends with Rod Steiger, the actor, with Stanley Mann, the screenwriter, and with Edna O’Brien. He used to joke that all his friends were famous, except for him.
My husband, Robert Lamb, was also a young writer. He had published his first book, a children’s story “The Plug at the Bottom of the Sea.” He was attempting to write screen plays. Ted Allen took him under his wing for a while.
One evening Ted invited us up to his living room overlooking the tidal Thames. It was night and the tide was in. Boat lights twinkled on the moving water.
We came into the room. It was a party, Ted had said, so I wore a sleeveless pink silk dress with silver trim on the V neck and hem. It was an A line, loose and twirly, good for dancing. I was slim again; my hair was long and I felt beautiful.
Standing in the living room there were only two other guests: Sean Connery and his wife, the Australian actress, Diane Cilento.
We had some drinks, Ted put the music on. My husband had a huge crush on Diane Cilento, a sultry blonde, and asked her to dance. As they began to move, Sean asked me.
So, James Bond and I danced. He still had no hair on top, but he was still devastatingly attractive.
It was amazing, it was unbelievable. It was heaven.
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