You Only Live Nince


Blofeld settled himself in front of the camera. His collar was buttoned firmly to his chin, his chair had been raised to make him look taller, and his head had been polished like a bowling ball.

“How do I look?” he asked.

“Good,” said his assistant, Oddjob. Blofeld glared at him.

“Er, I mean bad,” said Oddjob. “Really evil.”

Blofeld smiled in satisfaction. “Very well,” he said. “Turn on the camera.”

The light at the top of the camera turned red, and Blofeld began his message. Once he was finished the transmission would be beamed simultaneously to the CIA, to the KGB, to MI6 and, due to some computer bug that his IT people couldn’t fix, to The Happy Bean Coffee Shop in Clonakilty, County Cork.

“My name is Blofeld,” he said. “I have nuclear warheads pointed at -”

His cat leapt into his lap.

“Halt the recording,” snapped Blofeld. He looked down at the cat. “Seriously, Fluffy,” he said. “This is not a good time.”

The cat simply snuggled deeper into his lap, and purred softly. Blofeld lifted her off and placed her on the floor.

“Start the camera again,” said Blofeld The light came back on and he stared again into the lens. “Er, as I was saying, I have nuclear warheads pointed at Moscow, Peking and New York. Unless I receive twenty million dollars in gold bullion, I will eeeek!”

While he was talking Fluffy had leapt back into his lap. Blofeld had tried surreptitiously to lift her off, but Fluffy had just dug her claws in, and when a cat does that while sitting in your lap it’s not a pleasant experience.

“Stop the tape,” he gasped again. Oddjob sighed and turned the camera off.

“Did I sound a bit girly there?” asked Blofeld.

“Not at all,” lied Oddjob. “You sounded just like an arch-villain – shrieking to show the world that you mean business.”

“Yes, but how am I going to get rid of her?” asked Blofeld, looking down at Fluffy.

“You could leave her on your lap,” said Oddjob. “We could keep her just below the shot.”

They began recording again. In order to pacify the cat Blofeld stroked her gently as he told of the devastation, the blame-game, the inevitable world war that would follow if his demands were not –

“Cut,” said Oddjob.

“Oh, for God’s sake,” said Blofeld. “ What’s wrong now?”

“It turns out that leaving the cat out of shot wasn’t a great idea,” said Oddjob. “You don’t want me to tell you what it looks like you’re doing.”

“So what’ll we do?” asked Blofeld.

“We’ll just have to show her on your lap,” said Oddjob. “It can be your Thing, like Indiana Jones’s hat, or Doctor Who’s bow-tie, or Goldfinger’s, um, gold finger.”

“The scar on my cheek was supposed to be my Thing,” said Blofeld. “It was supposed to create the image of a man who likes duelling. Instead my Thing is going to make me look like a spinster sitting in front of a telly until it‘s time to get ready for Bingo.”

“Yeah, well your Thing was a fraud anyway,” said Oddjob, “since the scar is actually the result of the time you tried to get Fluffy to wear a collar with a bell on it.”

Blofeld decided to ignore that. “Get her some cat-food,” he said.

Oddjob went off and returned with a bowl of what looked like the stuff you scrape off football boots after a match on a wet day. It was a brand of cat-food that claimed that eight out of ten cats preferred it, though without specifying what they preferred it to. Lasagne, perhaps – it can’t be easy getting that out of your whiskers.

In any case, it seemed that Fluffy was not one of the eight. She gave the bowl a look of haughty disdain and, to Oddjob’s horror, headed out through the cat-flap.

Oddjob had tried telling Blofeld that a cat-flap was a bad idea if your secret headquarters was underwater, but Blofeld hadn’t listened.

He certainly listened now, to the sound of gallons of water pouring in, to the sound of the equipment around him beginning to spark and then explode, to the sound of nuclear missiles toppling sideways from their gantries, to the sound of a female voice intoning “T minus thirty seconds, and counting”.

When James Bond arrived two hours later he was surprised to find only wreckage on the surface of the ocean, with Oddjob clinging to a plank and Blofeld wearing a toilet-seat as a life-belt. Fluffy, determined not to get wet, was sitting in Oddjob’s upturned bowler hat.

Bond looked at Blofeld, who shrugged.

“We meet again, Mr Bond,” he said. “Do you want to buy a cat?”

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