Recently I found myself back in London having to take care of a somewhat onerous domestic project. In the course of this work I revisited my old flat in Docklands, just around the corner from Tower Bridge. I have to say that the area has been transformed since I first took up residence there more than two decades ago. Back in the 70s and 80s it was a derelict wasteland populated primarily by rats and film crews working on the episodes of The Sweeney: as a cab driver once poetically stated when I asked him what he thought of the area "I wouldn't f**king go there unless I had a f**king Kalashnikov!". Quite so, but things have changed. Now it's a vibrant (if slightly yuppified) district teeming with fancy restaurants, coffee shops, bars, food boutique markets, trendy warehouse conversion properties, tourist attractions and, errr, tourists.
Anyway, the thought train that caused me to pen this post arises from when I was idly skimming through the list of free Amazon Instant Movies the other night and I noticed the title "The World is Not Enough". This is a James Bond (Pierce Brosnan era) flick made in 1999; at the time we were all paranoid that it was going to be "The World is Going to Blowup" when the all the computer chips rolled over at the start of the New Millennium and somehow would set off nuclear strikes and other such catastrophes.
The 007 take on the dystopian fin de siècle view involved some kind of improbable nuclear plot. Honestly I didn't pay much attention (after from Russia with Love the storylines of virtually all the films in the franchise have failed to suspend my disbelief). However what did cause me to sit up and take notice was a powerboat chase along the Thames and up St Saviour's Dock past my balcony window. JB was in pursuit of a red leather-clad female assassin toting a rifle with laser sights and driving an impressively powerful cigar boat. To my amazement the chase continued to the mouth of the dock and then on up to my flat. Indeed the dock and my domicile featured in a full 16 seconds of celluloid footage. Here are a few screen shots I've borrowed...
At the mouth of St Saviour's Dock, James Bond's small experimental powerboat on left overshoots the cigar boat piloted by Italian actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta. Interestingly the large derelict building on the right has now been restored and is known as Tea Trade Wharf: the ground floor (bricked up) is now a trendy restaurant
|The rather charming villain hangs a sharp right and zips into the dock|
And along she goes...(fortunately the footbridge was up at the time!)
Past Java Wharf on the right ...
Now 007 does a quick about turn and guns his craft past the blue-painted pontoon office known as "The Harpy"
And enters St Saviour's dock, driving furiously...
This is the last frame of the clip: from here on things become even sillier as Ms Cucinotta and her boat somehow avoid the Dockhead wall and emerge from another inlet further up river in Rotherhithe
St Saviour's Dock in July 2013: view from the footbridge
A photo, taken a couple of years ago, of the The Harpy with Tower Bridge in the background
The view from my balcony window. The mouth of the dock is towards the right. Today boat chase activity has been curtailed by a series of habitat rafts installed for the convenience of ducks, swans and geese and the occasional seal.