Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Product Placement

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 si├Ęcle 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 ...                                                      
And now towards my window on the left: eagle eyed viewers might be able to spot my cat sitting on my balcony (but I'm not going to tell you which flat)...! The same viewers might also notice that the dock comes to an abrupt end 200 yards ahead where a very solid wall known as "The Dockhead" stops marine and terrestrial traffic co-mingling on Jamaica Road
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.
Companies such as Aston Martin, Jaguar, Sony, Omega Watches, Walther Firearms pay a fortune for their products to places in these films so I think I may have got a freebie here.  And if I ever sell this property, I shall make sure that the estate agents milk the " seen in the James Bond film..." line for all its worth!


Liv said...

This post made me sooo nostalgic! Whenever I think of chucking chocolate scones off the balcony for the unappreciative ducks I giggle.. that flat is such a potent part of my childhood memories... it was the first place I ever cooked a meal for you! I can still perfectly hear how the floors creak, how the doors squeak, what the fume hood in the kitchen sounds like, smell the beans on toast, and imagine those portmerion mugs on the counter with a fresh batch of tea. And of course more recently, sleeping on cots together in an otherwise empty flat in preparation for a last minute olympic rowing viewing! There is so much more. You CAN'T sell it. Too much love and happiness is embedded in the walls of that flat!

Mad Dog said...

HaHa! Those ducks knew about hydrogenated vegetable oil, bleached white flour, preservatives and so on (I don't know what the seal thinks, though). Don't worry I have no plans to sell.