The boys came to live with me after my brother Andrew and his wife Monique were tragically killed in a climbing accident. Their mother’s relatives lived abroad, so that’s how I found myself with two orphans aged 11 and 13. This was a new experience for me and it couldn’t have been easy for Neil and Jimmy either; suddenly losing their parents, having to move from one end of the country to the other to live in a small village a few miles from Canterbury.
Under the circumstances, the brothers settled in quite well. Neil was the more outgoing of the two and quickly made friends at the local grammar school and was selected to play for the football team. Jimmy preferred to be by himself, usually with his nose in a book, only joining us for the occasional game of Snap.
When probate was granted, I decided to send them to Eton, where their father was educated but, as they were not particularly happy there, they were subsequently enrolled at a prestigious boarding school in Edinburgh, the town where they were born. I use geographical distance as the reason for few visits over those years. However, we always kept up our correspondence religiously and that is how I can tell you what happened to the brothers.
Neil managed to graduate with a good English degree despite his hectic social life and found a job with a magazine in London. He would come down to visit from time to time and even brought a young lady with him who later became his wife and with whom he had two sons and daughter. I rarely saw Jimmy, who trained to be an officer in the Royal Navy but he looked handsome and confident in the photographs he sent me from far-flung countries.
I saw more of Neil and his family when they bought a house outside London. I knew that Jimmy or James as he now signed his letters had started to work for the Government. I was flabbergasted when Neil told me that he was with MI6, had met the Queen on quite a few occasions and his name was linked with a succession of ladies with such strange names as Tiffany, Miranda and Honey.
We managed one family Christmas together at Neil’s home. James arrived in a sleek sports car which was jam-packed full of gifts. Expensive perfume and chic silk scarves for the ladies, an all singing all dancing wrist watch for his brother, the children were really excited with the extraordinary gadgets they received and there was even a miniature Baccarat table.
As James sipped his cocktail, wearing a suave suit which looked as if it were made for him by a Savile Row tailor, I remarked how much he had changed from that shy, young boy who came to stay. He sighed and then confided that he had a son of his own now who lived with his mother in New York and that he would visit him in the New Year.
Neil refreshed our drinks and made a toast ‘Orbis Non Sufficit’. The Bond family motto: ‘The world is not enough’.