mardi 4 août 2015

A ( new ) Journey to Blofeld's hideaway ...

Paris to the Schilthorn , Friday , July the 31 .

As I'm about to embark to my 6 hours journey via trains to reach Interlaken , I reflected that some films – like wines – never age . Or rather age rather well .
That's precisely the case of the 6th instalment of the Eon produced James Bond film series .
One of the most faithfull entry to any of the adaptations of  Fleming's oeuvre since 1962 ...
One starring a completely unknown ( supposedly ) actor …
One the media always considered as some sort of ' semi failure ' ( which it is definitly not – not even financially speaking ) .
And one I was fortunate enough to still discover in a glorious 35mm print in Paris in 1980 , in a Cinema which was soon to be disbanded ( as I quickly befriended its owner , I got the chance to get my hands on all the Promo material of the movies shown there … )

Anyway , back to Switzerland .
Finally arriving at Interlaken West ( there are two stations in town . I took the wrong one last time , two years ago , but wouldn't do the same mistake twice ! ) , I was welcome at the Carlton Europa Hotel by its friendly manager who had casually a … Suite reserved for me !
I cannot thank enough the generosity ( and superb services ) offered by the whole staff & its Director .

It was then around 3 :00 PM and I was expected at 4 at the Cable Car station of Stechelberg , to then reach Murren, get another one to Berg – and finally reaching the Schilthorn – Piz Gloria .
True to my unique sense of orientation , I straightfully … Missed the first Cable-Car station , and had to take a Mountain train to eventually reach Murren .
Where I had the good fortune to stumble on a BBC TV crew , chaperonned by a delightful lady from a UK based Public relation agency .
They were on their way to Piz Gloria to film a short subject on writer Mark Mason and his ' The Bluffer's Guide to Bond ' book .
We started chatting like a bunch of mad school boys at once , and I got my moment of fame when revealing official Continuation writer Raymond Benson had turned me into a Fiction character in his own 007 novel ' Never Dream of Dying '

About three ( or four ) pints later , we finally decided to try to catch the cable-car to Berg and enjoy the upcoming Party .

We arrived just in time at the Schilthorn to attend good ole' George Lazenby's  Chopper touch-down in front of frenzied cameramen & journalists ...
Funny thing when you do attend a James Bond event these days – be it ANYWHERE in the world , you invariably stumble on some friendly faces .

That was the case with me being spotted at once by French Club James Bond President ( and friend ) Luc Leclech , who amiably told me Miss Catherine Schell was in attendance , and nicely offered to introduce me to the lady .
I was thrilled .
Not only did I rightly remember her as one of Blofeld's Angel of Death , but first – and foremost – as the shape-shifter alien Maya in the second season of ' Space 1999 ' .
Miss Schell wasn't obviously expecting such fervor amongst dozens of fans amassed to greet her , and she signed autographs to any lucky person bold enough to ask her one . 
I had then the privilege to interview her ( in the Piz Gloria souvenir shop – a deadly place for any OHMSS fan ) , and learnt quite a few interesting titbits regarding her films & Tv career .
We could have kept on talking for the rest of the night , if she hadn't been amiably called back to perform her Bond duties during the evening …

We then proceeded to discover the new attraction, the 007 Walk of fame , consisting of a little ' promenade ' on the mountain , admiring various spots where erected panels inform the valiant tourist of various biographical details regarding some of the OHMSS cast & crew members ...

Dinner time approaching , everybody tried to find his reserved seat .
M. Christoph Egger ( whom I profoundly thank for inviting me ) had only given me a mysterious number ( «  46 » , not even close to Maxell Smart's one !   ) earlier in the day , and it was then up to the lucky winner to find the matching table .

Fortunately for me , my Dining companions were all very nice people ( Morten Steingrimsen , Sebastien Coquelle , Michael Hackl ( 007 Collector ) , etc. , etc … Apologies for all the persons I may have omitted to quote here .

Dinner was fine , ponctuated by laughters here and there .
A drawn-out competition was even provided to us die hard 007 nuts ( To my amazement , I received back in Paris an email informing me I had indeed … Won a Prize . A ParaGliding experience . Some people are clearly doing their best trying to kill me in a most imaginative way there … ) .

Between la poire et le Fromage , as we said in French , we were then treated to a formidable Firework ( the following day being a National historical Day in Switzerland - their own 4th of July if you want , I suspect the Schilthorn organizers to have use the date accordingly ) - which superbly closed that once-in-a-lifetime day .

( Well, some distinguised guests decided to stay a bit longer – as there was even some Baccarat tables provided ) – but , being stationned at Interlaken, roughly 20 kms from Murren, I considered myself fortunate enough to be ' carried away ' by two amiable fellow countrymen who had their own car , and kindly whisked me back to my hotel and my Suite ...

The author would like to thank the Paris Swiss Tourism office for its useful advices .

 M. Christoph Egger – CEO of the Schiltorn
 The Carlton Europa staff and manager
 Miss Jane Parritt from the MediaContacts Public Relation agency .
 M. Mark Mason and his wicked sense of humour
 M. Wolfgang Thürauf & The Deutsche JB fan Club

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