In all these incarnations, Bond must have effortless style, expensive tastes, an entertainment budget to match, and old-fashioned, “Mad Men”-era sex appeal, which makes him unlike any government employee I’ve ever met.
Indeed, if Bond were real, he’d be a terrible employee. He’d be no good in an embassy where his bull-in-a-
china-shop techniques, not to mention his insubordination, would quickly get him declared persona non grata. Ministers would be unable to tolerate his freelancing. The ambassador would have to devote a lot of precious time to cleaning up Bond’s messes.
In more than 30 years in Her Majesty’s diplomatic service, I’ve never met anyone from any government department who thought of James Bond seriously as a role model. If you are looking for fictional inspiration, unflashy, well-read, discreet George Smiley — in these aspects, the opposite of Bond — would be a more useful guide to real life.
Dominick Chilcott is Britain’s ambassador to Ireland and former deputy chief of mission in Washington.
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