Gerry Farrell: Star man Sean is besht by far

Sony’s leaked e-mail tipping Idris Elba to be the first black James Bond got me thinking about the first 007, Sean Connery. Shir Shean and I have two things in common: we were both Co-op milkmen at the Fountainbridge Dairy, and he once spent an hour with me in my hotel bedroom.
Sir Sean Connery remains the benchmark for all James Bonds. Picture: PASir Sean Connery remains the benchmark for all James Bonds. Picture: PA
Sir Sean Connery remains the benchmark for all James Bonds. Picture: PA

I’d always wanted to be a milkman. Our own milkman, Matty, had a horse. Every morning when I heard the sound of hooves, I would run out with a slice of Milanda. Often as not, our neighbour would appear to shovel up the dung for her garden. Quite the eco-system.

As things turned out, “Tam” Connery and myself chose separate career paths. He found global superstardom as James Bond and I got a job in advertising.

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In the late Eighties I wrote a TV ad for the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service, which was struggling for new donors. We filmed it in a ward for premature babies so it was quite emotional.

I wanted a well-known voice to do the pictures justice. I chose a 
world-famous Scottish Hollywood star (whom I can’t name or he’d sue me). On the day of the recording, he swaggered into the studio and took an immediate dislike to me. He was rude about the words I’d written for him to read. He got even narkier when I refused to change them. And when I asked him to do his voiceover again he had a hairy fit. I thanked him for his efforts but the minute he flounced out the door I told the recording engineer to bin the tape.

“OK,” said Big Les, my producer. “Who have you got in mind?”

“Sean Connery,” I said.

“Fat chance,” said Les.

Months went by and one day Jackie, our 21-year-old receptionist, took a call. “Hello, thish ish Shean Connery, I’d like to shpeak with Mishter Lesh Watt pleash.”

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“Oh haha, that’s really good, you sound just like Sean Connery!”

“That’s becosh I AM Shean Connery.”

Long story short, Mr Connery agreed to do our voiceover for nothing – but on one condition. We had to do it in his London hotel, The Grosvenor. “Book yourshelves a room and I’ll do it there,” he told us.

We went out ‘on expenses’ that night and came back with Chinese takeaways and beer. We woke up with sore heads and panicked. Our special guest would be here in five minutes! We’d only just kicked our tinfoil cartons and dirty pants under the bed when in he walked, wheezing a little, shirt open three buttons, with a shark’s tooth dangling in the chest fur.

“Shorry chapsh, I’m a wee bit worsh for wear. I wash out on the p*** with Jack Lemmon lasht night.”

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He sat down next to me on my bed, we rolled the tape and he did his first take. It was pretty average, to be honest.

I gulped and spoke up. “Er, that wasn’t bad but could you do it again with a little more compassion.”

He arched that famous eyebrow at me and said: “I’ll try.”

This time his voice nearly cracked with emotion as we got to the bit with the premature baby. Nailed it, second take. At this point, Les flourished a grubby £1 note and said “Your fee, Mr Connery.”

He frowned at it like he’d never seen one before – then burst out laughing.

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And Idris Elba? Personally I think he’d make a fantastic James Bond. But he’ll never beat the original and best.

You will never tyre of Leith’s cheeky scamps

Last February I moved to Leith. I’ve always worked here so it felt like coming home. In my first week I didn’t have a remote for the underground car park so I parked my car on the street. When I came home that evening, something didn’t look right.

I hurried towards my car. Sure enough, it was sitting lower on the road. Both my front tyres had been let down. I couldn’t tell if they’d been slashed or just deflated. I phoned the roadside rescue people. It was dark by the time the orange lights were flashing outside my flat. The repairman was Polish.

“You OK,” he said, “they only let air out. In my country, you find the boys who did this, you biff-bam.” He mimed a set of punches.

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“Well, if you hit children here you get arrested,” I said. Just then a 13-year-old and his wee brother materialised next to me.

“What’s wrong wi yer motor, mister?” said the older of the two from the depths of his hoodie.

“Oh, some kind buddy let my front tyres down.”

He looked at me, spread his arms wide, grinned and said: “What can ye dae, eh?” before swaggering off laughing like a maniac.

He’d been sitting watching from the high flats, waiting for the repairman to arrive and couldn’t resist returning to the scene of the crime for a gloat.

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A mixture of emotions flashed through me. First I felt angry, then frustrated. Finally, I had to laugh. What can ye dae, eh? This is Leith.


I’m getting excited already. Glamour football tie of 2015, Spartans v Berwick Rangers in the Scottish Cup, Ainslie Park, 3pm, February 7. It’s almost Scotland v England (Berwick is in England, isn’t it?)

They should be so plucky . .

Facebook’s full of trivia. Photos of folks’ lunch. Snaps of their kids. Their pets with hats on. But today I read the most trivial headline ever. “16 Celeb Eyebrow Fails We Can All Learn From In 2015.” If you can beat that, you win a pair of tweezers.