I had no idea there was a Vulcan living at Southend Airport, but that's where the Vulcan Restoration Trust is preserving XL426. On Saturday evening they held a screening of Thunderball, which features a Vulcan prominently, to raise funds.
I met up with my friends D and N at Hangar 5, where the Vulcan had been rolled out. The lights were flashed and the bomb bay doors opened for our delight, and D and I paid to climb up in the cockpit, where we gazed about like kids in a sweet shop.
Parked by the Vulcan were an Aston Martin DB5 in proper Bond silver and a DB6 in black, looking sleek and shiny in the rain. Inside the hangar, I was delighted to see a 007 edition 2CV.
The owner's sister came over to talk to me as I was admiring it. "Wow, this is the perfect night for you," she said, clocking my SPECTRE polo shirt and silver Vulcan necklace (I'd got a little overexcited while dressing myself).
After an enthusiastic chat about 2CVs, she asked if I'd like to sit in the car. Are you kidding!? It was the highlight of my evening. (Roger Moore had signed the dashboard, and he must undoubtedly have sat where I was sitting in order to do so.)
After a short welcome speech, it was time for the film. They were hoping to sell over 100 tickets; they sold 160 and the bar ran out of beer, which should keep the Trust in O-rings and things for a while.
Thunderball...well, Thunderball was Thunderball, and enjoyable as always despite the rain hammering on the corrugated-iron hangar roof and the occasional drip on my shoulder. (It's the best Bond film if you enjoy looking at Sean Connery's legs, not that that's my thing especially.) Cheers from the audience for the Vulcan scenes; every now and then I'd look round to see the vast nose of the real thing, framed in the open hangar door.
It was still raining when we came out. Splashing through the puddles to the car park, we looked round at the sound of a polite and genteel car horn: the DB5's owner, waving and hooting to the departing crowd as he drove home.
A lot of love and effort went into the evening, from the gorgeous poster and ticket design onwards, and I'm glad it was a hit. I'm sure I'll visit Vulcan XL426 again.