The Curry Leg
As I walked down the corridor of curry that is Tooting High St I see a vision...a Spectre. A vision of a future CURRYBOND. A man in a bow tie, a brutish man with dead eyes, muscles rippling beneath his ivory white, what I can only assume, chefs jacket...He stares through my soul. He knows how much more Bond there is to come until he is called for to sate thebloodthirsty want of the noughties cinema go-er. Until then it seems I'll settle for a raised eyebrow, a cruise in a jet pack and slap on the bum of the nearest blonde...
Once I've shaken off this foretelling of a meat headed chef destined to raise the Bond franchise out of oblivion with the force of his pecks alone, I arrive at our next venue.
Mirch Masala, one of a hand full of curry restaurants that non-Tooting residents aka the curry deprived masses, might have heard of. It's ideally suited half way between Tooting Broadway and Bec slap bang in the middle of Tooting curry Mecca. Adorned with some distinctive red neon signage and only 1/11 letters failing to illuminate, not bad for your average tooting neon display.
I'm duly welcomed by an all new CURRYBONDer not just on time, but slightly early. This is a pleasing trend with all attendees present and correct by 7.15pm, omens were good for a full CURRYBOND before the inevitable descent into the curry coma. This 4th chapter also saw new heights to CURRYBOND attendance, the news is out, word was spreading, and at this rate CURRYBOND will end up investing £2,234.7 into the curry economy of Tooting!
So, the venue. Once inside the missing neon L is perhaps a symptom of a slightly neglected interior...missing light fittings, dodgy looking cabling and "hold it 'till you get home" toilets. Unfortunately none of this escapes the now seasoned CURRYBONDers who give Mirch Masala a venue score of 5.1/10.
But, as we know a curry experience is so much more than decor. After the CURRYBONDers settle in with a variety of beers courtesy of the BYOB policy, the food kicks off with the obligatory popadoms. But there's a problem, no mango chutney! So far unheard of on CURRYBOND, the 'doms come with a mint raita and a chilli sauce, but generally a little disappointing. Jobbers, a keen purveyor of the 'dom, takes this lack of quality as a personal affront and only crunches through one and a half crispy circles.
The bhaji's are up next, and things are looking up. We are presented with two mounds of the crustacean version of the onion bhaji, previously seen in CURRYBOND #2.
The comparison is inevitable, some say better some say worse, overall the conclusion is pretty good, and these bhaji's are rewarded with a 7/10.
Curry time! With the largest CURRYBOND crowd so far the variety we were able to sample was significant. Lamb Tikka Masala, Methi Chicken, Ginger Chicken, Chicken Keema, the obligatory Chicken Tikka Masala and a variety of naan. The menu variety on offer was excellent. Most of the curries come in a Karahi, while these particular metal dishes slightly resemble a dog bowl the contents certainly did not. The food was very good, the reference Chicken Tikka Masala in particular may be the best example so far. Positive murmurings all round, good portions, lovely thick spicy sauces. The chicken did go a little dry and the naans were perhaps on the thick side, but in general a satisfying curry spread. The heat was generally medium/low though the waiter offered to match any requests to beef the heat.
CURRYBONDers give the Mirch a food score of 7.1/10.
The common site of curry remains litter the table, the value assessment therefore is going well, along with the BYOB surely high scores are promised. The bill comes to £68.60 that's an impressive £9.80/CURRYBONDer! The first time we've dipped below £10/person a new benchmark in curry value.
Mirch Masala gets a CURRYBOND value score of 8.5/10.
So putting aside the venue, which to be honest is not why one comes to Tooting for curry, Mirch Masala scores well on food and value. An excellent bargain curry experience at the centre of Tooting.
Mirch Masala gets a CURRYBOND approved score of 7.1/10.
The Bond leg
With a horde of CURRYBONDers in tow it was back to HQ for a serious test of capacity...alternatives may be necessary.
We're now four Bonds in to the Connery run and I feel like we're old friends. Thunderball also welcomes none other than Welsh crooner Tommy Jones accompanying some writhing watery women in the latest Bond intro. Water, it seems, may feature in this film...
Bond's first foray, a funeral...not the typical event for some spy on spy action but this is James Bond. It's not long before Bond is smacking a woman in the face...but wait, this time it's not one of those jumped up "women" trying to justify their time outside of a bedroom. It's a transvestite mourner, determined to re-use that black dress at 007's wake! Who needs a Danish Girl when you've got Bond breaking the mould for trans henchman everywhere.
We're then treated to our first iconic Bond moment with a jet pack escape! That's right, Q branch has finally pulled its finger out and given Bond some real toys.
Soon enough we're introduced to our villain, Jimmy eye-patch or some such and his host of henchman, Barry polo-neck and Frank wide-neck...so the bad guys aren't particularly notable. We are however still in Spectre territory, which means some good (spoiler alert) Blofeld action, with cat in hand and minions presenting their achievements. Unfortunately for American minion he chose the electric chair and tonight is fried minion night on the Spectre menu...
The dastardly plot has a bit more threat than previous outings. Now we've got nukes! The classic, "pay us or else" approach seems fine until inflation kind of dulls the threat with a ransom of £100million...
Next up on the unlikely action venue is health spa. There's our hero, minding his own business forcing his way in to the pants of his physio when he's left alone on the spine stretching machine...not sure why these never made it to your local Fitness First. But look out, henchman alert, with Bond literally tied up at his mercy surely bullet in the head? Nah, let's just give him a REALLY long spine and turn this bad boy up to 11!
The Bond girls, it seems always come in threes. In this case they are somewhat interchangeable. Bond obviously has his way with all of them which doesn't help distinguish which ones are trying to help him or kill him...
But the real star of Thunderball is surely the shorts...many many short shorts. They really steal the show from their host, Sir Sean, who is shown fully clothed in approximately 2% of screen time. The reason for this explosion of swimwear is that Thunderball pretty much spends the whole time, in water, next to water or dreaming of being in water. Clearly having spent a fortune on a giant swimming pool the producers were determined to get their monies worth. We've got planes landing in the sea, divers in all shapes and sizes with special diving buggies, shark tanks, SCUBA, snorkels and more harpoons than aCaptain Ahab themed whaling convention.
All this diving action does produce some pretty impressive set pieces with stabby, hapooney underwater fight scenes en mass.
Though this final scene gets pretty indulgent once it ticks past 15 minutes!
Inevitably Bond disposes of the bad guys, gets the bombs back and ends up floating in the CIA provided sex float with Bond girl number 3, but what's that weird plane flying over? Rather than have a relaxing cruise home, Bond plumps for the mid-air-plane-catch-a-wire with girl attached method...smooth.
Overall an enjoyable watery romp. CURRYBONDers score Thunderball.
Girls n gadgets - 7.0/10
Cheese - 5.7/10
Action - 7.2/10
Overall - 6.5/10
Which gives CURRYBOND #4 a score of 6.8/10, our best combined experience so far!
CURRYBOND will return in Dosa N Chutney + You Only Live Twice