Bond devotees are stirred and shaken

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It was the antithesis of an anorak gathering. Improbably well- coiffed fans (and they were mostly men) had clearly dressed for the occasion. If you can't be James Bond - and who can - it's best at least to try to look like him.

"Bond. James - the conference" drew an avid gathering at London's Institute of Contemporary Art yesterday. Butcher than Austen fans, more chic than Trekkies, they came to pay homage to Britain's only enduring superhero. There was a scriptwriter, a producer, a Bond Girl - but best of all, there were no less than three speakers to talk about how good James looked.

"And here we have the only double-breasted suit he ever appeared in ... Ah, now here's Timothy looking more like man at C&A's. Slightly letting the side down, I fear." We all took careful note of this slide, and a collective dim view of the sub-standard Mr Dalton.

The scriptwriter recounted the day he touched "the gun". "There it was, the one Connery had used, the one Moore had used. And I realised, for a large percentage of the world's male population, I had, in my hand, the Holy Grail."

Strangely, Shirley Eaton, she of Goldfinger's gold nudity fame, failed to summon the same thrill. "Let me tell you a secret," she confided. "You know when they painted me gold? Well, I wasn't really naked. I had a little G-string on, you know." The bombshell was greeted by stunned silence. We could scarcely have been more disillusioned if she had revealed Bond had been working all along for the KGB.

"It's great here," enthused one fan over lunch. "It's really homely. Shirley was great, too. Mind you, a bit scatty if you ask me."