You really do have a far finer knowledge of the Gardner's than I. I guess as the quality dropped and the double crosses increased, I probably read the later ones only once.
No, don't think so. I was merely quite interested in that aging factor Gardner introduced. That's why I paid special attention there, whenever there were indications.
I DO agree Bond IS older by COLD, Flicka and the Microglobe stuff. 50ish would do. Perhaps a little older. Maybe it was Gardner's idea to retire Bond off into a civvy job with MI6 working with his wife. I can see Gardner thinking it - and Glidrose knocking it on the head!
But why not start with Bond as 41 in in LR and add a year per Gardner book?
Doesn't help Benson though, does it? But hey, retconning is all the rage now.
Perhaps the series ran much longer than anybody - Gardner, Glidrose, the readers - ever expected? It's an interesting device, an aging hero, and an icon at that! But if you have to write a book every year it quickly becomes a problem. Really surprising to me is that it wasn't openly addressed after LR. All the other evidence I presented is really only circumstantial and you can, if you are inclined to do so, always ignore it and read the books as if Bond is still 38. It may be a strech at times, but it's far from impossible and a lot a fans seem to prefer it this way (although I would argue the really interesting situations would then be ignored).
I believe the idea to age Bond slightly was even a bit underdeveloped, probably for our benefit (as fans I mean). There are numerous implications connected to Bond arriving at 45 and crossing this line. He would be edgy and anxious to find an occupation within the service that gives him the same sense of being useful and living on the edge his 00 calling did. Then again, Bond was seldom the cold killer and in TLD he's downright fed up with that side of things. There could have been numerous interesting conflicts resulting from Bond's age. Unfortunately, none were developed from it, and I think it was due to Gardner not wanting to give us fans too much to swallow. He could have done more, easily. And IMO he should have done more and sooner. None of the Gardners in fact depends on Bond being a 00 agent or still being based in London. A number of different postings/departments would have been possible, especially as the 00 department supposedly had closed shop, somewhat unnecessarily, I might mention.
I often got the impression while reading the Gardners that he had some kind of bigger picture that he somehow not dared using in its entirety for his work, so as not to alienate the fans. I for one would have liked to see more of it and wished he'd have been even bolder.
But alas we have to live with things as they are, not as they should have been.