Conrad O’Brien-ffrench. He was an aristocrat who had been a spy. My parents, who knew him, told me he had been a close pal of Ian Fleming’s. Conrad was the “real” James Bond.
Conrad laughed when you asked him but a lot of people knew this about him.
I knew him as an old man who could draw and paint horses, people and places. Here I was walking down a dirt road with him. A little girl and an old man and all because I told him I liked to draw. So he invited me to come along with him.
I remember sitting behind the Bridge Creek Estate barn with him. Drawing horses and fences and the way the grass grew along the creek. He told me I must know the anatomy of a horse if I want to be able to draw it moving. He drew bones on my paper and I still have it.
It was a wonderful afternoon. Drawing and talking. Later, I saw his home in Colorado when I went to visit my Aunt. She signed me up for one of his drawing workshops. It was on hands and feet and eyes which he was very good at.
The workshop was okay but nothing like that afternoon sitting behind the barn drawing. He is gone now and I tease myself with the memories of sketching with the real James Bond.
(from my 1992 notes at Elko, Nevada)
During an estate sale a few years ago, I found an oil painting by Conrad that had been stored in Lord Martin’s Attic. It was leaning against a wall behind Lillian’s piano. There was no price on it. I asked and bought it! When I took it to the framers I discovered it wasn’t square. I knew Conrad had painted it on one of his many visits to the Lodge and had used the wood from their local woodshop. So I took it to my trusted carpenter friend, Peter Dalby (who also knew Conrad). He did the job proudly and $400.00 plus dollars later it was framed. A fitting wood frame of knots and beauty. It is a picture of Jesus in the Garden.
Not the best of photography but for now.
Conrad wrote in pen, on a piece of manilla paper glued to the back of this painting the following, which was later lifted and placed onto the new backing:
This is what he wrote:
Sermon On The Mount “The Kingdom of God is within you” Leo Tolstoy wrote a book with this Title concluding it in 1893 the year I was born. Conrad