Blades Club

Blades is a fictional London gentlemen's club appearing and referenced in several of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, most notably Moonraker. Blades is situated on “Park Street” (correct name Park Place) off St James's Street, at the approximate location of the real-life club Pratt's.

Inspirations

Based on Fleming’s notes as well as details of the club included in the novels, Blades is an amalgam of several nearby clubs, several of which Fleming mentions by name in various Bond books. These include:

  • Boodle's, where Fleming himself was a member and which has a lineage similar to that of Blades (both being descended from the earlier Savoir Vivre Club) as well as having similar architecture;
  • The Portland Club, which features bridge and where Fleming was a member, preferring the bridge games there because, as at Blades, they were played for high stakes;
  • White's, with which (like Blades), Beau Brummell, Horace Walpole, and Edward Gibbon had some association and where M’s real-life counterpart, Sir Stewart Menzies, was a member, and where Fleming too was a member until moving to Boodle’s; and
  • Brooks's, located quite close to Blades, founded at the same time, sharing its emphasis on gaming, and providing at least one of the famous bets to be found in Blades’s betting book.[1]

Fictional history

Blades was founded between 1774 and 1776 and is of a calibre equal to or greater than that of any other club. In fact, Fleming writes that during Blades’s annual closings, its members have to “pig it” at the prestigious White’s or Boodle’s.[2] It excels in terms of member accommodations, staff, food, and furnishings, and its members include some of the finest card players in the world. The club has only 200 members, and there are only two qualifications for being elected a member: behaving like a gentleman and being able to “show” ₤100,000 (£2,056,819 in 2019 pounds[3]) in cash or gilt-edged securities. M. is a member of Blades, and James Bond, though not a member, is an occasional guest.[4] M. often lunches at Blades, usually eating a spare meal of grilled Dover sole and "the ripest spoonful he could gouge from the club Stilton," and always pays his bill with a five-pound note in order to receive newly minted notes and coins as change, a club tradition. As a favour to M., Blades also stocks a very bad Algerian red wine, to which he is partial, which he calls "Infuriator", but the club refuses to put it on the wine list.[5]

Blades plays a prominent role in the novel Moonraker. M, along with the club chairman Basildon, suspect another member, Sir Hugo Drax, to be cheating at bridge. Because Drax is involved in a nuclear missile project crucial to national security, M and Basildon wish to avoid a scandal. Because of Bond’s skill at cards, M invites him to Blades to discern Drax’s method of cheating. When Bond finds that Drax is using a shiner (i.e., a highly polished silver cigarette case that allows him to read the cards as he deals), M. and Basildon go along with a plan of Bond’s to teach Drax a lesson and discourage him from further cheating. During a very high-stakes bridge game, Bond switches in a cold deck, making Drax believe he has an extraordinarily good hand that in reality allows Bond to achieve a grand slam, costing Drax ₤15,000.[6]

References

  1. ^ John Timbs, Club Life of London with Anecdotes of the Clubs, Coffee-Houses and Taverns of the Metropolis During the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries, vol. 1 (London: Richard Bentley, 1866), 121–22; John Griswold, Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's Bond Stories (AuthorHouse, 2006), 94; Gary Giblin & Christopher Lee, James Bond's London (Daleon Enterprises Inc., 2001), 71, 86–89; John Pearson, The Life of Ian Fleming (Jonathan Cape, 1966); Ian Fleming, Moonraker (London: Penguin Books., 1955) ISBN 978-0-14-102833-0, chs. 3–7
  2. ^ Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice (Glidrose, 1964), ch. 2.
  3. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  4. ^ Fleming, Moonraker, chs. 3–7.
  5. ^ Ian Fleming, The Man with the Golden Gun (Glidrose, 1965), ch. 3.
  6. ^ Fleming, Moonraker, chs. 3–7.

Bibliography

  • Ian Fleming, Moonraker London: Penguin Books., 1955) ISBN 978-0-14-102833-0.
  • Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice (Glidrose, 1964).
  • Gary Giblin & Christopher Lee, James Bond's London (Daleon Enterprises Inc., 2001).
  • John Griswold, Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's Bond Stories (AuthorHouse, 2006).
  • John Pearson, The Life of Ian Fleming (Jonathan Cape, 1966).
  • John Timbs, Club Life of London with Anecdotes of the Clubs, Coffee-Houses and Taverns of the Metropolis During the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries, vol. 1 (London: Richard Bentley, 1866).
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The film, produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, and directed by Lee Tamahori, marked the James Bond franchise's 40th anniversary. The series began in 1962 with Sean Connery starring as Bond in Dr. No. Die Another Day includes references to each of the preceding films.The film received mixed reviews. Some critics praised the work of Tamahori, while others criticised the film's heavy use of computer-generated imagery, which they found unconvincing and a distraction from the film's plot. Nevertheless, Die Another Day was the highest-grossing James Bond film up to that time if inflation is not taken into account.

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Moonraker (novel)

Moonraker is the third novel by the British author Ian Fleming to feature his fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond. It was published by Jonathan Cape on 5 April 1955 and featured a cover design conceived by Fleming. The plot is derived from a Fleming screenplay that was too short for a full novel so he added the passage of the bridge game between Bond and the industrialist Hugo Drax. In the latter half of the novel, Bond is seconded to Drax's staff as the businessman builds the Moonraker, a prototype missile designed to defend England. Unknown to Bond, Drax is German, an ex-Nazi now working for the Soviets; his plan is to build the rocket, arm it with a nuclear warhead, and fire it at London. Uniquely for a Bond novel, Moonraker is set entirely in Britain, which raised comments from some readers, complaining about the lack of exotic locations.

Moonraker, like Fleming's previous novels, was well received by critics. Moonraker plays on a number of 1950s fears, including attack by rockets (following the V-2 strikes of the Second World War), Soviet communism, the re-emergence of Nazism and the "threat from within" posed by both ideologies. Fleming examines Englishness, and the novel shows the virtues and strength of England. Adaptations include a broadcast on South African radio in 1956 starring Bob Holness and a 1958 Daily Express comic strip. The novel's name was used in 1979 for the eleventh official film in the Eon Productions Bond series and the fourth to star Roger Moore as Bond; the plot was significantly changed from the novel to include excursions into space.

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The Spy Who Loved Me is the ninth novel in Ian Fleming's James Bond series, first published by Jonathan Cape on 16 April 1962. It is the shortest and most sexually explicit of Fleming's novels, as well as a clear departure from previous Bond novels in that the story is told in the first person by a young Canadian woman, Vivienne Michel. Bond himself does not appear until two-thirds of the way through the book. Fleming wrote a prologue to the novel giving Michel credit as a co-author.

Due to the reactions by critics and fans, Fleming was not happy with the book and attempted to suppress elements of it where he could: he blocked a paperback edition in the United Kingdom and only gave permission for the title to be used when he sold the film rights to Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli, rather than any aspects of the plots. However, the character of Jaws is loosely based on one of the characters in the book and a British paperback edition was published after his death.

A heavily adapted version of The Spy Who Loved Me appeared in the Daily Express newspaper in daily comic strip format in 1967–1968. In 1977 the title was used for the tenth film in the Eon Productions series. It was the third to star Roger Moore as Bond and used no plot elements from the novel.

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