Blades Club

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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 of St James's Street, at the approximate location of the real-life club Pratt's. 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;
  • 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]

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 (£1,827,046 in 2014 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." 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[edit]

  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 CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  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[edit]

  • 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).