On Saturday I attended a James Bond ball. This theme offered the advantage that if you forgot somebody’s name during the evening, you could call them James or Moneypenny and get away with it, unless it happened to be my husband I’d mentally misplaced. Ian Fleming deliberately chose a dull name for his hero, but perhaps he could have brightened it up by calling him something as ridiculous as some of the women, such as Pussy Galore.
‘The name’s Abundance, Willie Abundance.’
Turning up as a Bond girl is fine; choosing a name was a nightmare. Peaceful Fountains of Desire (yes, she really is a Bond girl) or Plenty O’Toole seemed a bit fanciful. Channelling characters like Solitaire and Domino, I was tempted to call myself Cluedo or Monopoly. Choosing Poker might have got me back to Pussy Galore territory. Deciding on something politer, I went as Dr No, thank you.
Attempting to find an outfit, I discovered how difficult it is to find an evening dress with matching holster. High heels are uncomfortable, but are nothing compared to having a gun slung halfway down your thigh or a cold knife strapped to your person, even if it is a dinner knife. A hand grenade shoved down the cleavage would have been gratingly worse but luckily there was no point, as my prop would have vanished without so much as a wrinkle in my décolletage. Presumably real spies either have Kevlar skin, or use Vasoline to avoid getting weapon grazes. Going to the toilet neatly with a gun in a thigh holster is a subject best left without further consideration.
The room had been into the Bond theme by the clever expedient of putting up a poster saying 007. Presumably adding more atmosphere by littering the floor with the dead spies, blasting smoking holes in the wall and leaving smashed cars or motor boats by the entrance would have been difficult to arrange, even if we’d had the calibre (0.45 Colt, presumably) of Pippa Middleton as our party planner.
We were greeted the choice of Pimms or Martini. Feeling I should be entering into the spirit of the thing, I chose Martini and immediately discovered why I last drank one about 20 years ago; the facial expression sucking a lemon is so passé.
The men all looked fabulous in their dinner jackets, the question remaining unanswered however of why James Bond, who is such a flamboyant extraordinary character, chooses to dress like a clone of every other man. Presumably if Ian Fleming had been writing today, he would have chosen to dress Bond into jeans and a hoody, although designer both.
Was James always 007 I wondered, or did he work up from being a junior at 00123526? What gadgets did Bond have when he was earning his licence to kill, but wasn’t quite fully qualified? Maybe with only a licence to thump people lightly. An Aston Martin with L plates? A tiny aquatic vehicle that wasn’t so much submarine as subpool? A Walther PPK water gun, perhaps?
Bond seems to like his women practically cloned. If one had been there on Saturday night, he would have demanded that on the dance floor she was physically energetic but emotionally blunted.
‘Did you enjoy that jive, my gun-toting stunner?’
‘Yes, I was shaken but not stirred.’
Altogether a fabulous evening, including walking home very late with Thunderballs.