Sunday, 22 December 2013

Does James Bond play Scrabble?

In a post published in December 2010, I wondered how James Bond celebrates Christmas. Based on information presented in the novel, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, I suggested that Bond celebrates a fairly traditional Christmas – tucking into turkey and plum pudding, attending carol services, and so on – though doesn't get too involved with the organisation of the day or the preparation of the food.

If James Bond celebrated Christmas with the same sort of festivities enjoyed by Ian Fleming (not an unreasonable assumption, given that Fleming gave many of his own idiosyncrasies to his creation), then based on the letters of Ann and Ian Fleming, Bond might either take to the slopes in St Moritz, or escape to some cosy, romantic spot – a secluded hotel or country-house estate, perhaps – and eat tangerines, Stilton, and smoked salmon, drink vodka, and play Scrabble, bridge and table tennis.

I admit I was struggling to picture James Bond play Scrabble (and indeed table tennis), but I recently discovered some evidence that suggested that he played Scrabble, or was present when it was being played, at least one Christmas.

I acquired a set of reproduction lobby cards for film of On Her Majesty's Secret Service. As I was looking through them, and wondering why the poster campaign would include images of production crew (in one Telly Savalas is having his coat brushed as he sits at his desk presumably waiting for the cameras to start rolling), I noticed an interesting detail one of the photographs.

The image shows James Bond (a kilted George Lazenby) enjoying a drink with one of the 'Angels of Death' ('the Jamaican Girl', played by Sylvana Henriques). The set had been dressed to convey notions of homely seasonal conviviality, and in the background on a wooden cabinet to the left there's a pile of what appears to be reading matter and games. The object at the top of the pile is especially interesting. The image is fuzzy here, but it is just possible to make out a box marked Scrabble in the familiar colours and style.

James Bond with 'the Jamaican Girl', and a set of Scrabble in the background

This doesn't prove conclusively that Bond plays Scrabble, or that he played it while on mission in Switzerland, but it is possible. (There's of course another Scrabble connection in Skyfall – Q's coffee mug – so I'm sure Bond is familiar with the game.) In any case, the image reveals that the set designers, like Fleming and many others, associated the game with Christmas. So, when I dust off my Scrabble set in a few days' time, I will be doing something at least a little bit Bondian. Happy Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. A well-observed detail by a hawk-eyed blogger there, Edward. Well done and thanks for all you post here for Bond fans the world over. Wishing you a Happy New Year 2014 from The Bondologist Blog.

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