Every year I do a series of Xmas entries on the blog, helped and encouraged by suggestions and recommendations from my lovely readers. You can see some of last year’s pictures in this entry, and find (endless!) more Xmas books via the tags at the bottom of the page.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming
James Bond Book 11
Then he drove himself on again. He had got so far, done so well! The strains of a waltz came over the still, frozen air. The skating-rink! A Christmas Eve skaters’ ball. That was the place for him! Crowds! Gaiety! Confusion! Somewhere to lose himself from the double hunt that would now be on – by SPECTRE and the Swiss police, the cops and the robbers hand in hand!
[There was] a big notice three languages across the entrance: ‘Grand Christmas Eve Ball! Fancy Dress! Entrance 2 Francs! Bring all your friends! Hooray!’…
Bond got his ticket. The man’s eyes focused. ‘The fancy dress, the travesti, it’s obligatoire.’ He reached into a box by his side and threw a black and white domino-mask on the table. ‘One franc.’ He gave a lop-sided smile. ‘Now you are the gangster, the spy. Yes?’
‘Yeah, that’s right.’ Bond paid and put on the mask. There was an empty seat on the aisle in the bottom row at rink level. Bond stumbled down the wooden steps and fell into it. He righted himself, said ‘Sorry’, and put his head in his hands. The girl beside him, part of a group of harlequins, Wild Westerners, and pirates, drew her spangled skirt away, whispered something to her neighbour.
Through the loud-speakers the violins sobbed into ‘The Skaters’ Waltz’. Above them the voice of the MC called, ‘Last dance, ladies and gentlemen. And then all out on to the rink and join hands for the grand finale.’
commentary: What a wonderful way to head towards the end of the year. I love doing my Christmas entries, I love Fancy Dress Balls, and this has been the year of reading James Bond.
OHMSS was one of the weirdest of Fleming’s books, and this scene shows the good the bad and the strange – all the exclamation marks, and then this wonderfully visual scene. And Bond is about to be rescued by Tracy, the love of his life, who is wearing
A short black skating skirt topped by a shocking-pink fur-lined parka- She speeds across the ice like an arrow and grabs his hand, and she saves him, in a most romantic moment. If only they did have all the time in the world.
A terrific Christmas Eve moment, an intense picture.
See previous entries on the book here.
The picture is the Winter Skating Rink by Konstantin Somov, from the Athenaeum website.