Xmas Skaters and Spies


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

published 1963

OHMSS Xmas skaters

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.


  1. Weird or not, Moira, it's that mix of fancy dress ball and Christmas that makes this a great choice. And of course, there's Tracy... I can't say I'm the most eager reader of the Bond stories. But they are entertaining, and of course, Bond is iconic.

    1. I think this one most resembled people's idea of Bond - it's a dashing story with various glamorous settings and the best Bond girl of them all. I enjoyed it very much.

  2. Moira: Had to look up images of a "shocking-pink fur-lined parka". I think the following would capture everyone's attention at the ice rink:


    The image of the formally dressed skaters reminded me that all my life I have never seen anyone in Saskatchewan dressed that way for skating. Certainly the clothes would not work for outdoor skating in our winters but I think the issue is more that we consider skating informal and simply part of life. It would be to put on "airs" to dress up to skate.

    1. That's a stupendous picture Bill, I love that! I suppose it depends how you see skating, as you say. I remember when I was young I was always puzzled by female Olympic skaters, wondering why they didn't get cold in those skimpy little outfits.

  3. Skaters and a fancy dress ball. I never would have imagined them together. And I love that image.

    I only read 4 Bond novels this year, but I would love to aim to finish them all next year. A nice goal, anyway.

    1. It has been a most enjoyable challenge for me Tracy, reading them all, it was really good fun. Look forward to reading more from you.

  4. It's a strkingly romantic moment, with Bond all alone with all hands against him, only to have his lady love glide up and lead him to safety. When they did the movie they were smart enough to leave this bit completely intact, and it's an iconic scene. There are times when I'd love to write an 'alternate universe' version of the books, where Tracy escapes her fate and the two of them go on to become a sort of 'Thin Man' style detective duo!


    1. I know, she would have been a real asset. And yes it is a magical scene. I haven't actually seen the film, but I must...


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