Bond's Club Life: Blades

Bond's Club Life: Blades

January 26, 2018

Blades is a fictional private members' club in central London that features in Ian Fleming's Bond novels. M is a member and James Bond often accompanies him. It is widely believed that Fleming based Blades on London members' club Boodle's, of which he was a member.

Boodles Club London

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. Blades was founded between 1774 and 1776 and is of a calibre equal to or greater than that of any other club. 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 a limit of 200 members, and there are only two qualifications for being elected a member: behaving like a gentleman and being able to “show” ₤100,000 in cash or gilt-edged securities ant any time. Another Blade's Club rule dictates that every member must win or lose at least £500 a year at cards on the club premises.

M is a member of Blades, and James Bond, though not a member, is an occasional guest of his. 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.

"The amenitites of Blades, apart from the gambling, are so desirable that the Committee has had to rule that every member is required to win or lose £500 a year on the club premises, or pay an annual fine of £250. The food and wine are the best in London and no bills are presented, the cost of all meals being deducted at the end of each week pro rata from the profits of the winners. Seeing that about £5000 changes hands each week at the tables the impost is not too painful and the losers have the satisfaction of saving something from the wreck; and the custom explains the fairness of the levy on infrequent gamblers." -Moonraker.

Blades in James Bond films

The name Blades is also used in the 20th James Bond film Die Another Day (2002). That film is full of references to Ian Fleming novels and the first 19 Bond films. In the film, Blades is the name of the fencing club where Gustav Graves and James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) engage in a fencing match which ends in a sword fight. The scene was partly filmed at the Reform Club, a famous club in the heart of London’s clubland.

The Institute of Directors

Wine bar at the Institute of Directors

Wine Bar at the IoD

Whilst it may be a bit harder to join Boodles, a great alternative and a popular lunch spot for Ian Fleming himself is the Institute of Directors on 116 Pall Mall. Originally the home of ‘The Senior’, the United Service Club. As befits a naval intelligence officer, Fleming was a member of the club and is said to have had lunch in the dining room every week. The IoD is a fantastic club and worth a visit for any Bond fans who are looking for a club to join in London.