"The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning."

Life I attended a book group tonight at the local Waterstones. Slightly disappointingly there weren't any neorotic Americans, footballer's wives or James Lance looakalikes. What I did find were a group of people passionate about books and who'd obviously finished more 'classic' novels than I have and probably read less tie-in novels about soon to be ressurected tv timelords. The book under discussion was Ian Fleming's Casino Royale and although some quite liked the book the for the wrong reasons, generally people had very few things to say about it. I found it quite dense for an one hundred-seventy odd pages and I've only reached halfway -- something I managed to bluff past by talking about the films a lot. There is one particularly tortuous chapter in which Bond explains the rules of Baccarat to his latest female companion over dinner. Anyone else doing that would have seen their date disappear to the bathroom and out of the window.

I have a theory about friendships which developed at roughly the time I met Fani all those years ago. I think that someone moves from being someone you met to friend depending on how long you spend with them socially and that pulling a time out of the air that's probably twenty-four hours. If you can stand to spend a calender day of your spare time with someone they're probably your friend. What was interesting tonight is that most of the people there didn't seem to be 'friends' yet. Many had obviously been going on a monthly basis for a few years, but with only an hour and a half every now and then, they didn't seem to have got to know each other on a personal level. So there was still a level of politeness of not wanting to step on any toes.

Except. There was something between the lines. For example, the subject of whether the book was a classic was being explored. Everyone had different copies of the novel. The majority had the newest Penguin edition with a silver cover which proclaims it to be a classic. One of the more outspoken people in the group was saying how he didn't consider it to be a classic, and the woman sitting next to me mentioned what it said on her new edition, to which he replied in a condescening way: "Well it doesn't say on mine, love." I watched her face which moved from hearing what he said, deciphering it then said quietly but incredulously, "Love!?!" I was the only one who heard it but I found myself giggling. But the point is that if they'd been friends, the woman would definately have made a point of making her feelings known loudly and quickly, but because those two are still in the polite stage, she kept shtum lest ill will spread. But she'll remember...


  1. Fans of Fleming's first Bond novel and haters of the first adaptation of "Casino Royale" can take some solace in the fact the next 007 film will be, at the very least, named Casino Royale. Might even have a villain of the same name, the girl and the famous last line - Stu, you should at least finish the book!

  2. Oh i'm going to. Something which did come up (or rather I suggested it) is that instead of trying to fit the book into the general mood of the franchise as it stands would be to film it as a period piece with nothing much changed in terms of the characters -- especially Bond, who comes off as a lot darker in the books.