Mayfair – Ian Fleming’s playground
Mayfair was Ian Fleming’s playground.
He was born here in 1908 in a house strangely unmarked by a blue plaque. And it was here where he drank and gambled in his clubs.
His father was an MP who was killed in the First World War, his grandfather was Robert Fleming the banker who gave us the unit trust. He was born into wealth and was educated at Eton. But he was no academic.
Early signs of how he would lead his life were apparent at Britain’s most prestigious school.
He excelled at sport. But despite being crowned Victor Ludorum or “Winner of the Games” twice, his love of women and cars brought him into conflict with the headmaster who thought that it may perhaps be best if he went to a crammer so that he could gain entrance to Sandhurst.
So, after not being quite expelled from Eton he made it to the famous officer’s training college. Here he did manage to get thrown out after contracting gonorrhoea.
His promiscuity meant his marriage was unconventional too. He had a strange relationship with his wife Ann Charteris, with whom he is said to have had an affair during both her earlier marriages. But even after marrying both had numerous affairs.
He smoked, and drank heavily and died of a heart attack aged only 56.
So, Fleming, Ian Fleming, a functioning alcoholic and womaniser, not that far away in some respects from his most famous creation.
“James Bond and the Spies of Mayfair” is Michael Duncan’s new walk on 5th, 11th 21st and 26th November