Sunday, 28 May 2017

Sir Roger and the Microstate (Night's Black Agents)

Sir Roger Moore died on the 23rd.

For many of you he was James Bond, his most celebrated character. My personal favorite is The Man With The Golden Gun, his second film as Bond; that has a lot to do with his co-stars, Christopher Lee and Herve Villechaize, both of whom chewed the scenery like consummate professionals.

Sir Roger played Bond seven times all told. The only other actor to have managed that trick is Sean Connery, and Roger Moore was 45 when he took up the role, old for an action hero.

'Of course I do my own stunts,' he's supposed to have said. 'And I do my own lying too.'

You couldn't accuse Sir Roger of being a brilliant actor. That was never the point; he played a type, and was lucky enough that, for a while, that type was what people wanted to see. He claimed, as Bond, to have three emotions; right eyebrow raised, left eyebrow raised, and crossed eyes, when being strangled by Jaws.

He didn't take Bond at all seriously. 'To me,' he said, 'The Bond situations are so ridiculous, so outrageous. I mean, this man is supposed to be a spy and yet, everyone knows he's a spy. Every bartender in the world offers him martinis that are shaken, not stirred. What kind of serious spy is recognized everywhere he goes? It's outrageous. So you have to treat the humor outrageously as well. My personality is entirely different than previous Bonds. [Moore replaced Lazenby, whose behind-the-scene antics ensured he'd only play the part once.] I'm not that cold-blooded killer type. Which is why I play it mostly for laughs.'

Though his Bond never went there, Sir Roger is also well known as a citizen of that quintessential Bond location, Monaco. As it happens I've learnt a lot about Monaco over the past few weeks, preparing for a potential writing project.

Apart from anything else, in order to qualify for residency you have to deposit at least 300,000 Euro in a Monaco bank account. Somehow I suspect Sir Roger passed that hurdle easily.

In 2014 he was appointed Monaco's Goodwill Ambassador, for his efforts in publicizing and promoting the Principality all over the world. He was on very friendly terms with Prince Albert II, the reigning monarch of the microstate. He divided his time between Monaco and Switzerland, and though he said it wasn't primarily for tax reasons there's no doubt he benefited from a lighter tax burden.

I could do a Monaco Quick and Dirty, but as I may have a use for that in different circumstances I'd prefer not to. However let's talk a little about Monte Carlo Casino, since that's probably going to be the one location all the agents rush to as soon as they get to Monaco, and then dream up some theme achievements in Sir Roger's memory.

Casino de Monte-Carlo was proposed  in the 1850s as a moneymaker for the cash-strapped principality by Lady Caroline, a former stage actress who married the Grimaldi heir to the microstate. At that time Monaco was a remote backwater, with poor roads, no rail, and little in the way of quality accommodation for the kind of guests Lady Caroline wanted to entertain. However despite some initial economic setbacks the casino began turning a profit by 1859, and Lady Caroline managed to persuade casino entrepreneur Francois Blanc to take it over.

Blanc was an entrepreneurial genius, and the Casino went from strength to strength. Over the next twenty years the relatively modest Belle Epoque building expanded significantly and, though extensively modernized since, it still retains its grand Victorian air. Until recently the casino was the primary source of income for Monaco, and its ruling family.

It provides table games of all kinds, American and European. There are seven Salles, or gaming rooms, and two panoramic gaming terraces overlooking the ocean and the delights of Monaco. That's before you even consider the food at the Salon Rose, or the gardens, or any of the other pleasures on offer.

This includes slots and electronic entertainment. So if you ever wondered what it would be like to play Plants vs Zombies in the most exclusive destination on Earth, the Casino has you covered.   

Bond enthusiasts may recall that his first adventure, Casino Royale, is set at fictional Royale-les-Eaux, which is (very loosely) based on places like Monaco.

With all that in mind, here's some Achievements for Sir Roger. All Achievements are location-based; they have to be earned in Monaco, and preferably at the Casino or one of the spas and restaurants run by the Societe des bains de mer de Monaco. So let's start:

Goodwill Ambassador. Have your picture taken with the current Crown Prince of Monaco. This can, at the Director's discretion, be extended to include any of the Crown Prince's immediate family.

How do you say p__s off in Russian? Thoroughly humiliate a boorish Russian oligarch or mafia don at the tables or in the restaurant, preferably with your innate good breeding or Gambling as opposed to a punch on the nose.

For better or worse, for richer or poorer. Have a screaming, no-holds-barred public argument with your spouse, or supposed spouse, in which you come off the loser. This may involve damage to your Cover. [Sir Roger's first three marriages ended badly. He and his fourth wife Kiki set up home in Monaco.]

I don't think I've ever made any good financial decisions. Gamble away a significant sum of money at the tables, so that for the rest of the mission you are on Insufficient Funds. Bear in mind that Monaco is one of the most expensive places in the world; not the place to be if you have little in your wallet. Interesting side note: according to Sir Roger he got the Bond role because of his gambling habits.

I'm not that cold-blooded killer type. Neutralize a potentially hostile Conspiracy asset or opponent by using Flirting rather than combat. Also known as I didn't recognize you with your clothes on

I never thought I was much of an actor anyway. At time of writing Sir Roger is to be buried at a private ceremony in Monaco, and presumably will end up at the Cimetiere de Monaco, which is the only graveyard in the microstate. To earn this achievement, the agent must use Sir Roger's gravesite either as a meeting place, or a dead drop.

Finally, a bit of a cheat:

This never happened to the other fellaGo to a fancy event, like a 100,000 Euro Punto Banco tournament, which features one of the actors who played or currently plays Bond. Bonus points if the Bond happens to be dead at the time, like Sir Roger, or David Niven. Though how either of them get in without causing a sensation is something best left up to the Director.

That's it for this week. I know it's a little short; I'm flying to NYC for the Book Fair, and by the time you read this I'll probably be up in the wild blue yonder. Enjoy!

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