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By the time Moonraker wa:s released in 1979, the audience consisted mainly of parents with pre-adolescent children. At the time of writing, local cinemas book the Bond films for the school holidays alongside or as an alternative to Disney films, while Bond imagery is now used to advertise peanuts and instant whip. Not only did Bond's popularity become more episodic, an isolated occurrence every two years; it also became more routinised, a more or less institutionalised ritual, especially when, after 197 5, the transmission of a Bond film by lTV on Christmas Day established a regular place for Bond in the 'way of life' of the British people.
It is, in some respects, a depressing history. David Cannadine has observed that when Casino Royale was first published in 1953, the coronation celebrations provided a 'retrospectively unconvincing reaffirmation of Britain's continued world power status'. He went on to remark that the last of Fleming's novels, The Man with the Golden Gun, appeared in 1965, the year of Churchill's funeral, 'self-consciously recognized as the requiem for Britain as a great power' . 11 So far as his role in British popular culture has been concerned Bond's role in organising and co-ordinating popular responses to the changing fate of the nation - the shifting self-conceptions, imaginary pasts and possible futures that have been constructed for it - has been perhaps the most vital of the diverse functions he has fulfilled.
Whereas, in the late 1950s, Bond had supplied a point of reference in relation to which the clock of the nation had been put imaginarily into reverse, recalling a brighter past, the Bond of the early to mid 1960s functioned as the condensed expression of a new style and image of Englishness around which the clock of the nation was made to run imaginarily ahead of itself, a pointer to a brighter and better future. More particularly, in the context of 'swinging Britain', Bond provided a mythic encapsulation of the then prominent ideological themes of classlessness and modernity, a key cultural marker of the claim that Britain had escaped the blinkered, class-bound perspectives of its traditional ruling elites and was in the process of being thoroughly modernised as a result of the implementation of a new, meritocratic style The Moments of Bond 35 of cultural and political leadership, middle class and professional rather than aristocratic and amateur.