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New Oxford Theatre (Little Nellie Kelly), Romano’s, Hotel Metropole (Midnight Follies), Murray’s River Club and The Riviera

Friday 27th July

We are back in London. Lorenzo has been very busy with an assortment of family business issues. Taking Papa’s advice he is also thinking of opening a restaurant. Then he surprises me by leasing a rather splendid and perfectly placed apartment in Bury Street just below Piccadilly. It is spacious and very roomy. Since Millie is in London he asks her to help re-decorate and furnish it but it is going to take a while before it is all complete and we can have a party.

I have got tickets for the theatre and as usual meet Monty and Dolly at the Criterion for drinks. We tell them all about our adventures on the Riveria and Aix-le-Bains before going to the New Oxford Theatre to see Charles B. Cochran’s production of George M. Cohan’s song and dance show Little Nellie Kelly. The elegant but rather snooty actresss, simply called June, plays the lead and the other stars are Sonnie Hale, Maidie Hope and Anita Elson. It has an interesting story, with pretty frocks, pretty faces, pretty dances, clever people and moves along at slap-dash speed.

The programme for Little Nellie Kelly

Although Eileen Idare of Idare et Cie costumed the entire show, Dolly was called in at the last minute to design several modern gowns for Anita Elson and Maidie Hope, all executed by Peron, where she is now house designer. They are exquisite.

“This all happened via Eddie Dolly”
she explains “he was responsible for the dances and ensembles and was not entirely happy with some of Idare’s creations.”

The show is a mish-mash of traditional musical comedy, a romantic drama, a good ‘spoof’ crime play and a satirical revue but dancing is one of its most important features, which suits me down to the ground. There are speciality dances from the graceful and charming Forde Sisters, Henry de Bray and Terri Storey are superb in the flirting salesman dance, Santry and Norton provide some amazing acrobatic turns and Sonnie Hale and Anita Elson feature in Dancing My Worries Away.

‘Hmm that was as clean and exhilarating as a glass of dry champagne or two’ says Monty afterward. He also reminds me that Marion Forde was an American and that I had seen her in En Douce at the Casino de Paris earlier in the year and in cabaret at Le Jardin De Ma Souer.

Afterward, I take them all to Romano’s restaurant for dinner to give Lorenzo a feel for an Anglicized Italian restaurant with an international flavour. Of London’s restaurant’s few have a more distinctive character and atmosphere than Romano’s. The founder was Nicolino Alfonso Romano, affectionately called The Roman who died in 1901. He had been head waiter at the Café Royal in 1870s and out of his savings he bought a fried fish shop in the Strand and converted it into his restaurant. Romano’s has become a London institution and famous throughout the bohemian world as a resort of characters, literary journalist and theatrical and sporting notables. It has a façade of butter coloured magolica tiles and the bright and comfortable dining room is handsomely decorated in Moorish style. One side of the room is covered with a series of painted panels beneath glass and framed in Moorish shape showing a series of views of the Bosphorus all very blue and sunny looking. Sofa seats and wide arm chairs stand beneath the paintings and on another side of the room is a great alcove with Moorish arches

Romano's Restaurant

The cuisine prides itself on its specials of chicken curry, sauté de beuf and two key dishes filet de sole tabarin and chicken a la Lombarde. The menu tonight consists of Germany (a soup made by adding yolk of egg to white consommé), Mousseline de Homard Grand Duc (Lobster mousseline), Becasse au fumer (woodcock) with Salade Japonaise, biscuit Glace aux Avelines (iced sweet brought to the table on the back of a swan cut out of a block of ice is a pretty conceit). We also partake in the 1875 brandy which is famous.

‘Just so you know’ I say ‘King Edward when the Prince of Wales had his own private room and cutlery here…’

We are still feeling frisky so decide to pop into the Embassy for a spot of socialising and hoofin it. As we arrive there are squeals of delight as Eva runs over and gives me a big hug. She is with Aubrey who is very chatty too. They soon run off to dance. Then Priscilla arrives with a crowd. She comes over, kisses me on both cheeks and says we should meet soon. Peggy Marsh is also here surrounding by admirers and she too comes to visit and whispers in my ear.

‘Well Fynes my dear’ says Lorenzo with a smirk ‘looks like you have acquired a harem.’

Saturday 28th July

After a lazy day we meet Priscilla and a friend called Dora at the Criterion for cocktails. They are both looking divine in gowns by Isobel Couture of Maddox Street, who they tell us is becoming very much de rigueur. Priscilla is wearing a beaded net gown with silver tissue and pink ribbon and Dora has a frock of shot blue and silver tissue with the ceinture (waist band) relieved with pearls. Later, we make our way to the Metropole Hotel in Northumberland Avenue. We go straight to the Restaurant des Ambassadeurs which has an atmosphere of sombre hotel stateliness. The roof is painted to resemble a gorgeous torquoise blue sunset with scudding golden clouds and the lights are encased in enormous pink silk flowers that glow. We dine excellently and for some reason all feast on the same thing: a Filets de Sole Calypso, one of the masterpieces of the chef M. Graillot. The filet is cooked in fish stock and Chablis along the parsley, tarragon and paprika and topped with peeled prawns.

After dinner we take our seats in the ballroom. I have seen the cabaret here many times before but we thought it would be good to let Lorenzo see one of the best cabarets in town. I have forgotten to mention before that the ballroom area has been decorated by Ashley Tabb and comprises jade green pillars that sweep upwards to a great cream roof picked out in jade lace. The orchestra sit in a deep blue alcove flanked by two pale orange lamps. Extreme decorum and the austereness of unemotional Britain seem the keynote. I still love the Chinese lanterns made of hand painted silk that swing across the room and add a lovely flourish to the décor.

The ‘Midnight Follies’ programme, produced by Carl Hyson, is still the same and the numbers Paradise Lane, Hawaiieen, China Love, Pinkie, Cutie, The Follies Derby, Zwadir and Gipsy Night in June are still fresh and invigorating and a pot-pourri of excellent dancing, songs, costumes, lighting and effects.

Sunday 29th July

Lorenzo has hired a car and a driver and we take a late afternoon drive into the country and with Priscilla and Dora visit the area around Maidenhead. We take boat rides on the Thames and have a lovely picnic which the ladies arranged. Later, when it is getting dark we head off to Murray’s River Club near Maidenhead bridge on the edge of the river. It is a magnificent old Georgian building that has been transformed into a glamorous rendevous of ragtime and romance by Jack May who owns and runs Murray’s club in Beak Street.

‘The club is in what was the old Manor house of Maidenhead, inhabited by a generation of staid gentlemen called Herring.’ I tell them all ‘you can see their sign – a fish – still turning slowly on the house weathercock above.’

We forgo the boat rides from a mooring at the end of the lawn and instead take cocktails outside on the lawn. Strings of fairy lanterns and little lights pop up everywhere in the flowers and trees and white coated waiters wizz about with amazing dexterity.

We walk into the house and take a dance in a blue-ceilinged Japanese ballroom before taking dinner on the verandah overlooking the green sloping lawn and the river. Albert, the maitre d’hotel insinuates himself into the foreground with a pencil, dropping gentle hints which develop into our dinner.

‘I am told he was a trusted waiter on King Edward’s staff at Biarritz in 1906’ I mention.

As the evening progresses the place is hopping. No surprise really since it is only a short drive from London and always attracts a lively crowd. It is also particularly popular with the theatrical contingent and we notice several stars of the stage.

Murray's River Club at Maidenhead

The dance band is wonderful and plays such delightful songs as ‘The Dancing Honeymoon’, the alluring fox trot ‘Chicago’ and ‘Come On and Dance.’ We alternate dancing in the ballroom or outside on a crystal floor open to the sky.

Monday 30th July

We visit a strange place on Dora’s recommendation for a quiet night out. The Riviera Dance Club is located in splendid isolation in Grosvenor Road on the river and is a mock Roman Villa originally designed by one of the Stanleys.

‘It’s chief attraction is that it is unlike any other dance club anywhere. It has a much more refined and soothing atmosphere and is far less frenetic than West End Clubs’
Dora explains in the taxi.

It is in fact a private club and Dora is a member. We have to ring the front doorbell as at a private house to gain admission. It is not a large venue but has a very chic air and the décor divine. The main dining room has oyster grey stone pillars and the dance floor is flanked by black and silver brocade walls. At dinner, the windows are open to the river and there is a luscious light breeze. One dines in peace. Later, a small band plays rather subdued music but people do dance. The words ‘awefully nice’ describe the people and the place.

We have a long conversation about this ‘n’ that and both ladies quiz Lorenzo about the purchase of his apartment and his plans for the future. It is decided that when Millie has finished decorating and furnishing, the ladies will help Lorenzo arrange a welcome party. They are awfully nice.

‘Hmm this interesting’ I say at last ‘it is very seldom that you find a dance club that is content to remain just itself; that does not rely on gourmetic cuisine, the presence of celebrity, the glamour of a crowd, exhibition dancers, the lure of a late night and unlimited bubbly.’

‘What you mean is it is dull’ says Dora with a laugh.

I think she might be right. We leave early and head off to dance at the Embassy.

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Islington Film Studios (The White Shadow). Ciro’s, Piccadilly Hotel, Embassy, Ciro’s and Grafton Galleries

Wednesday 13th June

I almost forget my new role as a film extra in Graham Cutts’ second film with Betty Compson. If it was not for Mama I would not have got up at 6am. I missed appearing in the filming of Woman to Woman and so Dolly Tree persuaded me to register with the production office for this new film and I have several appearances to fulfil. I have strict instructions from her for what I must wear. It is strange arriving at the rather dreary and grubby surroundings of the New North Road and Poole Street in Islington and see the huge old power station which is now a film studio. I meet Monty in the foyer and we are given full instructions of what we have to do by an energetic little man called Alfred Hitchcock and a charming lady called Alma Reville.

We are to be extras in the important Montmartre cabaret scenes. Dolly Tree and her team tweak our outfits before we enter the studio itself to be transported into an illusion of Paris.

“Boy oh boy this is magnificent.” I exclaim to Monty as we walk onto the set of a life-sized reproduction of a Montmartre boulevard. We stroll with others through a big arched door into a long gallery, down stairs onto the main floor of a cabaret with drinks bars in big alcoves beneath the gallery. We take our places at one of the tables with two spectacularly attired young ladies amidst dozens of other characters.

“Blimey this is like the real thing.” Says Monty. “The bohemian atmosphere of Montmartre is all pervasive. Look at the mix of people they have assembled. We are typical British Tommies, but there are French habitues, artists, nondescript dilettantes, sailors, waiters, flower sellers and of course delightful specimens of Parisian femininity.”

We do several rehearsals under the instruction of Graham Cutts before the sequence is filmed by Claude MacDonnel the cameraman. I am in awe watching Betty Compson, Clive Brook, Henry Victor and other leading players doing their stuff against the backdrop of us riff-raff. It is a fascinating experience. Monty has already interviewed Miss Compson, and during a break, she recognises him and blows him a kiss.

Later, we all meet for drinks at the Criterion. Dolly tells us the ins and outs of the film. “It was to be called The Awakening but now it looks like it will be the White Shadow. There is a little grumbling because various people think the entire process is being rushed. Let’s hope it will be as good as Woman to Woman which was a joy.”

We go to Ciro’s for dinner and once again are entertained by Billy Revel and Floriane giving their wonderful exhibition of burlesque dancing.

Thursday 14th June

Despite the fact it is summer time, the London dance clubs are not suffering from any depression in trade despite the time of year. I have been visiting the Embassy, Ciro’s, the Grafton Galleries and Murray’s, rather frequently and they are all crowded.

Tonight I am out again with Eva at the Piccadilly Hotel for the Soiree des Fleurs. The décor in the ballroom is amazing and the entire room is awash with flowers of all kinds. I see many of my old friends including Aubrey who buzzes around Eva like a bee around a honey pot. Eva is entranced by the Piccadilly but I am eager to visit the Embassy where I have agreed to meet Dolly and Monty and others to watch a special cabaret appearance.

When we get there the place is crowded to overflowing. Luckily Dolly has secured seats around a very good table with Eddie Dolly and Velma Deane. The legendary Irene Castle is dancing with a young man called Billy Reardon for a short season to Ambrose’s band.

Irene Castle & Billy Reardon

“It is said that she is receiving £350 per week for the two weeks. It was clearly a shrewd move on the part of Luigi as the place is packed.” Says Monty. “She is rather snooty though and refused to let me interview her because I once made a remark about her that she did not like.”

“What was that?” Asked Eva, who normally just smiles.

“I said that she was a better screen actress than a dancer.”

Nevertheless, Irene has a tremendous reputation as a dancer by reason of her brilliant partnership for so many years with her late husband Vernon Castle. Sadly I never saw them dance but have heard all about them. I have to say her performance was disappointing. And yet she received standing ovations.

“Though she showed much vitality and personality, it must be confessed that judged purely as a dancer she left much to be desired.” Said Monty.

“I agree.” I said. “There was a great sameness about all her movements.”

Eddie is more specific “Her abrupt kicks with a straight leg, though amusing in a foxtrot or one step are quite out of place in an exhibition valse.”

Eva says. “Her frock is divine. I am told it is from Edward Molyneaux just like mine!”

We had not noticed that near to our table was a large throng fronted by Fred and Adele Astaire. Irene and Billy emerge from behind the scenes and are greeting warmly by them. When asked how she was finding her trip to London I overhear her say loudly “the English are doing nothing new in the way of dancing, but they are doing their dancing decently.”

Friday 15th June

I am spending the evening with Priscilla Fry and we have decided to decamp to the Grafton Galleries. She is wearing a baccante dress in gold tissue and sunset tinted georgette decorated with fine leather leaves. Another very alluring gown from Elspeth Phelps-Paquin.

I love the expansive nature of the Grafton which creates a comfortable sense of space with its big hall. I have never spent the entire evening here but have always arrived from somewhere else.

“Our evening will be a joyous, long drawn out affair in three acts: dinner, dancing and a great cabaret floor show.” Priscilla insists.

We arrive at 8pm to the wonderful sound of Paul Whiteman’s wonderful band on the orange and blue striped dias. Dinner is at 8.30pm and we dance in between courses. When Paul Whiteman’s band retires at about 10pm to rush off and play in the show Brighter London at the Hippodrome, an English band takes their place. Monty and Dolly join us and a little later the cabaret begins. A bevy of gorgeous girls arrive from behind the curtain and sing and dance. More ladies arrive clad in Trouville bathing costumes and sing along with a beautiful creature called Fayette Perry. Then Vanda Hoff (Paul Whiteman’s wife) with the Tomson Twins perform in a crazy trio of mirth.

“The Tomson Twins – Randolf and Jack are interesting.” Says Monty. “I met them in New York in 1921 when they were appearing in Two Little Girls in Blue. They are British but of Portuguese descent and were pilots in the Royal Air Force during the war. They are a very original act and their dancing antics very clever.”

Paul Whiteman returns from the Hippodrome at 12.15 and now the place is completely full as people have drifted in from dinner parties and the theatres and other clubs and we carry on dancing and having fun until 2am.

Tuesday 19th June

I am going to Paris tomorrow but have to take Eva once again to the Piccadilly Hotel. It is the start of Ascot week and the Piccadilly are conducting a Fete des Oiseaux all week. The ballroom has been transformed into an aviary with fake birds and feathers everywhere. Eva is in her element and loves it.

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Piccadilly Hotel, Pavilion Theatre (Dovie Street to Dixie), Cavour, Shaftesbury Theatre (Stop Flirting), The Ivy and The Embassy.

Wednesday 5th June

I am back in London and feeling a little miserable without Lorenzo, so I am delighted when Eva telephones.

“Fynes darling. How are you?“ She squeals. “I am fine.” She continues. “But I am stuck. I wanted to go out tonight to the Piccadilly Hotel. But Aubrey is busy and so is Biffy. Are you free?”

Eva tells me that the Piccadilly Hotel has hit upon the novel idea of altering from time to time the design and decoration of the ballroom and of celebrating, in a special and appropriate manner, certain days and events of outstanding social importance.

“This week they have the marvellous theme of ‘A week under the waves’.”
“What is it to celebrate?”
I ask.
“Oh heaven knows.” She says. “Who cares anyway. It will just be fun.”

I pick Eva up and as usual she is in good form and looking quite delightful in her long, slim, gold-thread-over–pink Worth Couture gown with fur border and an enormous spray of pink orchids on her shoulder. Although she is lacking in intellect she certainly knows how to dress and look good. When we arrive the ballroom has been transformed to look like an underwater cave with fairy like seaweed festoons and coral rocks everywhere. Sheets of radiant misty blue and green tinsel festoon the roof and fake exotic fish and sea plants sway in motion all over the place. Irridescent goldfish swim in bowels on the tables and there is soft shaded lighting that enhances the underwater effect. Clearly someone has been observing the efforts of Jean Gabriel Domergue’s Fetes at Cannes.

We have a truly wonderful evening and dance like water nymphs through the crowd, who clearly love the entire ambiance.

“I will get Aubrey to bring me here tomorrow night. And Biffy on Friday.” She says as we leave. She has no tact either.

Thursday 6th June

After a long day what is there to do? I am out with Priscilla Fry. We haven’t seen each other for ages so we have a lot of catching up to do. Unlike Eva she is interested in hearing what I have been doing and all my stories and is quite tactful. She is wearing a gown by Elspeth Phelps-Paquin (her current favourite couturier), which is a Victorian inspired design of teal green peau-de-soie with panniers and a deep berthe of oxidised gold and black lace. She looks divine.

We have drinks at the Criterion and are joined by Monty and Dolly and then walk across to the Pavilion Theatre to see Dover Street to Dixie. It is a black and white show – the first half with white performers, the second half with coloured. Of course we are all well aware of the controversy that surrounded the Plantation sequence in The Rainbow that we saw in April. But the opposite has happened with this show. It is divided into two halves, the first all white with the talent of comedian Stanley Lupino and the wonderful Odette Myrtil and the second, all black featuring the debut of the incomparable Florence Mills in an adaptation of Lew Leslie’s original Plantation cabaret show from New York.

Florence Mills

The first half of the show definitely lacked something despite the best efforts of Odette Myrtil singing ‘Blue Danube Blues’ and playing a violin-playing dancing master in ‘The Dancing Lesson’, Lloyd Garret singing ‘My Wayside Rose’ and Myrtil (as a mermaid) and Stanley Lupino (as an angler) in the comedy interlude of ‘Fishy Story’.

However, the second half was nothing short of phenomenal. The music of Will Vodery’s Plantation Orchestra was fabulous and a great background for the frenetic black chorus dancers as the Dixie Vamps who galvanised the audience with their delirious high spirits. This was followed by the upbeat singing of the statuesque blues singer Edith Wilson in Yankee Doodle Blues. The frail little figure of Florence Mills electrified everyone in her opening number ‘The Sleepy Hills of Tennessee’ followed by other more lively numbers including ‘Homesick’ and ‘You Got to See Sweety.’ There was also the very droll singing of the Plantation trio called the Three Dixie Dudes and the acrobatic dancing of the Two Jailbirds (Thompson and Covan). It is no surprise that at the end they received ovation after ovation.

We decide to go to the Cavour restaurant in Leicester Square for dinner. For many years this was the rendezvous of sportsmen, men of letters and men of the world but now it has a much broader, more glamorous clientele. It has been controlled for the last 16 years by Mrs Julia Dale. It still successfully stands the march of time and retains that delightful old world atmosphere. The food is as good as ever it was and the cellar is one of the best in London.

We sample a delightful menu that includes hors d’oeuvre, Oxtail Claire or Crème d’Asperges, File de sole Americaine or Merlan Frit sauce Tartare, Ballotine d’Agneau Jardinaire or Polet Roti with Cresson, Salade and pommes nouvelle and finally Biegnet Souffle Vaniile or Glaca Panache.

We discuss the show and I say. “The first half was quite colourless – excuse the pun. Lupino just lacked his usual sparkle. Perhaps it was because he has been ill. But Myrtil was her usual amazing self. I know the Times called the first half dreary and they are almost right but I am sure Cochran will knock this bit into shape. As for Miss Mills what can I say? She has an exquisite voice and what a performer!”

“I have never heard anyone sing like that.” Says Philippa “Her frst song about Tennessee was completely haunting.”

“I think a lot of those tunes will be destined for great popularity.” I add.

Friday 7th June

Another trip to the theatre is needed because the American dancers Fred and Adele Astaire have just made their debut in the musical farce Stop Flirting at the Shaftesbury Theatre. They have received rave notices and have become the talk of the town. I am totally intrigued because their dancing is supposed to be terrific. So Priscilla and I have another outing with Monty and Dolly.

The plot is threadbare and rather ridiculous and it is pointless to describe since the entire show is designed to act simply as a showcase for the dancing of the Astaire’s which is magnificent. The Astaire’s are clearly the most original dancers to appear on the West End stage. Suffice to say there is much exuberant high spirits that punctuate the many incidents and fabulous tunes including “Oh Gee, Oh Gosh’ and ‘The Whichness of the Whatness.”

“It is impossible to compare the Astaire’s to any other couple. They represent pure mischievous joy.” I say.

Fred & Adele Astaire


“Their unprecedented twin-like collaboration is the personification of humour in motion.”
Says Priscilla.

“It is not what they do but the cheeky, joyous, inimitable way in which they do it.” Says Monty.

We are all in agreement. We will definitely see the show again.

We go the Ivy Restaurant for dinner. Situated just opposite the Ambassadors Theatre in Seven Dials it is regarded as one of the best restaurants in the West End and distinguished for its good food, clientele and general atmosphere. Since opening just after the war it has been frequented mainly by famous writers, actors and actresses. It is in a V shaped building and there is nothing sumptuous about it within or without since M. Abel, the proprietor, is a modest man. He once was described as ‘originally a bohemian and decorator’ and I am he told features in the pages of a recent novel.

The room is irregular rather like an ivy leaf, there are no flowers on the table, the chairs are of plain leather, the walls are a mix of modern panelling and cream distemper. It is a place absolutely without ostentation where one always expects to see someone.

“I like it here because it has the snugness and impersonality of a club.” Monty says.

We sit around a table in a cosy corner of the restaurant and Dolly nods to two charming actresses who were dining nearby.

We take an amazing selection from the menu: Grapefruit au Maraschino, Supremes de Soles Bonne Femme, Tournedos Grille Sauce Bearnaise, Poussin en Cocotte Plonaise soufflé en surprise Helene (a delightful combo of vanilla ice whipped cream and hot chocolate sauce), Bombe Diable Rose and Friandises. We also have two modest bottles of Sauterne.

We end the evening at the Embassy and attempt to dance off all the calories.

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The Cri Bar, The Palace Theatre (Music Box Revue), Kettners, Murrays and The Embassy

Thursday 17th May 1923

I have returned to London via Paris. The building work on the villa is superb. All is well. And, a week with Lorenzo on our own, was quite simply bliss. He has come to London with me and my parents have allocated him his own room in our London house in appreciation for keeping me company on the Riviera. I am in great demand and after only a day of rest we are out and about.

First Julian (Lucile) asks us for an early drink at the basement bar in the Criterion that I never knew existed. It is clearly a place you go if you are in the know. The bar is simply known as the Cri and you have to get to it via the less obvious service entrance in Jermyn Street which is better than the grand staircase from Piccadilly if you are wearing a tiara and furs.

“Hello darlings.” He squeals as we enter the rather busy room. Tonight he is the correct gender as Julian since he is coming out with us and will be meeting the crowd. He orders drinks and says “Now, before we go any further, this is the meeting place in London before and after the theatre.” The room is full of men in smart dinner suits like us and rather elegant ladies who look a little out of place since they are all really men and certainly not as beau as their French counterparts. Suddenly there is applause as a rather large and older matron descends into the room covered in gold chains and diamond jewels. “Oh that’s Rosie Baroness Bothways.” Julian says with a giggle .“He is a Welshman He lets everyone think he is a millionaire but he is in fact a cook for a rich old boy in Mayfair.”

After the frivolity downstairs we go upstairs to the more salubrious bar and meet Monty and Dolly who I have not seen for sometime. Amidst some rather lovely cocktails, Dolly tells me about developments with Eddie.“He’s gone off with an actress called Velma Deane.” She says with a sigh. She is in remarkably good spirits given the circumstances. Perhaps Millie’s words of caution about Eddie’s reputation lessened the blow.

“We are still friends and they are meeting us in the foyer of the Palace along with his sister Jenny and the free tickets.” She says with a shrug. Monty has his eyebrows raised.

Julian interjects aiming his comments more at myself and Lorenzo. “By the way, you have both missed an amazing performer called Barbette. A kind of glamorous, trapeze strip act with a twist that was launched first at the Finsbury Park Empire and then transferred to the Alhambra. I am told that Barbette will be appearing in Paris soon so look out for her.”

Julian then adds. “Oh and Monty I would definately hunt her down for an interview. Barbette is going to be a big star darling…..”

We meet the others at the Palace Theatre. Velma is charming but quiet which is understandable. Jenny is in good spirits and says we will all love Dover Street to Dixie that she and Eddie are choreographing for the Pavilion Theatre. The Music Box Revue is another C.B. Cochran show and it is a mix of exquisite stage scenes, beautiful dresses, music and dancing and first rate fooling around. In the beginning, the alleged plot is stolen by a troupe of dinky burglers and then one gloriously splendid scene after another unfolds.

The classically statuesque and glittering ballet ‘Fountains of Youth’ showcases the daring dancing of the Americans Chester Hale and Albertina Viback, the black and white brocaded ‘Legend of the Fan’ scene is sumptuous and the shimmering and phosphorescent effects of the ‘Legend of the Pearls’ is breathtaking. Another set of dancers, the husband and wife team of Joseph Santley and Ivy Sawyer – are the exponents of modern ballroom dancing and in the ‘Dinner Menu’ scene they are the diners who sample the delights of the chorus dressed as the oysters, chicken, cauliflower and French pastry followed by the bill. My new friend Peggy Marsh is the French pastry. There is also comedy and eccentric dancing from Fred Duprez and Renie Riano, the three Brox Sisters doing a Duncan sisters act and more dancing from Dickson and Culver.

Jenny and Eddie are effusive. “It is great to see so much excellent dancing.”

Monty adds. “Well you know I hate to say it but it is of that skilful whirling kind that the us Americans prove so exhilarating at.”

We nip into the wonderfully sublime Kettners Restaurant which is a short hop and a skip from the Palace theatre. With a distinct atmosphere it is one of the main restaurants to bring in customers to this part of town. Established in 1869 it grew until it included a block of three houses and King Edward, then the Prince of Wales was a regular. After a period of decline the restaurant has recently been bought by Giordano who was for sometime Chef de Restaurant at the Savoy and before that the Berkeley. He has made it smart again with a major face-lift although it does retain its old world charm which I think is rather endearing.

You enter into a small entrance foyer and on the left is a pleasant little lounge and opening out of it a restaurant they still call the Shaftesbury. The décor here is a modern Florentine style. On the other side of the hall are three restaurant rooms leading from one to the other. The décor here is modern Parisian and very attractive with bright pink silk lamp shades distinctive floral arrangements on every table. In the third one there is a small central dancing area and it is just the right size for our modern dancing taste. There is an unobtrusive orchestra in one corner and often a performance from one entertainer.

The food is exceptional with a speciaility for Italian dishes. We eat our way through numerous plats du jours including Gnocchi a la Romaine, followed by Cannelloni Charlotte Kettner’s that contains a national macaroni made from a lighter paste than usual and in larger form, vaguely like an omlette and also something like a giant ravioli.

After dinner we decide to pop into Murray’s and take a look at Harry Day’s new ‘Rockets’ cabaret with Hilda Newsome, Levoi and Moran and the Rocket dancers. It does not really capture our attention and before long we move to the more salubrious ambiance of the Embassy Club. It was established at the same time as Murray’s at the end of 1913 as the 400 club. Its success is partly down to the presiding genius of Luigi, a small alert personality, who took over the club just after the war and made it extremely fashionable as the Embassy. It is not open to the general public and is regarded as the best dance club in London with a first class restaurant and bar.

The Embassy Club

The Embassy Club

Situated among the shops in the Piccadilly end of Bond Street the entrance is through a wide marble passage. At the end is two unpretentious looking glass doors. Within there is a tiny lobby guarded by some magnificent footmen and a counter to admit guests. On the inner side of the lounge are two more glass doors with attached curtains forming the entrance to the restaurant-dancing room. The room is a vision of grace, wealth, beauty and boredom. It is decorated in violet, jade green and white, luxuriously furnished with sofas and tables along the walls which held glass mirrors. Each table has a couple of green electric candlesticks with pink shades and amber lights hang from the ceiling. In the centre of the room was the dance floor and at one end of the room, on a balcony was the delightful Ambrose and his orchestra dispensing fabulous sounds.

“This is a most exclusive and sophisticated place, and anyone who really belongs to society belongs to the Embassy. It is of course a favourite of our current Prince of Wales.” Says Jenny to Lorenzo who has never been here before. “Look! Half the celebrities in Europe are here….” She waves at a dozen different people and tells us who they all are.

“The atmosphere is that of a rather intriguing aloofness.” Says Julian with a smirk.

“Well, the Embassy is the place where you must be seen fairly frequently if you have any aspiration to be in the mode.” I add. “Members come here to see, be seen and to dance. One third of the room is on the lazily intimate, wink and grin terms with another third while the remaining third wishes it was.”

“Which third are you?” Says Monty with a giggle.

“Definitely the lazily intimate variety!”

“Hey Fynes.” Says a familiar voice followed by a peck on the cheek.
“Peggy darling.” I squawk. “We saw you earlier and what a delicious pastry you make.” I say. We all laugh. And Lorenzo kicks me under the table.

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The Ambassadeurs Restaurant and the Casino

Saturday 3rd February

The week has flown by. We are now three sets of couples. Cécile and I , Monty and Dolly and Lorenzo and Gabrielle. At first Monty was a little frosty with Lorenzo but they now appear to be getting on. One day we visit Lorenzo’s family villa which is delightful and other days we play tennis, take delightful walks around the Crossiette, the Casino gardens and the town and harbour, watch horse racing, polo and dance each night. We even spot Winston Churchill being chased by photographers as he tried to play golf.

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Jean Gabriel Domergue has transformed the Ambassadeurs Restaurant into a courtyard of an old inn in Seville, decorated with whitewashed and pink walls under a blue sky for the Gala Seville sprinkled liberally everywhere with flowers. He implored all the diners in a neat little invitation booklet to wear appropriate dress for each gala occasion but let’s face it who could ever get self-conscious British aristocrats to wear anything but ultramodern raiment? However, some dress up in Spanish colours of yellow, red and gold, including Dolly and Cécile.

For the entertainment, musicians who looked as if they had just come back from a bull fight, play popular Spanish songs of the 18th century as a background for the Spanish artist Argentinita whose castanets gave point and rhythm to her excellent dances.

“She is known as the Flamenco Pavlova and the Queen of Castanets”
says Monty.

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The Spanish dancer Argentinita

That night when we are on our own, Lorenzo says “Gabrielle tells me that she and Cecile are rather hoping they might become sister-in-laws.”

Saturday 10th February

The next gala at the Casino is the Enchanted Garden fete and the Ambassadeurs has become a garden festooned in flowers and fruits of every hue. The roof is covered with interwoven leaves and branches and huge dragonflies of all colours are suspended from the ceiling. The walls have been transformed with panels of climbing white roses and pergolas of red jasmine.

As we take our seats, Mama, pointing to a rather excitable group says “Prince George is over there. He motored over from Beaulieu just for the night!”

Argentina provides a wonderful new set of dances and the cabaret is augmented by an hilarious interlude when members of Billy Arnold’s orchestra appear dressed in rather airy costumes and perform a dance of the wood nymphs. This is followed by Chris Lee dressed as a Spanish dancer doing a burlesque of Argentina..

After Papa returns from the Casino itself he says “Our royal guest is causing quite a stir. He tried to get entry to the Casino but was refused because of his age and it has not got down very well!”

I danced the night away, predominately with Cecile, who like all the girls had been propelled into a world of gushiness by the enchanted garden and was becoming rather lovey-dovey.

Monday 12th February

I spend the day with Papa exploring land and properties for sale first in Cap Ferrat and then Cap d’Antibes. The latter looks more promising because it is nearer Cannes which we all prefer.

Tuesday 13th February

It is a good job we are not superstitious and thank God it is not a Friday. Just south of the sleepy little port of Antibes amongst the pine clad slopes of the peninsula, we find and buy a rather magnificent, large plot of land with a run-down villa and its own bit of coastline. There was a sense of remote tranquillity at this spot that will be a welcome relief to the usual hustle and bustle of city life and yet even here, Cannes and Nice are very accessible.

We are not far from the Hotel du Cap at Eden Roc where we take afternoon tea to finalise the deal. Although it will take a while to finalise everything we see a variety of people over the next few days to plan the renovation work.

Thursday 15th February

We have a family day out to show everyone the villa and there is much excitement and discussion about décor, furnishing and the garden as we have a picnic on the Plage de la Garoupe. Aunt Mimi has bought Sir Oliver.

“I have an announcement” she says “Sir Oliver and I are engaged. We are planning the wedding for late April.”

We all burst into guffaws of congratulations and hugs as Sir Oliver says “and I have arranged a special dinner party on Friday evening at the Carlton in celebration.”

Friday 16th February

I am having a quiet lunch in the Carlton with Cecile, Monty and Dolly when suddenly I hear familiar voices and in come the Dolly Sisters accompanied by a very tall and handsome young man. When Dolly waves they come over to our table and introduce us to their brother Edward, or as they call him Eddie.

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The Dolly Sisters

“We have been in America since we saw you last in Deauville.”
“We have done a long vaudeville tour with Eddie and a great singer called Harry Richman.”
“And, now we are here for our debut on the Riviera tomorrow night.”
“We hope we will see you.”

Saturday 17th February

The gala at the Ambassadeurs has a winter theme as “The Kingdom of the Queen of Winter’. The huge chandeliers were half covered in cotton wool cut out in shapes of large holly leaves. There was a giant snowman in one corner and little leafless trees covered in crystallised imitation snow dotted around the room. The lights were turned down for the entry of the Dolly Sisters who appeared in white tulle frocks. At the same time waiters handed out paper bags filled with imitation snowballs and everyone pelted each other while the Dollies skipped daintily out. They returned dressed as jet black ponies with high head-plumes and other jingling equine paraphernalia driven by their brother Eddie with a cracking whip and hard bowler hat as he directed them at a gallop round and round till the entry of a reindeer, more snowballs and a walking snowman drew their prancing pony trot to a close.

The evening was a huge hit. The Dollies are unique and amazing and their dancing so different from anything ever seen before. We dance all night and the rather dashing Eddie monopolises Dolly who looks as if she is being swept off her feet. I of course have several dances with each of the Dolly Sisters.

Saturday 24th February

The Dolly Sisters have been such a success at the Ambassadeurs that dancing managers along the coast are offering large sums of money to lure them away.

The gala evening tonight has the theme of ‘The Venice of Casanova.’ The Dolly Sisters dressed identically in Venetian gowns are once again escorted by their brother Eddie and give another unbelievable performance.

I am still quite alarmed when I overhear embarrassing comments at a nearby table.
“The Riviera is not what it was. It is different and it is not better. I am not concerned to maintain that is less attractive than the Spring of 1914, say, but it is certainly a very much less attractive, less amusing and less intimate place than it used to be 20 or more years ago. It has become democratic, for one thing and full of these Americans.” Says a very pompous older English lady in a very loud voice to other members of her table “Take these dancers, for example: they are brash in a new and rather disconcerting way. They are far too modern and indiscreet and quite unbearably nouveau rich.”

Monty is not amused and says equally loudly “It is interesting that with the Russians banished, it is us Americans that are keeping the Riviera afloat you know.”

Dolly is clearly enamoured with Eddie and I say to Monty “So are you or are you not together?”

“We are not” he says gruffly.

I dance again with Jenny and Rosie and they both tell me that they have accepted a very lucrative offer to dance at the new Casino in Juan-les-Pins. Apparently Édouard Baudoin a restauranteur from Nice purchased a dilapidated and almost bankrupt casino there and rebuilt it believing that this area, mid-way between Cannes and Nice, had great potential. The Dollies were going to star in his opening-night gala to be held in early March in an attempt to put his casino and Juan-les-Pins on the map.

I am really amused given that we have just purchased a villa nearby. I think we might have chosen wisely.

Wednesday 28th February

Monty and Dolly have already left for Paris. All too soon our soujourn on the Riviera also comes to an end and are forced to leave and return home. I have an emotional farewell with Lorenzo, who promises to visit London and Paris soon.

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The Piccadilly Hotel, the Hotel Metropole (Midnight Follies) and The Flames of Passion.

Tuesday 5th December

Eva telephones me at 6pm “Fynes where have you been?”

“It is my second day of working Eva.” I say with a deep sigh.

She ignores my news “Well I am bored. I know we are going to the Hotel Metropole later but can we go for dinner first?”

“Of course we can.”

“Oh thank you Fynes. You are a dear. Can you pick me up at 7. I want to go to the Piccadilly Hotel to see the new ballroom.”

I pick her up and I am staggered at how beautiful she looks in a simple pale yellow gown encrusted with pearls from Worth. It is rather nice snuggling up to her and her chinchilla fur coat in the cab as it is rather cold.

The Piccadilly is an impressive hotel built in 1909 and favoured by Americans. We have dinner in the main restaurant which has some of the finest oak panelling in London. We admire bright crimson carpet with a large and impressive gold pattern and the general Louis XIV style decor. We eat a striking dinner.

The Piccadilly Hotel

The Piccadilly Hotel

“Did you know that the Piccadilly was the only London hotel to place adverts in the New York press?” I tell Eva.

She takes no notice as she tries to read the menu. I decide what we will eat because Eva has no idea about French. I could be unkind and say she has no idea about English either.

To start we have Les Hors d’oeuvre Moscovite comprising numerous little Russian dainties on toast. At once savoury, piquant and sharpening this was a good alternative to caviar. The salmon was delicately cooked with a creamy curd between the flakes with La Sauce Mousseline et les Concombres. The saddle of lamb (La Selle d’Agneau Orloff ) was exquisite. This dish was named after a former Russian ambassador in Paris. The lamb is roasted, filleted and sliced. A purée of mushrooms is layered with the lamb in the form of the original saddle. It is covered in a sauce Soubise with sliced truffles and garnished with braised lettuce, potato noisettes and stuffed tomatoes.

The Casse Royale brought pheasant, quail and larks. The latter was stuffed with foie gras and served with a Cumberland sauce. To round things off we had L’Ananas Glacé which was not too creamy and the best fruit to close a long dinner with its slightly acid tang.

After coffee and liqueurs we wander off. The new ballroom was opened in October and I am embarrassed to say that this is the first time I have been despite my love of dancing.

As we walk down the stairway from the restaurant I say “This must be one of the most beautiful ballrooms of the metropolis.”

“Metropolis?” queries Eva innocently “what’s that?”

The lofty and well ventilated room is extremely large and decorated once again in the Louis XIV style and I have been told it has a capacity of 4-500 people. At one end is a handsome gallery for musicians and it has a marvellous oak floor.

De Groot’s Orchestrasupply the first rate music and we dance to our hearts’ content. And, I have to say that despite not being a linguist Eva does know how to look good and dance.

In an intermission we watch Mr and Mrs David Leslie perform some novel dances. This is their first engagement in London but they are, I am told,well known at Claridge’s in Paris, on the Riviera and at Etretat. Later, several sketches are provided by another couple called Mabel Holmes and Wallis Norman, of whom I know nothing.

We move onto the Metropole Hotel in Northumberland Avenue and the Whitehall rooms where the Midnight Follies hold sway. The hotel was opened in 1885 and as we know Jack Haskell staged the first cabaret show here in October 1921, just over a year ago. Since then there has been a major battle with the London County Council who were horrified at the thought of a hotel providing a cabaret. It is perfectly legitimate for a private member’s club to stage a show but not seemingly a hotel or restaurant. So the LCC have been imposing severe restrictions on cast, sets and costumes in an attempt to close down the Follies and set an example to other aspiring cabarets. Of course behind this all is the rather boring Home Secretary Sir William Joynson-Hicks (‘Jix’ to the cartoonists) who seemingly abhors anything that gives people pleasure and has a reputation for hating nightclubs and drinking.

London’s swankiest place is the main ballroom which was a big lofty room lit by Chinese lanterns with a cluster of small supper tables arranged in a horseshoe fashion around a good sized dance floor in the centre. There were also discreet corner alcoves and a few even more discreet boxes but we were sat on larger tables on the edge of the dance floor as ‘the wishers-to-be-seen’.

The Midnight Follies at the Hotel Metropole

The Midnight Follies at the Hotel Metropole

We are in a swell (that is a nice American word isn’t it?) party with Dolly, Monty and Dorothy Dickson and a host of other acquaintances and friends including a dour looking Aubrey. Who is clearly not happy that I have taken Eva out. It looks like the whole of London has turned out for tonight’s show in demonstration against the LCC and that idiot Jix!

Dorothy remarks “Good news. The LCC gave consent for an elaboration of the show right at the last minute. Carl has been frantic and Gordon designed some amazing new costumes for the chorus which you will love Dolly I am sure.”

“Oh how rude of me – this is my friend Gordon Conway” Dorothy adds introducing her companion – a gorgeously chic attractive redhead wearing a provocative navy blue and white polka dot dress.

“We go back a long way” Monty tells me quietly “she is an amazing illustrator and costume designer and very close to Dorothy. She is married to the business man Blake Ozias but I do not know where he is tonight.” It turns out Monty and Gordon were dancing partners in New York.

Dolly and Gordon hit it off like a house on fire, no doubt talking shop and swapping notes.

On the stroke of midnight the orchestra stops playing, everyone hurries back to their seats, drums roll, trumpets blow a fanfare and the curtains open to reveal a series of glittering tiers descending to the stage. The show begins as a bevy of showgirls in wonderfully spectacular costumes descend to the floor.

The show staged by Carl Hyson has been produced by Paul Murray and is presented by three statesmen of the London theatre – George Grossmith, JAE Malone, Andre Charlot.

Carl appears in one number assisted by Vera Lennox and Cecile Maule-Cole and in another by Marjorie Spiers. The leading lady is Gertrude Lawrence, the star of Andre Charlot’s show A-Z, who I suspect is going to go a long way and is an admirable and sparkling personality. Dorothy tells us that she is no newcomer to cabaret having spent two years as the star at Murray’s club not so long ago. Another feature is the dashing, tall and robust Tex McLeod who does rope tricks and tells stories and goes down a real treat.

Gertrude Lawrence

Gertrude Lawrence

“He is from Texas and is all round cowboy” Monty says “he appeared in numerous wild west pictures before finding cabaret another forte for his talent. His banter is a close imitation of our famous comic Will Rogers. ”

The Midnight Follies has been designed to attract modern people who wish to dine well, dance the latest steps, then relax, drink and be happy to enjoy the cabaret. The whole atmosphere was one of young gay abandon. It is magnificent.

After the show we resume dancing. I have been dancing energetically with Dorothy and have two dances with Dolly. When we get back to the table Eva whispers “I really don’t like that Dolly Tree.. You dance with her all the time and leave me on my own.”

“Well Eva, all I can say is that I have counted at least 4 of your other beaus here. If you are that bothered I suggest you go and dance with one of them. Look Aubrey is very keen.”

I get up and ask Gordon to dance. Eva wanders off, but snubs Aubrey and finds Biffy instead. She ignores me for the rest of the evening and Monty tells me that Biffy takes her home. At 2pm I start thinking about the fact that I have to go to work and decide it is best not to stay out all night. To be my surprise the next day Eva phones and thanks me for her night out. It would appear I have been forgiven.

Wednesday 6th December

Mama wants to go to the cinema to see The Flames of Passion, the new film starring the American actress Mae Marsh at the New Oxford since the reviews have been excellent.

“I am told that the story is as broad as it is long, as fascinating as it is complicated and is improbable as it is unique. And yet it is very entertaining. Besides Lucile has dressed everyone and I want to see the result!”

The dramatic story is about a dissolute chauffeur who betrays a beautifully innocent young girl and through a vagary of fate kills his own daughter only to discover her true identity. However, there is also an amazing ballet scene created by Miss Purcell, the celebrated instructor, that softens the rather gloomy nature of the plot. Having said that Mae Marsh is superb and is supported by a galaxy of brilliant British stars such as Eva Moore, Hilda Bayley and others.

A scene from The Flames of Passion with Eva Moore and Mae Marsh

A scene from The Flames of Passion with Eva Moore and Mae Marsh

“Although it has some comedy touches, the tragic vein of the story is well suit to Mae Marsh who plays such distressed heroines so well” says Mama afterward “I am now looking forward to the next Graham Cutts’ film with Mae Marsh called Paddy the Next Best Thing, with more Lucile finery I am sure!”

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Frascati’s and the Grafton Galleries (The Midnight Revels)

Wednesday 29th November

Father decides to have a quiet word. “What is this?” he asks indicating a range of newspapers and magazines opened at particular pages on a table in his office.

“Oh that” I say sheepishly “well… I meant to tell you… but you were so busy and I forgot.”  There in black and white were my debut pieces as a restaurant critic. I explain all. Papa is patient and seemingly intrigued.

“Well, they are jolly good Fynes” he says approvingly “but it has got me thinking about your future again. I have decided that you will come into the business a few days a week to learn the ropes.”

My heart sinks. Work. How am I going to cope with my busy social life?

He clearly knows what I am thinking “Don’t worry it will not be too arduous dear boy. You can start at 10am and only do 3 days a week. And you will be away on the Riviera for several weeks early next year so you can build up to full time after that. You will get used to it.”

“Eva” I say on the telephone “I have had a fright. I need a night out. I will pick you up at 7pm and we will go to dinner at Frascati’s and then a cabaret.” Frascati’s is one of Eva’s favourite places. She can never say no.

Frascati’s at 32 Oxford Street is celebrated for its cosmopolitanism, which Eva still does not understand because it contains an ism. The façade comprises a handsome gold portico and gold metalwork frames the large windows. One enters via a yellow and gold revolving door into what Eva calls rather charmingly “fairyland.” There is simply nothing like it in London and the architect built one other in Amsterdam. Apart from the magnificent décor in gold and silver the proprietors of Frascati pride themselves on their flowers and floral decorations are everywhere.

Frascati's Restaurant

Frascati's Restaurant

We enter the spacious vestibule or lounge area with thick red pile carpets in futurist patterns, vividly coloured brocade settees, brocade curtains and large gilt chandeliers. Eva is looking ravishing tonight. She truly is a beauty and is noticed immediately by dozens of admiring eyes. It makes me feel good.

On the right of the lounge is the Grill Room with large open charcoal grills. The central space is the actual restaurant which is a spectacular and immense room called the Winter Garden that rises to a huge glass dome and also has a wide balcony that overlooks the space below.

We take an extensive repast that includes a bottle of Chablis and Les Pérles de Whitstable, La Crème Souveraine, La Ruche Financiere, Les Supremes de Perdreau Sans nom la Salade Lelia, La Parfait de Foie Gras et La Durprise Frascat Mignardises.

The Chef Jules Matagne, who was chef to late King Leopold of Belgians, maintains his touch and I send my compliments.

“So what fright have you had Fynes?” asks Eva sweetly. I tell her the story of my conversation with Papa.

“Yikes” she says “work” and carries on eating.

There is a wonderful orchestra and we dance on a dance floor that is shaped like a banjo following the curve of the balcony and extending into one of the restaurant wings and continue our conversation about nothing in particular.

Later, we take a cab around to the Grafton Galleries at 7 Grafton Street to meet Dolly and Monty to see the launch of a brand new cabaret show. The Grafton club has 5,000 members and it is regarded as the place you come onto from somewhere else. Its chief attraction is the vast ballroom, with a beautifully expansive high ceiling, that is perfect for dancing.

When we arrive Dolly and Monty are part of a big group that includes Dorothy Dickson and Carl Hyson.“Fynes, I want a dance later please” says Dorothy with a big smile.

“This place has been the Valhalla of dancing for more years than one cares to remember” Dolly tells me as I have only just joined the club “and I have been here countless times…you will love it here.”

“It is rather marvellous” I say “and certainly not like those postage sized dance floors that are seemingly popular in the more intimate smaller night clubs or restaurants.”

“I have been here many times before” says Eva “but I really do not think it is cosy.”

The general conversation is about the show. “It has been staged by fellow yanks Ted Trevor and Jack Haskell” says a rather puffed-up Monty “and we have been promised the largest cabaret spectacle yet produced in this country. When war broke out Ted Trevor was too young to join the American forces and so joined the British Royal Flying Corps. He stayed here and to took to his next love dancing. Jack is a fascinating chap. He was originally a dancer and before the war worked in Australia before coming to London. He actually staged the first edition of the Midnight Follies at the Hotel Metropole last year and has been working for George Grossmith.”

“Ah well” interrupts Dolly “You haven’t heard the latest developments Monty. You see they are both rather temperamental and had a tiff and Trevor stormed out. That means we are also denied the blissful dancing of Mr Trevor and his partner Dina Harris.”

“That’s a shame they are one of the best dancing duos in London” says Eva.

“Oh you need to see my dancing with Peggy Harris” says Carl “Peggy is Dina’s sister by the way.”

“Oh what fun” squawks Eva.

“Incidentally…” says Dorothy “Haskell might be fascinating but do remember he also had a tiff with the management over The Cabaret Girl and withdrew his services.”

The cabaret is called The Midnight Revels and it is in two parts with special lighting, quick change costumes and effects and a full chorus of twenty gorgeous girls. The star is the American cabaret artiste Jessica Brown, who had previously appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies and the Century Revue in New York and is a beautiful dancer.We particularly liked the quirky Operatic Tango provided by Lola Krasavina and Gilbert Stacey. However, the sensation of the night was provided by Evon Pinard as ‘The Lady in Bronze’ who danced around the tables just before the finale, wearing a tiny loin cloth and breast plates with her body totally bronzed. There were gasps from the audience and two ladies actually walked out!

Jessica Brown

Jessica Brown

Dorothy interjects “of course this might be new here but Evan Burrows Fontaine gave a similar semi-naked dance at the Palais Royal in New York some time ago and caused a similar furore.”

After the show Haskell comes over to our table with Jessica Brown and talks to us.

“Hello Dorothy. Hello Carl. Hello everybody. I hope you enjoyed the show.”

“Oh yes it was superb Jack” says Dorothy.

“… you were divine” says Dolly to Jessica.

“I will be changing the show every week so do come again!” Jack says.

“So you started our cabaret craze Jack” I ask “with the Midnight Follies?”

“Well sort of…. actually I did stage a show with the wonderful Odette Myrtil at Ciro’s in early 1917 but because of the war the government closed it down!”

I am beginning to think like a journalist and an idea for a story begins. I will write something about the origins of cabaret. I can talk to Mama and Papa about what they did before and after the war.

I have a delightful time dancing with Eva, Dolly and Dorothy. Jessica is a wiz too. She says she loves London but because of rehearsals has not been out much.

“I do like lunch. That is usually my breakfast” she laughs.

“Would you like me to take you for lunch?” I ask holding her tight.

“Oh yes Fynes. That would be terrific.

As we prepare to leave Carl tells us all “Oh don’t forget we launch the new Midnight Follies next week. Please do come along.”

Thursday 30th November

I meet Jessica for lunch at Ciro’s. We eat lightly and talk hugely. She is very entertaining and very sociable. We walk around London in the afternoon and I show her the sights. She is most appreciative.

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