Posts Tagged ‘Clifton Webb’

Ambassadeurs (Paris Sans Viole), Weber’s, Ouisiti Roof Garden, Acacias, Ciro’s, Club Daunou, American Midnight Frolics and Abbeye Theleme.

Friday 31st May

We are in Paris again with Monty and Dolly. Lorenzo is on his way back home to Italy and we have all been given special preview seats to see the Dolly Sisters debut. We settle in at Claridge’s since Aunt Mimi has a houseful of guests and meet Cécile and Gabrielle at Fouquet’s for cocktails. They both look ravishing as always. Cecile had taken Gabrielle to Paul Caret’s and they were wearing their purchases: Cecile in a sleeveless dancing gown of lemon georgette, belted with double silver ribbon strewn with rococo roses and Gabrielle in a low cut, backless taffeta gown with shoulder straps of flowers in soft glazed red and silver. They immediately start talking frocks to Dolly.

We wander down the Champs-Elysees to the Ambassadeurs Theatre, tucked just off to one side. Here in this small yet perfectly appointed theatre Oscar Dufrenne, presents the Dolly Sisters in a show entitled Paris Sans Viole or Brighter Paris, a title clearly used as a reflection of the success Brighter London was having at the London Hippodrome.

Programme for Paris Sans Voiles at the Amabassadeurs, Paris, 1923

The show, also includes the home grown talents of Edmonde Guy and Ernest Van Duren, and our friend Eddie Dolly, fresh from his London triumphs for C.B. Cochran, arranged all the dances for a troupe of 8 ‘London Boys’. The Dollies first appeared as American roses in ‘Let us make a pretty bouquet’ and then danced a rollicking mazurka in a scene depicting the Grand Prix in 1883 contrasted with the Grand Prix of 1923. Oddly they became negresses in Plantation Days, where, surrounded by growers and planting machines, they danced and sang plantation songs. By far their most important scene was Destiny, a sketch in four acts, where the Dollies dressed by Jeanne Lanvin, performed a melodramatic depiction of the life of an actress, tragically terminated by an acrobatic dance in a seedy nightclub. This apparently had been a big success in New York. The sisters alternately held the role of an artist who was reduced to the lowest ebb of misfortune by the spirit of evil in the form of a tempting man about town played by Max Berger. We are led to believe that the same woman is playing the character throughout and marvel at the quick change in costume until the couple appear together in the last act where the dying dancer sees the image of her happy girlhood being a reproduction of the first scene revealed at the back of the stage.

The Dolly Sisters in their Mazurka costumes

Monty was effusive. “Wow the Dolly Sisters were enchanting and they will have a formidable triumph on their hands I am sure.”

We take a short walk and go around the corner for dinner at Weber’s, 21 Rue Royale, regarded as a very salubrious place. It was started many years ago by an Alsatian who made a speciality of Alsatian beer and food and originally the clientele was mainly English but now it is more mixed

This is regarded as the traditional place for posh Parisians to sup after the theatre and this vast café-restaurant is crowded with actors, politicians, writers and mere theatregoers like us. We particularly like their boullabaisse which is highly recommended.

Monty then tells us about his recent interview with Edmonde Guy. “She is simply the most ravishing creature and during the run of Oh Quel Nu at the Concert Mayol earlier in the year she posed for the great Dutch painter Van Dongen. At one of his soirees she was introduced to a certain Giovanni Dal Terroni from Palermo, Sciliy. A man of means, he convinced her that he was producing a movie of Mascagni’s masterpeice called Cavalleria Rusticana which was to be staged near Palermo and he wanted her to play the part of Santuzza and pay her $1,000 per week and all expenses for her and her maid. It was a great opportunity. The only way to get out of her obligations at the Concert Mayol was to feign illness and so she vanished.”

By now we are all sitting riveted to his words.

“Arriving at Terroni’s country villa in Sciliy, he informed her that preparations for the picture were not complete and there would be a delay. She was suspicious. The next morning her maid saw Terroni beating a young servant girl and Edmonde came to the conclusion she had been lured into a trap. She decided to play Terroni at his own game in order to escape. She had lunch with him dressed seductively and he admitted his plan to abduct her because of his infatuation. Later Edmonde lured into her bedroom and managed to lock him in, while the mad did the same with the caretaker. They found the girl that Terroni had been beating who claimed he was a monster and she took them to the French consul at Palermo. Edmonde returned to Paris but the shock forced her to bed for 2 weeks. Then a package arrived from Palermo containing a diamond sunburst and a card that said “you are very clever mademoiselle.’”

After coffee we visit the Ouistiti Roof Garden at the Marigny Theatre, Champs Elysees and delight in the dancing of the wonderfully dainty Florence Walton and Leo Leitrim backed by the famous Red Devils band. I know she is familiar and Monty reminds us that she is American and the ex-wife of Maurice Mouvet.

“She only married Leo last December, and although no-one can compare to Maurice, he is a good partner for her. She always presents class and style in both her dressing and her dancing. And in my opinion she is far superior to Irene Castle in both personality and skill.”

We soon dart off to the other side of Paris to visit the Acacias, which is in essence a glorified hall in the rear of the Hotel Acacias at 7 Rue des Acacias near the Bois de Bologne. There is also a delightful garden very useful for the hot weather in the summer.

Programme for the Acacias Nightclub, Paris

Cecile tells us the history. “It was originally opened in the summer of 1921 by the legendary singer and dancer Maurice Chevalier and the comedian Saint-Grenier. Last year it was taken over by that rather obnoxious society social fixer Elsa Maxwell and the charming English couturier Captain Edward Molyneux. They re-modelled it as a Southern plantation and had Jenny Dolly and Clifton Webb as the opening act.”

“This year it has been taken over again by that wonderful American dancer Harry Pilcer.”
Says Gabrielle. “And, he has had the good fortune to get that incredible dancing team of Moss and Fontana for a 6 week season.”

“We saw them in London at Ciro’s in March.” Dolly says. “And they are magnificent.”

Monty adds. “M. Andre de Fouquieres known everywhere as the Beau Brummel of Paris society and dictator of its amusements, paid them a handsome compliment saying ‘with them it is the art of dancing seen in all its beauty’.”

Saturday 1st June

Tonight is Lorenzo’s last night and we all decide to go out with a bang and visit lots of places. First stop is Ciro’s for a spot of dinner, followed by the Club Daunou where we watch the exquisite dancing of Joan Pickering and Charlie Stewart. Dolly is entranced as are the other girls with Joan’s frock by Ninette of London in ecru lace on powder blue faille over flesh pink georgette.

“Its absence of adornment is its greatest charm which lends its wearer that coveted jeaune fille appearance.” Dolly tells us. “It is a masterpiece.”

She is so generous in her praise of others.

We move onto to the new American Midnight Frolics at 30 Rue de Grammont which is a Souer-dansant de luxe and like so many places of the same ilk, hailed as the most chic location in Paris. It is of course no better and no worse. The cabaret produced by the English-Australian Dion Titheradge has two sittings from 12.30-1am and 1.30-2am. We catch the former show. Joyce Barbour and Max Rivers (the latter we saw in Carte Blanche at the Court Theatre in April) dance nimbly and Tex McLeod is amazing replicating his act that we also saw at the Midnight Follies. There is also a West End chorus and other acts that include the singing of Winifred Roma.

“It was bright and snappy and not bad but not good.”
I say afterward. “The girls were gorgeous though…”

“The place was opened in mid-May and I thought here we go again, another attempt to imitate Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolics. I also remember reading an odd comment somewhere that said ‘it had a real American atmosphere of intimicy so necessary to the proper expression of the artists talents’. What? The only American in the cast is Tex and the chorus is from the West End.”

Our last call is the Blue room on the first floor of L’Abbaye de Theleme. The Trix Sisters have now left and there is a new show with favourites Fay Harcourt and Harry Cahill, who dance amazingly, the American Goode Sisters, Rene Gagan, Barry Barnard and once again, the glorious singing of Dora Stroeva.

We all retire to my suite at Claridge’s and order breakfast. Lorenzo has had a great send-off before his departure for Rome.


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Carlton Hotel, Casino Municipal

Friday 26th January

We finally arrive at Cannes our last destination and swiftly settle into the smart and ultra-fashionable Carlton Hotel with its twin domes said to be modelled on the breasts of Belle Otero, a famous 19th century femme du monde, nestled at one end of the elegant palm filled Boulevard de la Croissette.

Carlton Hotel, Cannes

Carlton Hotel, Cannes

Monty and Dolly have already arrived but they have gone out for the morning and I meet them in the lounge in the afternoon. We have a wonderful re-union and a nice cup of tea. This is Dolly’s first trip to the Riviera and she has decided just to stay in Cannes. I tell her that it is wise choice since there is a different ambience and air to Cannes.

“It is less stuffy and more relaxed here than Monte Carlo. And, although Nice is fun Cannes is far more fashionable. I love this hotel too, it is so chic which is probably why it is so expensive.” I say.

“Ah therein lies an important distinction”
adds Monty “It is not true to say that the very expensive hotels are always chic, but it is true that all the chic hotels are very expensive.”

I think the worse when Dolly says “And, I have a bone to pick with you.” Thankfully she simply reproaches me for not seeing the Hippodrome pantomime of Cinderella.

That evening the three of us go out on the town. We take drinks at the busy Rendezvous Bar opposite the Casino get a taxi to eat at the Reserve restaurant on the rocks at the far end of the Croissette and then dance all night at the Casanaova night club. Monty tells me there is another one exactly the same in Biarritz. Once again my dancing is greatly admired and I am in great demand. Dolly dances all night with Monty.

I pluck up courage when Dolly whisks off to powder her nose. “Are you and Dolly an item?”

“Ah” says Monty “that” and takes another drink. “Did you know that your article about the history of cabaret in London was published? I must give you a copy tomorrow. It has gone down a treat my boy. It looks like the editor wants you to write a weekly column. I suggest you call it After Dark.”

Saturday 27th January

After a rather late breakfast, Papa drops by my room to give me a message that Lorenzo and his family will arrive at their villa sometime today. He also reminds me that Cecile’s party have arrived and that we are having lunch with them and the battle of flowers begins at 2.30pm. I have to hurry.

For the Carnival, the Crossiette is closed to traffic and numerous stands have been built for spectators amidst arches of flowers and the palm trees creating a veritable fairyland. Our seats at the front of the Carlton Hotel stand give us a good view. At 2.30pm prompt, the guns go off, the band plays and a stream of vehicles drive from the Casino gardens along the Crossiette. They are all decorated in a unique fashion and filled to overflowing with pretty girls all dressed to match the floral theme. The mail coach from the Beau Site Hotel was made to look like a gigantic basket covered in mimosa and narcissi and wins first prize. The tennis player Suzanne Lenglen was one of a dozen girls who stood in the midst of all the flowers.

Needless to say, for the first gala night of the season in the opulent Casino, the ladies are dressed in their finest gowns. We are a large party with Cecile’s and some of Henri’s family and Sir Oliver in attendance with Aunt Mimi. The Casino complex, one of the largest on the coast, is surrounded by gardens and includes an opera house and the Ambassadeurs restaurant (where the galas are staged) and is a short walk from the Carlton Hotel. It is under the management of Eugene Cornuche who also runs the Deauville Casino. Do remember, he is a rather close friend of Mama. He greets us when we arrive and shows us a magnificent set of tables replete with champagne.

Casino Municipal, Cannes

Casino Municipal, Cannes

The first fete is called Gala Souk Marocain and the ballroom has been transformed into a Moroccan fairy-land. Mama is entranced and behaves in a rather sentimental way.

“Oh it is so divine”
Mama says with a sigh “Eugene has been very clever you know. He engaged that very talented artist Jean-Gabriel Domergue to stage the gala fetes this year and he has simply outdone himself.”

Mimi whispers “ Your mother went to Morocco with Eugene before she married your father.”

“Why there is M.Domergue” points Millie to a rather strange spindly little man with a goat like beard and long straggling mutton chops “he might look odd but he is very much a la mode.”

Lorenzo and his family arrive and before they settle in an adjacent table they very politely come over and greet us all. Lorenzo is looking superb and is accompanied by a ravishing looking brunette who is wrapped around him like a python. I am really pleased to see him.

“Lorenzo, this is Cecile d’Orsay”
I say.
“Fynes, this Mlle Gabrielle Foray” Lorenzo says.
“Gaby ma cherie” says Cecile.
“Cecile ma loulou” says Gaby.
“Hello Fynes. Hello Millie. Hello Monty” says Gabrielle with a sly smile “How nice to see you all again…”

Oh dear I think. After all this is THE Gabrielle we met in Paris, the boring friend of Millie’s and she knows Cecile! Lorenzo is taken aback too and quizzes me later about how we all know each other. Perhaps I was a little harsh on Gabrielle. She isn’t that bad.

We dance to the famous Billy Arnold Orchestra, who had also played in Deauville last summer. The entertainment is provided by the legendary American dancer Harry Pilcer and his dancing partner Wynn Richmond. They danced everyone into a mood of moonlight and minarets. Of course I know about Pilcer, he is famous for being the partner and lover of the incomparable French star Gaby Deslys until her untimely death in 1921. But Monty, the font of all knowledge recounts his career with relish. “Harry was the eldest son of an Austro-Hungarian Jewish tailor who had emigrated to America when he was young. He wanted to be a performer and by his teens was working as a chorus boy in Chicago before moving to New York in 1911. Called upon to partner Deslys in the Shubert show Revue of Revues at the Winter Garden they formed a famous dancing partnership and his innovative and uniquely American style took her and later Europe by storm.”

Millie says “Well, Harry has become quite the night club proprietor and the toast of Paris organising one success story after another. First the Apollo’s Tango Teas, then the Oasis, then the Sans Souci and now the Acacias. And, he also danced with June Day.”

“That was where Jenny Dolly scored such a big hit with Clifton Webb last summer.” Adds Cécile.

Quite oblivious to the fact that Monty is American Yvette, Henri’s sisters says “The Americans are odd. Do you know, Cole Porter and Gerald and Sara Murphy rented the whole floor in the Hotel du Cap at Cap d’Antibes for the summer. They even created a beach by removing the seaweed to reveal the sand and dowsed themselves in banana oil and sunbathed. Whatever next.”

“I heard that the opera singer Mary Garden did exactly the same thing.” Says Millie.

This gets me thinking about my days spent exploring the coast with Lorenzo. I have a quiet word with Papa who has been thinking about buying a villa on the Riviera for several years. “I think we ought to buy some land in Cap Ferrat or Cap d’Antibes. I have this feeling it might be a good investment. It will also be a perfect spot for a villa I think.”

“I will take a look Fynes” he says.

Later, I am getting ready for bed when there is a quiet knock at my door. It is Lorenzo. “I had to see you” he says.

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Ciro’s and the Casino

Thursday 10th August

I woke up (far too early I hasten to add) to the sound of the surf and the smell of a brisk salt breeze perfumed with flowers in full bloom coming from my open window. I get ready, have a spot of breakfast alone and run to the beach.

It is not a good day for sunbathing or swimming. There is nip in the air and it is clouding over. I am told that the weather has been variable. The beach is sparsely populated and I wander around debating the pros and cons of getting wet. I stumble upon a photographer taking pictures of two amazingly adorable ladies. They look identical. They are short, slim, dark haired, exotic looking and amazingly beautiful. They are wearing matching black bathing suits. Whoever they are, they are noisy and seemingly having great fun as the photographer and his assistant fiddle with his equipment.

“Hello there” yells one
“Come and talk to us” says the other
“Who are you?” says one
“Yes, tells us your name” says the other

They have a strange accent. Vaguely Eastern European, vaguely French and vaguely American “How do you do.” I say in my best well-behaved British accent “Good morning ladies. I am Fynes. Fynes Harte-Harrington. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Pleased to meet you Fynes” says one.
“Oh” says another. They look at each other and giggle and then point at each other.
“This is Rosie”
“… and this is Jenny”
“We are the Dolly Sisters.”

By jove. The Dolly Sisters. I had seen them of course in London. But seeing them in the flesh was altogether a different matter. I should have put two and two together earlier! Silly me. “Gosh. I have seen you perform in A League of Notions. You were amazing. Are you having a well earned rest?”

“Why thank you Fynes” says Rosie “No, this is not a rest! We have just finished a tour of America and I have just had a holiday in Spain and Morocco.”
“… and I have been having great fun in Paris starring at the Acacias cabaret with Clifton Webb” says Jenny
“We make our debut at the Casino on Friday evening” says Rosie
“We do hope you will come and see us” says Jenny

“Oh, of course I will. We were there last night. Actually, I only arrived yesterday with my family. So I am just settling in. But I am told we go to the Casino every night.”

‘Oh we will be there too!’ they exclaim in unison.

“OK girls” interrupts the photographer “let’s get this show on the road.”
“Oh, do excuse us Fynes” says Jenny
“Seymour, please make sure that this charming gentlemen gets one of these photographs” says Rosie
“Bye bye and see you later mon cheri” says Jenny blowing me a kiss.

“One last thing ladies….” I ask with a smile ‘Would you dance with me tonight? You see I am expanding my repertoire and I bet you can teach me a thing or two.’
“Oh Fynes” says Rosie
“Of course we will”
“We will be delighted”
“After all we are good at that”
“We taught the Prince of Wales all his new dances you know….”

They giggle as I wave and wander off blushing like mad. What a story to tell.

The Dolly Sisters on the beach at Deauville

The Dolly Sisters on the beach at Deauville

I notice that more people had emerged on the beach as glimpses of sun flash through the cloud. I reach Mama and Papa and some guests lounging under a row of little striped umbrellas all wearing some rather splendid bathing outfits.

‘Fynes, mon cheri’ shouts Aunt Mimi ‘We decided to come here rather than Le Potiniére today. Come and play Mah Jong with us.’ I settle down and idle away an hour listening once again to further endless chatter.

‘Sem’s new book of caricatures is called La Nouveau Monde.’ Says Mama ‘it is rather good and once again makes me laugh.’

‘Well, it might make you laugh Alice’ says the Duchesse de Noailles (one of her friends) ‘but do remember opinion is divided between those who have achieved notoriety by having their weaknesses exposed to public laughter and those who have escaped, but who are hurt by the suspicion that they may be considered non-entities. You are not in the book my dear. I am surprised you are so happy!’

‘Regard’ says Aunt Mimi a little later, waving her hands at everyone now parading along the beach front ‘gone are the commonplace bathing coats of white towelling. Viola the futurists, Dadaists and cubists rule! Look at the latest brilliant designs Fynes.’

Almost at once everyone stopped talking and gawped as a young man walked past wearing a black cloak of shiny satin with a wallpaper design of large pink roses. He marched along with two large Alsatian wolf hounds and riding on the back of one was a small brown monkey who was having great fun picking up peoples slippers and other things and throwing them around!

“Oh my word…… Deauville becomes more eccentric about its pets every day” said Mimi with a shrug and adds ‘Often the most eccentric people are the best you know” and winks.

Mama is on the terrace at the Normandy for lunch with three new prospective brides and their mothers. I admire Mama’s tenacity. This time the candidates are all French. Taking Aunt Mimi’s advice, which I am sure was intentional, I gravitate to Cecile d’Orsay and her mother who are from the famous French perfume company. Cecile is the complete opposite to Eva – dark haired and clever. She is also a hoot and not in the slightest bit stuffy, unlike the other two. I suspect Mimi was giving me a coded message earlier.

In the afternoon I meet Leonora and a gramophone for my dancing lessons in a private room at the Casino. ‘Let’s dance and I can see what you are like’ she asks as we play several records and go through one-steps and Waltzes. She introduces me to some new variations and finally says ‘You are good Fynes. You simply need a bit of a brush up and we need to add some sparkle.’ We both laugh and carry on talking away as we dance  “in the next few days we go through the tango, the valse, the foxtrot and perhaps even the apache!’

As usual, after a pleasant nap, cocktails were taken in our suite before a large party of us swept off to Ciro’s for dinner. Cecile and her mother were there and joined us. Later, I took Cecile onto the dance floor. She was wearing a simple black satin form-fitting gown, devoid of decoration but framed by an array of glittering diamond rings, earings, bracelets and necklace. She smelt divine of course.

‘Tu es magnifique!’ she whispered in my ear. I am over the moon. ‘Toi aussi, ma cherie’ I reply.

Ciro’s have a cabaret of sorts and I was stunned by the dancing of Samya and Sawyer. They gave several usual yet original variations and then performed an extraordinary number called Une Danse Macabaretre. She a beautiful vision in a silver frock as she dances and gazes at her own beauty in a silver mirror. Behind her stalks la Mort, (Sawyer) in skin tight clothes and a skull cap as a terrifying apparition. Their dancing gets wilder, she becomes breathless with fear, she falls to the floor and death clutches her throat and claims her. Everyone stands and applauds voraciously.

Samya and Sawyer

Samya and Sawyer

‘They have been a hit in London and the Riviera’ says Papa ‘she is exquisite but also quite the business woman. She demanded a huge fee for dancing exclusively for the Ciro chain for one year and got it.’ To my surprise Papa heads straight for Samya who is now sitting at a table with friends. Hmmm, they appear to know each other rather well….

Friday 11th August

Monty arrives in the morning. I meet him in the foyer of the hotel after he has checked in.

‘Dear boy’ he exclaims ‘…you look marvellous: this place must be agreeing with you!’ I give him a run down of the most recent developments.

‘Well as it happens I have a surprise for you’ he says with a beaming smile looking toward the staircase as a chic, bobbed, flapper, cigarette holder and all walks toward us wearing a divine silver satin lounging suit edged with white fur and a string of pearls. I can see the other guests and staff raising their eyebrows. ‘Ah, there she is.”

‘I am Dolly Tree’ she says and extends her hand to me before she sits. “I am so pleased to meet you Fynes. Monty has told me so much about you.” Absolutely exquisite just like Samya, she is clearly what is called a New Woman – strident, confident, independent and glamorous. I shake her hand and sit back down instantly in love. I am a little flustered and blurt “Miss Tree, your gowns for Fay Harcourt were beautiful. I saw them last night. Everyone gasped when she first emerged to dance!’

“Dolly has been a busy little bee this summer’ interjects Monty ‘ with frocks coming out of her eye-balls for all sorts of things…. Haven’t you dear? Such a clever, clever gal’

We continue to talk about Deauville, London and Paris and who we know and we don’t know, before heading off to La Potinaire and then lunch. Miss Tree changes for each and wears even more wonderful outfits, all of which she designed herself.

Despite being introduced Mama is not happy ‘Who is this woman’ she whispers in my ear at lunch. ‘She is very famous Mama as a dress designer and she is a friend of Monty’s’ I reply rather sternly.
‘Hmmm I see’ she replies with a shrug ‘…well you know what I think about him…’

Brochure - programme for the August 1922 season at Deauville

Brochure - programme for the August 1922 season at Deauville

The day flashes by and soon we are once again in the Casino. We are a big group popping champagne like mad and having a great time. My dancing with Eva is attracting interest. She noticed several people who liked her and she told me about it. I saw many people who clearly liked me but I did not mention it. One devastatingly beautiful woman wearing an unfortunately old fashioned gown winked at me. Eva was not amused. ‘That gown is an anachronism’ I whisper
‘I expect you are right’ acquiesced Eva sweetly ‘I don’t know much about isms. I am never ill.’
Thereafter, my chat took refuge in generalities until the cabaret.

The Dolly Sisters were simply sensational. Their first dance was an old fashioned waltz with dresses of grey velvet, silver lace and fringe lined in turquoise blue with huge grey hats trimmed with osprey. The second dance was a mad kind of Apache dance but with elegant bride-like white chiffon frocks abundantly showered with brilliants and exotic white plumed head dresses. Their last number was a gipsy dance in deep orange chiffon with silver bodices, hung with bunches of cherries and matching hats. The applause was deafening.

The Dolly Sisters

The Dolly Sisters

The compére thanked the Dollies and then said ‘I must extend a special word of thanks to Miss Dolly Tree who designed all of the Dolly Sisters costumes and to our great delight she is with us tonight sitting with the Harte –Harringtons.’ There was a hearty round of applause and I turned to Mama who is smiling profusely. I think her reserve might have evaporated.

‘I am not sure I like them’ said Mrs FitzGibbon ‘I do find their ostentatious display of jewellery and their frivolous behaviour quite vulgar.‘

‘Oh don’t be so silly dear’ said the Duchess of Sutherland ‘we adored them in London. They are so pleased with life, so unspoiled and happy and gay and so full of fun. They are such a delightful contrast to some of the languid bored creatures one sees.’

Suddenly both sisters are at our table, wearing matching silver evening gowns and wearing a profuse number of glittering jewels. They hug and kiss Dolly Tree in turn.
‘Well, you two need no introductions…’ Dolly says
‘…hello Fynes, so glad to see you!’ says Jenny.
‘Would you dance with me Fynes?’ asks Rosie.
‘Who am I going to dance with?’ asks Jenny.
‘Oh I think I can oblige’ suggests Henri immediately.

My parents’ jaws have dropped. Monty is smirking. Millie nudges Henri in the ribs. Eva scowls. Mimi is smiling. Cecile is frowning, and Dolly is laughing.

Saturday 12th August

Today is my birthday. I am glad it falls on a Saturday. I have a lovely birthday breakfast with all the family at the Normandy. I spend the rest of the morning with Monty and Dolly at the Potinaire. We have a small private family lunch at Ciro’s. Finally, my birthday party dinner is in the Ambassadeur’s restaurant at the Casino which is a rather elaborate affair in a large private room for 60 guests.

A cake is wheeled in on a trolley by the Dolly Sisters who sing happy birthday!

Mama kisses me. Mimi kisses me. Millie kisses me. Eva kisses me. Cecile kisses me. The Dolly Sisters kiss me, one on each cheek. And, finally Dolly kisses me on the lips but lingers… hmm that is interesting.

Papa stands up and bangs his glass until everyone is quiet and says “congratulations Fynes. Now that you get your allowance I can take you into the Casino.’

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