Posts Tagged ‘Josephine Earle’

Saturday 4th August

Millie has completely re-decorated and furnished Lorenzo’s apartment. She has spent week’s co-ordinating everything with help from Liberty and Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann’s atelier in Paris. The result is stunning. Well, when you have unlimited funds supplied by a rich Italian what do you expect?

She has also organised a spiffiing welcome party from 6.30 -8.30 pm. Rather early I know but we do not want to start off on the wrong footing with the neighbours by having loud and noisy parties late at night. We have Champagne and canapés. The latter of which Lorenzo has co-ordinated himself which are delicious.

Millie has taken it upon herself to become the hostess with the mostess, in the most delightful way possible and greets everyone who arrives from her husband Henri and Henri’s sister Yvette, to Mama, Papa, Aunt Mimi and Sir Oliver. She introduces Lorenzo to dozens of her society friends and friends of our parents, but finally gives up when a flood of familiar faces descend including Monty, Dolly Tree, Eddie Dolly, Velma Deane, Julian (Sir Oliver’s son), Eva with Peregrine, Aubrey, Priscilla, Dora, Josephine Earle and Peggy Marsh and a host of all their guests. There are even scores of Italians – friends and acquaintances of Lorenzo’s family – that arrive and add to the joviality. We have a wonderful evening.

Much later when most people have left we take a late dinner at Bellomos nearby on Jermyn Street. Mr Bellomos is an artist in food and the restaurant is run on the most up-to-date lines (as is the hotel above). The menu was delightful with Hors d’Oeuvre Varies or Crème Jackson, Supreme de Merlan Italienne or Oeufs Brouillles au Jambon, Poulet Bouilli au Riz Sauce Supreme or Entrecote Minute or Hamord a la Newburg or Poulet Saute Chasseur with all the trimmings and either a Rhubard Tart or Beignet Souffle St Joseph for dessert.

In the following days we get ready to decamp to Deauville.

Wednesday 8th August

The promenade at Deauville

The world and his wife is at Deauville. It is tremendously busy. We take our usual rooms at the Normandy Hotel and Lorenzo and I share. Tonight, after dinner, we are in the Casino but something appears different. Mama is the first to observe ‘Oh dear it is far too crowded’ as we struggle to find seats in the gilded ballroom. ‘Not only that but it is full of rather vulgar rich Americans’ says Aunt Mimi with disdain, as we are all squeezed into a space that is really not to our liking. But we are positioned adjacent to some of Mama’s friends who come over to greet us and end up gossiping.

‘Oh it has been frightful this year. There have been the most rancorous disputes between the various French, English and American circles.’ Says Mrs Fitzgibbon. ‘Really, some people are losing the art of etiquette and politeness.’

‘Deauville’s reputation seems to be enhanced when it is contemplated from a distance. That is certainly the case with Americans. So many of them cross the Atlantic simply because they think that they must see Deauville’ says Lady Rocksavage.

‘The trouble is’ says Comte de Maza ‘Deauville is losing its exclusivity. There are more and more provincial tourists coming here trying to appear fashionable.’

‘….and then’ says Mrs Fitzgibbon ‘there is a new fashion to have a suntan. Some women are becoming brown you know!”

‘Heavens above’ Says Mrs Reggie Fellowes ‘Whatever next?’

Millie is uncomfortable, blushes and covers herself with her shawl saying ‘hmm it is a bit chilly in here tonight isn’t it?’ as the other ladies continue to gossip.

‘Come and dance with me’ I say and we head off to the dance floor to join Lorenzo who is already dancing with the daughter of the Comte de Maza. ‘That’s a nice tan’ I whisper to Millie.

Despite the congestion the evening is pleasurable and the cabaret with the dancing of old favourites Robert Sielle and Annette Mills is quite delightful.

La Potinaire Cafe, Deauville

We swiftly settle into the gentle rhythm of life – breakfast, the beach, lunch at the Potiniére café, horse racing, beach walks, cocktails, dinner at Ciro’s or the Casino, followed by dancing and sometimes a little flutter.

Thursday 9th August

The tennis star Suzanne Lenglen with her mother and a party are the talk of the day on the beach. Lenglen is becoming bronzed like so many others. I am intrigued by this sunbathing fad and following a discrete tip from Millie head off for a walk following another chap who she tells me is a journalist writing about the subject.

The mystery of how beautiful creatures manage to get sunburnt all over as lavish décolleté gowns at night reveal, was solved when we stumbled upon a secluded spot about half a mile from the usual bathing place. We discovered a dozen charmers tanning themselves in full glory. Since we stumbled upon them by accident there were screams of surprise and a great scurry to button up shoulder straps on the bathing sits and don bath robes as we gawp in disbelief.

One of the ‘girls’ recognises me ‘honestly Fynes fancy sneaking up on a girl like that.’ Peggy Marsh scolds me.

‘Ah Peggy my dear’ I say with a smile ‘I didn’t recognize you…’

That night in the Casino, we nip into the gaming rooms and watch George Carpentier, the handsome French boxer, lose a large sum at chemin de fer. Despite his losses he dances very well in turn with Peggy Marsh and ex-Ziegfeld beauty Muriel Miles. Lorenzo and I catch both of them afterward.

Sunday 12th August

The Terrace at the Casino, Deauville

It is my birthday and I have a more sedate celebration than last year. A simple family dinner at Ciro’s, followed by an evening of even more dancing at the casino. Peggy tells me she is to make her debut shortly in the cabaret with a certain Marshall Hall and they are practising routines. She says that he is one of the most versatile of American dancers and creator of the role of Prince Guidon in Le Coq D’Or at the Metropolitan Opera six years ago.

Monday 20th August

We are out in force for the new cabaret entertainment in the Casino that features the exotic acrobatic dancing of the American Nina Payne and the new team of Peggy Marsh and Marshall Hall. They are all sensational.

Frank J. Gould, his new wife and Edith Kelly Gould his former wife were all present at the same baccarat table in the gaming rooms creating a bit of a sensation. They did not look at each other, and Edith Gould enjoyed winning a small fortune back from the new Mrs Gould.

Papa says ‘One has ceased to be impressed by wins or losses of a mere few hundred thousand Francs. When Sir Alfred Butt was counting out a win of over a million Francs, the other day it was considered a pleasant little haul, but nothing impressive.’

As for the dresses and jewelry – the displays in the Casino ballroom are becoming more intense every day like the frenzy of gambling. One woman walked past our table and put all the chandeliers to shame by the brilliance of her earrings – four great stones gleamed from each ear and reached to her shoulders. Many people gasped. Millie was amazed but said ‘if you think they are the biggest diamonds in existence, observe the three even larger ones hanging from her necklace!’

‘Look at that woman with the belt of real diamonds on her brocaded dress’ says Mama ‘Soon the usual glitterering bracelets and ropes of pearls will appear quite insignificant.’

Aunt Mimi adds ‘Well I still do not like those barebacked dresses. And I know you wear them Millie, but allowing one to contemplate the vertebrae of the wearer is for me most disturbing.’

Sunday 26th August

A view of the Normandy Hotel, Deauville with the Casino on the right

We wake up early since today is the Grand Prix racing but the weather is vile and has become dreary and wet. We amble down for breakfast but enthusiasm to go out in the rain is slight and many people have not even got up.

‘Goodness’ says Henri (Millie’s husband) as we eat our bacon and eggs ‘it is ghastly and like being in Scotland for heaven’s sake.’

As the rain subsides a little, we persevere and along with thousands of others, trail to the race course carrying umbrellas for a rather dull Grand Semaine with a French horse, Sao Pauloa, a comparative outsider, winning.

In late afternoon we are sat taking cocktails in a slightly wet La Potinaire Café. There has been huge excitement regarding the arrival of Rudolph Valentino and his wife Natacha Rambova for a flying visit and everyone is talking about them.

‘It is their belated honeymoon you know…’ says Millie ‘they have already seen the sights in London and Paris.’

‘I am told they arrived in three cars’ says Mama ‘The first for the luggage, the second for secretaries and the last for the Valentino’s and guests. They are staying in a villa rather than a hotel that is wise for privacy: they would be swamped in a hotel.’

That night the Valentino’s arrive in the Casino, take drinks, dinner, visit the baccarat rooms and watch the cabaret but are rather aloof and do not mingle much. Needless to say they cause a huge flutter. But gossip spreads like wild fire as usual. Mama comes back from conversations with her nearby groups of friends and tells us ‘they are in ill humour and not happy with the weather or their accommodation. They are also disappointed with the Casino, upset with the food and rather disdainful of all of us. Mrs Valentino apparently has her nose stuck in the air and was heard to ask ‘where is the fashionable crowd?’ I can see no smart women and no smart men’ What a cheek.’

‘Mind you’ retorts Millie ‘you were only saying the other day that Deauville has lost its attractiveness and had become less exclusive. So she might just have a point.’

Friday 30th August

The season is winding down and many people are leaving. We are having fun dancing in the Casino again but were all rather shocked to learn that Harry Pilcer narrowly escaped death in an automobile accident while racing the Dolly Sisters from Paris to Deauville. The Dollies and Pilcer had completed their respective performances in Paris and left at midnight in two cars with a bet of 2000 francs for whoever got to the Casino first. In heavy mist, Harry Pilcer tried to pass the Dollies who were being driven by the Vicomte de Rochefoucauld. His car jumped the road and struck a tree. The Dollies stopped and rescued Pilcer and his chauffeur both of whom were unconscious and bought them to Deauville. With Pilcer being cared for, they made a dash into the ballroom and Lorenzo and I managed to get a dance from each of them despite their ordeal.


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Poccardi, Club Daunou, Fysher’s, Le Perroquet, Caveau, Zelli’s, Larue Restaurant, Mitchell’s, Theatre de Vaudeville (Rip Revue), Trix’s Blue Room (Abbaye de Theleme) and Jardin de Ma Souer.

Saturday 21st April

It is almost time for Aunt Mimi’s wedding so on that pretext I go to Paris early on my own. This time I take the usual transit by train and boat. I conspire to help aunt Mimi with her wedding arrangements and Papa is fine about my missing work days. Lorenzo is in Paris for business and pleasure and staying at Claridge’s. After depositing my suitcase at aunt Mimi’s, who is out, I head straight there. We have a rather pleasant re-union. But there is no time for extensive pleasantries. The night is beginning. We meet Gabrielle and Cécile in the foyer. They are thrilled to see us and look incredible – Gabrielle in a blond lace gown by Patou and Cécile in a Calvarrac dancing gown of lemon georgette decorated with silver ribbon and rococo roses. We wander to Fouquet’s for cocktails and Mimi and Sir Oliver are there with a big group of friends.

“Fynes darling. There you are.” Exclaims Mimi engulfing me with a big hug and kiss before she introduces everyone. Sir Oliver orders more champagne and we have a jolly hour before the four of us head off to eat.

Lorenzo has decided to visit an Italian restaurant called Poccardi situated rather appropriately I thought, at 9 Boulevard des Italiens. I am told it is highly regarded and it certainly appears to be very popular because it is overflowing with people. We immediately begin with a range of hors d’oeuvres washed down with a sparkling Lacrima Crisiti Rose. Moving onto the Chianti we devour a rather extensive menu of minestone soup, lobster Fra Diavolo, linguine with red clam sauce, thick country bread and shaved Parmesan cheese, mini Calzones, eggplant Parmigiana, grilled Italian sausage and Veal Sorrentino. Lastly, a simple zabaglione and then cheeses with some delightful dessert wine.

I have chosen a rather interesting route for our Tourne Du Grands Ducs. We start the night at the Club Daunou where Ted Trevor and Dina Harris perform their wonderful dances. We then visit Nilson Fysher’s spot on Rue d’Antin for the exquisite singing of Yvonne George and Dora Stroeva.

Yvonne George is a Belgian blonde sensation, who, over the past few years, has been making a big impression in Paris and has just returned from appearing in the Greenwich Village Follies in New York. She is tall and beautiful with an expressive pale face and unusual violet coloured eyes. With her bobbed and slicked back hair with a single lock over her forehead, she gives off an air of utterly natural feminity. But her ‘look’ is also intense and ‘wild’ a little like her songs and her voice. She gives an emotive performance channelling what must be her own pain into her delivery with a series of tragic songs about real life but then lightens the mood with parodies of Russian and Spanish songs displaying a sophisticated sense of humour.

Yvonee George

Yvonee George

The exotic gipsy singer Dora Stroeva, the latest star of Paris cabaret, sings her songs in Russian or French accompanying herself by guitar. She commanded complete silence when she mounted her high stool to begin. She had a white face, scarlet lips and black hair like a painted skull-cap and was dressed in a simple black skirt and jacket, a low cut white shirt and bright scarlet scarf wrapped about her throat. She is wild and quiet all at the same time with a masculine edge to her voice.

We then move on for an extended stay at Le Perroquet and dance for what seems like hours. Finally we climb the hill to Montmartre and visit the Caveau at 54 Rue Pigalle. This spacious haunt was famed in revolutionary days and currently has two artists who have an equal genius for casting a spell. Mme Efremova sings strange gipsy songs in the dim lamplight conjuring up love and romance while the beautiful Cora Madou sings deeply moving songs with an amazing voice accompanied by a piano only. We then pop into Zelli’s for a spot of cheek to cheek dancing before ending up at Mitchell’s at about 5.30am.

Cora Madou

Cora Madou

As a regular habitué of Le Perroquet, Cécile tells us all about Louis Mitchell. “He is an American singer and drummer who came to Europe in 1912 with James Reece Europe supporting the dancing team of Vernon and Irene Castle. After the war he returned with a 7 piece band called Mitchell’s Jazz Kings and performed at the Casino de Paris and later at Le Perroquet. Now he has opened his own club here.”

Gabrielle adds. “You always come here on at the end of a Paris night out. It is the last resort. We are told by our American friends that it is Harlem transplanted to the Place Pigalle.”

“By the look of it, I am sure Monty would agree if he was here.” I say.

It is a tiny place with a small dance area and it is packed solid but we do get a table, drink the usual fizz, nibble on the house specialities of hot cakes and sausages and listen to a trio bang the piano and sing and then we dance on the 2×4 floor space.

“This place is so small that it has the air of always being overcrowded and therefore highly successful!” Says Cécile.

Monday 23rd April

I assist aunt Mimi with her wedding preparations and post a series of After Dark pieces to my newspaper. By the way, my weekly column is being received well.

Tuesday 24th April

All the family have now arrived and we meet in the drawing room of Mimi’s house for cocktails. We then go to the Theatre de Vaudeville on the corner of the Rue de la Chaussee – d’Antin and the Boulevard des Capucines to see the new Rip revue. Rip, whose real name is George Thenon, is a French institution and a famous cartoonist turned revue writer and satirist.

Programme for Theatre du Vaudeville

Programme for Theatre du Vaudeville

Mimi warns us beforehand. “The show will display all the wit and malice in which Rip excels but to fully appreciate a Rip revue one has to be acquainted with all the current potins of Paris so as to follow the allusions.” She pauses. “Ah, potins means gossip darlings. I will try and fill you in as we progress.”

The stars of the show are Marguerite Deval and Gaby Montbreuse. We had the joy of hearing the latter sing at Chez Fysher’s last September. It is sumptuously staged and costumed with an interlude showing the latest creations of Madeleine and Madeleine each baptized with a name. However, the most intriguing portion for me was the ballet ‘Arlequin et ses Poupees’ performed by Robert Quinault and Iris Rowe with the theme of the illusion of a harlequin who takes a doll for a woman. Quinault uses his acrobatic skill intelligently to express a beautiful conception. They both also appear in Les Pirates, the finale of the revue.

They are an amazing combination and in the interval I overhear someone talking about them. “Iris Rowe is English and a pupil of Margaret Morris. Quinault is French and was a performer for the Opera Comique. They met when he made his debut in Cochran’s London, Paris and New York in 1920 and she danced Columbine to his Harlequin. They have been dancing partners since.”

After the show we congregate at the famous Larue Restaurant at 27 Rue Royale for dinner. It is amusing to be given a royal salute by the three smart chasseurs on the door step. Regarded as one of the gastronomic delights of Paris all the treasures of the earth are perfectly prepared by an illustrious chef. It is indeed delightful with its little tables with rose coloured lamp shades and pink satin seats and we are surrounded by famous writers, foreign princes and charming women. I am told that much wit sparkles here and though I am unable to deny or confirm that rumour I can assure you that the multitudinous diamonds, sapphires, pearls and rubies, beyond price, sparkle here nightly. We indulge in the house specials of Caille a la Souvaroff, Becasee Flambee and Crepes Suzette.

I am allowed to leave early and meet Lorenzo, Gabrielle and Cécile at Le Abbaye de Theleme to see the lovely Trix Sisters once again in their Blue Room cabaret. This time they have the added bonus of the singing and dancing of Josephine Earle. She spots me, waves and blows me a kiss. Later she comes over and I introduce her to everyone.

“What is happening with that Dolly Tree?” She asks. “Still engrossed with that cad Mr Dolly I guess.”

“Yes, Jo.” I say “She is as busy as ever.”

“Well, I will see her in a few weeks time. I have fittings. Oh I guess you do not know. I have a big part in the movie that she is dressing called Woman to Woman. We start filming shortly.”

Thursday 26th April

Today is Aunt Mimi’s wedding. It is rather auspicious because it is also the day of the marriage between Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and the Duke of York in London.

Mimi’s wedding gown is from Lucile of course and she looks divine. It is of soft silver tissue cut on straight Grecian lines. Gracefully draped at the back with a large bustle bow and the two ends forming narrow trains. Plus an enveloping veil of Brussels lace secured with clusters of orange blossom.

The simple ceremony is in the town hall with just close family. Sir Oliver has quiet a following but they are a very cosmopolitan crowd that fit in with us terribly well. Perhaps I have forgotten to tell you, like Mimi, Sir Oliver had been married before but his wife had died. Included in this throng is one of his son’s called Julian who is slightly older than me who is rather tall, slender and delicate but very handsome. He is an artist like his father and works in London and Paris.

We all swiftly decamp to Ciro’s on the Rue Daunou for lunch. This is followed by a vast evening dinner and party at a private room in Claridge’s to which Lorenzo, Gabrielle and Cécile have been invited. I am thrilled that there is an exquisite series of exhibition dances by Samya and Sawyer who are also appearing in the ballroom. Needless to say my father is pleased too.

Much later as the mmod gets quieter we scoot off in our finery to visit Le Jardin De Ma Souer at 17 Rue Caumartin on the suggestion of Cécile. This resort, also called The Embassy, was opened in late 1922 and managed by Oscar Mouvet.

“Why on earth have we not been here before Cécile?”
I ask. “This is incredible.”

We are in, what I consider to be, the smartest and most beautiful room in Paris. It is spacious and airy and the general décor and ambiance is delightful.

Jardin de Ma Souer (The Embassy)

Jardin de Ma Souer (The Embassy)

“I have been keeping it a secret.” Says Cecile slyly with a grin. “I have brought you here because tonight the cabaret features a special act!” I am intrigued.

After a lot dancing to an excellent band, the cabaret begins. The first dancers are sisters – Ethel and Marion Forde – who are dressed beautifully and give a spirited repetoire of dances.

“They are American and arrived in Paris late last year making some appearances at Le Perroquet. We saw Marion Forde in En Douce at the Casino de Paris.” Cécile says.

However, the real stars of the night were the imcomparable Maurice Mouvet and Leonara Hughes. Cécile smiled when they came on. Partly because she knew about my lessons with Leonara in Deauville last year and the fact that I have been wanting to see Maurice dance. They were sensational and received the most rapturous applause I have ever known.

Afterwards, Leonara came up to us and asked me to dance.

“My oh my Fynes, you have progressed rather well. In fact you are quite simply marvellous.” She said. I was very happy.

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The Hippodrome, Hotel Cecil, Ciro’s and Murrays

 Friday 6th October

Monty has been busy with deadlines and has popped off for a few days somewhere. Dolly telephones me. “I am bored. Can we have a night out tonight?” she asks.

“Where would you like to go?”

“Simple. Let me take you to the Hippodrome show and then for dinner. Howsat?”


I pick her up at her family apartment in Newman Street and we head off to the Hippodrome. Julian Wylie runs the shows here and Dolly is his exclusive dress designer so we get an excellent box and are treated like royalty. Round in 50 has been playing to packed audiences since March. Described as a “musical adventure” it is a vehicle for the popular comedian George Robey with his funny blackened eyebrows, naughty vocabulary and a heart of gold. Taken from Jules Verne’s Round the World in Eighty Days, the plot centres on Phileas Fogg who, angered by his nephew’s extravagance, issues an ultimatum that unless he creates a new record travelling the globe in fifty days he will be disinherited.

Programme for Round in 50 at the London Hippodrome

Programme for Round in 50 at the London Hippodrome

The seventeen scenes travel across the globe providing a perfect frame for various madcap adventures and ingenious decor. In Italy there was a display of liqeurs; in China a parade of old ivory carvings in delicious black and white creations; San Francisco provided a cabaret which was transformed into a tea-totallers meeting and California blossomed into a glorious orange grove.

“I am amazed I didn’t see it earlier because it is hugely entertaining.” I say “And, fancy missing the added bonus of Sophie Tucker for a three month run in the summer?”

“Well, from now on I doubt you will miss an opening night!” Dolly says with a laugh as we leave the theatre to get a cab “I have almost finished all the designs for Cinderella, the next pantomime, and I am working on the next big show called Brighter London.”

We motor to the vast Cecil Hotel, an 800 room edifice built in 1886 on the Strand overlooking the embankment gardens and the river. We take a late dinner in the restaurant, a large and lofty pillared hall with a glazed balcony overlooking the Victoria Gardens and on the west side, a glorious view of Westminster. The décor shimmers in pink, white and gold amidst the imposing colonnades of rich blue. It is luxurious, elegant and the food exceptional.

The Ballroom of the Hotel Cecil

The Ballroom of the Hotel Cecil

“I love this place almost as much as the Savoy, next door” says Dolly.

We start with oysters and then have iced consommé, poached eggs in aspic, sliced chicken breast and foie gras in jelly. This was followed by Sole a la Francine – fish cooked in wine and cream – with a skinned grape decoration. Our dessert was fresh strawberries and sliced fresh peach sprinkled with a liqueur flavoured syrup, resting on a strawberry ice and covered in a golden nest of spun sugar.

This is the first time we have had time together on our own to get to know each other.  Dolly tells me all about her family, her early life as an actress for stage and film and how she gave it all up to become an illustrator and costume designer. I tell her about boring things in comparison about my family, schooling, university and my complete lack of any aspiration.

We also talk about our nocturnal adventures “I love cabaret and I love dancing. Some of my friends even call me the Cabaret Girl you know.” She laughs. “Since I met Monty I have been going out much more and he is the perfect escort. Of course the title of the next Hippodrome show is rather apt. All of a sudden within the last year cabaret has taken hold and begun to make London brighter!”

“You know Dorothy Dickson said exactly the same thing” I say. “To be honest Dolly, London has always been brighter. It has just evolved. Remember just after the war many eating and drinking venues created space for dancing and some places like the Savoy, Trocadero, Rectors, Grafton Galleries, Murrays and the Embassy booked exhibition dancers, who became the draw. Then the first real shows surrounding these couples came about at Murrays in late 1920 with the Frolics and then the Metropole Hotel with the Midnight Follies in October 1921.”

“Did you go to all these places?” she asked.

“Yes, I did, but not often. I was lucky because my entire family like a night out! And Millie my sister often took me with her as I loved to dance like you. Now of course it is a different matter! I can do as I please.”

“Me too!” Dolly replies.

After coffee we move to the Palm Court  and dance the night away. Even with chairs and sofas around the sides of the room, the floor space is considerable in this amazingly spacious room. It is blissful. Dolly kisses me. My heart is racing. What about Monty? I am not brave enough to ask.

Saturday 7th October

The next day Monty is still away and Dolly is still bored. We decide to go to Ciro’s in Orange Street for dinner. We sit at our table drinking a delightful cocktail called a Monkey Gland, which Harry, prince of cocktail mixers, makes to perfection out of gin, orange juice and absinthe. I have been here a few times before and Ciro’s in Deauville of course but know nothing of its history. But help is at hand.

“Before the war this was a very grand public bathhouse” Dolly tells me “as you can see it has beautiful proportions and even the architects name is on the wall outside!” We sit in a large square room surrounded by balcony or gallery that is flanked by imposing pillars to the ceiling. The room has a delicate décor of lettuce green and old gold. We sit on the ground floor amidst a thicket of tables chairs and a platoon of waiters.

“The original Ciro was an Italian born Egyptian who opened his restaurant in the fashionable section in Monte Carlo” says Dolly authoritatively. “It was so successful that it was taken over by an English Syndicate who expanded and opened branches in Paris on the ground floor of the Hotel Daunou and then London, Deauville and Biarritz. In each place it is regarded as more than a restaurant but the fashionable centre of life itself.”

She pauses to take a long gulp of her cocktail. “Look carefully….. there are celebrities to the right, nobilities to the left, notorieties in front and popularities behind you… it is a pot-pourri of people for whom time and the tide of affairs has for the moment ceased to exist.”

“Yes, you are right of course, but have you noticed that we are surrounded by rather lovely women and rather elderly men, with my exception of course?”

We have a delightful dinner. Grey green cavier with well made toast; an invigorating clear consommé; a sole with a delicious sauce; a delicate chicken dish (Supreme de Volaille Dora); an incredible iced dessert called Bombe Merie Brizard and finally angels on horseback (for those of you who have no idea what this is it is bacon and oysters or Anges a Cheval). We took a modest Haut Sauterne to drink.

The band, which I believe to be the Red Devils who replaced Sherbo’s Men earlier in the year,  begins to tinkle rather delicately in the gallery at 8.15pm.

We send our compliments to M. Rossignol late of the Casino Deauville, the head of the 21 chefs of Ciro’s and we dance a little on the miniscule dance floor.

We catch the early dinner show. Once again it is the delightful Olga Samya and Donald Sawyer. I tell Dolly that they have been described as the best exhibition couple now appearing in London.

We cannot stay. Dolly has managed to reserve a table for the launch of a totally new cabaret show at Murray’s in Beak Street. And yes, she has created all the costumes. As we leave I see Papa with a small group of friends tucked away. He does not notice me but I notice that the ravishing Samya has joined him at his table.

We arrive at Murray’s well in time to see the supper version. This is one of London’s oldest nightclubs created in 1913 alongside the 400 and the Lotus in a flurry of excitement that was partly squashed by the war. My parents were regulars at the time and told me that this was the hub of the English dancing world where new dances and new steps were tested by the best dancers in town. Only Murray’s survived. The proprietor is a rather dubious fellow called Jack Mays, who is allegedly American. He has made his club one of the most popular dance places in London. You walk down the stairs into an impressive oblong room with a high ceiling. The dance floor is right in front of you and to the left there is an expansive seating area behind a colonnade of pillars. The décor is plain with wooden panelled walls, mirrors and chandeliers. The band is at the furthest end of the room. Interestingly, there is an air-conditioning system called Ozoniar that keeps the ambiance fresh and pure.

Murray's Nightclub in Beak Street

Murray's Nightclub in Beak Street

We are having a little dance when Eva taps me on my shoulder. “Hello Fynes” she says sweetly “fancy bumping into you. This is Biffy by the way.”  She squeezes the arm of a tall dark haired man who smiles nervously at me but does not make a sound “oh thanks for dinner on Wednesday it was divine.” She disappears into the throng. It is then that I noticed Aubrey scowling in the distance. I wave. He comes and joins us at our table a little later and bores us to tears talking about his love for Eva. He knows that half of London is after Eva, including me and that she is simply having a good time with all her various beaux. I wish he would lighten up. We were saved by the cabaret.

Josephine Earle was the star with the amazingly talented Ernest Marini, a chorus of 10 and the added bonus of the eccentric dancing of the Broadway cabaret artist Hazel Shelley, direct from the Ziegfeld Follies.

The cabaret entertainers at Murray's Club, including Josephine Earle and Ernest Marini

The cabaret entertainers at Murray's Club, including Josephine Earle and Ernest Marini

“Josephine is a great friend” says Dolly in my ear “she is from Brooklyn, New York but came here after the war to appear in Lilac Domino. She had been on the screen for Vitagraph and has starred in several movies here.”

Miss Earle sang several songs and danced exceptionally well with Mr Marini through 8 gloriously well staged numbers that included a scene with costumes representing powder boxes with abundant fluffy underthings and an Hawaiian number with dresses that bore an uncanny resemblance to those worn by the chorus with Dorothy Dickson when she sang her Hawaiian song in The Cabaret Girl. The applause was deafening and Dolly was thrilled.

 Josephine came and joined us wearing a pale green chiffon number encrusted with a dark jade floral motif and was very jolly and full of fun. She knocks back glass upon glass of the champagne I ordered in celebration of a rather good first night so I say  “It must be sickening for you Americans to come so many thousands of miles just for a drink.”

“Honey, why do you think half of America has emigrated to Europe?” she exclaims with delight!

Once again, as we dance Dolly kisses me. The rest of the evening is sublime. I take Dolly home and outside she says “my parents are away, please come up for a night cap.”

I return home at dawn. I make sure I go in the back way and try to be as quiet as a mouse.


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