Every other inch
All right ... obviously I will have to do some two-a-day blogging in order to catch up. I honestly don't know what I was doing on the day I missed posting. Last night, I know what I was doing, but it did not involve being near an internet connection, so consider that a strike.
One of my favorite books is Beatrice Lillie's autobiography, Every Other Inch A Lady. (Chorus: Of course it's one of your favorites, you gay thing.) If you don't know who she is, Google her immediately. She was a comedienne of stage and occasionally screen -- a droll wit, and a friend of Noël Coward's. This is one of my favorite anecdotes:
...we toured and toured and toured some more. I thought that we all stood up to it rather well, including my poor mink coat.
I kept the coat, but I lost my maid, Margaret, who had come to me from Winston Churchill himself. In London, I like to go shopping at that finest educational establishment in all England, Harrod's. I was asked there one day to an autographing party involving some recordings of the show which I'd made. When I found I'd forgotten my spectacles, I telephoned Margaret to bring them over from Park Lane.
The poor thing came over and stood in line behind Steve Cochran, whose name Hollywood conjures with, to reach the head of the queue. Spotting her but pretending not to, I scribbled a signature and handed her a record for her collection, with the autograph of "Johnny Ray."
After the session was over, I went nosing around the store into the pet department, run by a gentleman in a morning coat in keeping with Harrod's style. Today's special was in live baby alligators, some fifteen inches long. I took rather a liking to one of them.
"Shall I send it to the Park Lane address, Lady Peel?" [she was married to Lord Robert Peel, 5th baronet.]
"No, have it delivered by air to Noël Coward in Jamaica. It's for his birthday."
The card that accompanied went unsigned. It said simply, "So what else is new?"
I gather that Noël's reaction was a rare blend of curiosity and pique. He didn't know where the little monster had come from until several months later -- on the evening that he brought the Duchess of Kent backstage and Leslie Bricusse fell downstairs to be presented.
But some correspondence that developed with Harrod's (to alligator, £6; to air freight, £25) led my maid to jump to some wrong conclusions. She quit and left a note which said, "Madam, I must leave you. I will not work where there are alligators. I would have mentioned this, but I did not think it would come up."