Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January 17, 1936

Oh, good morning to you all, my darlings! I have been away too long. I really have no idea what I've been doing that has kept me from you; I subsist in a thick fog of ennui. Too dreadful.... But it is snowing here in this silly Portland - Oregon - and I do believe that this meteorological abnormality has lightened my mood a trifle bit. It is pretty, and as I have nothing whatsoever to do, of course, I'm just looking out the window and lolling about, feet up, on a pink damask-covered duchesse brisée, all cozy and warm, a satin eiderdown 'round my knees - can you picture it? Alyssia has brought me my tea, and I thought that this might be a good time to write to you all. You wouldn't mind, would you? Haha!

Hmmm, what to tell? Well, slightly more than a week ago the two of us - my dear Penny is visiting - were invited on a little trip, just for the day, up to Seattle. That's another city you've probably never heard of. It is in the American state directly north of this one. Seattle is quite nearly as dreary as the city in which I languish, but it is larger and, I am told, a bit more "cosmopolitan". Haha! Can you imagine? On the west coast of America? That is so very frantically humorous, I could surely weep! Oh, dear. Oh, dear....

Now, what was I saying? Oh, yes. I'm still a little vague on just who invited us. But I believe I told you, a few years ago, about a very confusing wedding that Penny and I attended? The setting and all just loaded with Chinoiserie? And we never saw the bride? Do you remember? Well, at any rate, it was those people, I'm quite sure, since we met again many of the same guests. They had hired out a full train car to accommodate us. Nearly forty, we were. The appointments were very nice; I do believe the seats were only leatherette, but still. And as all of us were to varying degrees acquainted, it was quite the party atmosphere. Quite jolly, really.

Now, of course, I couldn't completely blend, shall we say, into the crowd. When one is as celebrated as I, there must always be a certain reserve. An understanding, really, on both sides, to not become too familiar. It really doesn't do to let oneself get so "chummy" with strangers that one allows the appalling possibility of frankly inappropriate people ringing one up on the telephone and all. Thankfully, I've learnt to be quite skillful at keeping those not entirely desirable at an arm's length, whilst appearing quite convincingly natural and warm. It seems a beastly deception, but it really must be done.

Oh, goodness, I've forgotten my regular journal des modes! I must apologize that there is nothing but dreariness to impart. The weather - typically - was frightful, so Penny and I wore nothing at all that could be described as appealing. Penny had on a poor little brown tweed suit, nearly flat shoes, and a depressingly discrete hat that she could only have bought in that awful California. No fur at all; you know how she is, so sensitive. As if the poor furriers were making coats out of kittens! Really! A pair of chartreuse suede gloves were the only spectre of modishness in her entire toilette. I wore a grey wool suit that Patou sent out last year. (You see how it is? I'm wearing last years clothes....) And over that a very plain grey Persian karakul dolman-sleeved coat, with matching toque and muff. Sensible Schiaparelli grey suede bootees. Claret-colored velvet gloves. So you see, we were a very shabby pair. And the other ladies? - oh, well, it's really not worth mentioning.

As at the aforementioned nuptials, there were two fellows who seemed to be at the heart of the festivities. (I think that there may have been a birthday as causation for our little jaunt.) Again, I searched and searched for that elusive bride, one or another who might be our hostess, but came up short. There were several attractive women in our party but, it must be said, many of them could scarcely be described as "bride material", comme on dit? One doesn't think of a Mercedes de Acosta or a Radclyffe Hall as a bride, does one? Yes, I believe that they were ladies of that ilk, if you will understand my innuendo. I know I shouldn't say so, but it's true. Of course I am most tolerant and quite forgiving of people's personal bizarrerie, but that gets us no closer to discovering a bride. Or a hostess for our party. Oh, la!


Oh, yes. We had a lovely time on the train up, playing all sorts of silly American games and such. I did notice really the strangest thing, though: Nearly all the gentlemen wore beards. Which is most peculiar in this day and age, and really quite unfashionable. What could be the cause of this phenomenon? Are they members of some sort of club? I really couldn't fathom it, but there seemed no polite way to inquire after this collective perversity. Of course the weather was the extreme of uncongenial, otherwise I could easily imagine them garbed in sandals and drooping cotton garments. So perhaps they are Vegetarians.

When we arrived, the two gentlemen - bearded, comme les autres - led us out of the old station and down the street. Like a gaggle of ducklings! Haha! (Oh, dear, do ducks gaggle? I fear that's a goose's formation. What do ducks do, then? Oh, Nature is so very trying....) I must say it was very unusual to find myself walking on sidewalks and crossing at the intersections of the streets. I expect the logistics of carting about so many people at one time may have been daunting. But you'd think they would have made an effort to send 'round a car for me. (And Penny, too, of course; I didn't mean to slight her.) But perhaps our hosts felt it would bring out a bad feeling in the others if I were singled out for my accustomed and appropriate conveyance. I hardly think that would be a reasonable reaction, but I certainly wouldn't have wanted to "ruffle any feathers", as they say. I'm nothing if not accommodating and a good sport.

At any rate, we very soon arrived at a Chinese restaurant - toujours la chinoiserie! (Do you use chopsticks when you dine in a Chinese or Japanese restaurant, pets? I never do. I feel that, as I am the product of centuries of Western cultivation, my natural implement is a fork. Let les Orientales scoop and scrape with their charming little sticks, I must align with my heritage.) My nearest luncheon companions were two lovely ladies. Our cuisine was charming - in an Oriental manner, of course - but one lady found her food of insufficient heat, whilst the other found hers overpowering. I must admit I found it rather amusing. The first kept ladling on various fearsome looking reddish condiments, whilst the second spent considerable time daintily pulling red and green bits from her food, trying her best to pacify the chaleur. Even still, the accumulating heat began to take its toll, her upper lip damp with perspiration and her bosom rising and falling to a degree and frequency bordering on the unseemly. For a moment we thought she just might faint, poor thing, but she was brought a cold beverage and disaster was averted. Fortunate, that, since swooning ladies will most certainly mar the charm of a festive luncheon.

At the end of the meal, one of the two conspicuous gentleman - one of our hosts, I must presume - was brought 'round a large cake, and I was enlisted to lead the throng in that very familiar, tepid little birthday song. (It's very silly - and a bit presumptuous, really - to always be expected, at any old gathering, to lead off the singing; I'm not some parson's daughter-y choir mistress, am I?) I did my duty, sang out strong and clear and the others were mercifully in tune. Rather a miracle, that. Nice cake and such and, all told, a lovely luncheon.

We were to catch the return train after an hour or so but, as we had nothing really to do and because, honestly, I was afraid I might be too much recognized walking about the streets, Penny and I sat in a coffee shop - imagine that! - and drank coffee like good little folk. Quite the odd little interlude.

The trip back was quite as nice as the first. More little games and jollity. But I'm afraid the gentle swaying of the train carriage had a most lulling effect on this particular lady, your correspondent. At one point I had more than a bit of a struggle remaining awake. I barely averted a misstep, there. I hate to keep hammering away about how much of a burden my celebrity can ofttimes be, but one's appearance and behavior in public can be fraught with risk for someone like myself. Journalists lurk everywhere and one can never tell who might be waiting, camera in hand, for an unguarded, unflattering moment. What a disaster it would be, some morning, to open a newspaper only to find some wretched photo of myself drowsing on a train, gone slack all over, my mouth agape. Perhaps you may begin to understand a little of the many pitfalls with which my station has encircled me....

I'm happy to say that, when first we arrived back in Portland, the car was awaiting us. (I do believe I'll be quite happy with the new driver - what is his name? He's tall and looks divine in his uniform; as smooth and polished as a seal.) We gave the other guests the briefest possible farewells. I do hope we gave an impression of sincerity; we did rush through it all. I know it tells the truth of my character that, as Penny and I were whisked away toward home, I didn't even bother to look 'round to see if the others were safely off to wherever it is that they came from. And I really didn't care a fig that we were ahead of them all and out of the station first - their ruffling "feathers" be damned! Aren't I naughty! Oh, la!

Dear me, I have gone on, haven't I? And now I must rouse myself, finally. Miss Daphne, the great brute, is here for my massage. Will I survive it? Only time will tell the tale! Haha!

Until we meet again, mes enfants!

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12, 1936

Hellooo, my darlings! Oh, it has been so long; I cannot think why it has been thus. Well, I suppose I do fathom it, really. Because, you know, it's the most perverse thing, but it seems that the greater the boredom I am forced to endure, the less imagination I can conjure for even the simplest things. And believe me, pets, for months I've been languishing under the foulest cloud of quotidian ennui. But really, there's been nothing to tell - and never will be, as long as I rester à Portland. And let me tell you, though it is milder today, the weather has been beastly hot all the week past - a freakish variation on the dismal standard of this horrid locale. Oh, but it has been miserable! One can't even take proper nourishment in such weather; the last few days, I've subsisted on nothing but iced cocktails and cigarettes!

Oh, but what was it that I wished to tell you all...? Hmmm.... Oh, yes! I've been asked - begged, really - to perform at a charity function. I expect that they needed a bit of "star-power", as you Americans say. I have no idea what the performance is in support of, but no matter. Noblesse oblige, and all that. Penny is coming up from her silly, beloved Los Angeles to join me. No doubt she will be sunburnt* and brown as an Ethiopian, with savage hair and nails, comme d'habitude. Oh, but I tremble at the thought of her brows; it's always rather like trying to keep the wolves at bay! Haha! I know I shouldn't say it, but it's true!

Poor Penny. She gets this one "cosmetic challenge", shall we say, from her father, you know. My former spouse's antecedents were, at best, suspect. Now, he was handsome enough in his youth - yes, rather the visual allure that so obscured my judgement in matrimonial matters - but I was rather alarmed to encounter some of his oddly-shaped, very much less symmetrical relations. Not a straight line in the lot, and with brows that grew right up their foreheads. Penny gets most of her looks from my side of the family - grâce à Dieu - but one can never be too careful in these matters; one never can tell where one's heritage will pull a naughty joke, eh? So I constantly have to encourage her grooming; if I were to wax metaphorical, I would say that we all must be clever and constant gardeners of our beauty. And continuing down that metaphorical path, I might mention that the attractiveness of Pennys' father was a sadly short-lived bloom. Breeding will out, so they say, and a truer thing was never spoken: The last I saw of the wretched man, he'd gone quite the way of his bloodline, with great hedgerow brows and an aspect distinctly Picasso-esque.

Yes.... Now, what was I speaking of...? Oh, yes, our little concert de charité. Now, I'll tell you a secret, my darlings, if you promise not to tell...? Something that could only be told by someone of my celebrity, someone who travels in the rarefied world that I inhabit. It is this: As long as it is a reasonably respectable cause, we famous people - I suppose there's no more graceful way to phrase that - will agree to appear at almost anything. Isn't that funny? Haha! No, none of us care a fig about what it has been created to raise money for. It matters not if it's for sickly children or people starving in some ghastly corner of some dreary country. No, if we are asked, we generally go. I suppose it is just what we do....

Oh, and now here is Alyssia with the tea. It is quite a bit early, I know, but I have had such a craving for a nice cup of tea now that the temperature has lowered a bit. I couldn't think of it 'til now; I'm not one of those mad dogs and Englishmen that my dear Noël sings about. Oh la!

Ah, now I really must say Good Day!

À bientôt mes enfants!

* I know I've spoken to you all previously on the foolishness of sunbathing. I'll never forgive my darling Patou for concocting his Huile de Chaldée several years hence; I do believe it helped legitimize a craze that might otherwise have sensibly faded away. And now, whenever the sun makes the most timid, little peek from out a bank of clouds, all the silly ladies come frolicking out, wretchedly déshabillée, slathered in oil. Could anything be less dignified?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22, 1936

Oh, isn't it appalling! Yesterday was the first day of summer - there was a bit of sun, but the weather was mediocre, all told - and then today has dawned an awful, steely gray; the weather here is frightful! Oh, how it sets my nerves on knife-edge. If only I were better rested I might be able to bear it better.... You see, I have beastly neighbors in the flat above * who are always making the most jangling racket at all hours of the night, and disturbing my sleep.

You'll not believe it, but it seems they are Indians! No, not the ones with feathers, the Imperial sort, shall we say. Really, I don't know what they're doing here. I've not seen them, and I've no idea whether they be high Indians of low Indians. I doubt they'd be Maharajas or Maharanis, or what have you, living here in Portland - what a silly thought! Ha-ha! But, at any rate, that very odd caste system they have over there is more than I could ever decipher. Who may speak with whom, what one wears on one's head, where one bathes and all that - it's most perverse and confounding. Which reminds me, I've always wanted to know: do "Untouchables" get to touch each other? Hmmm? Are they even permitted to touch themselves? I do hope it's not that severe. That would be too beastly; as it is, I feel very sorry for the poor wretches. How awful to go about being called "untouchable". How would you like to be called - right to your face - "unwatchable" or "unbearable" or even "unsmellable"? If nothing else, it's simply the worst manners! India is a part of the British empire, after all, so why do we put up with such barbaric rudeness? Something should be done. We're usually so good at ameliorating the unkind impulses of the colonials. Very exasperating...I'm sorry, what was I saying...?

Oh, yes, there are these two who live above. There seems to be one of each sex. I must assume they are a married couple - do Hindoos and such marry the way we do? I'm afraid I don't know that either.... Hmmm? What? Oh...well, ever since they've been living proximately, I can - far more than occasionally - hear their muffled arguments. Such a very vulgar thing to do, shout and carry on so the neighbors will hear you. And far, far worse than that, I often hear their muffled cries of passion. You can imagine my horror. I can think of nothing less attractive, nothing more sick-making, than the sound of other people in the throes of passion, indulging their animalistic desires. I suppose most of humankind will visit that "bestial realm", shall we call it, from time to time - it is necessary, I suppose, to some extent - but it is so very low. And at the very least, one must insure one's absolute discretion and privacy. Well, I'll not speak of it further. I really couldn't say more. I shouldn't have said anything in the first place, of course. So, so distressing....

Now, I'm not the sort to interfere. And I certainly need no petty residential complications. But after this had gone on for some time, I was forced to alert the management of this outrageous intrusion, which was ruining my peace of mind, my sleep, and driving me quite mad with revulsion! They apologized fulsomely, but said there was nothing to be done. Nothing to be done! There are silly laws, if you can believe it, that prevent any sensible intercession. All about "personal freedom" and other such nonsense, no doubt. But what of good manners, what of the simplest courtesy?! It does so boggle the mind. American's fair-mindedness is pitched so high, whilst their standards of behavior are so very low.

Honestly, things have been a bit better of late. Perhaps the management discretely advised them of my complaints after all. And I'm quite certain I've not been the only neighbor to express distress. Now, as I said, I've never come face to face with either of them. But it is certainly possible that, meeting other respectable tenants in the vestibule, they've been cut dead, and have begun to wise-up, as the Americans say.

But then, Saturday evening last, they threw a very noisy party. Quite horrific, the din. They had some sort of squalling Jazz band, with dancing long, long into the night. On and on it went. I had ingested a soporific, and then another, in an agonizing fear of failing to sleep. And I'd put a recording of a Mozart serenade on the gramophone - the duller Mozart can be so very soothing - all to no effect. I always keep a bottle of my dear Veuve chilled - as any sensible, civilized person will, ha-ha! - and, since a few glasses will make me so deliciously droopy, I uncorked and quaffed lavishly. Though I did begin to feel a bit dizzy and existentially vague, still sleep would not come.

I can't imagine who were their guests - awful people, to be sure - but the sound of them! In my deepening delirium I conjured lurid visions of enormous, clumsy acrobats; elephantine, toothy debutantes; and Shetland ponies - yes, ponies - wearing tap-shoes, all flinging themselves about in a great, spasmodic devil-dance. (Actually, I attended a demonstration of Indian ethnic dance once, years ago and, I must say, it did rather have that aspect....)

I was really quite fearsome for the forbearance of the floorbeams. Such ominous creaking. At wits end, I did a rather foolish - but ultimately effective - thing. I've saved one of Mama's walking sticks - Edwardian, you know, quite glamorous, with a pretty Fabergé handle - and have it leant up in a corner of my chambre, as a bit of décor, you could say. Well, in a great fit of pique - blind rage, really - though rather wobbly on my feet, I grabbed Mama's stick and started pounding recklessly upon the ceiling. I thrashed about until everything above went silent. After a few moments I was able to discern a good deal of grumbly muttering, and then a great shuffling headed in the direction of their door. Presently, calm reigned, the moon shone upon the counterpane, and I collapsed upon my divan, there to enjoy the "rest of the dead", comme on dit.

A very common display on my part but, as I say, effective. The foolish part, you ask? Fabergé objets de vertu were never meant to be used in battle or as tools for unplanned apartment renovation - oh, la! Though it gave the ceiling plaster a good bit of a gouging, the cane handle came through it all only slightly depressed. But the large cabochon sapphire at the hilt had been knocked out. Alyssia has been looking for it ever since, so that I may have it repaired, but to no avail. Mama would be quite cross to know of my behavior and the damage inflicted upon her lovely possession. Ah, but she could never imagine the rough world I inhabit. Oh, the coarseness one must endure. C'est triste, très triste....

À bientôt, my darlings!

* Yes, you will ask why should I ever reside anywhere but on the top floor of any given building, the penthouse, even? Well, my darlings this will be instructive to you: When I was looking about for a temporary residence in this dreary city - "temporary"; the heart-wrenching irony of that word! - I was assured that this was the place to put up. Even though there was an available apartment on the top floor, I was assured by the management that the suite of rooms I currently occupy would prove more congenial - quieter, the better view, warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, - and this had proved, for the most part, to be the case. It really is the nicest thing. So, there is a lesson for you, pets. Always strive after, always acquire, the best, not merely the most impressive. Quality trumps allure, you will see. Quality will out. Always remember that!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 19, 1936

Oh, la! The sun is shining - bright and glorious - Spring cannot be far behind, can it? Oh, I do say, I'm completely withered and wan, having had to endure this beastly Winter, here in beastly Portland. Cold and damp and grey, cold and damp and grey, with no relief at all. And it isn't even ever a nice, dramatic sort of awful: no blizzards or floods or killer pea-soupers. No it's all a mezza voce sort of awful, so who could ever enjoy that, I ask you?

But perhaps I shan't expire just yet: I visited my lawyer* this fine, sunny morning, as there were ridiculous residency papers and such that needed signing - as if I actually wanted to stay here, mouldering away as I am. Upon returning to my hotel Albert, my driver, opened the door to the automobile and, as I stepped forth onto the carpeted threshold, I spied a thin strip of earth along down beside the sidewalk. And I swear to you, my darlings, there were several happy clutches of daffodils ranged there, fairly tall, their buds fattening. I can't begin to tell you what a great, silly thrill it gave me! Soon they'll all be popping open. Then the bluebells. Then, soon enough, the lilacs. And peonies. A silly American acquaintance of mine swears she's already seen croci sticking up their vulgar heads. But I do so loathe the pushy little crocus, the candy-coloured mushroom of the floral world. Tasteless people always claim them to be the harbinger of Spring, but I think the little show-offs best ignored; truly, I always avert my eyes. Daffodils and narcissi are the true heralds of the earth's rebirth. Why, they even have little trumpet-shaped centres - oh, I'd never thought of that before. Oh...haha!

I shan't have Alyssia lay out my new bathing costume** just yet, of course, but I do expect I'll need my sun shades when I go out to tea. Marvelous!

À bientôt, my darlings!

* I know - I know - you will not begin to fathom why I should have gone to him, when he should have called on me. What sort of a lawyer has a lady come to his office, much less one so elevated, shall we say, as I? Well, the dear fellow fell down a flight of stairs, Wednesday last, and twisted a leg nearly round his neck, poor wretch. So I only thought it kind, just this once, to go to him.

** By Patou. Yes, we have reconciled. And not a moment too soon; the nouveauté of la Schiaparelli was beginning to pall. Only so much trompe-l'œil and only so many unexpected animal bits can be incorporated into any given toilette before one is forced to ponder if one appears just a trifle too...fantastic.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 13, 1936

Hello, my darlings! I suppose you all know that Patou and I have had a falling out; these things do get about whenever I am involved. So tiresome that I don't even like to speak of it. Let me only say that is was on account of a frock - well, of course it was!

Early last Spring I ordered a lovely pink organdy. Yards and yards of pleated ruffles. My poor Alyssia nearly fainted at the very prospect of having to iron the gorgeous thing. Haha! It was just the thing to wear to tea at the Lido - does anyone do the Lido, anymore? Hmmm.... At any rate, soon after my order was placed I received a frantic transatlantic cablegram from the great artist himself. And, do you know, that fine fellow Patou had the indelicacy to intimate that I might be a bit too mature for pink ruffled organdy. Mature? Mature!? I have no idea what he could have meant; I've never looked a day over twenty-five. Well...as long as I get loads of rest and have the certain attentions I require. Even when I've been out too much, too late, wretched and debauched, really, I don't look more than thir- twenty-nine. But really, it was his tone; I simply could not bear his tone! So, I said adieu, Patou and have decamped to Schiaparelli.

I've been longing for more of her delicious things, anyhow. You know I've just never got over the loss of that Schiaparelli hat I so loved. The one with the zebra hoof? At this remove, I can only surmise that some dreadful housemaid, here in the hotel, pinched it; you have to be so careful these days.... Oh, but I'm just beaten all of heap by the new evening gown that Schiap just sent over. (If you know her as I do, you may call her "Schiap"; isn't that too sweet?!)

It's a pale silver moiré, snug to the thighs, gathered at the back into a train, with the sweetest little peplum at hip-level. The bodice is nearly non-existent, just little strippy strappy things here and there; I don't know how it manages to stop short of complete scandal! Haha! The trimming is so very clever: There is a marvelous fox head mounted right onto the left bosom, its mouth agape. And all running down the front of the gown are little yellow chicks, done in the most exquisite embroidery, sequins and feathers. When one walks, and the skirt billows out, the little chicks look as though they're fleeing for there very lives - ingenious, really. Oh, and spilling out of the fox's mouth is the most gorgeous tassel composed of bright red paillettes, garnet beads, and yellow marabou. Isn't that just too, too darling?!

To be worn with a full-length fox cape and a bonnet that looks rather like a whole, well...well, like a whole chicken - but terribly chic - Schiaparelli has dubbed this toilette Le Renard joyeux. And I can tell you, I'm just as happy as the silly fox to have it!

Alas...where I shall wear such a magnificent - work of art! - in this dreary Portland, I DO NOT KNOW! The most heavenly frocks, the most refined sensibilities, yet I languish. I know you feel my suffering, mes enfants. Ah, well.... I must cast off my woes and do my very best to be happy - like that sweet little fox head upon my bosom! Oh, la!

À bientôt, you sweet, marvelous people!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 28, 1936

I just read in the papers today that Marina, Duchess of Kent, is going to have another baby. How dear. It's rather the royal business to turn out rosy, lace-frilled poppets at regular intervals, but I hope it doesn't spoil her figure overly. I met darling Marina in Paris a few years ago, before her marriage to Georgie. She's just the sweetest, most charming thing. And I was quite happily surprised to find that she speaks perfect English. I rather expected she'd have some appallingly vulgar Greek accent. Something bleating and goat-like.

But I really don't know why I should be surprised, as the Greek royals aren't a drop Greek. Not a drop! Danish, don't you know. And more than a bit German. And then, Marina's mother is Russian, of course. Princess Nicholas was born a grand duchess; a big one, not a little one. But the Russians aren't even Russian. German! Our royals are dreadfully German, as well, though, since the war, we don't like to speak of it. Why is it, when one gives a royal a bit of a scrub, they always turn up German underneath? German, German, German. Oh, I know we shouldn't care; we aren't supposed to still be cross with the Boche, since they did lose the war and all, and they were so beastly poor after, feeding rats to their children and that sort of thing. But they've not got it too bad now, have they? I ask you? That horrid, shrieking Hitler fellow has everything fixed up quite proper, doesn't he? But I mean, really...!

Hmmm? Oh...now where was I...? Hmmm.... Oh, yes darling Marina! And Georgie. I knew him before his marriage as well. It must be said that he was a bit more fun then - gay, insouciant - but he did need settling down before things came completely unhinged. And Marina is an angel and so stunningly beautiful. It is a disappointment about her bloaty ankles and feet. But all the Greek princesses are cursed with bloaty ankles and feet. It's really a blessing they all have those glorious Madonna-like faces; it's the most marvelous diversion!

Time for my massage; my frightful Miss Daphne is straining at her chains! Haha!

À bientôt, my darlings!

Friday, September 10, 2010

September 10, 1936

Oh, my darlings, I have been away so very long - months, is it? Can it be? Yes, months! I cannot begin to tell you the things I have endured since then; no, I really cannot! Perhaps at some time in the future when I am emotionally, spiritually stronger, I may be able to do so. But not now, my darlings, not today....

All my plans for returning home to London went awry, horribly - horribly - awry. There's been just the most beastly bash up between Ivor and Noël. But I shan't go into it...no. They both wanted - demanded really - that I star in their new productions, and I found myself brutally crushed betwixt them; how could I be expected to choose? How could anyone? Oh, I really can't even speak of it. What a hideous position in which to find oneself. A star - just a simple artist, really - fought over by those two geniuses, those titans of the theatre. What great screaming rows and floods of tears I have endured. Oh, ghastly...ghastly...! But please, please do not ask me to speak of it!

So you see, after all, my darlings, that I am still here, languishing in this very silly Oregon. And since I do reste ici, the invitations will still keep flooding in. I can never get away from all of that. Ah, yes, popularity.... It can be so taxing. But I did go to the most charming fête nuptiale last evening. It was held at a lovely Chinese garden here in Portland; who would think they would have such a thing? The weather has been appalling all week, so I rather feared for the poor bride; finding oneself a sodden mass of taffeta and tulle on one's wedding day can make one really quite cross! Haha! But the weather was benign and the evening most mild.

The garden is all built round a pond with bridges and terraces looping this way and that, dripping with chinoiserie. It's all rather on top of itself but in the most charming manner and everything was admirably arranged; there was a pavillon for drink, deux pavillons for food, even a pavillon for the eventual cutting of the gâteau de noce. Blessedly, we weren't forced to remove our shoes, which I find the most beastly nuisance. Oh...but perhaps that's only a Japanese custom. I'm not sure; one can hardly be blamed for being confused about all this Oriental business. It's all so very irregular.

There were all manner of lovely places to pose or sit, to drink and dine. The champagne was not quite my dear Veuve Clicquot. It was Italian, if you can believe it - I had no idea such a thing existed - but at least it wasn't domestic and so I am not suffering from it today! I have no idea what we dined upon. None at all. But I expect it was something Chinese, of course. It was all quite vague and mysterious and not like proper food at all, but really quite surprisingly delicious. Though one does feel more secure with identifiable food - and it's sure to wreak havoc with my dainty English digestion. But how funny and whimsical: chopsticks at a wedding! Oh, la!

They hired the most remarkable musician who played throughout the evening. He sawed away on some sort of strange object: a gourd, a stick, and a few little strings. Very eerie and, well, Oriental, I suppose. It was the sort of thing one might assume to be migraine-inducing, but I found it very, very lovely. Made me long to throw myself upon a silken divan and smoke opium! Haha! Though, when he swung his way into a very languid version of Danny Boy, I'm afraid I was a bit alarmed. The Irish may be rather pushy, certainly, but I can't believe they've made it all the way to China! Oh....

I must admit to a bit of a gaffe: I was not properly attired. No. This being Portland - Oregon! - I assumed it best not to dress to quite the degree instructed by the invitation. Here, one is forever endeavoring to dress as well as warranted by the occasion and, inevitably, coming up over-dressed; it has been most embarrassing! So I chose a sweet, summery little frock by an English couturier. You don't know him. Bright pea-green crêpe de Venise with white marjolaines embroidered round the neck and down the sleeves, and a wide flounce of mousseline de soie. Right as I was leaving for the wedding, I had a mad bit of inspiration and pinned a bunch of wildflowers at the corsage - oh, I did look pretty! Really, I did! Hardly any jewelry - when I have so much to choose from - I was, then, a nearly Pre-Raphaelite vision. A full-blown late-summer vision; I might have been crowned with sheaves of wheat! Oh, la! And then, wouldn't you just guess, all the other lady-guests trotted in with long gloves and all their best jewelry! The full fig! Imagine my horror, my chagrin. My only consolation was that I really did look so charming and fresh. And to be completely honest with you - as I must be - when you're as famous as I, much is necessarily forgiven. Penny has been visiting from beastly Los Angeles and accompanied me. She was - as always - less calculating in these matters and, therefore, fortuitously, chose a more appropriate toilette. Shell-pink organdy and pearls. And, of course, the delightful fraîcheur of youth; she looked terribly pretty. Now that her brows have once again been brought to heel.

The ceremony itself was held in the largest pavillon and was very touching; everyone weeping and smiling and weeping and laughing and weeping. Oh, most enjoyable. We sat rather near the back. My celebrity can be such a distraction, of course, so I do try as best I can to lurk about in the background at any normal gathering. But the distance may have been the cause for my muddle about what actually transpired. Because I never managed to catch a glimpse of the bride. Imagine that! There were all sorts of lovely people up front, on the dais, as it were. A few, dear older ladies at one side. Certainly not brides. No.... One very nice lady who was got up in a pretty green costume; she may have been Chinese - I don't know - but a bride, I think not. And another charming lady, quite chic in brown satin. But brown is never a color for a bride, not even the most scandalous remarrying divorcée. There were two gentlemen who got up and went on for quite some time, one really rather jolly and the other very sniffly. I have no idea what they were speaking about, but they seemed very, very serious and emotional, so perhaps they were related to the bride in some way. But where was she? I was so very disappointed. I do hope she managed to have a pretty gown, at least - something imported....

We had more of the Italian champagne - I suppose it isn't champagne if it's not French, but what is it, then? - and some very pretty and delicious cake. Penny was frightfully filled up with all that funny Chinese food - she hasn't any sense where her appetites are concerned, and always overindulges - so she begged me to finish her little bit of cake. I thought it only polite that I should....

It was all very nice and refreshing - one always so enjoys a good weep! Haha! And I'm certainly feeling in a most Oriental mood this day! I wouldn't dare to eat any more of that extraordinary cuisine, and don't expect I'd find any opium to smoke, not round these parts - oh, la! - so I think I'll have my little Malaysian come round and give me a nice bright red nail varnish instead! Oh, yes, lovely!

Goodbye for now, my dearest darlings!

PS - I never did find my Schiaparelli hat...!

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19, 1936

Have you seen my Schiaparelli hat? I'm still packing, and I simply cannot find it. You know which one I mean: the lacquered sharkskin one? Lovely shade of eau de nil, crowned with a great, long tuft of yellow marabou and a zebra hoof over the left ear? Oh, please do tell me if you find it. I adore that hat; I just must have it!