Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Three Notes on an Ill-Spent Life

The Dook and his Duchess arrive in Manhattan, October 22, 1941.  If there was a war on, you wouldn't know it...

As usual, Mr. Lerman has something to contribute:

December 7, 1986:  Pat Hodge said that she knows a woman who shared her gynecologist.  That woman said that the gyno had also been Mrs. Simpson's, and that Mrs. Simpson's sexual power over the king had been her power to "make a matchstick feel like a cigar."  With a band on it?  Did Mrs. Simpson collect cigar bands?  Line dishes with them?

March 22 1987:  I held some of Mrs. Simpson's jewels in my hands:  good stones, well cut and made, but no fantasy, no beauty in the design.  These are the very expensive baubles of an expensive, surprisingly constant woman.  Rich women in Grosse Point, Locust Valley, and Palm Beach could have had them.  They do not compare to high Renaissance, eighteenth-century, or Second Empire jewels.  A woman said to a man, as they peered at two feathers, one made of rubies, one of diamonds, each of small quill-pen dimensions:  "I know what I could do with that on a simple dress."  And that sums up Mrs. Simpson's rewards.

April 4, 1987:  The Duchess of Windsor's common jewels brought $50 million, with some $40 million going to the Pasteur Institute.  How fitting that the duchess's tight ass should bring this bounty to the "relief" of AIDS research.

"I know what I could do with that on a simple dress."  The entire vacant, pointless lives of these two reduced to a single sentence, one so cutting that neither the woman who uttered it nor the one who inspired it would really understand why it's so damning...


  1. Vera Hruba RalstonOctober 23, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    Two lives devoted to the full pursuit of the trivial. But as dear Noel observed, in the end she was a great gift to the British people, for she spared them from the reign of Edward VIII.

  2. oh dear. Grandmother Liggett viewed her as quite the role model. Over the years she mimicked the hair, the fashion and the jewellery (mostly in costume form). We got the general attitude as well, however she DID exceed Mrs S in spouses.

  3. Actually that little tidbit about the matchstick/cigar would confirm that rumour about the Duchess having learned her partigular skills in a Chinese brothel; she in fact spent a year or so in Shanghai, staying with rich friends; no doubt the higher-end prostitutes/hostesses would have been intrigued by her, and would certainly have shared their particular skills! I can confirm that such a skill was certainly part of any high-end Chinese courtesan's repertoire, even at that late date! .

  4. What an interesting choice of words: "surprisingly constant". Mr. Lerman was certainly incisive.

    1. I'm so glad you caught that - a wonderful little twist just thrown in there. It's the kind of offhandedly brilliant writing that informs the whole book.

      Given how much other writing Lerman did - reviews, essays, etc. - I wish there were a collection of his journalism. Probably less revealing/bitchy/funny, but doubtless good stuff of its time.

    2. Each of the entries you quoted has its rewards. The cigar bands, of course -- covertly salacious; the remark about her constancy; and the offhand "common jewels", which reminded me of a striving soubrette I worked with in years long gone who claimed she never wore "costume jewelry", saying "all my stones are real".

      What it must have been like to converse with this man . . .

  5. That “matchstick” crack certainly says something about the Duke!