My mother's cousin, who is called Gefen, was a great friend of Vasa Prihoda, which always makes Mutti see red, believing as she does that Prihoda was a dreary old Fascist. Some people think he should be forgiven, as he was greater than Heifetz. Some people (Mutti) think he should have been made to pay for abandoning Alma Rose to her fate, and that he is partly to blame for her memory being traduced in the way it is. By 11.00 am, they were at loggerheads; by 12 noon, not on speakers, but then I appeared like Grace Darling in Gestuz, to steer them safely through the churning seas of mutual loathing and the dangerous tides of contested bequests (my grandfather's last will and testament 1979). I took them straightway to the SW9 Bar at the end of Dorrell Place, and I absolutely insist that you go there the next time you are in that begrimed purlieu. It is enchanting, no, really, it is. I know that the mealymouthed will send up their whining ways: But it's a gay bar, Mrs Pouncer! Yes, it is, and for that I thank the good Lord on high, for there is nowhere more suitable for battling old Yekkes than a backstreet dive run by unrepentant homosexualists. Mine host took in the vibe at a glance, rammed us onto a faux-moquette banquette and had his bill o'fare out on the table in one flourish. It was to sigh. Mutti and Gefen had Eggs Benedict and a bottle of Hock. I had a White Russian, two glasses of Soave and a confit of Landais duck liver.
The two old harpies were delighted with the lavatories - unisex, admittedly, but stinking of gardenia - and by the high standards of cleanliness throughout. Gefen boldly suggested to the barman that his presentation could be improved by using doilies. I wish you could've seen our waiter's tan! Later, I got him by the Gaggia and asked his secret. Expecting him to say "Gozo: the wages of sin", he let me into a breathtaking confidence. You hardly need reminding that I am bedeviled with sallowness; I appear permanently liverish, and have to anoint myself daily with fake tan so as people don't think I've given my pall-bearers the slip. I always use Institut Esthederm Sun Sheen Intense but Victor (my new friend) recommends Famous Dave's Tanning Mousse (Deeply Darkly shade). Boy, does it deliver! Google it now and order as much as you can. Within minutes you will have the look of an advanced Addison's Disease patient. Who could ask for more?
We left at about three-thirty, all smiles, no more pijaw about Prihoda, all agreeing that Dr Mengele was a malevolent old murderer. The point is that Alma Rose was not the bullying martinet of popular depiction. She believed, with some justification, that if her orchestra was not up to standard, Mengele would have them gassed. That is why she kept them practising even when they were tumbling off their chairs with tiredness. It would have been impossible to live through such a ghastly situation and not go mad, although Mengele had the advantage of being mad already.
What a cheeful lunchtime discourse, to be sure! Let me end on a lighter note: do look out for Peter Jensen's Chanel-alike cardi-jackets for next season, and Karen Millen's giraffe-print dresses. If you can afford it, an Alexander Wang contrast shift will help you through the summer/autumn transition. Everyone should have at least one of these key pieces by September, or be irredeemably frumpy.