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A Taste of Love

Theodora FitzGibbon
Gill & Macmillan


In fact the winter wasn't long at all. The spectre of the 'other woman' was well and truly laid, mainly due to my being cast in the first play written by Anatole de Grunwald, later to become extremely well known in film circles as a producer. He was a gentle, slim, dark-haired man in his twenties; shy in manner, he nevertheless was able to make a point firmly when he wished. When he became successful during the war, he was kind and helpful, and got me several small parts in films. A charming companion, and one I would have liked to have seen more of, but the partner in my cosy love affair had taken a very jealous turn, and hated to let me out of his sight. This I found very tiring, so I wriggled out of that situation as gracefully as I could.

When I wasn't working in the theatre, I worked as a mannequin, as modelling was called then. The top mannequins were always almost six feet tall but, owing to having very slender legs and arms and a small head, I looked at least three inches taller than I was. I found being a mannequin very unsatisfactory after acting as I hadn't got a clothes-horse mentality. That is, until I found Ronald Traquair, a young Scotsman with a salon in Grosvenor Street.

A salon is just about all he had: the other rooms in which he lived were almost bare of furniture, and often there wasn't enough money to go round. This made the whole procedure much more interesting, and I really felt I had to sell the clothes for him. They were made of rich velvets, brocades and silks; they were beautiful and romantic, and I looked good in them. I only worked part-time for him, usually when he had an important client or when he had the money. Sometimes he would show his clothes at night, and I would rush from rehearsals to Grosvenor Street. John Gielgud and John Perry often brought clients to see the clothes. Afterwards, if the killing had been good, we would go out and buy a bottle of whisky for twelve shillings and sixpence, and come back and queen it in the downy-cushioned chairs of the salon, with the log fire burning discreetly; we were sometimes joined by the chief cutter, a dear little woman who was crippled, and who adored Traquair. He was very good looking, but wasn't a ladies man. Nevertheless we were very fond of each other.

On Grand National day 1939 I put ten shillings on Marmaduke Jinks which came home at fifty to one. I took Traquair out to dinner, and found I had plenty left to get to Paris for Easter. The fare was about three pounds, and one could live comfortably in Paris on five pounds a week. I never saw Traquair again, as he was killed in a car accident shortly afterwards.