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Cocktail Hour with Margot

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posted by alias raaen99 on Sunday 14th of March 2021 09:15:28 AM

Cavendish Mews is a smart set of flats in Mayfair where flapper and modern woman, the Honourable Lettice Chetwynd has set up home after coming of age and gaining her allowance. To supplement her already generous allowance, and to break away from dependence upon her family, Lettice has established herself as a society interior designer, so her flat is decorated with a mixture of elegant antique Georgian pieces and modern Art Deco furnishings, using it as a showroom for what she can offer to her well heeled clients. Today Lettice is entertaining her friend Marguerite de Virre, whom she has invited for cocktails to celebrate Marguerite’s engagement to Richard ‘Dickie’ Channon. Both Marguerite and Dickie are great friends of Lettice and are part of her ‘Embassy Club Set’ who enjoy the highlights of London restaurants and nightlife. The two ladies have opted for gin and tonics with a slice of lemon for cocktail hour as Edith, Lettice’s maid, places a plate of freshly made savories on the drawing room’s black japanned coffee table for them to enjoy. “Thank you Edith,” Lettice says politely. “That will be all.” “Yes Miss.” the maid replies as she quietly retreats to the service area of the flat. “Well, soon-to-be Mrs. Dickie Channon, you look very pleased with yourself.” “And why shouldn’t I be, darling? I’ve finally won the young man I’ve been pining over for the last four years.” “So, tell me, dear Margot!” Lettice enthuses as she pours a good slug of gin into Marguerite’s highball glass. “Tell you what, Lettice?” “Now don’t pretend to be coy with me, Margot,” Lettice scolds as she adds a lesser amount of tonic water to Marguerite’s glass from the syphon and garnishes it with a slice of lemon. “Tell me everything! Was it romantic?” “Well of course it was romantic! It did happen in a private dining room at Claridges.” She accepts the proffered glass from Lettice. “I suspected what was to come as soon as I saw the red roses on the table.” “More like hoping, don’t you mean Margot? You’ve been waiting for this for an age. Anyway, I imagine the private dining room gave you more of an inkling than the table arrangement.” “Mmmm… maybe.” Marguerite muses, sipping her drink. “What did Dickie order for you?” “French champagne, darling. What else?” “Oh, that goes without saying.” Lettice remarks with a wave of her hand. “No, I mean what did you have to eat?” “Well, it was such a shame! My stomach was so full of butterflies with anticipation that I barely ate a thing! We had seafood bisque, crown of lamb with mind jelly, mashed potato nests and green peas, salad romaine, and the proposal came just after the raspberry ice with cream arrived.” “Don’t tell me your engagement ring was buried in the raspberry ice!” Lettice laughs. “Oh you!” Marguerite giggles, flapping her hand with her brilliant cut diamond engagement ring on her ring finger at her friend. “You do say some preposterous things sometimes! I’m trying to be serious!” “I’m sorry Margot, darling.” She runs a hand before her face, as if wiping the impish smile from her face as she tries to look dour as the corners of her mouth curl upwards slightly with mirth. “Alright. Serious now.” “That’s better,” Marguerite approves as she settles back into the comfortable rounded back of her tub chair. “Then I’ll continue.” “Did he get down on one knee to propose?” Lettice asks excitedly before her friend can say a word. “Well, I was just going to tell you that, darling.” “And was it wonderful?” “Too wonderful for words, darling. Dickie’s hopeful face with flushed cheeks framed by his gorgeous golden locks: his sparkling blue eyes full of trepidation. It was more than I could have wished for.” Marguerite places a hand dramatically on her collar bone as a wistful look softens her features. “And when I said yes and flung my arms about his neck, he wrapped his arms about my waist, jumped up and spun me round in his arms!” She toys with the strand of pearls draped about her neck and down her front. “I nearly sent the table setting flying with my slippers. It really was too thrilling, darling!” “Oh how divine, Margot darling!” Lettice enthuses. “It sounds just like one of my novels, when the hero proposes to the heroine.” “You’ve been reading too many of those romantic novels.” Marguerite chides Lettice, eyeing two books sitting on the table next to her host. “We need to get you reading that new writer Agatha Christie’s murder mystery novel, ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’*. It’s a murder mystery with a Belgian detective. Quite good really.” “Oh, what else do I have except romantic novels, Margot darling? The war killed so many eligible bachelors.” “Lest we never forget them and their sacrifice.” Margot raises her glass. “Indeed,” Lettice raises her glass in reply. “Lest we never forget them.” A sad silence settles upon the two young women momentarily, as they become lost in their own thoughts about their friends who didn’t return home from Flanders fields. “I suppose Dickie wouldn’t have been such an attractive match to your parents if Harry hadn’t died at Ypres.” “God bless Harry!” Marguerite raises her glass again. “God bless Harry!” Lettice raises her glass in reply. “Nevertheless, a second son with no title and only a tiny allowance. Your parents would never have agreed to Dickie as a match.” “I would have married him anyway, even if Mummy and Daddy hadn’t approved.” “Now who sounds like a romantic novel heroine?” “Well it’s true Lettice,” Marguerite insists. “I would have. I don’t care about titles and all that rot like Mummy and Daddy do. I loved Dickie before he had a title.” “Still, it does make Dickie a more desirable match for their only daughter when he will one day be the fourth Marquess of Taunton.” “Oh, that’s ages away yet, darling! Let us enjoy the bloom of young love and a bit of recklessness before we become enveloped in managing the estate, looking after the tenants’ complaints and opening the county agricultural show.” “I think you’ll make a very good lady bountiful, Marguerite.” Lettice giggles. “Spare me!” Marguerite rolls her eyes to the ceiling. “Still, at least one nice result of Dickie now being heir is that his father is giving us a country house in Cornwall.” “Oh really?” “Yes. Well, it was to have been Harry’s, but,” she pauses. “Anyway, it’s a Regency house called ‘Chi an Treth’.” “Chi an what?” “’Chi an Treth’. It’s Cornish for ‘beach house’. Apparently, it overlooks a rather secluded cove.” “It sounds heavenly, Margot darling.” “I think so too. I’m told it’s not overly large, a cottage residence really, with only six bedrooms and one suite of formal rooms, but it does have a reception room which Dickie tells me will be suitable for entertaining. I think that will suit Dickie and I quite nicely as a country retreat when we want to get out of London.” “Country house parties?” “Of course, Lettice darling!” Marguerite takes another sip of her gin and tonic. “You must come, of course.” “Of course.” “Oh, thinking of, ‘of course’,” Marguerite adds with an awkward tone. “I’m sorry to tell you darling, but I can’t have you as a bridesmaid. Mummy has told me that I must share that honour amongst my dreaded country cousins. Such a bore!” “Oh, don’t worry, Margot darling.” Lettice tries hard not to show the delight on her face at the thought of not having to wear a bridesmaid’s dress at Marguerite and Dickie’s wedding. “I’d already prepared myself for that news. I’ll be happy just to stand in a pew of the chapel and watch you and Dickie get married.” *'The Mysterious Affair at Styles' was the first novel published by successful murder mystery novelist, Agatha Christie. Written in the middle of the Great War in 1916, it was published in 1920, and was the first novel to introduce Hercule Poirot. This 1920s upper-class domestic scene is different to what you may think, for it is made up entirely of 1:12 size dollhouse miniatures including items from my own childhood. Fun things to look for in this tableaux include: The bottle of Gordon’s Dry Gin, the syphon and the glasses are all 1:12 artisan miniatures. All are made of real glass, as is the green tinged glass comport behind the bottles. The bottle of gin came from a specialist stockist in Sydney. The comport, the syphon and hors d‘oeuvres were all supplied by Beautifully Handmade Miniatures in Kettering. The porcelain ice bucket and tongs was made by M.W. Reutter Porzellanfabrik in Germany, who specialise in making high quality porcelain miniatures. The black Bakelite and silver telephone is a 1:12 miniature of a model introduced around 1919. It is two centimetres wide and two centimetres high. The receiver can be removed from the cradle, and the curling chord does stretch out. In front of it sit two paperback novels from the 1920s created by Shepherd’s Miniatures in England. The vase of red roses on the Art Deco occasional table is beautifully made by hand by the Doll House Emporium. The furled umbrella is a 1:12 artisan piece made of silk, satin and lace with a tiny pink bow. It has a hooked metal handle. Lettice’s drawing room is furnished with beautiful J.B.M. miniatures. The black japanned wooden chair is a Chippendale design and has been upholstered with modern and stylish Art Deco fabric. The mirror backed back japanned china cabinet is Chippendale too. On its glass shelves sit pieces of miniature Limoges porcelain including jugs, teacups and saucers, many of which I have had since I was a child. To the left of the Chippendale chair stands a blanc de chine Chinese porcelain vase, and next to it, a Chinese screen. The Chinese folding screen I bought at an antiques and junk market when I was about ten. I was with my grandparents and a friend of the family and their three children, who were around my age. They all bought toys to bring home and play with, and I bought a Chinese folding screen to add to my miniatures collection in my curio cabinet at home! It shows you what a unique child I was. The carpet beneath the furniture is a copy of a popular 1920s style Chinese silk rug. The geometric Art Deco wallpaper is beautiful hand impressed paper given to me by a friend, which inspired the whole “Cavendish Mews – Lettice Chetwynd” series.

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  • Published 11.28.22
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