Bette Davis Eyes. May 2018.

Dear Rowley,

As you know, I am gaga for Marilyn Monroe and a huge Judy Garland fan. For me, Judy had the voice of the 20th century. But it is to another diva I increasingly turn to as I race through my forties: Bette Davis. I am re-watching the fabulous, flirty interview with Dick Cavett where Bette really is in the prime of her life. It is worth a watch if only for Bette’s filthy cackle of a laugh.

Bette was not considered a beauty when she left the stage for Warner Brothers in the 1930s. Jack Warner even wanted to rename her Anita Doors. Bette said no because she’s be known as ‘between the drawers’. So Bette Davis she stayed. Bette’s Now Voyager, Dark Victory, All About Eve and The Little Foxes are in my top ten movies of all time.

Bette was the first choice to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind but was on suspension for taking Jack Warner to court in the cause of better parts. When he offered her  Gone with the Wind, Bette replied ‘I’ll be it’s a dillie!’ and flounced out. It was one of the very few mistakes in an otherwise stellar career. Even a stroke didn’t stop Bette Davis from acting.

One of my favourite Bette Davis stories concerns her mother Ruthie who sounded as wise as RuPaul instilling in Bette the time-honoured opinion ‘if them bitches aint paying your bills, don’t you pay them no mind’ though Ruthie put it more delicately. I’d put Bette above Katharine Hepburn as the greatest of Hollywood actresses though it is like comparing apples and oranges.

On the subject of paying those bills, I have been given a Royal Literary Fund grant which was a huge honour not to mention a very timely cheque. The Fund was founded in 1790 and has helped writers in need of financial assistance to continue their work. I am over the moon because it is judged by authors on literary merit.

Are we all geared up for the Royal Wedding? It is a great shame that Meghan Markle’s father has been caught setting up paparazzi shots of him being fitted for a morning coat and basically living like a beatnik. It is now understood that he might not even give the girl away. That I think would be a great shame.

Then again, Prince Philip gave Princess Margaret away so there is a precedent for a royal to step-in. Why not invite the mother to walk her down the aisle? That would set an interesting precedent wouldn’t it? I like the idea of giving the mother of the bride a higher profile in the ceremony.

I think all sorts of precedents might be set by the Prince Harry, Meghan Mark wedding. Will the bride – a divorcee – walk down the aisle in white? I think she will and I also have the feeling the dress will be pared down and simple. Perhaps there will be diamonds in the hair rather than a full-on tiara.

As for Harry, I presume there are any number of uniforms he could wear to wed Ms Markle but I don’t think the service will be overtly military even though his regiments may be the honour guard. It would be rather nice to see everyone in full Four Weddings and a Funeral morning tails and formal day dress. Harry will look dashing whatever he wears.

I wonder whether The Queen will wear her Dimond Maple leaf brooches in honour of Ms Markle’s second home town Toronto. We shall see what we shall see. I do like the decision to not have a formal wedding breakfast and instead have small bowls served while people stand though I hope a chair is found for Prince Philip who is still recovering from knee surgery.

Well that’s all for now folks. I am off up to Derbyshire for a couple of days to detox and play with dogs. Mariah Carey’s got nothing on me…