Diamond Sharp, 1920s London gossip columnist, featured in THE JEWEL BOX by Anna Davis

The following letter was written on 30th June 1927 and has recently been discovered in a vacant building in New York which once housed a prestigious magazine. The letter was in a sealed envelope post-marked London, England:

Dear Mr D****,

As I’m sure you’ll know, I am the famous (indeed, infamous) weekly columnist writing for London’s Piccadilly Herald. My job here is to review restaurants, dinner-dance clubs and boutiques. But no doubt you’ll be aware that I succeed in accomplishing far more than that. Indeed vast numbers of people here in London – thousands, perhaps even millions, who can tell – are now reading the Herald purely to find out what I have to say on every subject worth reading about, from bobbed hair to emancipation for women to the latest on my own new romance with a certain devil-in-a-dinner-jacket. I am now contemplating a move to the United States and would like to know whether there might be a new home for me on your little publication. It would be something of a sacrifice for me to forgo my daily cocktail hour in favour of your dreary Prohibition rules and regulations, but I understand there are certain establishments where the more potent of beverages may still be purchased and certain means, also, of ‘smuggling’ small quantities of one’s favourite tipple about town in order to enliven one’s fruit juice while going out and about. Indeed I have in mind, for my first article, a review of the best containers for such purposes and of garments with capacious inside pockets to be effectively utilized. Alternatively, I could attempt an answer to the eternal question: How did the bagel get its hole?

At any rate, here’s a sample of my column for you to devour (this will appear in next week’s Herald):

Summer’s arrived to send us all ga-ga. That old card, that party jester. At the first glimmer of even the tiniest ray of sun, we all go running about the West End in our sandals, exposing our unpalatable toes, displaying our lily-white legs and our flabby arms. My, what an unwieldy sack of potatoes we Londoners are. All through the winter we are so chic in our silver fox coats and our plumed hats and our nicely cut tweeds. It’s as though we’ve all signed a pact, agreeing not to look or not to care for the next three months.

All this gay abandon simply doesn’t bring out the best in me. I am not of the type that is all ruddy complexion and flaxen hair and overflowing wholesomeness. My red-lipped, jet-haired white-skinned visage is offset nicely by ice and darkness and the contrasting roaring fires. Today, while dashing about Dickens & Jones (there are pleasing summer dresses about that place in pastel colours for those who are the pastel type) I beheld my reflection in a long changing room mirror and was, frankly, aghast at my own ghoulishness. I resembled nothing so much as a vampire caught out in the daylight, and don’t know what I can do about this beyond a fastidious avoidance of mirrors for the rest of the season.

Perhaps, all in all, it’s better to hide away by day and come out only at night for dinner and dancing at one of London’s better night-clubs. Though one should remember to beware of Londoners attempting the Charleston …

Now, as you know, it’s been over a year since the Charleston stepped off the boat and took up residence in our better night-clubs. They dance it dandily in Paris and New York. So how much longer is it going to be before the Londoner learns how to do it properly? Men are very much the worst. There’s something, frankly, convulsive about those kicking, flailing legs. At the Salamander, you take your life in your hands when you step on to the dance-floor. In fact, I wouldn’t even advise taking a table beside the dance-floor. But many of the fairer sex are not so much better – really, there are a lot of farmyard hens strutting about the West End, pecking and flapping.

The solution? Lessons, of course. Trust me, girls, it’s a sound investment.. I suggest any of you with a nagging suspicion that your Charleston may be of the feathered, clucking sort, should seek out, post-haste, Miss Leticia (known to her friends as ‘Teenie Weenie’) Harrison, of Mayfair. Take heed: This might change your life. In an ideal world, one would of course take the hubby or boyfriend along to Teenie Weenie’s – but if he thinks he’s too fine and manly for classes, you’ll have to teach him yourself. Let’s face it, we’ve been educating our men in so many departments since long before we – that is, those of us over thirty – got the vote (NB. the under-thirties would have my sympathy were it not for the fact that I covet your tender youth) and we’ll be doing so for as long as men are men and women are women. Embrace your fate.

Two irritating comments that I regularly encounter, of an evening, now my fame is spreading:

“Miss Sharp, where do you find the stamina to go out all night every night? Your job must be the hardest in London.”

– and –

“What an easy job you have, Miss Sharp. All you have to do is go out and enjoy yourself and then tell us all about it.”

Also, I am outraged at the reports of various pretenders claiming to be me in order to blag good tables and complementary cocktails. Doormen, if ever in doubt, ask ‘Diamond’ to blow you a smoke-ring. This is a very particular talent of mine, and should instantly reveal any fake gems. Oh, and by the way, I have never in my life had to ask for a free drink!

So, Mr D****, I shall wait for your answer with baited breath. Really, I do feel I have now exhausted the (not so) bright lights of London, and am altogether ready for pastures new. I’m afraid I can’t tell you my real name at this time. This is a closely guarded secret, known only to my family, best friends and the paltry trail of lovers staggering along in my wake. Even the aforementioned devil-in-a-dinner-jacket doesn’t yet know who I really am. If you’re utterly desperate to be let into the secret of my true identity, or if you’d like to see a wider selection of my columns, I suggest you consult The Jewel Box by Anna Davis (published by Pocket).

Do send your reply soon, there’s a good chap, as I have a short attention span and shall certainly have forgotten all about you by the weekend.

Yours sincerely,
Diamond Sharp

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posted Sunday, July 5th, 2009 | filed under Pocket Books, Uncategorized