Friday, 11 July 2014

Paris was Yesterday - 1928

We continue with Janet Flanner's articles on Paris life in 1928.

Jacques Hennessy (1829-1928)

"Jacques Hennessy, chief of the family noted for its fine champagne with its constellation of three stars, has disappeared from his vast circle of friends. For eighty-nine years he inhabited Paris as a bachelor and bon viveur. He died as he lived, in the best of health. His heart, which he boasted had never failed
to accelerate when in the presence of a pretty woman, finally refused to continue its gallant function. Possessed of rents from Cognac (Charente) which afforded him seven hundred thousand francs a month for pocket money alone, he spent his time and fortune generously rewarding those who had been the favourites of his prime, and men and women who had once been younger than he grew antique on the largesse of this sprightly octogenarian who died looking younger than they. Hennessy never took any exercise, despised sports, never walked if the effort took him away from carpets, and hated fresh air. His town house was equipped with double windows, which were never opened, and on his daily sorties he was rushed from his door into a limousine through whose hermetic glass he took his view of the city, which, though he owned various country estates, he never left for the last twenty years. His eyesight remained remarkable: he never wore spectacles, claiming to be able to distinguish naturally between a blonde and a brunette. For two hundred years the Hennessys, once immigrés from Ireland in that rush of loyalty, which carried many Celts to France in the wake of James II, have inhabited the Charente, where grow the coarse heady grapes from which their produce is made. Owing to the family’s early thrift and labour, the town of Cognac and it triple, both of which had fallen into desuetude, were revived, rebuilt, and rebottled. "

Flea Market

"We grieve to announce the passing of the old Flea Market. This superb rubbish-vending agglomeration was founded in the thirteenth century when Paris was the pride of Christendom, and six hundred years later is abolished in an atheistic century for infringing on the Sabbath selling laws. Among the various city-gate weekly rag marts, the Kremlin-Bicetre at the Porte d’Italie, the Montreuil at the Port de Vincennes, the Fleas at Clignancourt will remain in memory as the most famous and satisfying. Among its fields of black mud was always to be found the choicest rubbish – the better cracked-ivory miniatures, the dainties slightly broken Venetian glass pitchers, the smartest almost new single riding boots (usually lefts). …"


"The failure of Irfé, Prince Yussupoff’s London dress shop, has added another lamentable item to the Parisian history of this extraordinary young Russian, who admits responsibility for the murder of Rasputin. Proprietor years, it was said, of the Maisonette Russe, an expensive singing restaurant in the Rue du Mont-Thabor, where he and his wife were familiar figures – he slim and elegant in dinner jacket, she lovely and sad, wearing at last the famous Yussupoff pearls which her husband in bachelor days used as his own decoration – he was always much in the public eye. His book – written in French, published here a few years ago – in which he detailed step by step how the murder was committed, describing even the final kicks, blood, and blows passing between his royal feet and the drugged body of the peasant priest, caused an angry rift in the Russian Royalist party centred here, and the Grand Duke, his patriotic accomplice in arranging the plot, ceased communication with the Prince for his authorship.

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