“I’d ask you in but my husband is such a grouch before breakfast.”
Early morning in the fantastical world of Esquire magazine, 1935.
From Ernest Lubitsch’s One Hour With You, 1932 with Maurice Chevallier, Jeanette MacDonald and Genevieve Tobin (writer Samson Raphaelson, from the play Only a Dream by Lothar Schmidt).
Entering a café in Paris recently, searching for coffee, the waiter greeted me:
“On a du très bon café monsieur” (We make excellent coffee here sir).
“Ah bon?” (Oh really?) I thought, doubtfully.
The milk was delicious. The coffee part of my café however is best left undescribed; despite the waiter’s good intentions I’m sure.
Coffee for me is integral to a dance festival, notably for sustaining on the dance floor and for summoning the weekend visitor’s joie de vivre that Europe’s wondrous array of regional capitals deserve. Budapest, Krakow, Madrid, Vilnius, Brussels, London, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Ljubljana, Bucharest, Stockholm: each are more pleasurable after visiting a reputable café. In the event that you visit Paris, I thought that you might appreciate a guide to the haunts of its few baristas.
La Fête du timbre (‘the festival of the stamp’) is an annual event involving the release of souvenir stamps organised by the French philatelists’ federation. Among the 2016 stamps is depicted ‘le Charleston’. The theme ‘la danse’ features again following salsa in 2014, hip-hop and tango the following year, and ballet, also in 2016. The waltz will feature among the stamps issued for the next edition of the fête.
The Charleston stamp was designed by French illustrator Nancy Peña. The design, redolent of the jazz age, is vibrant. The flapper’s dress is drawn as a riot of frills while the gentleman’s trousers are decorated with a classic art deco motif and his upper lip a pencil moustache. Both he and the trumpet player, in the background among the flying cubist, lithograph shapes, wear semi-brogue spectator shoes; she sports a headband, that timeless symbol of jazz age costume. The dancers’ hands are radiantly poised while their knees, turned toward each other, give a dynamic expression of the twenties Charleston movement. The font employed for the title could effortlessly find work on publicity posters from the era.
Sending letters and postcards is itself a somewhat ‘classic’ pastime these days. I can’t imagine a more stylish way to adorn handwritten correspondence than this philatelic wonder.