Our talk took place on 13th November 2018 at the barn and began with a 1951 copy of an Illustrated magazine, containing an article on Joyce Grenfell, a picture of her on screen and a rendition of her theme song, ‘I’m going to see you today’, which was written by her in 1942.
We learnt from our speaker, Kevin Varty, that Joyce’s mother was an American socialite, Nora Langhorne, and her father was Paul Phipps, an architect. Her aunt was Nancy Astor and she lived a very privileged life at Cliveden. She was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding of Lady Curzon and Oswald Moseley and, unfortunately, one of her stockings fell down. She turned to a gentleman standing by and asked if he could find her a safety pin. He duly did so and helped her to fix the problem. As they progressed one of the other bridesmaids asked her how she knew the king, to whom she had just waved acknowledgement. Just one example of how naïve Joyce could be. She met Reggie Grenfell in 1927, came out as a debutant in 1928 and married him in 1929. They went to many parties together and it was at one such party that she was introduced to an Observer rep who invited her to become a columnist with the newspaper.
By 1959 she had become well known as a singer, comic, writer of monologues and an actress with many celebrity friends of that time such as Noel Coward, Flanders and Swann and Norman Wisdom. She appeared in many London theatres but would only turn up just before she was due on. Joyce also entertained the troops on a couple of occasions, which she found rewarding but hard work. It was after this that she started working in cinema and appeared in 24 productions, three of them being the St. Trinians films.
Joyce Grenfell was a Christian Scientist who did not believe in medical intervention. She sadly died of a brain tumour in 1979.
Happily, we finished on a high note. The talk was interspersed with many of her songs, including the one about the dance class where there were too few gentlemen and some of the ladies had to dance together – hence the title, Dancing Bust to Bust, when a lady is not a gentleman but maybe a bosom friend!
This is but a brief synopsis of our entertaining afternoon. Do join us in the New Year when we welcome all-comers or if you wish to join us for our Christmas Countdown on 11th December at 2pm please contact me by phone 01234 210622 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org