Yet another memorable woman friend was Zelda, whom I met in
My four days in
One, I remember, was of her sitting at the reception desk interviewing a nervous new entrant who responded “Yes, Sir” to one of her questions. “I drew myself up to my full four foot five inches”, recounted Zelda, and said: “I’m a woman. I enjoy being a woman. Nobody is going to call me ‘sir’ while I’m sitting here stark naked! So ever after, I wore a rope of pearls as identification.” Once, when she went into the sea to bathe, she took the pearls off and when she emerged from the water some shocked nudists said “good heavens, Zelda, you’re naked!”
Another member of the panel was a lugubriously solemn anti-pornography campaigner from some religious outfit campaigning for ‘decency’. He made unintentionally hilarious remarks such as “some pornography is highly dangerous – it even excites ME!” and when he wailed that his children were poised on the brink of a river of filth, and he didn’t want them to fall in, I attempted to comfort him by pointing out that as I was sure he had given his kids a highly moral education, I thought it very unlikely that they would succumb. What the long-distance truck drivers pounding through the transcontinental night made of all this stuff, I can’t imagine.
Another memorable meeting which Zelda and I shared was a visit to a highly distinguished lawyer, then in his eighties, who had a national reputation for his successful defence in some celebrated obscenity cases, including Ulysses. When I asked Zelda to arrange the meeting, she was thrilled. “Oh my”, she said, “he was one of my Father’s heroes”. So on a rainy afternoon we went to his
When we emerged, still gasping, Zelda said she had almost fallen off the sofa. “If you write a book about us, I bet you’ll call it ‘I’m Glad They Had a Revolution’”, she said. That Christmas she sent me a book by the old gentleman inscribed “A souvenir of
Zelda and I kept in touch, and she visited
She was a life-enhancing character. As I once told her, to her amusement, “You only savour the flavour of Zelda when you’ve smelled’er. “