Henri had a bright red shirt. A friend of mine had invented a shirt, the neck was cut square, it was what is now called a jumper. Henri had a red one and wore it inside his trousers. I wore mine outside my skirt and people stared at us in the street.
observations: There have been many entries on this book on the blog: click on the Nina Hamnett or Laughing Torso label below to see the others (dancing around in the nude, the boy who was nearly filed as a girl, the different-coloured shoes). Rarely have I found a book that suggested so many different posts, so I would like to again thank publishing diva Alexandra Pringle for suggesting it – I think this might finally be the last entry, and I will miss Nina and her distinctive voice. I loved reading the book, and preparing these entries.
Henri is the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska: that’s him in the picture, perhaps wearing his special red shirt. Nina Hamnett is precise about clothes, and her plainly very retentive memory works very well when it comes to their descriptions. She accumulates evening dresses from her much richer friends – one is
long and straight and was covered all over with golden spangles, which looked like fishes’ scales. It fitted quite tight and exposed the lines of the figure to view and I was very much pleased with myself.As you would guess from the final seven words, she has an entertaining sense of self-knowledge. There’s this too:
I wished I were older. I bought a large black hat like a coal-scuttle and a dress with a slight train and tried to feel fatal.Her unabashed way of describing what she got up to is very endearing.
One oddity is that she is always telling you if people spoke good French or not, which given the cast of characters is not the most interesting fact to hear. It also gets a bit confusing, because the non-famous people (presumably to protect their privacy) are not given names: they are initials – F. and R., I had to keep turning back to find out if they were male or female – or just described as 'the Pole', or 'the man in the café', or 'the man I stared at'. It is quite confusing.
The lower picture is of a Sonia Delaunay design: even though NH is anxious for us to know that she preceded Delaunay, it seemed a suitable illustration. The other is a painting of Henri Gaudier Brzeska by Alfred Wolmark.