It’s hardly a scarf today, more a kerchief, but qualifies for mention being silk, with hand rolled edges and by the famous name of Jim Thompson. Yes, you met him before when the magic carpet took us to Bangkok to visit the King of Siam in Blog 14 of this series.
This tiny treasure does tie round my neck but the lovely elephant design is lost so my photo shows it displayed on the chess table. I have plans for it after I have written my blog. More of this later. My elephants come in different colours. Why not a pink one with rings on her trunk and bracelets on her ankles? A green one with healing power and a funny spotted one blowing hearts, adorning a handbag given to me by a dear friend? For good luck, I added a selection of my own silver elephant jewellery into the mix.
Today, I want to tell you about the white elephants in my life. The expression means something useless or troublesome originating from Siam or Thailand as we know it today. The rare albino elephant was regarded as holy. If the king gifted one, it was indeed an honour but also a burden as it had to be maintained and not used for labour. How many of our department stores in high streets and shopping malls are indeed the white elephants now in our midst today? When I was younger I remember church bazaars having a white elephant stall where unwanted items were offloaded......and hopefully rehoused as somebody else’s treasure!
No, my memories of White Elephants are entirely pleasurable and we don’t need the magic carpet to access them. They are right here in London. My first is the White Elephant Club in Curzon Street, my initiation to roulette with my stake provided by the father of a friend. Beginner’s luck, couldn’t do a thing wrong; despite my protest, I accepted a handful of chips from my winning pile, cashed them, leaving the bulk for my host. Next day I rang my benefactor and said I could not keep the money. I remember his words...Darling buy yourself a hat. Certainly not. At the time in the early Sixties gas and oil had been found off Scotland and I bought a few shares in some kind of unit trust investing in Scottish companies. It stayed there for decades. Do remember, I didn’t feel it was my money. When I returned from living abroad for many years, my benefactor had died and I sold my only holding and bought something else.....another hunch on two shares with strong women at the helm. That White Elephant was very lucky for me.....we also saw Elizabeth Taylor dining there with Richard Burton.
Many years later, my husband and I would visit The White Elephant on the River, a beautiful up market restaurant on the Chelsea Embankment, under the same management as the club in Curzon Street. A wonderful place to dance to Ray Ellington and listen to Rosemary Squires or Georgie Fame. After early retirement, we moved out of central London and had not visited the Elephant for some time. Imagine my surprise when I thought we were booking the same restaurant, the name was slightly different but yes it was on the Embankment opposite the old Battersea Power Station, but it was nearer Dolphin Square than I had previously remembered. Indeed, it was named Villa Elephant on the River. The old White Elephant site had been sold to developers and a block of millionaire flats now stood in its place. I would later find out the Villa Elephant was previously known as Villa dei Cesare and we could dance there too. It seemed an obvious choice for a big family party to celebrate my husband’s 70th birthday in 2001 and I got a special deal as the manager, or maybe he was one of the owners, was a member of my golf club! I enjoyed reading again the Italian menu created for him that evening and I see one of the dishes was Supreme Chicken Sofia Loren.
I have just been recommended to watch a new film on Netflix starring Sophia called The Life Ahead. Having now finished the blog for this week, I will watch it this evening but not bother about planning anything too far ahead for myself! Ah, just remembered ......I told you I had plans for the kerchief. This afternoon I plan to take the scissors to it and turn it into a mask. Hence the title.
Busy Bee, Scarf Face!
Series 2, Blog 22.