A Simple Enigma: Juliet Dawson Profile – Part 1

The first time I ever saw Juliet Dawson she was surrounded by men at a cocktail party given by Arthur Prémontré at his little place upstairs, high above the discordant car horns and overflowing rubbish bins, at the top of a tasteful art deco building, right in the centre of Paris. Jules, as she insisted her coterie of suitors call her, smoked and maintained a look of benign indifference while members of the group attempted to outdo each other in order to win her favour. This began with displays of simple erudition and wit, story telling, demonstrations of conversational acuity, and descended from there to the regions of personal insult and then to physical shows of strength and dexterity. One man did a handstand while the son of an American industrialist and a member of the minor Belgian aristocracy indulged in an arm wrestle. When the Belgian count introduced himself earlier in the evening, Juliet emitted a small, gravelly laugh, as if the thought of such a puffed up personage from such a slight country amused her immensely. It was the only emotion she showed all night.

Of course she showed no interest. She never was interested in people of this sort. Oh, men had their uses. A man who looked good in a suit would also look good on her arm when she was forced to attend openings and fundraisers, and it was also true that when Juliet Dawson attended society events it fed press interest, and when the press had pictures to publish and speculation about her latest man, Juliet was free to pursue her real passions. The key was to time her public appearances, and time them precisely, and she became an expert at sprinkling just enough attendances at these events throughout the year.

At the Prémontré soiree Juliet smoked cigarettes in her ebony cigarette holder and sipped gin and tonic from a glass that never seemed to run out. That was one of her magical abilities: to always be near someone who would refill her glass. She wore a mink coat – it was when such a garment was a marker of style and refinement, not barbarism as it is today – and crossed her legs and leaned into a chaise, watching the skyline changing colour as twilight gave way to night and the lights began to twinkle.

That was the night that Tobias Singh composed ‘The Rottenness Of All Things’, sitting on the step, the bottom step to the stairs which led up to Arthur Premontre’s bedroom, as discrete lovers in pairs snuck past him all night, coming and going. Nobody saw Singh with Juliet that night, and it is certain now that they didn’t talk to each other then, but the next time I saw her, at her farm house in Wales, he was in the kitchen, tending a huge pot of Irish stew as I asked her about the publication of A Wolf In Wolf’s Clothing.

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Published in: on February 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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