Obituary: Thelma Holland

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The Independent Online
I would like to add two anecdotes to the evocative obituary of Thelma Holland [by Margaret McCall, 9 March] to show her sense of fun, writes Marie-Jaqueline Lancaster.

One day in 1949 the Hollands gave a dinner party before a fancy-dress dance at the Chelsea Arts Club, in London. We the guests, in our various hired or makeshift garments, were put to shame by Vyvyan and Thelma immaculately turned out as a Circus Master and his horse. Thelma had long, silky blond hair usually piled up on top but she could do anything with it - and frequently did. This time her Godiva-like tresses fell around her closely fitting, all-over white leotard ("to disguise the larger curves", she said), a garment barely known then beyond the circus and dance worlds.

Her pice de rsistance was her tail, of her own spare switch of hair, pinned to the appropriate place. They could have stepped out of a Toulouse- Lautrec poster, Vyvyan with his rakish top hat and wonderfully lop-sided smile, and Thelma cavorting and swishing her tail.

Another time Thelma decided to stage a protest against the more than occasional evenings when Vyvyan would disappear with his cronies to all- male establishments such as the Saintsbury Club, or the dining club known as "Ye Sette of Odde Volumes".

She invited the abandoned wives, some six of us I think, to a rival gathering, matching the menu and the wines as closely as could be. "Who needs men?" we unwitting feminists declared as course followed course and bottle after bottle was ritually opened. So lavish was our wives-only gathering that we had not even got to toasting the Queen before our husbands made their somewhat unsteady return. They were suitably mortified when Thelma refused to let them join the ladies until such time as our celebration was all spent.