c Magnus Hastings
When I performed for Combined Services Entertainment in Kandahar, a South Carolina army captain, known as Solo, made me an Honorary Southern Belle. Tanned, bantam weight and with a buzz-cut, Solo said that Madame Galina reminded him of ex-and current-girlfriends back home in Calhoun Falls. It was her flounciness, screaming imperiousness and habit of stopping mid-flow to stare into the middle distance as though a catatonic seizure had just hit.
'That's why I felt I just had to, I mean it needed doing, really I felt it behoved me to cuss out that New Yorker you got onstage for not carrying you correctly. Lack of manners. I mean just not chivalrous. I'm saying graceless.'
He and I were sealing the Honorary Belleship deal over table football in the Welfare Hall next day. I recited the following, learned by heart from countless rereadings of Florence King's Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady.
Solo was awash. 'You are pure-bred Southern Belle. I mean, pure bred. Just the purest bred. How, but how, I mean: how have you got yourself quite so geographically displaced? Now promise me, give me your hand on it, tell me you will come and see the South one day where you really come from?'