After a time, we became engaged and at that point decided that any future prospects could and would not be well served by my staying in Glasgow. So after due consideration with my fiancée I handed in my notice to Alex Freer and left the Plaza during its close down period in the summer of 1935. So London bound with nothing more than hope for the future, a week after arriving back in town I received a letter from a West End agency, known as Columbo’s.
Living the high life
This was a group of Italians who had been working in Russia during the time of the Revolution at the court of the Tsar and had barely escaped with their lives. I had been recommended by somebody who I had known in previous years. After an audition I got the job at the Hungaria
Restaurant (later known as the Hunting Lodge), Lower Regent Street. This was one of the two famous restaurants, the other being Quaglino’s which was most frequented by visiting American film stars, Royalty and high society.We worked 7 nights a week, 52 weeks in the year with the exception of Good Friday and we suspected this was only because the maître d’hotel, Bennini and Vecchi (highly regarded in their profession at the time) were Italians. I was beginning to obtain respectability wages wise and with other small jobs on the side my earnings rose to about £10 per week. This, apart from my evenings all being occupied with working enabled me to lead a very comfortable life. I lived in a brand new exciting block of flats with a swimming pool in Streatham, South London for fewer than 35 shillings per week. I played golf at a private club for ½ a crown a round, ran a car, one which was called the ‘Big Austin 8,’ had first class haircuts for 9 pence a time. My fare from Streatham to Regent Street was 5pence and I was very well able to save money. I had a private tailor and I only paid £4-10 for a suit, absolutely first class material and 2 fittings, a tailor-made overcoat with the same tailor cost me £5.