Virginia Faulkner – Princess Tulip Murphy, My Hey-Day, or The Crack-up of the International Set,1940


Twice I picked up donkeys under the impression that they were dogs, and one of the times the dear little beast was hitched to a cart! This innocent contretemps provided the inspiration for Pablo Paolo Pali’s prize-winning painting: ‘There Are More Ways of Choking a Cat than by Swallowing It with Butter, Horatio.”

Pali would paint only when someone was watching him, so we took turns, changing every four hours. He has a curious technique all his own which requires that he stands about three yards away from the canvas while he works – his paint brushes are at least ten feet long – and he prefers to do eight or nine pictures at once. To save time he has built a small turntable on which he stands, and as it resolves at the required speed he slaps paint on each canvas in the circuit. You would think this might be confusing, and as a matter of fact, it is, but Pali says he does his best work when he is confused. His greatest success, the monumental “Thanks for Those Few Nuts: Part II,” was one of a batch of twenty he whipped up on a rainy wash-day.

Pali does all his own washing and ironing; it is a regular hobby with him – like gardening or stamp-collecting. His flat on the Avenue Carnot is crammed with all types of washing-machines and mangles although he seldom uses them as he believes one gets better results by hand. His most valued possession is a set of twelve matching electric irons, each a different size, with white-jade handles and his monogram in seed pearls. The surest way to win a smile from the Master is to compliment him on his snowy undervests and daintily pleated shirt bosoms. He also likes to keep his hands in water when he is not painting, and has a rubber muff which he fills and takes with him everywhere. . . . . Incidentally, the glowing quality which is so admired in Pali’s oils is obtained by smearing the finished picture with good quality butterscotch sauce slightly thinned down with Flit – on account of flies.

Chapter 8. I Explore the Past.


Pali, as was his wont when he was upset, took out his box of pet streptococci germs – from which he had derived the theory of the “streptococcic” school of painting — and began to groom them, calling each by their name. Then he replaced them in the box, which was constructed like a kaleidoscope, mixed them up thoroughly, and peered at them through the little glass window. “Exquise!” he murmured, hastily sketching on his cuff the pattern they had formed. Again and again he repeated the whole process until his cuffs were black with sketches and the streptococci were pale with fatigue.

“For god’s sake, Pali!” I screamed when I could bear it no longer, “stop playing with those germs! You’re driving me bats! Bats, I tell you!”

Chapter 9. I Lose the Garden of Eden.

Virginia Faulkner,1913-1980 – Princess Tulip Murphy, as told to Virginia Faulkner My Hey-Day, or The Crack-up of the International Set,1940. Published by Duell, Sloan, New York, 1940

The faux-memoirs of Princess Tulip Murphy, as told to Virginia Faulkner, and her humorous observations of the idle butterfly lives of stray characters entrapped in 1930s European society. Described by one critic as ‘superior froth’, it includes a satirical description of M. Pablo Paolo Pali, the distinguished artist and leader of the new ‘streptococcic’ school of painting whose compositions are entitled, ‘Thanks for Those Few Nuts: Part II’, and ‘There Are More Ways of Choking a Cat Than By Swallowing It With Butter, Horatio’. The narrative relates the activities of the Quinsy Expedition, in search of the exact site of the Garden of Eden, led by Dekko Quinsy, and includes Major R.S.V.P. Splinterset of the 14th Poona Pistols; Lady Crystal Scum, younger daughter of the dowager Marchioness of Ambergris; and Miss Filly Monty-Eylet, formerly woman billiard champion of Middlesex.

Author: jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s