Jazz Baby

The Jazz Baby sneaks out at night when the lights are out and the house is quiet. She’s supposed to be sleeping in modest chastity, but she yearns to go out and dance and be free. She puts on flimsy skirts that only come to her knees and low-cut blouses and perfume and jewellery. She blackens her lashes with boot-polish smudges and with wet crimson tissue stains lips and cheek. She and the other girls dance half the night, dancing with the boys her mother disapproves. She drinks and smokes and dances till three then she comes home through the window before anyone’s awake.

Her mother calls the doctor—she’s got no energy, seems tired, is listless and irritable. He prescribes a tonic to build her up and recommends rest and no excitement.

She smiles at his back—she’s a bad girl, a rebel, living her young life in the Roaring 20s. She wants to be free and live like a film-star, away from the world of the shop and factory, away from the drudge of everyday toil. She’ll henna her hair and wear what she likes, she‘ll smoke and drink and live a gay life. She’ll dance on stages all the world over, for millionaires to dream of and women to envy. And her name she’ll change from parochial Doris, recreating herself as exotic Zonya!

‘It’s my life, Mother, and I’m going to live it!’