I’VE learned a few things from Grassington’s former Las Vegas showgirl, Rowena ‘Bunty’ Harker Leder.

I’ve learned that Bluebell Girls in the late 1950s were not only topless, but they moved about on stage - so much more risqué.

I’ve learned there are right and wrong ways to cut a tomato, and that there is most definitely just one way to eat spaghetti, the Italian way naturally.

I’ve also found out how to poo properly - knees together; and that the nicest possible way to refer to the very many gentlemen friends you’ve enjoyed in various countries at various times in your life is as in one’s ‘Italian’ or ‘Greek’ period. Not to mention one’s ‘Cambridge’, ‘Las Vegas’, ‘Californian’ or ‘Chelsea’ periods.

In her hilarious, tell all book, Love and Laughter Around the world, Bunty, now 84, describes how an adventurous spirit and a desire to see all those places she had seen in National Geographic magazine, but not as a tourist - took her from being crowned Grassington’s first ever gala Queen in 1958 to dancing topless to the stars in Las Vegas with the Bluebell Girls before becoming an international air stewardess.

Wearing fabulous clothes, handmade by Parisian dressmakers, the Paris based Bluebell girls, set up by Margaret Kelly, established a name as the tallest and most beautiful dancers who, with their costumes and high heels, towered over everybody on stage.

Sent to Las Vegas, Bunty and her fellow dancers performed to audiences including the ‘rat pack’, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and David Niven and were the highest paid showgirls in the world, earning £75 per week about £1,800 in today’s money. And a lot more than the £15 per week she was to later earn as an air stewardess.

In addition to Las Vegas Bunty was also part of a troupe to perform in Lebanon, and this all before the 1960s.

From being a showgirl, she became an air hostess, almost but not quite as glamorous.

Too tall for some airlines, she joined BOAC, which became British Airways, and moved to London.

As an international Air stewardess she met lots more men, one in each port seemingly, but despite getting pretty close, remained footloose and fancy free.

She recalls being on a plane with Sean Connery and Ursula Andress, who had been filming Doctor No, and turning down Hollywood heart throb, Cary Grant.

The actor had been on his way to New York, the one and only passenger in first class of the Boeing 747, and had wanted to take her out to dinner.

But, put off by his behaviour towards a fellow stewardess , who had wanted to talk to him about her granny, an ex from when Grant was growing up in Bristol, she turned him down, telling him she was already engaged.

Looking back, and wondering what life would have been like with the star of films such as Charade, North by Northwest, and My Girl Friday, she says she regrets it.

“Money does not make you happy but you sure can be miserable in comfort, so they say.”

Aged 35, and facing the end of the road with the airline, she thought it was time to get married. Shockingly, 36 was the retirement age for hostesses, and written into the contract - ‘The airline thought that over this age, all stews would be too old and wrinkly and businessmen would not want to be served by such ogres. Everyone signed without too much thought as none could possibly thought we would still be flying at 36.”

A blind date at the Dorchester Hotel led to her marrying American, Bob, and after two years she had her son.

She and Bob returned home to Grassington in the 1970s where she became artistic director of the Grassington Festival, booking the likes of Julian Lloyd Webber, Terry Waite Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Kate Adie and Pam Ayres.

She was also concerts secretary for Skipton Music Society for 28 years, earning her an MBE for services to music in North Yorkshire.

“To succeed in attaining a fulfilled and happy life I believe involves much prayer and the solid backing of a faithful group of family and friends. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the only way to live, “ she says.

Just last year, she has actively campaigned against Brexit and climate change. She shows no signs of slowing down.

Love and Laughter Around the World’, priced £20, can be bought at the Stripey Badger, Grassington, or online at: rowenaharkerleder.co.uk/