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Tuesday July 9th 2019Tim Candler9

 

     Some might remember the Profumo Affair. It rocked British Politics, and did the Tory Party no favors. A man called Ward, who was an oesteopath of all things, a fairly suspicious, hands on sort of occupation, was accused and found guilty of living off the illicit earnings of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davis, two young ladies aged between 19 and 20 years old. The year was 1963, and something of a rude introduction to Liberal Democracy for a youth of very tender and innocent years who was a recent arrival in the British Isles. Along with my fellow boarding school pupils we'd pool our very limited resources, and on the Sunday when we were granted permission to roam around so that school employees might not have to see us for a while, we'd pretty much rout march the two miles or so to a news agent and one of us, who was well fed, looked a little older than the rest of us, he was almost shaving, would put on his gruffest voice and he'd obtain a copy of a very salacious Sunday Newspaper called The News of the World. It was an important current event in our view, vital reading, excellent pictures, werewolf sightings in Wales, that sort of thing and worth every penny, but great woe unto anyone who might have raised the subject of the Profumo Affair with a teacher during lunch, because the Profumo Affair in each and every one of its details was "Dreadful Smut." And there was a whole thing about washing your mouth out with soap, which in the much dramatized folk memory of the student body had happened once at the hands of the School Matron, not a particularly well balanced person. Then one day, I forget which class it was, all of us school boys were called to the school library which doubled as an assembly room and a Chapel.

 

Past

     This sort of call in the middle of lessons didn't happen often and when it did it was hugely exciting and usually ended up as a huge disappointment, very rarely did the preoccupations of us boys meld with the preoccupations of the adults in whose care we'd found ourselves. Not this time. Somehow or other, and no one could ever work out how, the stash of Sunday Newspapers had been discover. When he entered the Assembly Room it was clear to us that the Headmaster was struggling with some deep and abiding passion, which the old hands amongst us recognized as Churchill related. The old man had never fully recovered from the ungrateful public which had prevented the war time leader's election to office as Prime Minister in 1945 and instead had elected the Labor party in a landslide victory, which in the Headmaster's opinion was the sole contributor to the decline of once proud nation into socialist hellhole. Nor was the Headmaster someone who might ever have considered supported Socrates in his trial on the subject of suborning the youth of Athens. And indeed the rot always began with "Dreadful Smut." His solution was to lock his young Athenians in the school library until someone owned up. We boys had our code of honor, and a little before suppertime, we called for a volunteer to take the beating. When none came forward, it occurred to our well fed, gruff voiced  leader, upon whom the Headmaster had bestowed the title of Head Boy, that if we were to ever eat again bribery might be necessary, and most of us knew that in his possession he had a naked picture of what might have been Hollywood Starlet which he'd stolen from his father during a school holiday. No shortage of volunteers after that. Dread to think what that Head Boy might be doing these days.

 

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