Top positive review
20 people found this helpful
on 1 April 2013
Christine Keeler lit the fuse that sparked the sixties. Along with the Beatles and David Bailey she was at the vanguard of the movement that, superficially at least, wiped away the old order.
To a certain extent the Profumo affair has perhaps been coloured by the film Scandal and that's the version I at least knew of. This book gives you the story from the inside and it's a real eye opener. It seems clear that Ward had some sort of connection with spies, whether he was a spy himself or a double agent isn't clear but evidently something was going off and CK was unwittingly sucked into that orbit.
The book is very well written. CK has a great turn of phrase and is able to despatch individuals with one cutting line - Astor and john Hurt are memorably summed up. She also brings to the fore that swinging world of the elite; where the rest of the populace were labouring away in a black and white world with barely enough to get by on, others were living the life of Riley. Check out the tales on the Duke of Edinburgh. There'll be some skellingtons rattling out of that closet when he throws off the mortal coil...
There are some lovely pictures in support of the text, shots of the protagonists during that halcyon summer before the whole shebang came crashing around their collective ears.
The book does raise a few questions, not least in relation to the kidnapping of CK for three days when she was held with a girlfriend who subsequently escaped. We're not told who the girlfriend was - presumably not Mandy? And what of Mandy, the other half of that infamous double act? CK makes clear her dislike for her one time flat mate and it's true that Mandy has made the most of her infamy, going on to own night clubs in Israel and write several books. In fact, you can go into WH Smiths and buy a birthday card with Mandy on the front, swigging champagne from the bottle.
When the scuffers and the Fleet Street muck rakers arrived with their flash bulbs, the toffs took off back to their wives and their country piles leaving Ward and Keeler to face the music. Ward probably thought of himself as a key player in the Astor - Profumo inner circle and so maybe expected some immunity but when his presence didn't suit he was cut adrift by his so called friends. The resultant trial was a witch hunt to cover the backs of the real miscreants - it speaks volumes about the British judiciary that neither Astor nor Profumo were called to court.
CK says that the police produced stooge witnesses to frame Ward. Mandy RD in a BBC Four radio programme went further by saying that our nations finest threatened and coerced young women into giving evidence, one allegedly being threatened with losing her child if she didn't comply. Whether Ward was a spy or merely a fantasist, he didn't deserve that. Refreshing though to see that a bent and corrupt Police force isn't a 21st Century phenomena but is in fact been something we've had as a way of life for some years now.
Profumo was eventually rehabilitated by Margaret Thatcher with the comment, and I paraphrase here, let's forget all that Keeler business. No, let's not Margaret. Let's remember it for what it showed of the soft white underbelly of those who govern without having any knowledge of, or compassion for, the majority of the populace. You'd have thought we'd have learned from all of this but in 2013, some 50 years after the event, the three most powerful posts in the UK - Prime Minister, Chancellor, Mayor of London - are all held be men from the Bullingdon Club. It's a travesty.