10 years ago I was unexpectedly outed as Christine Keeler’s “favourite public school lover”. I remember Roger Alton, then of The Times but formerly the opening bat in the Guardian cricket team I captained, pleading with me to tell all in lubricious detail. I decided not to. But my fling with poor Christine was a strange affair, as was my meeting with Stephen Ward, the society osteopath who tragically killed himself after the press had falsely accused him of procuring girls, including Christine, for immoral purposes. I remember marching into Gerry Fay’s office with others to object to a first edition leader which intimated that Ward’s death was a good thing. It was deleted just in time.
What do I remember about Christine? That she was a lovely girl who, for some strange reason, thought I was a “proper gentleman” compared with most of the bounders who she had taken-up with when in fact I was as naive as she was but delighted she liked me. I remember trying to take her out to restaurants and being told by her that she couldn’t possibly go in because everyone would recognise her. And when I persuaded her inside she was furious if nobody actually did.” I’m a footnote to history, you know”, she said. But a sad one really because the last years of her life were lived on social security, ignored by every one of those members of the establishment who would have loved to get their hands on her when she was young.
I must say I was flattered by her attention and at one time tried to get her the post of secretary to the arts editor on The Guardian. Unfortunately, she eventually took fright and didn’t turn up for the interview. Gosh, you should’ve seen the excitement at the Guardian the day she was due to come in. So perhaps she was right. What lot of wankers! she said afterwards. And that was that.
How do I remember her? As a rather nice, decidedly innocent girl whom men made famous but who only wanted a decent life with someone, she could trust. She was not a prostitute or a good time girl like Mandy Rice-Davies, who wouldn’t take shit from anyone without answering back in kind. Nor had she Mandy’s talent. I saw Mandy in Ibsen’s Ghosts once and she was the star of the show. Christine was only the star of the show because of her looks which, until she lost them, were truly remarkable. What she saw in little me I will never know.But I am grateful for the experience. “Derek”, she said once, “You are a very nice man.Too good for me. The only one who doesn’t care a damn who I am.” Oh yes, I did!
Seriously, though, I thought to whole bloody business was so very typical of the way the establishment spears the innocent while being guilty of all sorts of crimes. Talk about hypocrisy! These bastards, or their children, would do the same today. Nothing much has changed. They murdered Ward in my opinion and would have got rid of Christine if they could have. Mandy, who admitted to me that she had acted as a call girl on occasion, told me that 80 percent of the men she slept with only wanted a cuddle. What about a quick strangling? I’d help.
• Christine Margaret Keeler (22 February 1942 – 4 December 2017)