Today is Christine’s anniversary, she died three years ago on the 4th December 2017. I thought I should post the foreword I wrote for the re-issue of her book - Secrets and Lies. I am sure some of you may have already seen it, but it was the first time I had written anything about Chris and some of it was taken from her eulogy so it seems apt.
I never met Christine Keeler.
For me my mother was always Christine Sloane. She changed her name to get away from being Christine Keeler. In our house Christine Keeler was talked about in the third person ‘who would want to be associated with Christine Keeler?’. Christine Keeler would get the blame for lots of things that happened. Friends, family, relationships that had soured, that would be Christine Keeler’s fault.
I wanted to give a flavour of the person I knew, the human being and not the ‘Sixties icon, not the sex symbol and not the victim.
I was born ten years after the Profumo affair, and those events were always a part of our lives. Stories about some fabled ‘man in the mask’ who was at upmarket orgies, or the rumours of doctors and nurses with President Kennedy, or who was spying for the Russians. My mother always did hold her cards very close to her chest even from me. ‘If you want to keep a secret,’ she would say, ‘tell no one’.
My mother paid a high price for Christine Keeler, she went from riches to poverty, from all the adoration of men to loneliness. She called herself a scapegoat and when we bickered, I would call her a martyr on a cross.
Christine was a fantastic driver: she loved driving and loved driving fast. ‘Start accelerating as you’re coming out of a corner, get your speed up for when you straighten up,’ she used to tell me. That was a big surprise for the instructor on my first driving lesson.
She told me when she was much younger, she nearly raced at Le Mans, and after she was released from prison, she would speed round London in her Mini Cooper until the police gave chase. ‘They couldn’t catch me. They had to put road blocks up to stop me and when they did I would say:
‘I’m Christine Keeler and they would have to let me go because it would look like I was being victimised by the police after what Denning did to me.’
In the early 1990s she was living in Clapham and was asked for an interview on a TV show in Birmingham; I can’t remember the name of the show but it was on the BBC. She didn’t want to go but we were poor, and it was £250 cash. We both jumped in her battered old red Renault and flew up the M1. When we arrived, there was no cash. Suddenly, it was not the BBC’s policy to pay cash.
‘Christine you must understand it’s a live show, there is a presenter, a studio audience other guests: you need to stop being difficult and get on with it,’ one of the BBC production people told her. Chris wasn’t having any of it. No cash, no interview. It felt like a room full of hostile people all acting like she was being difficult or unreasonable. They turned to me: ‘Can you speak to your mother?’ She was told there would be cash for this interview, that cash would pay for the petrol back, for food, she was not being difficult, she was making the only choice left to her, she wasn’t rich and powerful with a world of choices.
The cash arrived just before the show went live, she puts on her make-up and did the show. On the way back to London the gear box on the Renault slipped on the motorway and she could only get the car into third. She had to drive from Birmingham to south London in third gear: ‘We can’t stop for anything, I won’t get it going again.’ She didn’t stop, she was a very good driver.
In the late 1980’s the film Scandal came out, and things got a little easier for a while. She had sold an option to make the film about five years before for a few thousand pounds, when we were very poor. They had six years to make the film or they would need to pay Chris more money to extend it and just before time was up production started. There was a lot of this through the years, people managing to not pay Chris in the nick of time, publishers going bust -- after everyone else was paid -- or ex-husbands not having to pay child support even when they lived in large houses and drove big, flashy cars.
I would have been about seventeen when Chris had been paid a few thousand pounds to go to the premier of Scandal and we both got to walk down the red carpet in Leicester Square. Bob Geldof and Paula Yates sat next to us in a cinema packed with 1980s celebrities. The Pet Shop boys and Dusty Springfield had a song [ ‘Nothing Has Been Proved’,1989] at number two in the charts in both the UK and US about my mother.
It all led to an American release for Scandal and in fact it did pretty well in America for someone, and it was one of the top UK movies there for a long time. We went all around America and she advertised the film. I remember we were in the Ritz Carlton on Central Park and watched the Hillsborough disaster on the news; 96 people died when they went to watch a football game and the Press where already blaming the fans. I clearly remember her saying ‘That’s crap, those bastards just let those people die, and now they are going to cover it up”. Decades later she was proved right. I think she understood how police, press and politicians worked.
Coming in to America through customs we were bickering, probably because I was a teenager. ‘Hold this’ she said and gave me a scrunched up tissue. She always had scrunched up tissues. I protested and we bickered more as she got our passports ready and we bickered past customs to a waiting car. ‘Give me my tissue back’ she asked and opened it and inside there was a small lump of cannabis. ‘I’m going to need this for my nerves,’ she said. She liked a smoke.
While in America we were contacted by a family living on a Native American reservation they were related on her father’s side and they were keen to make contact. Chris wasn’t very interested. I think she was a little embarrassed: it was a different time. We talked about it over the years, she seemed to think her father who had been put up for adoption and was originally Native American, I never did find out for sure.
Chris was a terrible cook. She would say: ‘I’m not a good cook, but I do have one or two dishes that I’m ok with.’ That was a lie for she was a terrible cook. One Christmas she put the small turkey in the oven, put the gas on low but forgot to light it. Half an hour later we could smell gas, she jumped up, opened doors and windows.
She had gassed the turkey, our Christmas dinner tasted of gas, and she had made some sort of gravy from its juices and poured this gas tasting juice over everything, and she started laughing. She was a terrible cook.
She used to laugh, really laugh, we played tricks on one another. I told her once you can get rid of dark under your eyes with just a dab of Deep Heat then rub it in. ‘You bastard’ she screamed her eyes streaming and both of us rolling around laughing. Don’t worry she would have got her own back with an equally devious prank.
Family and friends came and went, but I don’t think it was ever Christine Keeler’s fault, money would have been part of it, some friends and even family disappear when you lose all your money. We went on a trip to Brazil when I was five, she was doing interviews, so it was a working trip, whilst we were there everything seemed to change, all the money was suddenly gone, I even think we were stuck there for a while, but we came back to London things were hard for Chris, we stayed in friends’ flats, we even stayed in squats.
Chris had a great friend called Professor Dennis Evans, we stayed in his spare room for a while. Dennis used to keep exotic pets, scorpions, spiders and snakes, one morning he poked my head into our room and announced: ‘I’ve lost the scorpions, one is very nasty, so shake your shoes before you put them on’. We ended up in a council estate. Chris was in trouble with the tax man and there was no money. There are pictures of her around this time, and she is very thin, it wasn’t for fashion. When Professor Dennis Evans died of cancer many years later Chris didn’t go to his funeral, and afterwords she told me it was because she was so damn angry at him for dying.
I remember her mother, my grandmother, wasn’t a warm woman. When I was very young, six or seven we went to visit then where they lived in Berkshire. My brother Jimmy didn’t live with us but lived with her mother and stepfather and for me always had. They all lived in the house Chris brought her mother during better times. I was playing with the family dog, a collie, and her stepfather started pretending to set the dog on me: ‘Go on attack, go on boy.’
It was all clearly a joke. I was six and knew a joke when I saw it, but mother went mad. ‘Don’t threaten my boy, don’t joke around like that,’ she screamed and she shouted and really stood up to him. I didn’t know then all the pain he had caused her when she was a young girl. Then we saw less of them, then we didn’t see them at all.
Families sometimes break and sometimes mothers and fathers don’t have any love for their children, but I always knew my mother loved me, always.
The smoking took its toll and she died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on my birthday, December 4, 2017. I posted a statement on Facebook and we told the Press, and all that media craziness started again, TV and newspapers wanting quotes and stories.
The BBC news called to say that although we, her family, had told them they didn’t have enough sources for the story that Christine Keeler was dead. They weren’t going to run it, but they could run the story if I came to their studio and did a live interview that night. Then they would report it. I explained that my mother has just died and the last place I wanted to be was on telly.
This moment in time didn’t belong to us, it belonged to the press again.
I went to see her laid to rest in the hospital. I was with my wife and my oldest friend Mark, and she lay there still and peaceful in a hospital gown. My friend leaned in and whispered: She would be so annoyed us standing here and her without her make-up on.’
I half expected her to sit up and laugh.
Please remember- any support for our campaign is really appreciated