In this part of the world we are still in a lockdown. Outside it’s still winter, the days are short and it’s turned much colder, but the forecast is that the cold snap will end soon and I am beginning to notice that the short days are finally getting longer.
We have been very busy, in fact by now I feel that I have read every newspaper article from 1963. There is a surprising amount online. The Times have their whole archive online as does The Observer and The Guardian. You can also find The Mirror and ahost of local newspapers like The Belfast Telegraph all at your fingertips. They all have opinion pieces, interviews or court reporting and they all help build up a detailed picture of what happened to Christine in 1963 as she went from court case to court case.
Christine spent a phenomenal amount of time in court in 1963. In January she gave evidence at the preliminary hearing against Johnny Edgecombe - famously she was out of the country before the actual trial in March. In April she was back in court, this time because of the Gordon assault, again in May and again for Gordon’s trial in June.
In June she was at the preliminary hearing of Stephen Ward’s case, then in July the trial itself, and September, October and December she was back in court, this time charged with perjury and conspiracy to obstruct the course of justice.
At the beginning of 1963, Christine was still 20 and she would spend that year at the centre of four high profile court cases and all under the scrutiny of the world’s media. I can’t imagine how mentally exhausting that must have been.
Christine could be excellent company. When I got married in Scotland all our friends,along with Christine, travelled up to Edinburgh the day before, and that night Christine stayed up holding court and entertaining everybody with funny stories, most of which were embarrassing tales about me. I am just pleased she didn't give the best man speech! But on the day of my wedding she was tired, tetchy and much less fun.
I have lots of friends who tell stories of spending an evening with Christine in hysterics as she regaled them with anecdotes - she could be good fun. Like most of us, Christine struggled to remember jokes, she could never remember the punchline, or maybe she couldn’t remember the set up, but she loved stories that made her laugh and the ruder the jokes the better.
Christine loved telling the three men and the fridge joke. If you haven’t heard it, there are three men walking up the stairs to heaven and they ask each other how they died.
The first man says, ‘I was so convinced that my wife was cheating on me, I left work early and rushed home to catch her at it, but when I got there she was in bed on her own. I was so wrong and I felt like such an idiot that I picked up the fridge and threw it out of the window, but the handle caught my belt and I fell out of the window with it!’
The next man gives him a long hard stare and says, ‘There I was walking up the street and this damn fridge fell on my head!’
The last man says ‘Well, there I was, minding my own business, sitting in this fridge...”
Christine would fold up laughing at this joke.
Christine liked the great Irish comic Dave Allen and would let me stay up late to watch his show. I remember she loved the way he said the word ‘fart’. I have been living in Ireland for about 15 years and talked to people from all over with all the different Irish accents but I think everyone says the word ‘fart’ the same way, just like Dave Allen said it.
When I was at school I heard my first Christine Keeler joke. By then there weren’t that many, they were already out of fashion by the time I went to school. One of my friends said to me, “Here’s a joke my dad tells: Christine Keeler walks into a fishmonger.” Now my friend had no idea who my mother was, we were young kids at school and we didn't waste our time talking about our parents. “The fish monger says to her ‘pound of fillet?’ and Christine Keeler says, ‘I bet you a pound you don’t.” I never said it was a good joke.
When I told my friend Christine Keeler was in fact my mother he was mortified and this story ended with me consoling him, but I realised even then that of course there would have been jokes about my mother, she had been famous, and of course there would be jokes like that. I would be naive to think anything else.
Just a few years ago a very good friend contacted me, he was all excited as he had just been told a Christine Keeler joke. He was working with an older man who had no idea of the connection between him and me, and he told him the joke out of the blue.
My friend couldn’t wait to tell me.
“Now you won’t get upset?” He was being polite because he was a good friend so he was going to tell me the joke if I wanted to hear it or not.
“Christine Keeler gets her toe stuck in a bath. Mandy Rice-Davies does everything she can to help Christine get the stuck toe unstuck, but after a long time of pulling and pushing at the toe, they decide to call a plumber because the toe won’t budge.
Before the plumber arrives Mandy grabs a tea towel to cover Christine’s top half and finds a bowler hat to cover her lower area so Christine wouldn’t be naked when the plumber arrived. The door bell rings and in comes the plumber. He takes a good look at Christine in the bath with the tea towel over her top half and the bowler hat covering her lower area and then he points at the bowler hat and says, ‘I won’t be able to get him out of there’.”
We both laughed.