It’s been another very busy week with lots happening, some of which may even have made Christine’s story a little clearer. Work is continuing on Christine’s Application for Mercy and my continued thanks go out to everyone who is helping, if you have your own stories about Chris or even want to help, I would be delighted to hear from you.
It surprises me sometimes quite how much information is out there that covers those events in 1963, and sometimes it’s about getting events in the right order and at the right time, because when events happen sometimes tells its own story.
With so much in the news about the upcoming elections in America, I wanted to mention Christine and her politics. I must start by saying I do not wish to push any personal agenda, I would call myself a wishy-washy metropolitan liberal but Christine politics were her own and transcended any particular label, her politics were...complicated.
Christine was a life long Conservative voter. Christine, who brought down a Conservative government, voted for Thatcher, John Major any conservative when she could vote, I found this infuriating because if you sat down and talked to Christine about her views she would say, “You shouldn't have rich people We should distribute wealth amongst everybody. It is just not fair these rich people with their wars sending children to die...,” and then she would go to the ballot box and vote Conservative. I'm not saying that Conservatives want to send children to wars but they don't tend to campaign for a redistribution of wealth!
Christine's short marriage to my father didn't have any influence on her thinking, my father whose politics were a few steps to the right of Margaret Thatcher, but I have wondered if Stephen Ward influenced her politics having read his police interviews and Christine’s notes.
Through her life, Christine found it very difficult to find work away from the scandal, when she did find a job she would be let go as soon as they found out she was Christine Keeler and that happened more times than she made public. It was a different time and I think Christine would have found it impossible working in a shop or facing the public every day. You would need to be made of steel with what some people said to her but unfortunately, she was only made of flesh and blood. So Christine and I struggled on child allowance and the occasional piece of work she would get. Christine never claimed unemployment, she had her reasons, they were complex but it made us poorer than most.
”I think you have free food for the poor, even Marie Antoinette would give cake to the poor” she would say.
Christine was the most communist leaning Conservative you could ever meet.
I recently read a blog post about Christine from a publisher who workedwith her, Richard Glyn Jones; he talked about Christine being a life long Conservative. He said he asked her why and she replied, “Because people like me do better under the Conservatives.” I don't doubt she said it.
I was thinking this week about how very hard it must have been for Christine to tell her story because some of her story must have been so hard to re-live. I have been reading through Christine’s personal manuscript and some notes she left, in her own words. I was reading through her account of first meeting Lucky Gordon in October 1961: Lucky Gordon tricking her back to his flat in St Stephen’s Gardens to see some jewellery he claimed he had stolen. They had walked up lots and lots of steps before arriving at his flat, where he shut the door and pulled out a knife.
It’s a very raw piece of writing, Christine was clearly in shock, still asking about the jewellery. Of the actual rape she says this, “With the knife in one hand, he had it off with me”, “After 19 hours I managed to persuade him to let me go”.
It is difficult to read, but how hard was it to write?
She was relying on memory and I have found in her story that although she tends to be right about an event, sometimes she might get a date wrong, not often, but sometimes. Now we have tools available like the internet and freedom of information they help take these events and put them in the right place, and sometimes that can changes story just a tiny bit.
When I was going through Christine’s manuscript I also found a few pages of research by Christine, talking about the Labour party through 1963 and how they regularly used Christine and the scandal to discredit the then ruling Conservative party. I realised that Christine had been politisised for that year, a weapon to hit the Macmillan government with until they lost the next election.
So maybe what Christine felt about politics was also a little more personal and not at all political.