I’ve tried to make these blogs about the human being who was once Christine Keeler, and how she wasn't always a perfect human being, but she was human. I think it is important because sometimes when you know someone it can help explain the difficult choices they make. I have met a lot of people who are critical of the choices other people make, and critical of the choices Christine made. In fact I’m sure I was pretty critical of her a million times as I was growing up with her.
One thing I have learned is that people can only make choices when they have options open to them. When they don't have any options then they are not really making choices at all. I think Christine found herself in this position many times in her life.
Friday nights were movie nights and Christine and I would go over to her old friend Dennis Evans for the evening. Dennis had a video player, so Christine would cook us dinner before we would all settle down and watch the movies Dennis had picked up from the local video store.
I have spoken before about how bad a cook Christine was. We mostly had spaghetti bolognese for dinner and on one occasion Christine experimented with a dessert, her take on rice pudding:
Christine’s Rice Pudding suprise
An amount of rice (any rice you have)
One can of evaporated milk
An amount of sugar that feels right
Boil quickly because you are in a hurry
It didn't taste anything like rice pudding, it tasted like hardwood pellets in a runny sweet sauce and even now if I close my eyes I can still taste it. Thankfully she didn't do desserts again, but I did catch her eating her rice pudding dish on more than one occasion later and it didn't look like she had improved on the recipe.
Dennis was a Professor of Chemistry at Imperial College. He was kind, generous and extremely logical. Christine had met him in the mid sixties - she said they met at a party and Dennis was sitting in the kitchen with a notepad and pen. Dennis stuck a needle in his arm and passed out, when he came too Christine asked him what the hell he was doing and he explained how he was “doing a study on the effects of ketamine for a paper he was writing”.
Our movie nights started in early 1980, video nasties were in the news and Chris and Dennis both wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I would have been 10 maybe 11 and Dennis was quite happy that I had a logical enough mind and would know they were just films with actors and it was all make-believe. We all talked about it and it was decided I was probably old enough to watch anything.
The films were always after dinner, so Chris and Dennis could relax and “let their hair down.” Both had a few drinks, and then they would pass commentary on how ridiculous the storylines were. They saved the most contempt for Indiana Jones films as they were completely beyond belief. Christine also hated the films where an old actor had a young girlfriend: “Why would she even look at that old man...yuk,” she would scream at the film, but George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was faultless!
By the end of the night with the movies watched, Christine would get Dennis to put some music on his new CD player, the future of music. He said it was better than playing old vinyl records, but I think that was because the CD Player had a remote control and he could skip to the next track without getting up.
At the time there weren’t even that many CDs out as it was such new technology, so we would listen to Grace Jones, The Kinks and always finish on Christine's favourite Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture. In the early hours and with the adults a bit drunk, Chris and I would leave for home.
It wasn’t a long walk across London - Cathcart Road, down Edith Grove to the World’s End Estate - but at that time London was pretty deserted and past the Fulham Road there was a derelict old house. I dreaded that part of the journey after all the horror films and we both quickened our steps. I was worried about zombies or werewolves jumping out and I’m sure Chris was afraid of monsters jumping out as well. On those walks home I was between ages, too young to hide behind my mother but not yet old enough to be her protector.
A few years earlier, some time in 1979, we had walked the same streets one night. I was much younger, far too young to be my mother's protector. The Omen was going to be on television that night, I was maybe eight years old and I had convinced my mother to let me stay up and watch it. I knew my mother would sit right next to me and if it got too scary she would still cover my eyes with her hand, the trouble was this always made any film scarier as now you could only imagine the horrors on screen and that was always worse.
Christine had brought me with her to meet a man called Michael and he sold cannabis. We didn't see Michael often, he wasn't a friend. Michael lived at the top flat in one of those big houses just off the King's Road, I think it was a small studio flat but it did have throws and big tie-dyed pillows everywhere, there was a large futon bed and the whole place smelled heavily of joss sticks. Michael was one of those adults who never looked at me and I didn’t like him. Chris would sometimes buy a small amount of cannabis, that was her thing. “Seems everybody has something for recreation,” she would say, “I don’t really go out.”
When we arrived, something was wrong and Michael was agitated. “What is he doing here?” he said, and he was pointing at me. I could smell the joss sticks and their incense was making me feel a little sick, but the look in Michaels's face made me feel quite afraid. I grabbed my mother’s hand. I could feel the sudden danger in her.
“I just wanted to get a little something. We’ve got to get back.” Christine manoeuvred us out of the door and at the same time she handed him some money.
I didn’t understand what happened next and I can’t clearly remember, but Michael was angry and I couldn't see a reason why. He snatched the money from Chris, grabbed his coat and barged past us, slamming his door shut.
Christine stood there in a seething rage before we followed him down the stairs. She was dragging me in her wake, calling his name. I remember how fast he walked ahead of us and how Christine dragged me along with her. Michael walked the streets always 20 feet ahead of us, speeding up when he needed to. I don’t remember other people on the roads that night but it was cold, dark and getting later and later, I was worried we were going to miss the film. We followed Michael for what seemed like hours with Chris calling after him, “Michael stop being silly’ and, “You’ve got my money.”
Then suddenly he stopped and we could catch up. There was a cold look in his face, it was contempt, and he threw her money on the pavement, pushed through us again and walked off up the street leaving Christine to shout after him. I remember her having to get down on her knees to pick up her money.
When we got home we had missed the first half of The Omen, a fishbowl had just smashed in slow motion and she didn't cover my eyes through as we sat through the film.
I asked her why Michael was so angry and she said, “He thought I’m something I’m not and I think he hated me for it. People can be like that”
We didn’t see Michael again.