First it was John Vassall, interviewed by Francis Wyndham in the Sunday Times. He was a little camp, but essentially honest in the interview in which he remembered prison life – for instance, its concerts.
He said: “The ones we did ourselves were the best. There was one very amusing prisoner who was very good at dressing up. He had a nickname – Stella. Before Mountbatten (the Mountbatten Commission’s prison report) we had a wonderful concert at Thanet. We had to pick the Miss Thanet of 1965 – it was really a scream. Eight people took part: two of them were gay, so they knew what they were doing. People ran up dresses for the show, made wigs — everyone put in a lot of effort. Oh, it really was a hoot! I did a mime with someone else. He was a girl sitting on a bench and I came in as a man reading a newspaper. Somebody shouted out ‘You’re wasting your time there!’ Even I got a kick out of that. It’s much better to hear something than nothing.”
Next week The Observer slammed back with part one of a two-part serialisation of bits of a book by Brian Inglis on Sir Roger Casement, the eminent Edwardian hanged for treason in 1916 for his alleged part in the Irish ‘troubles’.
The Observer introduced the package with a paragraph describing Casement as a ‘diplomat, homosexual, Irish patriot’.
In his book Inglis claims that: “He (Casement) had left some of his possessions in his old London lodgings, among them his so-called Black Diaries for 1903, 1910 and 1911.”
Others have argued that these diaries never existed until the British Secret Service wanted to ensure Casement’s conviction and execution. It is said that they are not even in a passable imitation of Casement’s handwriting.
Indeed the Black Diaries are among the few once-secret papers the authorities keep very close tabs on.
They are still unpublished. They are in the British Museum but only ‘bona fide’ historians can get to see them.