Gay Spies Hit The Sundays

LONDON: Britain’s Sunday ‘heavy’ newspapers have suddenly had a rash of reports on people convicted of spying, who were said to be gay.

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They are still unpublished.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.

Old Boy And Fag

Our thanks to The Sunday Times for a little weekend hilarity in its Atticus column: After many years of drifting across to America and over Europe, one of Oxford’s most illustrious old boys, W.H. Auden, has come shuffling back to the University town with a fag dangling out of his mouth and octopal hands in baggy pockets to spend a winter in a cottage in Christ Church where, as an occasional lecturer, he will be meeting students.

Batchelor of the Year

All readers of Gay News must, we are convinced, be afflicted with desperate longings to hear all about Alexander Lange who has been selected by Penthouse as Bachelor of the Year. None of us see Penthouse very often, but we found out about him through a write-up (hardly profile, or even interview) by Linda Blandford in The Sunday Times. Mr Lange’s main qualification, apparently, is his ’sensitivity towards women’, so Miss Blandford trotted along, all a-quiver, to find out for herself. The article is revealing, for between his quotes and her comments, we find a portrait of what can only be called an arrogant bully. Under a thin guise of olde worlde courtesy a new standard of male chauvinism, approved of and encouraged by Miss Blandford emerges.

“I couldn’t care less what is fashionable and what is old-fashioned – I find it almost impossible to sleep with more than one girl at a time.”

Presumably Mr Lange doesn’t mean that he can’t make it with two or more different girls in the same night, but that he can’t keep two or more mistresses going at once.

But notice that “almost impossible”. Also, disclaimers of modishness usually indicate a preoccupation with it.

“It’s a question of feelings, of giving myself, of wanting to be fair and honest with any girl I love, even to the point of sacrificing my own desires sometimes.”

A noble sentiment. But again we have a qualification – ‘sometimes.”

“He’s 29, 6′ tall and moves with the sinuous appeal of a man whose clothes only just become him more on than off.”

How does she know? Or maybe it’s a bit of wishful thinking.

“He’s a curious mixture: French on his father’s side, German on his mother’s, Swiss by birth and a product of Yale University and the United States army …”

It’s kinda dangerous for smart lady journalists to let their repressed xenophobia surface. What’s so curious about a mixed parentage? The world is small, people do travel. In describing him as a “product”, Miss Blandford is herself seeing him an object, as part of a consumer survey.

“He drives a white Porsche . . (has a) . . white and oatmeal flat chromed with elegance …”

Sexual desirability assessed by conspicuous consumption. And we couldn’t care less about fashion, remember …

“He keeps lists of everything and files it away in neat rows in his meticulous (flat).”

Somewhat obsessive wouldn’t you say? A touch repressed somewhere perhaps?

“He opens doors for ladies, stands up for them …”

What about us women?

“ . . buys them chocolates and flowers – not the mass-produced corner-stand rosebuds either, but proper long-stemmed roses, with genuine thorns on them.”

That is, he treats ladies as pretty dolls, entices them with extravagance.

“He’s also been known to send one girl friend … a list of rules on how to behave, including ‘Do not arrive unannounced’ ‘Do not telephone more than once a day’ and, inevitably, ‘Do think of me ‘.”

This is the biggest give-away of all. Arrogance, selfishness. Little evidence of a willingness to sacrifice his own desires there.

“He once dropped a girl friend he loved because she slept with someone else – it hurt him too much.”

Hurt his pride presumably. Or perhaps the poor girl had used up her one allowed daily phone call to apologise for putting her longstemmed roses in his filing system and couldn’t explain that someone more sinuous (or possibly more human?) had come her way.

Or maybe he was performing the almost impossible at the time.

MISS BLANDFORD CONCLUDES that it is encouraging to find Penthouse valuing such sensitivity. “Normally the magazine jangles girls on a man’s chatelaine like so many keys of doors he may or may not want to open some night”.

Doesn’t she realise that she herself has just spent seven and three-tenths inches (which reminds me of something we didn’t learn about Mr L) praising a man who wears exactly that chatelaine?

Oh, I almost forgot. “Alexander Lange considers he is unusally nice.”