Sunday, September 24, 2006

Male voices and orangeade

Tim Adams has a fascinating piece at the Observer on David Profumo's memoir of his parents, Bringing the House Down:

Profumo's book, published after his father's death, succeeds on many levels. It restores context to a story that has so long had a life of its own. And it offers a measured and affecting insight into what it was like to be a seven-year-old boy in the eye of the original tabloid storm. (The first he really heard of it was the 'disconcerting, deep sway of male voices' beneath his bedroom window: a scrum of photographers waiting for dawn. Later that month, he came downstairs in his pyjamas only 'to see a man from the crowd attempting to force his way through our front door', while the butler, Bustie, tried to lock it. He recalls his mother shouting in her most dramatic tones: 'Leave us alone or my man will give you blows!')

He did not know what any of this was about until he was removed one morning from his prep school to discover his parents in the office of the headmistress eating sandwiches with their crusts cut off. He drank an orangeade while his mother explained: 'Daddy's decided to stop being a politician. He told a lie in the House of Commons, so now we're going to have a little holiday in the country. All together. Now, doesn't that sound fun?' That was pretty much that until he was 13 and a school bully at Eton informed him of the more salacious details of the story.

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