Mascot history, masked in mystery


What a load of old cock from Rubber Knob, a troll who shafted gorgeous 13-year-old Romeo Beckham recently for the crime of being a mascot at a soccer international. Too privileged, he said. The gig should have gone to a “poor little lad with leukaemia” instead of a son of the game’s superstar elder statesman David.

A bunch of like-minded knockers quickly joined this Knob. Piling into a gang-bang, they claimed Romeo was “too old” to be a mascot and “didn’t deserve” the role; he had only been allowed to step out onto the hallowed Wembley Stadium turf with England captain Wayne Rooney because his dad had pulled strings. Why couldn’t it have been a ragged street urchin instead, or an orphaned maiden, plucked from plying her humble trade as an under-age sex slave?

I exaggerate slightly, but that was the tone, with the implication that the point of having mascots is to give the lowly and the unfortunate a brief respite from their unfêted fate, letting them bask in the limelight for once. As such, this would in itself be a decent gesture; I don’t knock the sentiment.

But it is not what mascots have traditionally been about. The knockers’ revisionist ideas are a revealing sign of the times, as I will aim to show.

Taking tradition first, the word mascot itself goes back a long way. From the French word “mascotte”, it means a talisman, or charm, and is derived from the word “masco”, a sorceress, and “mascoto”, a “spell”. It was used to describe anything that brought luck to a household. The word was first popularized in 1880, when French composer Edmond Audran wrote a comic operetta titled La Mascotte. Since then, mascots have come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but the tendency seems to have been away from the portable amulets and talismans that have been carried and worn for luck and protection since ancient times, towards more animated and larger forms.

A famous one is the regimental goat. We are told the tradition of goats in the military originated in 1775, when a wild goat walked onto the battlefield in Boston during the American Revolutionary War and led the Welsh regimental colours at the end of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Sports clubs also started to use animals as mascots – real, live, ones were brought along to the games. Most of them were predators, expected to roar and strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. These days it tends to be a human dressed up as an inspirationally fierce animal, such as a wolf or a tiger. There is also a whole menagerie of less threatening, family-friendly, creatures, such chickens or badgers, or more or less any Disneyfied animal.

There is even an inflatable boy, but don’t get too excited. He is not quite what you may be thinking: we are still in “family-friendly” territory here!

What many of these weird and wonderful critters have in common, from goat to boy, is an element of humour. The regimental goat tends to be given an official rank and decorated with campaign medals, none of which can be taken seriously. The boy is enormous, bigger than any adult, which is a comical travesty.

Why then, did real children – initially just boys – become mascots? They may often make us laugh, but there is nothing intrinsically funny about their appearance. Their behaviour may be on the wild side, but no way is a little kid symbolically fearsome, like a lion or a bear.

My guess, and at present I see no evidence that could take me beyond speculation, is that a boy was seen as emblematic: he was a visible embodiment of the future of the sport, and of the club whose colours he wore. Yes, like any mascot he was there to bring good luck. But his power to do so sprang from the joy and optimism generated simply by his appealing presence. It is a magical sort of power, to be sure; but, unlike earlier tokens of luck and protection, it needs no magician or sorceress to cast spells and invest the mascot with the necessary magic. It is just there.

Now, if I am right about the child mascot’s original role, the one crucial requirement of any particular boy mascot is that he should be plausibly emblematic. He must look the part. It must seem as though, one day, he could well be playing for the team, leading it to victory. So he must be lean, well-proportioned, athletic and good-looking, with every suggestion he has been favoured by the gods. He would do well, for instance, to look like Romeo Beckham! Or perhaps a younger boy quite like him – his 10-year-old brother Cruz, perhaps!

But not his little sister, four-year-old Harper. Nothing wrong with her appearance, but on the reasoning just outlined she would only make a good mascot for a women’s team. And as for older brother Brooklyn, 16, he is way too old: if he is going to make his mark on the football field, he will need to be a player, not a mascot. Maybe he will.

The same iron logic means no children dying of leukaemia as mascots; none in wheelchairs either, and definitely no plague victim, by which I mean the grotesque plague of corpulence that threatens to crush the planet to the size of a football under the weight of its fat kids – its ugly fat kids, I should add. They are not a pretty sight.

No, the mascot should be a perfect specimen of the master race. Oops! Sorry, getting a bit carried away here with a perhaps suspiciously Nazi-sounding philosophy of perfection. The idea of fiercely competitive, all-conquering youth leading the way to a glorious future does rather invoke the world of Tomorrow belongs to me! and a policy of exterminating burdensome weaklings – the physically and mentally handicapped, the “degenerate” sexual minorities – along with “inferior” races.

While that extreme is devoutly to be shunned, I do find myself wondering whether we might now be drifting towards an unsustainable opposite extreme, in which the laudable goal of social inclusion (a kind philosophy, to all except kind people like us, of course) is becoming too indulgent and unselfcritical. The now very common inclusion of often seriously overweight kids as mascots is a good example. The social inclusion theme was a marvellous feature of the hugely successful 2012 London Olympics, which showed that caring about all sorts of minorities, including the “differently abled” paralympians, need not be at odds with an environment fundamentally grounded in competition and achievement. The idea is good. But it does have limits. Fats kids do not get to be footballers – and the market for sumo wrestlers is somewhat limited.

Not that mascot culture is being driven entirely by a thought-through vision of social inclusion. Professional sport is a commercial concern. In recent times, especially, although perhaps longer in the U.S. than in most places, clubs have been focusing with fiendish cunning on how to extract every last dollar and dime from the fans. Stadium ticket prices have rocketed along with TV-generated interest and greater discretionary spending power for the well-to-do: going to a soccer match, traditionally a pastime for working class men of often very modest earnings, is now increasingly just for affluent families who can afford kits for the kids in the club’s colours at outrageous prices – colours and designs, furthermore, that are frequently changed, necessitating further purchases.

Nor has the mascot escaped this monetary molestation. Whereas in the old days there was just one mascot for each game, there are now up to 22, each assigned to one of the players on either side. Any here’s the really clever bit: the clubs have done their marketing so brilliantly that parents will now pay, often handsomely (up to £600 at some Premierships clubs), for the privilege of having their kid groomed by a complete stranger! How can it fail to be a grooming opportunity, at least, when the player is actually required to hold the hand of a hero-worshipping child, and the couple have nothing whatever to do except exchange sweet nothings with each other while waiting in the tunnel – the Tunnel of Love, as it were!

Not that you would guess it from seeing the players when the TV cameras are on them. Embarrassment is all but universal. The guys tend to look anywhere but at the mascots, either the one assigned to them of anyone else’s: a scuff mark on the tunnel wall suddenly becomes engrossing. An uneasy silence reigns. The last thing they want is to look like someone who would enjoy being with children. Hell no: a respectable man hates kids!

I said above that I could only speculate on the original reason for children being introduced as mascots. This is because, unlike almost any other aspect of sports culture imaginable, there is a dearth of online information. There must be a zillion websites going into arcane detail about club colours, badges and other such paraphernalia; there is even an American Mascot Hall of Fame, but it is devoted to comical cartoon-type mascots, not child ones. As with the players in the tunnel looking away, I suspect the subject is just too embarrassing for anyone to research. The clubs themselves give marketing information about their mascot packages: the price, what is included the deal, such as a tour of the stadium and so forth. But the ones I have seen pay no attention whatever to the rationale for child mascots and the history of the idea. If anyone knows of a club site that does this, do tell.

One might have supposed there would be some academic research out there somewhere. The child mascot is beyond question of sociological interest. But even Google is stumped on this one. All I could turn up was a mascot function for children in dysfunctional families. The search button at the Museum of Childhood in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum also draws a blank: page after page shows colourful illustrations of cuddly toy mascots for children, but nothing on children as mascots, a tradition that appears to have emerged at some point in the late 19th or early 20th century burgeoning of organised sport, with its well established clubs and substantial fan base.

But the first child mascot may have been long before. The ideal of beautifully perfect, perfectly beautiful, athletic youth was inspirational in Ancient Greece around two and a half thousand years ago, and perhaps a fair bit longer, going back to before the first Olympic Games in 776 BC.

It depends what you a call a “child” though. At 13, is young Romeo Beckham a child or a youth? The Greeks – and indeed the Nazis, who were consciously inspired by them – fetishised youth rather than childhood. And, unless we count the mischievous god Eros as a sort of mascot (stretching it a bit, I think), the first true child mascot I can think of was Roman, not Greek.

He was a little boy, barely more than a toddler when he became a much loved mascot. Like Romeo Beckham, he was the son of a superstar. This was Germanicus, a general, lauded in his day as the greatest military leader since Alexander. Brought up among his father’s troops, the lad wore a tiny uniform just like the ordinary soldiers – and they adored the kid! They even gave him a nickname that stuck longer than anyone would have imagined, a name based on a particular item of his “replica team kit”: his boots. They called him Little Boots. Or, as they said in their Latin, Caligula!

Caligula went on, of course, to become somewhat less popular as an emperor. One can only hope that young Romeo finds a better way of being a retired mascot. Fortunately, unlike child film stars, ex-mascots do not appear to go spectacularly wrong very often!

After the Ball and After the Fall


The impossible just happened. The “unelectable” socialist Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the Labour Party in the UK by a thumping majority, making him potentially the next prime minister. This earthquake was entirely unforeseen by the know-alls of political punditry, just as the equally improbable rise of Bernie Sanders in the US, another incorrigible old leftie, has amazed and baffled the American political establishment, not least Democratic front-runner (until now!) Hillary Clinton.

Be realistic: demand the impossible! So ran a famous slogan of the 1968 Paris uprising, and now that the impossible is indeed suddenly seeming quite realistic, it may be time to examine a radical plan recently put forward by a commentator here. Responding to Lensman’s blog on consent last month, Observer (“not minor-attracted, but hate the way you are treated”) introduced a plan he said could bring about positive change “in a few decades”, comparable to that achieved by the gay movement.

And what a plan! This is no mere sketchy outline of a few bullet points but a full-blown, detailed, 15,000-word exposition of what must be done and how to do it, set out in After the Fall: A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying Pedophobia in the 21st Century. This anonymous piece (Observer’s own?) asks how the gay movement managed to advance so far so quickly, and answers by referring to a game plan co-written by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen entitled After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the ’90s. The style of After the Fall, and no doubt After the Ball too, is very professional, as though the writer has a background in advertising or public relations. We hear about geeky concepts such as Availability Cascades, and we can be sure it’s more than just clever-sounding BS because the gay movement has been stunningly successful using the concepts and techniques described.

Just a brief, jargon-free glance at some of these tactics, though, will suffice to make it obvious what was going on and why it worked. Perhaps the most important idea, though it long preceded After the Ball, was to take control of the language: people attracted to their own sex are “gay” (friendly, light-hearted, unthreatening) rather than “homosexual” (medical condition to be cured) or “perverted” (depraved evil-doers). As for who gays are, you go for prestige figures: famous kings, writers, etc., are claimed as gay even when the claim is a bit dodgy: Shakespeare, for instance. The point is not biographical accuracy but the kudos of being associated with the “world’s greatest playwright”.  And what gays do is emphatically not anal sex, with all its unfortunately messy implications. Sex is played down. The “message” is about love and relationships.

Numerous such tactics are adapted in After the Fall for application in a paedophilic context – oops, sorry, make that a kind context: homos are gay; paedos are kind.  But how much, really, is genuinely adaptable? One new idea, available only right now, in the digital age, looks exciting: anonymous donations using bitcoins in order to achieve a serious level of funding for slick, highly professional advertising campaigns, not just via videos on YouTube but billboards and a mainstream media presence. Unrealistic? Not necessarily.

The biggest single defect in the plan, though, is its lack of a historical perspective. The Kirk and Madsen game plan set out in After the Ball was published in 1989 and was spectacularly successful within a couple of decades. But this was merely the endgame. What a study tightly focused on this phase ignores is that the gay struggle began much earlier, before even the travails and trials of Oscar Wilde, towards the end of the previous century. Thomas Cannon published what is said to have been the first defence of homosexuality in English as long ago as 1749, more than a hundred years before the word itself made its way into the medical literature. Jeremy Bentham, advanced the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England around 1785. Paedophilia these days is arguably at the same historical point as homosexuality was in the 18th century, when you could be hanged for buggery.

In those days it would have been suicidal to come out as a “bugger” or a “sodomite”, or even as a “pederast”, a word which could at least be said to evoke the cultured ethos of Socratic Athens. But coming out, and facing similarly extreme perils to those living two centuries ago, is precisely what After the Fall prescribes as a tactic for kind people. Indeed, it is claimed as essential: many other aspects of the overall strategy depend upon it, such as having presentable, media-friendly spokesfolk.

Regular Heretic TOC readers will not need reminding that we had an extensive discussion of this coming out theme very recently, and I do not propose to reprise it, except to say that I broadly agree with those, such as Edmund and Josh, who feel coming out in present circumstances – or at least urging others to do so – veers towards the irresponsible. After the Fall recommends the use of direct action, taking protest militantly onto the streets, just as the gays have done, to demonstrate strength by being “loud and proud”. All this would achieve at present is to demonstrate our weakness, not our strength. The numbers we could draw upon, and the support from others in alliance with us, would be pathetic. We would be crushed and seen to be crushed. Already perceived as a bunch of losers, we would merely prove the point.

This is not to say there should be no coming out. As Dissident pointed out, the recent Czech documentary Daniel’s World, was about a young man’s coming out that did not wreck his life: as with so much else, it’s not necessarily what you do but when, where and how you do it. Another example, albeit from the more propitiously radical 1970s, is that of “Roger”. I’ll stick with the first name as he may well have gone back in the closet by now, in these more difficult times. He was not shy about being a boy lover in those days, and he came across as a rounded, grounded figure who did good work for a number of radical causes. So when he spoke up for children’s rights as well, he had real credibility.

After the Fall, however, is a fundamentally flawed plan. But that does not mean it is entirely without merit. One of its strongest aspects is identifying issues slightly at a tangent to hard-to-sell paedophilia, but which aim to address people’s feelings rather than their opinions. All successful advocates know that if you can tap into an emotional response, opinions will follow: the heart follows the head, not the other way around. Rational arguments fall on deaf ears unless there is some deeper connection to what we feel. The plan identifies our cultural heritage of sexual shame and guilt, expressed through obsessive body covering, as all-important. In the age of internet porn there is a tendency to think we are all (well, the guys among us at least) totally cool about seeing genitals and sexual action. But the collective feeling that porn is not OK finds revealingly vehement expression in the view that such things are absolutely not to be seen by kids.

After the Fall sees the encouragement of naturism as a great way to counteract such feelings: “Normalization of the genitalia (aka naturism) and sex-positivity are inextricably linked. We think penises and vaginas are weird because we don’t see them enough in normal settings, on normal people…. Once we begin to see them as normal parts of the body, we will naturally ask why we feel children cannot give others permission to touch there and nowhere else.”

As the plan astutely perceives, this approach is capable of promoting nudity in safely non-sexual ways: naturism can be about enjoying the sunshine and a sense of bodily freedom. It is about doing all sorts of ordinary things with no clothes on, and not just – or perhaps not at all – about sex. And naturism is very much for kids as well as grown-ups. Continental Europe already has a great naturist tradition that goes unacknowledged in After the Fall, which is very oriented towards addressing American cultural hang-ups. But the message needs vigorous reinforcement and development globally, including in Europe. Note that all of us except those who have unwisely come out, are well placed both to enjoy naturism ourselves and safely propagandise for it.

The other really good part of After the Fall is about the language we should use, especially the kind word. Let’s go for it, starting right now. I already did, actually, when I was interviewed by mad, man-hating lesbian feminist extremist Julie Bindel earlier this year, an improbable encounter I mentioned in passing in a comment here a couple of months back. She had asked if she could interview me for the Sunday Times. I emailed back saying she was the last person on earth I would want to be interviewed by. But like the scary heavy dyke she is, she wasn’t too troubled by my lack of consent: she just kept on harassing me until I gave in!

I tell a lie. Although there is no shifting her crazy anti-male prejudice, she did at least quote me fairly and accurately, as well as being surprisingly good company over dinner. Her piece was not, alas, accepted by the Sunday Times, but it has now turned up in the September issue of the right-wing cultural and political periodical Standpoint.  Anyway, here is what she quoted from me:

“I would have quite liked [to be labelled as] ‘kindly’ because ‘kindly’ . . . relates to the Dutch and German kinder — children. So yes, being intimate, but also being nice with it. I would say that if someone had sexual relations which were in the realm of what I called earlier the ‘kindly’ sort then that would not be abusive. Although these days one has to be careful because anything you do, no matter how kindly it is, it’s always subject to trauma later on — secondary trauma as a result of society’s hysteria over the whole thing.”

So, I like kindly. But kind is better, I must admit: a very straightforward monosyllable, easily seen as analogous with gay.

Finally, while we’re on the subject of language, the author of After the Fall would surely chide me for calling this blog Heretic TOC. Whereas he wisely emphasises going with the grain, where possible, identifying with majority sentiments rather than setting oneself against them, being labelled a heretic could hardly be more counterproductive. Sure, it draws fellow heretics here, so we can talk among ourselves, but arguably this language defines us as outcasts and bad guys. It’s a bit off message.

But then again, so are Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. They have been saying the same “wrong things” for decades, sticking to their principles and fighting for what they believe rather than slavishly following the opinion polls and focus groups. And now, suddenly and unexpectedly, they find they are being respected for it. They are seen as authentic.

I wouldn’t mind a bit of that sort of reputation, even if it is only for me to be judged authentically odd, as seems likely! So, it may not be in the After the Fall plan, but I don’t think I’ll be changing the name of Heretic TOC anytime soon!



I had a very welcome email yesterday from James Gillespie of the Sunday Times, letting me know he intends to use some information I gave him after he approached me last month in connection with the so-called Westminster VIP paedophilia scandal.

Gillespie has long been sceptical of the crazy murder claims made by “Nick” and “Darren” via Exaggero (sorry, Exaro) News, and nonsense about Edward Heath and others mentioned in Heretic TOC last time. I have seen several of his excellent reports.

And now he has sent me a PDF of his latest, which informs us that the police have at last admitted they no longer believe “Darren’s” claim that my friend the late Peter Righton was a murderer. Their investigation has accordingly been dropped [“Police drop ‘VIP sex murder ring’ inquiry”, James Gillespie, Sunday Times, 13 September 2015]. Gillespie’s report is behind a paywall online, but his story was picked up by the Daily Mail. The first big breakthrough against these dodgy Exaggero witnesses was also in the Mail recently. This was a front-page lead saying the VIP scandal shows signs of “unravelling”, with the police finally getting cold feet over the lack of evidence to back up the claims of star fantasist “Nick”.

Sanity at last!



Another email, received a couple of days ago from Robin Sharpe’s daughter Katherine.

“I’m glad you are posting something on your blog,” she wrote, “That would make him happy. Thank you for doing that.”

In a tribute to her father, whose death was recently reported here (under “Sad news from Canada”), she says that as a child he instilled in her a love of camping, nature, architecture and art. As an adult, though, she had unsurprisingly found it difficult to deal with the high profile controversy he generated, or the “fallout”, as she calls it.

“Maintaining a relationship with my dad has been an exercise in compartmentalisation I would say. You box up and set aside what you cannot agree on, and try to work out the rest.”

Sounds very sensible; and I’d say she seems to have done a pretty good job.

Prime Minister was my buddy – NOT!


I thought I’d heard it all earlier this year when my kind, avuncular, friend the late Peter Righton was accused of a particularly brutal murder. The victim had allegedly been torn apart when roped by his wrists and ankles to a car and a pick-up truck that slowly reversed away from each other, one driven by Righton the other by “another man”.

The scenario is so Hollywood, like something from a Mafia movie or a racial murder in the Old Deep South, it might be thought a screenplay career beckons for the accuser, a guy named by Exaro News only as “Darren”, apparently a former rent boy. After all, Peter had been an outstanding senior social worker noted for his rapport with troubled kids, not a ruthless gangland capo or a white-robed redneck with a pointy hood.

Since then, though, the Exaro stable of suspiciously anonymous accusers appears to have been running their own version of World’s Biggest Liar, which is a great idea for a pub competition, but not such harmless fun when the rightful heirs to Baron Munchausen are let loose on the media.

Lately, Darren’s stablemate “Nick” has been making all the running. Early last month he upped the ante in sexual abuse allegations being made about the late Sir Edward Heath, Tory British prime minister from 1970 to 1974. This was after a Wiltshire police press conference, theatrically held outside Heath’s old home, included a call for anyone to come forward who “believes they may have been a victim” of the putatively pervy premier, who had been “named” as an abuser.

This was an open invitation to fantasists, and world-class liar Nick was never going to miss it. After all, the police only required the accuser to “believe” they “may have been” a victim, not to have actually or definitely been one. So Nick could fit the bill by recovering a memory during therapy, perhaps, or even by simply dreaming a dream that seemed really, really real.

Not that Nick needed even this excuse. He had been screaming True Blue Tory murder for months. According to Exaro, he went to the Metropolitan police, who started Operation Midland, the enquiry into “VIP paedophilia”, on the basis of claims they decided in their wisdom were “credible”.  But now, with the Wiltshire police going high profile, came his chance (and Exaro’s) to make the big-time: his extravagant allegations would far outdo the existing ones, which were themselves sensational enough but of a rather less extreme and more plausible nature. Heath had, after all, been a lifelong bachelor with no visible sex life or romantic interests whatever: in such circumstances, a secret interest in minors is by no means a long-shot. A former senior police officer had claimed that a criminal prosecution of a woman for running a brothel had not been pursued by Wiltshire Police in the 1990s after she had reportedly threatened to expose Heath as a child abuser. Also, the Daily Mirror ran a man’s claim that Heath had “raped” him in a Mayfair, London, flat in 1961, after he had run away from home. Actually, the story makes no suggestion the boy was sexually innocent at the time, nor that Heath forced him into anything. On the contrary, he said had been “on the game”, pimped by his own father, long before meeting Heath, and remained a rent boy throughout his adolescence.

Enter Nick, who told Exaro that Heath was one of a number of prominent men who abused him when he was a child, “raping” him many times at a variety of locations. Oh, yes, and another thing: three boys were murdered, two of them by Tory politicians. As with Darren’s claims, it is Nick’s florid allegations of brutality and murder that look well OTT, not the sexual ones. The Mirror’s witness credibly describes what seems to have been a pleasantly conversational night in Heath’s company, in additional to mutual masturbation and anal sex. I find myself wondering whether the Mirror’s rent boy is one and the same as Exaro’s Nick, his story for the Mirror being true (hence giving him well founded credibility with the police), while the rest was gilding the lily to make extra money from Exaro.

The next we hear of Nick is less than a couple of weeks ago, when former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor held a press conference, accusing police of a witch-hunt after disclosing that he had been questioned over the alleged murder of three boys supposedly linked to an “elite Westminster sex ring”. This turned out to be a reference to Nick’s allegations, and the Operation Midland investigation.

He added that he had been accused of being part of a child sexual abuse ring along with the late prime minister Edward Heath, ex-home secretary Leon Brittan and former heads of MI5 and MI6.

Proctor said he was “completely innocent” of accusations of murder, rape and torture of children and should either be charged with murder or his accuser should be stripped of his anonymity and charged with perverting the course of justice.

Nick was said to have claimed that during one alleged sexual assault Proctor had been going to cut off his (Nick’s) genitals with a penknife. Edward Heath was supposedly present at the “large townhouse in London” where this took place and only his intervention stopped the terrible deed. Proctor said he and Heath couldn’t stand each other, despite a shared party allegiance. So it was unbelievable he would have been invited to the former prime minister’s home to take part in a sex attack.

Proctor said Nick had accused him of stripping and strapping a child to a table, before stabbing him all over his body during a 40-minute attack. Also, after raping a boy, the former MP had allegedly strangled him until the boy’s body went limp. And for good measure he was accused of punching and kicking another boy to death.

Bearing in mind that no bodies were found, nor have there been any reported disappearances of boys matching the times and places in question, Nick was already pushing his lying to the limits of the believable, making him a shoo in for Worlds’ Biggest Liar. But no! Amazingly, he was about to be outdone, and not by stablemate Darren but by a dark horse coming through late on the rails. This new contender was going for the really big one, not just the world title but also the hugely coveted, rarely awarded, Munchausen Mendacity Medal, the MMM, which only ever goes to a truly incredible tall story, a tale so bizarre the only sane response is to fall about laughing.

And guess what: that story deeply implicates PIE! Whereas last year the hot news was all about PIE’s supposed connections with big beasts in the Labour Party, including the current acting leader Harriet Harman, this year the yarn is that we were in bed with Conservative Ted Heath! The media were asking me last year about PIE’s connections with Harman et al. through the National Council for Civil Liberties. Now, just a few days ago, a “quality” national newspaper has asked me what was PIE’s connection with prime minister Heath!

The interest arose, I was told, from claims made in the distinctly non-quality, downmarket tabloid the Sunday Mirror. It is one of their journalists, a guy called Don Hale, who has made a bold bid for the MMM. In a story published on 9 August Hale reported on another missing dossier on VIP “child sex abuse” to compete with the already fabled one supposedly compiled by the late Geoffrey Dickens MP. This time the dossier is one that nobody seems even to have heard of before, whereas the Dickens file was rumoured for years.

This takes us from Baron Munchausen to Baroness Castle. Barbara Castle was a leading Labour cabinet minister in the 1970s. Hale writes: “We can…reveal that Heath, under investigation by seven police forces over child abuse claims, was present at more than half a dozen Westminster meetings of the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange.”

Further down, he continues:

“Baroness Castle showed Heath was present at Westminster meetings with paedophile rights campaigners from the PIE group. Heath is said to have attended at least a quarter of the 30 or so monthly or bi-weekly meetings. His name is said to have appeared on minutes of the private gatherings, also apparently attended by other MPs, along with scoutmasters and headteachers. But the Castle files have been missing since the mid 1980s.”

Ah, yes, Sailor Ted, my old good buddy! I remember him well from when I was Chair of PIE and he was sitting in on our meetings in our palatial Westminster suite of offices! What a laugh he was, what a riot, always regaling us with salty seadog stories about the marvellous sex parties he had aboard his famous yacht Morning Cloud, with young boys hired from that children’s home in Jersey. What was it called? Haute de something.. Haute de la Garenne, that’s it! Managed to get myself an invite to a couple of those sessions. Very good too. Fabulous kids, really hot, nothing but the best for Ted and his guests! Better not tell you about all that, though. Don’t want to incriminate myself, eh?

Only trouble was, once Ted got started on his stories in those meetings, there was no stopping him. If only we had been able to get him to stick to the agenda for the meeting we might have found his advice incredibly useful. What we really needed was a strategy for building up funds and connections across the media, business, the academic world, all the centres of political and cultural power and influence. Instead, the opportunities were somehow just frittered away, so we remained open to attack from the forces of law and order. And when the arrests started, wily old Ted just quietly slipped anchor and buggered off back to the safety of the high seas. Ah well, such is life!

As for that newspaper who approached me last week, I denied everything, natch. Me and Ted were pals? Come on, I said, you’re having a laugh, aren’t you?

In truth, I didn’t speak to the paper’s reporter directly. He said he’d be happy if I’d answer some questions by email. I was content to do that. Whether he’ll ever make use of my boringly negative answers is something we’ll just have to wait and see. For the moment, the paper must remain nameless, for reasons that may become apparent in due course.



Sad news reaches Heretic TOC from Canada. I had an email on 30 August from Robin Sharpe’s daughter Katherine, informing me of her father’s death. She wrote: “It was as always on his own terms, in hospital on August 27th. He wanted you to know.”

Robin, who had been ill for a long time and on my calculations would have been 82 when he died, was a fine writer. In a Heretic TOC piece a year ago I focused on the wryly ironic black humour he brought to his fiction, which managed to be both satirical and erotic. His Pagunan Masks: An Ethnofiction, in particular was an all too unsung masterpiece – although even the Supreme Court of Canada found itself obliged to concede that the man had literary talent.

As for why such an august court of law would be making this judgement, I can do no better than refer readers to my earlier piece, which I think stands pretty well as an obituary: Hail to a hero of “transgressive expression”. I am glad Robin was able to read it as he closed in on his final year. I hope it will have been of some comfort in a life that saw not only official attempts to suppress his work but also censorship by even those bookshop owners and printers who had a reputation for sympathetic treatment of radical material.

Even until late last year I was hearing from him of his frustration in trying to deal with such people, who tended to take a hard line against his “child porn” – a term as ignorant as it was cruel: just as misplaced as denouncing a Renaissance painting of the “Madonna and Child” for depicting the genitals of Jesus. Yes, Robin’s writing was erotic, and even pornographic, but the best of it was so much more than that. He was a fine, brave, gifted, man, whose loss is a great one.

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No time to say much about this horror story featured on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, but listening is recommended. There were two separate pieces, both featuring excellent interviews by presenter Justin Webb. The first, at shortly after 7.30am, featured the boy and his mother. The second, just before 8.30am, featured a lawyer from the Criminal Bar Association and – more significantly – a senior police officer.

The latter interview, with Olivia Pinkney, the “National Police Chief Council’s lead on children and young people” is particularly revealing. She explained very well a series of “decision points” the police go through when dealing with such cases. It all sounded perfectly rational and reasonable until Webb gently asked what harm the boy had done. Suddenly cut adrift from her bureaucratic comfort zone she is all at sea, inadvertently admitting that the young “criminal” was the only victim of the “crime”.


Earlier interview:

Later interview:  (This is the entire programme. This interview starts at  8.21am, which is a little over 2 hours 20 minutes into the recording.)

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