Letters, Friday, October 21st, 2011

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Memories of the Profumo Affair

ANYONE who was a teenager in 1963 will never forget the Profumo Affair. Historians now write about how this scandal changed British society, but for me it had a big personal impact. If you were an adolescent boy, the daily revelations on television and in newspapers were sensational.

Every morning I’d meet my pals outside the school gates and we’d try to make sense of the latest development. It really was an education. What was a mistress? A call girl? What were immoral earnings? What was an orgy, which rich people in London enjoyed? A tart was something your mam bought for tea, but now it had a different meaning.

It opened our eyes but gave us a strange picture of the world. Was this the way the upper class – our social superiors – behaved in private?

You can’t blame teenage lads getting excited about it. Christine Keeler was a stunning beauty and boys fancied her. I was no different until I understood what sort of a girl she really was. Some boys preferred Mandy Rice Davies, the petite blonde who talked her way into the Dictionary of Quotatations. It was hard to believe she was only a teenager herself. Stephen Ward was the sinister professor Higgins who introduced these girls into high society, but was destroyed by the scandal.

Ordinary working people in Sunderland were stunned. We were all repelled by it but fascinated too. My parents looked embarrassed whenever the news came on because they could see my overactive imagination working.

They’d found it hard enough to explain the facts of life to me, but now we had the sordid sex lives of the upper classes on television every night.

Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was floundering, an old man whose Government was in crisis because his War Minister shared a lover with a Russian spy. The satirical television show That Was The Week That Was ridiculed the ruling Establishment mercilessly.

It’s unbelievable it was nearly 50 years ago.

William Crane, Langley Close, Washington

Lesson from Mo

IN May 1997 the late Mo Mowlam, the MP for Redcar, became the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

With her strong will and sheer determination, on April 10, 1998, she helped achieve the Good Friday Agreement. It may not have been perfect, but it was a gigantic step forward for the people of Northern Ireland. Because of her involvement in the peace negotiations she became very popular – too popular for her own good.

The following year at the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool she was given a standing ovation. At the same as time Tony Blair was paying tribute to “our one and only Mo”, he and Peter Mandelson were planning her downfall.

Not long after that conference she lost her position to Peter Mandelson who, because of his arrogant attitude, nearly lost the Peace Agreement.

Today this is exactly what is happening with Sunderland Labour Party, as some of the councillors are becoming too popular for their own good.

Is it any wonder that Sunderland has become a third-rate city when the ruling party continues to have party squabbles and cannot agree?

What really annoys me is I do not want the Labour Party National Executive sitting in an office some miles away dictating who will be allowed to stand for Sunderland City Council.

F. W. Shiels, Rydal Mount, Fulwell

Bus pass delay

I WONDERED if any of your readers have had the same bother as I have had trying to get my concessionary bus pass from Nexus.

I have just received it on October 6. It was due to start on September 6.

This is after numerous phone calls to Nexus head office, trips to the Nexus shops, emails (unanswered) and sending three photos.

I was told on two occasions they had mislaid my photo. Can you believe it?

And no letter or word of apology either.

Joan Watt, Grindon Park, Sunderland

Special thanks

ANN Atkinson and family wish to thank everyone who supported our Macmillan coffee morning held in Castletown Community Centre on October 1.

The number of raffle prizes donated was staggering as was the number of people who bought coffee and home-made cakes which resulted in the amazing total of £1,009.22.

A huge thank-you to Jean, Pat and Margy. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Margaret Amer, The Grove, Castletown

Search Party

I AM trying to locate an old school friend for a girl cousin who has lived in Wales since the mid/late 60s.

Her friend’s name is Sylvia Clark. She was born 1953/5 and she lived in Fletcher Crescent, New Herrington.

I did a search via Google and I have come across a PDF family tree for the Furnevel family, who, as the years go on, become firmly rooted in New Herrington.

On scrolling through the document, I came to Lavinia Furnevel, born 1927, who married Edward Clark in 1948 at St Aiden’s Church, New Herrington.

They had four children: the eldest, Margaret, born 1949, Edward, Sylvia and Susan. The last three do not have any birth date details.

Does anyone have any information about Sylvia Clark or her siblings which may help with my quest to locate her.

If anyone can help I would be pleased to hear from you.

Kathleen Elliott, Email: kathleenelliott@hotmail.com Tel. 07765 620543

I HAVE started researching my family tree. My mother, Hilda Bradley (nee Medd) was born on June 29, 1900, at 57 Sydenham Terrace, Sunderland.

Her father was William Medd and her mother was Elizabeth Mary Medd. She had two brothers, Arnold and Sydney, Arnold being the oldest.

I did meet Arnold many years ago. If anyone can give me any information I would be very grateful.

Dorothy Youll, Email: dyoull@hotmail.co.uk

BRITT, a Norwegian girl who attended Commercial Road School during 1954-55, would like to make contact with two friends.

Their names are Beryl Richmond and Edna Hall. If they remember Brit would they please get in touch.

Email: mgramslaw@btinternet.com Tel. 01289 382459

ANY information, please, concerning Liz Boomer from Leam Lane.

She taught at Wardley Primary School and left in 1972 to teach with the forces in West Germany.

N.Varley, Email: henryhippo1@hotmail.com