November 21, 2021

Christmas Trees

How some maintain the status quo using tactics that even a mobster wouldn't use...

Christmas Trees
Photo by David Sinclair / Unsplash

Subversive kid?

a tale of Chicanery, intrigue, and Christmas Trees.

Sometimes you cannot escape your Karma, my grandmother once said that blood is thicker than water, she was right. Often I hear that you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family. How true.

As one person said to me in the Bay Horse, you are Charlie Taylor's grandson, and I am. I have mixed feelings about my grandfather, some good, some bad. He was on so many levels an incredibly bad role model for any grandchild to have. Strangely I understood that. I grasped that he was a strange cove, to put it mildly, a philanderer, who once was involved with a former Miss World cheating on his stalwart of a wife often. A confidant of the rich and powerful, a schemer, organising his realm of deciet and intrigue surrounded by at least eight phones controlling it all like a malevolent octopus. I think he would have loved mobile phones and technology. Perhaps it is best for us all that he never got his hands on such power, especially in the hands of a Machiavellian virtuoso. A man who built up an empire so 'sinister' and 'dastardly' that according to the Daily Mail he could have brought down the Bank of England. I doubt if Charlie ever read The Prince. Perhaps it is best for all of us that he didn't. Then again he didn't need to.

Charlie, has indeed, had books written about him. Government reports too, so secret that they will probably never see the light of day. One of them the Payne Report written by a Chief Constable is so 'dangerous' that it is embargoed for one hundred years. I found that out when I went to the public records office in Kew. Side note, they make a good cup of tea there. I think the Curator was used to telling people that stuff that should be in the public record isn't.

Charlie even had his own spy trying to get the dirt on him. A woman called Mariella Novotny, whose real name was Stella Marie Capes, born in Sheffield not somewhere behind the Iron Curtain. To be honest, I suspect he had a phalanx of spies and informants plotting his downfall. Indeed he had an entire police unit trying to 'get' Charlie, based at Tintagel House, as well as a section of MI5 monitoring his phones and letters, not being all that subtle about it either. You can't outwit an astute nine year old...

I think there are very few children who used to ride their bicycle around wearing a badge saying tell me your official secrets. Why? Well my Aunt was a graphic designer for a magazine called Time Out, and they had got into big trouble, after publishing information that Wikipedia mentioned in their article about the ABC trial citing that:

a London magazine called Time Out in 1976, through the writings of the first and third defendants, published a two-page account of GCHQ called "The Wiretappers", this was among other evidence collected and imparted by the defendants as to how GCHQ operates from year-to-year including gathered evidence, such as photographs of radio masts, of its physical apparatus.

This helped to lead to a trial at the Old Bailey:

The ABC Trial was a United Kingdom trial conducted in the 1970s, of three men for offences under section 2 (wrongful communication of information) and (as dropped during the trial) of one of these men, a scholarly journalist, for the offence under section 1 (imparting information which might be useful to an enemy for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state) of the Official Secrets Act 1911. The men were two libertarian journalists of a similar political viewpoint as much of the Labour government, and a resigned GCHQ source seeking to heighten scrutiny of government-authorised wire-tapping and limit the work of the American agency, the CIA, in Britain. These aims were furthered in the following two decades achieved through detailed parliamentary scrutiny into and regular reports as to the work of security services, a Freedom of Information Committee and regulation of wire-tapping. Aside from very limited reportage from the Central Criminal Court, its early analysis comes in the account of one of its investigative-journalist defendants, Duncan Campbell, in the annual journal The Socialist Register.

So although a child I absorbed this chicanery and intrigue like a sponge. When most kids were collecting football cards in the playground, I kept up with my families dirty linen being hung up for all to see, and how our Government worked to keep the Establishment in power using trickery and dirty tricks. I could never have been a gangster like my grandfather Charlie. I knew what was right and wrong, and I definitely was brought up not dragged up. My grandfather, Charlie to some and Charles to others had everything that the state had at it's disposal thrown against him. Ultimately they destroyed him. It had to end this way. Even Prime Ministers got the 'treatment'. Sadly nothing changes and the state continues its black arts, and tries to master the internet and curtail free speech.

Harold Wilson certainly got 'the treatment'. During the 1970's a group of right wing establishment figures despised Wilson and decided that he needed to go, by any means necessary. Including plotting a coup that would be lead by Lord Louis Mountbatten that would use military force to get our leftie pipe smoking Prime Minister out of office. The article on Wikipedia about the Wilson Plot mentions the alleged 1974 plot it says that the:

Alleged 1974 military coup plot
On the BBC television programme The Plot Against Harold Wilson, broadcast on 16 March 2006 on BBC2, it was claimed there were threats of a coup d'état against the Wilson government, which were corroborated by leading figures of the time on both the left and the right. Wilson told two BBC journalists, Barrie Penrose and Roger Courtiour, who recorded the meetings on a cassette tape recorder, that he feared he was being undermined by MI5. The first time was in the late 1960s after the Wilson Government devalued the pound sterling but the threat faded after Conservative leader Edward Heath won the election of 1970. However, after a coal miners' strike Heath decided to hold an election to renew his mandate to govern in February 1974 but lost narrowly to Wilson. There was again talk of a military coup, with rumours of Lord Mountbatten as head of an interim administration after Wilson had been deposed. In 1974 the Army occupied Heathrow Airport on the grounds of training for possible IRA terrorist action at the airport. Although the military stated that this was a planned military exercise, Downing Street was not informed in advance, and Wilson himself interpreted it as a show of strength, or warning, being made by the army.


It was no idle threat indeed Wilson's paranoia aside it helped lead to his shock resignation. I think my grandfather made a few bob betting on what he knew was a dead cert. Family lore tells us that the plotters asked my grandfather if he would join their cabal. His reply was apparently 'you all must be fucking mad I'm not doing that'. Even somewhere behind those inky black unfathomable eyes he knew how dangerous such an enterprise could he. I find it interesting to note that his problems magnified after that refusal to involve in a plot of treason?

I am sure that somewhere in the BBC's grey filing cabinets I would never progress above a certain level? Maybe I had a little christmas tree placed on my personal files. Do I care? No, because ITV always paid far more 'moolah' than dear old aunty. As a child actor I worked for the 'Beeb' on and off and enjoyed it very much, but it was a class obsessed organization, everyone had to speak R.P, Recieved Pronounciation, and attend the right public school and the right University. Oxford and Cambridge preferred. I was okay I went to Drama School and had a cutglass accent. I suppose I was a left wing 'Mogg', Well I looked like him a bit which meant I always played the upper class swot. Don't mind that. Acting, is just that, acting a part. Being a 'Mogg'? Well that would transmogrify me into something I could never be. Being a 'Mogg' (which sounds like a Dr. Who enemy) would be a bridge too far. Article about BBC vetting below. And an old post of mine about a Knave and an Earl.

The vetting files: How the BBC kept out ‘subversives’
For decades the BBC denied job applicants were vetted by MI5 - but vetting continued at the corporation until the 1990s.
A Knave and an Earl
Recently it was the anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade. The incidents outcome still reverberates in military circles. I even think it is discussed in the military history training that officers are taught at Sandhurst. My family have no connection with that battle.