20 April 2009

Sir Clement Freud RIP

I can't think of a crueller juxtaposition than a photo of the late and versatile Clement Freud with the jacket of The Pencourt File.

I was the publicist for this tale of dark deeds, dead dogs and bunnies toing and froing (not to mention poovery in high places).

I used an ex-army type to help on the freelance press relations, holing up in a house in Primrose Hill as I negotiated interviews and extracts. Not that anything came of it but the army chap got wonderfully excited and kept calling his pals on shortwave and using military lingo.

Odd book - mostly about Harold Wilson's fears that MI5 was bugging everyone and him in particular.

  • Hansard:
    "Mr. Tebbit asked the Prime Minister if he has in the library at No. 10 Downing Street a copy of the book "The Pencourt File" purchased from public funds.

    The Prime Minister No."

  • Rumour-mongering: "About Clement Freud and Cyril Smith, the Liberals didn't crumble ... Our thesis is not original. Other people, Private Eye and 'Richard Shaw', for example, have seen the outlines of this ... Pencourt almost uncovered the entire thing during 1977/78, but while identifying many of the individual elements never quite put it together.

    In chapter 23 of The Pencourt File they virtually got it all: Walter Walker, the US smears, David Stirling."

  • Jeremy Thorpe and Homosexual scandalware
  • No New Insight
  • I really must scribble out a review for the Amazon page. I've submitted a shot of the jacket with Sam posing as the late and lovely Rinka.

    So my job was to get news of and interest in this book plastered all over England. Freud was a friend of the embattled Thorpe and defending him against the reptiles of the press who were uncovering more and more about his homosexual tendencies and, in particular, a forlorn character called Norman Scott.

    I had review copies to pass round and wanted to make sure Freud received one so that he could comment authoritatively if and when tackled on the topic, which I intended to make inevitable with my storm of sordid publicity.

    I phoned his office and was of course misunderstood, no one realising I was trying to *give* a copy, not elicit a quote or mock anyone for what Pencourt had uncovered.

    Finally, Freud himself got on the phone and told me straight that he wasn't interested in the mendacious filth we were peddling and to "fuck off". Coming from that sonorous voice, those words were a pleasure to hear, but it still didn't solve the problem of getting him a copy so that he stood the best chance of speaking knowledgeably and putting in a better-informed boot than if I made him wait until he'd bought one from the shops.

    By great good chance, I had a beautiful cousine who was on the fringe of Freud's society, having caught his eye at a party and later been invited along to Playboy-style parties full of bedrooms and romps. Laura might have looked like an adventurous Eurasian temptress but she was sweet innocence and, as she told me, after opening a boudoir door to reveal a mattress mélée, and seeing Laura's face, Freud had said gravely, "Not really your scene, is it?"

    But he didn't drop her from his party list and I persuaded her to sneak a wrapped and clearly addressed copy of The Pencourt File into a dinner CF was attending and placing it discreetly but in full view of where it would catch a flunkey's eye and be hand-delivered to Freudo.

    I never heard more, but Laurie said she saw him unwrapping it au table and then looking around with some urgency for the culprit, leter asking questions.

    The book didn't sell wildly well but, for what it's worth, that's my Pencourt/Freud story.

  • The Funeral
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