three pairs of lovers with space

ETON VOICES BY DANNY DANZIGER

 

Eton Voices, published by Penguin Books in 1988, consists of interviews of forty-two old boys of Eton College, “the most famous school in the world”, by journalist Danny Danziger. The author, himself an Old Harrovian[1], says he was drawn “to delve into the Etonian psyche” through fascination with Etonians’ “finely tuned sense of superiority”.

Summing up the content of the interviews, Danziger said: “There is a backdrop throughout of adolescent eroticism, expressed (and sometimes fulfilled) in homosexual liaisons, sometimes amorous, sometimes lustful, sometimes innocent.” Thirteen of the old boys explicitly mentioned homosexuality amongst their reminiscences of their time at Eton. It is the  Greek love content of these that is presented here.

Danziger lists the interviews in alphabetical order of the boys’ names.  Here they are given in chronological order, as being more revealing of evolving attitudes. The brief biographical notes about the interviewees are this website’s.

 

The Hon. Francis Pakenham, later 7th Earl of Longford

The Earl of Longford

Francis Aungier Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford and a cabinet minister (1905-2001) was in C. M. Wells’s house from 1918 to 1924.

A lot of boys got expelled from Eton for homosexualism. I’m told that simply doesn’t happen now. But there was a lot of homosexualism. One boy once made an advance to me, but only once. We used to share a bath after games, you see, and if two people were at all that way inclined, they would be last into the bath, and so when everyone else had gone, they would mess about with each other. But how far that went on one didn't know, but certainly there was a lot of, well, messing about, masturbating and so on. I never masturbated at Eton; it never occurred to me. [pp. 183-4]

 

Patrick Macnee

Daniel Patrick Macnee (1922-2015), an actor, was in C. E. Sladden’s house from 1936 to 1939, when he was expelled “for two reasons: having dirty books and running a book”.

Patrick Macnee as an Eton schoolboy

I think the school masters were dreadful. None of them related on a human level at all. That's why boys went to boys. You had very close relationships with boys, very physical and intellectual and emotional. People tried to pretend that it didn’t happen and that they went naturally into heterosexuality, which we did, but while we were there it was far more sensual than almost anything else in our lives after. There was no buggery at Eton, it was all based on sensuality, and never entry. So it wasn’t homosexuality in that sense, it was a great need for friendship and love. It’s the highest time of sexuality in life, and the most dangerous, because it happens with the same sex, which I think is infuriating.
[…]

The one thing I remember is sex, and the other thing I remember is fear . . . and one other thing I remember is this wonderful insight into the arts. As everybody has probably told you, we were a very highly sexual, sensuous community, and we had great affection, so our affections were totally focused on the boys there. The masters were total enemies. Anybody old was an enemy.
[…]

I had a deep loathing for the authority figures at Eton. I have no feeling about it at all now. I very occasionally have slight erotic memories of it, that’s all. [pp.193-6]

 

Anthony Blond

Anthony Bernard Blond (1928-2008), a publisher (most notably of the works of Simon Raven), was in G. W. Nickson’s house from 1940 to 1946.

Ours was a very pi[2] house. Nothing much happened in our house, reflecting the personality of the housemaster. We'd often ask of him, “Is he a common little man or a little common man?” We despised him, I'm afraid. But some houses were quite louche, and famous for it, definitely. And obviously some housemasters were actually homosexuals and this infected the boys a bit.
[…]

There were some very beautiful boys there. I had the most beautiful fag, I had the school dreamboat. He was absolutely lovely, and a bit naughty-looking too. And people used to ask me to fag him round which meant to send him on a spurious mission so they could have a go at him.

Blond's housemaster, Geoffrey Nickson, conducting pupil room in the 1930s (photo 40 in Tim Card's Eton Renewed)

In fact the man who beat me when I was eight-tanned[3] was the man who I was fagged round to, so it was a complete sexual circle. When I was a little boy, much smaller, he had fancied me, and had me sent round and tried to seduce me. It was the first time I ever saw anybody naked - he was naked when I went into his room, and I just bolted. And that was the man who beat me. So there's quite a good erotic circle. I remember, of course, who he was, and I know what he does now, but I've never seen him since.

I was convinced a lot more went on than I knew. I was a terrible little prig and had no sex of any kind, any kind whatsoever, only in my own mind, but I'm sure there was a great deal. The headmaster once remarked, “My boys are often amorous, seldom erotic.” I think that was a rather sweet thing to say. But I think it's absolutely the other way round. There was a lot of hard lust and the expression thereof. And certainly this boy, my fag - he was called Long, if that interests you - was so pretty that when he played in the small house match there was a crowd to watch him, and I think it had to be stopped. He was absolutely beautiful. He was a wicked, angelic boy. I remember somebody saying to me, “I've got a crush on Long”, and I said, “What do you mean by ‘crush’?” That was the first time I heard the expression.

When I was young I had one on older boys. I particularly remember the most beautiful boy was Ian Gilmour,[4] lovely looking. And when I was older, of course, I had crushes on younger boys, but I never expressed them in any way, although I think I could have done. I was terrified of sex; I remained so until way after Oxford. I was a very late developer sexually.

But all that was very much a temporary phase. For instance, the most famous bugger I knew went on to be one at Oxford, became a terrific heterosexual and went to Africa and made scandals because of the number of black ladies he had. [pp.46-8]

Carter House, J.M. Peterson's house

 

Adrian House

Adrian R. House (born ca. 1928) was in J. M. Peterson’s house from ca. 1941 to 1946.

As much pot luck as the choice of your housemaster, and as important, was the accident of your contemporaries. Luckily we all got on together. We talked about Eton football and the Wall game, prose styles, the techniques of beating, Beethoven versus Brahms, The Times crossword, and the relative beauty of younger boys. I never fell for a younger boy, but hero-worshipped one much older, who was probably the most beautiful boy I have ever seen, called Jonathan. [p. 142]

 

Lord Oaksey

John Geoffrey Tristram Lawrence, 4th Baron Trevethin and 2nd Baron Oaksey (1929-2012) was in the house of H. K. Marsden and his successor E. P. Hedley from 1942 to 1947. Here he is referring to the first of his two housemasters:

For instance, all the time he was a housemaster we only ever had one person sacked, and he was sacked for the usual Etonian offence,[5] and was involved with about twenty other people from different houses,[6] so Bill couldn’t save him. [p. 226]

 

Derek Malcolm

Derek Elliston Michael Malcolm (born 1932), film critic for The Guardian, was in R. J. N. Parr’s house from 1945 to 1950.

Homosexuality was a very prominent thing in my day. Just to show how prominent it was, when I was about fifteen I came back from holiday, and we grouped in a room together, about five or six of us, and I said, ‘Well, I don’t know, I think women are really quite interesting, and I’m not so sure about little boys . . . perhaps one should forget about all this.’ And everyone in the room turned on me and said (I will never forget it), ‘You bloody pervert!’ They were saying it in a half-mocking tone, but by God I think they meant it.

A fag lighting the fire in his fagmaster's room during the 2nd World War (note on the right the gasmask tin and gumboots ready for a hasty retreat to the air-raid shelter). Photo 5 in Eton Voices

So it was a homosexual society, a pederastic society. There was hardly anybody who didn’t desire the little boys, and there was great competition to get the most attractive fag, in which I sort of joined, because in that kind of atmosphere there’s no way you could escape. I must tell you that when I left Eton at eighteen, I was in pretty good terror for about a year that I might be gay, and of course the worse kind of gay, liking little boys. What a disastrous life to go through, desiring little boys. I mean, what can you do? What an awful fate. On the other hand, I think one of the reasons I didn’t turn or become gay was because I never actually did anything - maybe if I had, I would have, who knows? I never actually did get into bed with any of these little boys, or tamper with them; I was too frightened really. I remember getting into bed with my best friend, who was my age, and we were fiddling around and 1 thought, ‘I’m not enjoying this at all’, and so I just got out of his bed and said, ‘Oh, forget it.’ That was just mutual masturbation. I was not attracted at all to people of my own age, but I was certainly deeply attracted to small boys. The sexual drive has got to go on to something, but I think most of us never really did anything. We desired, we might have touched, there might have been some mutual masturbation, but it was a phase we were all passing through, because there was nothing else.

In my house, in my circle, nobody dared do a bloody thing, except one fat boy, who was generally despised, who got hold of - by some miracle - the prettiest boy in the house. I think the most erotic moment of my life was when this boy everybody fancied, called B--, was with this dreadful sleazy fat man called S--. I was in the room below S—‘s, and I had my window open one summer night, and I heard B-- saying, ‘Oh S--, don’t. Oh S--, S-- . . . Oh S— ‘Oh B--, Oh B--, Oh, B--!’ ‘Oh S--.’ I was absolutely going mad with lust because he was such a beautiful boy, but the awful thought of this dreadful creature managing to get hold of the object of everybody’s desire - I can’t remember anything quite so erotic in my life.

Etonians in uniform, showing the difference between tails (left) and bum-freezer (right)

Another moment was eating some apple crumble in the house dining-room - the apple crumble was delicious - and I can remember another beautiful boy, with the most beautiful bum in bum-freezers,[7] going up to ask for a second helping . . . I was eating the crumble, just watching him and thinking what bliss to be eating the crumble and going to bed with him at the same time. And I don’t think I will ever forget those two moments, one very brief moment of about half a minute, and the other which seemed to last about an hour. I just wish that any hetero relationship that I’ve since had measured up to those, and I don’t think they do, because at sixteen somehow everything is so fresh and intense. I think everybody remembers their first sexual desires, and mine were definitely, without any question, for small boys.

One of the housemaids I found very attractive. She was a nice bouncy little girl of about eighteen and, very unfortunate for her, a friend of mine had a room which was right above her bedroom; we could see what she was doing through the cracks in the floorboards. And I can remember the most dreadful erotic thrill of watching her masturbate, from the room above. Maybe that saved me from being gay. Jesus, I think that probably cured me.

At the same time I remember, my very last night at Eton, trying to break into the room of my fag. I think we’d all got drunk, I don’t know how we got the booze, but we did. And my fag was Lord Vivian[8] - I should imagine he is dreadful now, but he was very pretty at that time, and he rather liked me and I certainly liked him. But he had locked the door. God knows what I would have done had I got in, probably just kissed him or something, I'm not quite sure. I wouldn’t have known what the fuck to do.

My problem was that I was a pretty boy and therefore loved by all the seniors. But since I was much older than I looked, maybe same as now, I was after the juniors and I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in the seniors. I can remember them trying to get into my room, and I thought, ‘Fuck me, just my luck, those buggers are after me and I don’t want them.’ I cannot remember a decent sexual experience at Eton.

I do think there’s an awful number of people whose first sexual experience is the pattern of their life. Had I broken into Vivian’s room and actually got him - presuming that he had been attracted to me - and something had happened, I believe the pattern of my life might have changed, indeed had I not seen the maid masturbating . . . who knows? Who knows what one’s sexual drive is? But one is never so sexually intense as when one is sixteen and can’t get at what one wants.
[…]

Fagging. Has the bed been made well? (Photo 48 in Tim Card's Eton Renewed)

It may be that I was once attracted to small boys and therefore know what it’s like. And I was in terror of being gay for at least a year after leaving Eton, in terror, because I knew I still desired boys, and couldn't get anywhere near girls. So I was really pleased when I met a girl at Oxford whom I fancied, and who fancied me; but even then I could do nothing, I was so stunted by all this crap. I think the sexuality engendered in public schools in my day was a very, very stunting thing, although I’m perfectly convinced, at least in my circle of friends, all of whom fancied boys, that hardly any of them - except the lucky S-- - ever did anything. If you were to ask me if any of them were gay now, I should say they’ve probably naturally grown out of it like everybody else, but I would think S-- hasn’t. God knows about B--.

I think the only thing Eton left me with was that I rather like boyish women now, and I rather like bums – I’m a bum man rather than a tit man. I’m sure that’s the only legacy of homosexuality I’ve got, thank God. Well, I don’t say thank God now, it would be quite convenient to be bisexual, but I don’t think I am in any way. [pp. 199-206]

 

The Earl of Gowrie

Alexander Patrick Greysteil Ruthven, 2nd Earl of Gowrie (born 1939) was in F. J. R. Coleridge’s house from 1953 to 1958.

I messed[9] with the same two people for a very long time […] and I got on well with them. I mean, one went through the ordinary adolescent things of crushes and love affairs and excitements of that kind, but these were quite ordinary orthodox friendships which simply have lasted in a very un-neurotic way. It's a good place for friendships; I don't think of myself as a sort of extravagantly Etonian character - though I may be, I don’t know - but it is not for nothing that among my four or five closest friends, I suppose about three of them are Etonians whom I’ve known since I was thirteen. [p. 111]

 

John Graham

John Douglas Skelton Graham (1940-2011), journalist and son of a former Eton master, was in C. D’O. Gowan’s house from 1953 to 1957.

It’s interesting; you live a very intense life in close proximity with other people, and have deep and very powerful personal relations With them, friendships, love affairs, rivalries, and yet almost nothing remains twenty-five years later, except one very good friend.
[…]

Whenever I found myself on a story, Beirut, or Belfast, journalists from other papers were always astonished that a journalist should actually have been at Eton and wanted to know what it was like, and I would desperately try to remember. They wanted to know what life was really like in a boarding school. Were the boys very snobbish? Were they very rich? “Were you all homosexuals?” Typical question. I would say, ‘No. Of course we experimented and went to bed with each other; there weren’t any girls.’ […]

Eton College Beagles by Joseph Appleyard, 1953

My memory is good. I can remember feelings. I can remember what it was like to fall in love with someone and have an affair with them at school, and how desperately jealous one got if there were rivals. I can remember being up before the headmaster and how frightening it was. I can remember vividly the events and meetings and intrigues in my final period which eventually led to my leaving the school. It was a glorious, wonderful hot summer. And I can remember the sheer beauty of the place. I mean, it is very lovely to go out and sit in the fields in the summer and wander up and down the river; the School Yard, Luxmoore’s Garden, College Chapel, the libraries. I remember just staring at them and thinking it's very lovely; you’re surrounded by beautiful sights, beautiful buildings.

I was expelled for going to bed with another boy, having been caught once before. What I really remember from that is that authority in all its forms - the masters, the headmaster, my parents, the other boy's parents - simply did not understand the meaning of our love affairs with ourselves. We did and they didn’t. It was endemic. It did not mean we were homosexuals; we went to bed with each other because there were no girls, and we were at an extremely sexually aware, powerful and moving time of life. And people may talk about sublimating this in playing rugger or in doing well at your lessons or something, but it’s not true. There was an awful lot of energy and it had to go somewhere. In the holidays we’d had girls the whole time, and we were never in any doubt at all, but we went to bed with each other as girl-substitutes. The authorities didn’t see that at all. It was presented as immensely wicked; we weren’t quite told we’d go blind if we masturbated, it was a little more advanced than that, but it wasn’t very enlightened. And everyone did it, more or less, very few people didn’t. I happened to get caught.

The subsequent events weren’t particularly speedy. There were all sorts of discussions, and my parents came down and saw the headmaster, and it was all very embarrassing. I was in fact allowed to stay until the end of the term. But it was quite a shock, suddenly realizing that, at the end of the summer term, that would be it, I wouldn’t be going back for my final year. And there was also the problem of where I’d go to school, what would become of me, as it were. Because it was in those days a very big disgrace. This was before the Wolfenden Report[10], and there was nothing like the tolerance of homosexuality or adolescent homosexual games, which was what we were playing, that there is today.

Only my closest friends knew, and a great many people didn’t know until the following September, when I didn’t re-emerge at school. And then I lost touch with pretty well all of them, except for two or three who I occasionally wrote to.

My father, being himself a public school headmaster and Chairman of the Western Region of the Headmasters Conference, naturally felt very powerfully a sense of disgrace, and it put an end to my parents’ relationship with my housemaster and his wife. They had been best friends, they started their jobs together, my mother and my housemaster's wife were each other’s best friends. They never saw each other again, and in many ways I think it was much harder on my parents than it was on me; they felt it very acutely. But they did forgive me. Despite the extremely conventional life my father led as a public school headmaster and a clergyman and the rest of it, he was a very liberal man. He realized that the true intellectual is always a liberal, and he didn’t see things in terms of narrow rules and the small print of school regulations. At the same time, I had failed the system, or the system had failed me, and he felt that very keenly, and it made them quite unhappy for a bit. I then had a very successful career at St Paul’s and Oxford, and they got over it. [pp. 116-9]

 

John Moorhead[11]

John Christopher Moorehead (born ca. 1941) was in C. D’O. Gowan’s house from ca. 1954 to 1959. Alone of the Old Etonians interviewed, he mentioned a love affair with a boy the same age (seventeen), his description of which is included here because as it is hard to disentangle from his general remarks about homosexuality at Eton.

Etonians being measured for their school uniforms by one of the school tailors (Photo 17 in Eton Voices)

Well, we were all gay, we were all queer, as we called it in those days. Gay Eton! The wonderful hypocrisy about the whole thing, I mean, you were odd if you had not had some homosexual experience when you were there, and yet the rules were that if you did have it, you got thrown out. Certainly it was a main part of one’s life. My first and greatest love was a contemporary of mine in my house at Eton; I stayed on a whole extra term, motivated five per cent by the wish to get into Pop, and ninety-five per cent by love. Or adolescent lust.

I had an affair with this boy and loved him with a passion. Wonderful! I did certainly think for a while, at the age of seventeen, ‘Goodness me, I must be gay’, but I discovered I wasn’t, and he certainly wasn’t either. It was just established practice; everybody did it all the time and it was absolutely part of your life. I suppose because it was the cardinal sin, that made it more exciting. The hypocrisy of the people who invented a school like that, and then said it’s the worst sin! Ridiculous, because of course it was bound to happen.

Looking back, it was all very innocent, but quite promiscuous. A new, pretty boy would arrive in the house, and then people concentrated on him, and to this day one could still define various people in that context. There is a dignified figure on the Financial Times who’s synonymous in my mind with only one thing – he was the school tart. He wasn’t very pretty, it’s very odd.

There was a completely open thing about it, and still is. My boyfriend from the last term at Eton lives in the south of England, knows my wife’s parents and everything. My wife went over to have a drink there, and I said to her, ‘Ask C - how he is, and tell him John sends his particular love.“ [pp. 216-7]

 

Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes

The explorer Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet (born 1944) was in R. J. N. Parr’s house from 1956 to 1961. He elaborated on the following account in  Living Dangerously: The Autobiography of Ranulph Fiennes (1987).

I arrived very bumptious and very confident and had that rapidly removed, mainly owing to the fact that I was a pretty boy, which completely haunted my whole life. I so hated being called ‘a pretty boy’, and having the larger boys looking at me, that I told my mother, ‘I want to be removed at once.’ This was a new experience and a very unpleasant one. But above all I wanted to get out of those bum-freezers[12] which seemed to highlight the ‘pretty boy’ situation. And so she went to Purple Parr, my housemaster, and Purple Parr explained that five-foot-two was five-foot-two and had been since King Henry the whatever. I told her I’d jump off Windsor Bridge.

Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes

On two occasions, once in Judy’s Passage and once in the clothes room at Eton, I was attacked physically, and I fought off by putting my fingers in their eyes, which I suppose they didn’t expect. But that wasn’t the point. I could put up with physical bullying because I could fight back; I was no good at fighting back verbally. It was the verbal teasing all the time - you know, suggestions that one had done this, that and the other – simply because one was pretty.

It completely dampened me down for the next three to four years. My instant reaction was to take up boxing, and to be aggressive and to wear a permanent scowl. And I suppose it coloured my memories of Eton so that I find it difficult to remember the good times, and it was such an unpleasant shock that it made me find it rather difficult to concentrate on lessons. All I did was to box, and I lived for boxing, for being aggressive.

I got a thing called chorea, a type of rheumatic heart fever, at about sixteen, through too much boxing and trying to get my weight down to paper weight, and I went to a specialist in Ireland who said I had to leave school. So I left for a whole summer half and summer holidays, and I suddenly grew six and a half inches and got a lot bigger, and really, when I got back, the tart troubles stopped.

Then I discovered night climbing, and that became an extremely bright spot. Night climbing made my last year at Eton, but then by the last year I was no longer pretty, so that was no longer a worry.
[…]

I suppose I might have got through life to the age of eighteen without having had an unpleasant experience, but because I had such an unpleasant experience at Eton, I suppose I ought to be grateful in that it did at least teach you to have some defences, which are very necessary before going out into life. So from that point of view - a rather negative way of looking at it - Eton is responsible for forming me and playing a part in any success I may have had. And if I did have a son, providing he wasn't pretty, I might send him there. [pp. 268-272]

 

The Hon. Jonathan[13] Porritt

Sir Jonathon Espie Porritt, 2nd Baronet (born 1950) was in R. D. Baird’s house from 1963 to 1968.

As far as I was concerned all the terrible stories about homosexuality and so on never really crossed my horizon. Yes, there were sort of crushes, I suppose, between boys of different ages, and there were quite close friendships, and certainly there were incidents of homosexuality that were rumoured to be taking place. It never was part of what I experienced at Eton, I'm happy to say in retrospect. But it wasn’t whether it was boys or whether it was girls, it was just the whole notion of sex that didn't actually feature terribly large at that age. [p. 244]

 

David Thomas

The Hon. David William Penrose Thomas (born 1959), an author, was in A. G. Ray’s house from 1972 to 1976.

A typical boy's room, ca. 1970s (Photo 19 in Eton Voices)

You have to maintain a very cool façade there. You're aware from a very early age who the cool guys are, and of course the cool guys are really cool. It’s not like they’re just cool in Basingstoke, they’re kind of nationally cool. You know that they’re going to all the smartest parties in the whole country, and the prettiest girls from the smartest families are liable to be dating them. Now faced with this and faced with the other thing, which is that you can't be seen to be too emotionally involved with any of your friends for the obvious reason that you don't want to appear to be homosexual, there's a very strong pressure to maintain a façade at all costs: whatever you’re feeling inside, for fuck's sake don't give it away. I mean this is true of men in general, but it’s particularly true of public school. And as Eton is the ultimate public school, so it is ultimately true at Eton.
[…]

Young boys at Eton who were physically attractive were almost like pseudo-girls. In fact I often think that those kind of boys must have a very good understanding of what life for a girl is like, in the sense that they were remarked upon visually and physically and what have you. And you could go a long way by being pretty, because you would probably get to fag for smarter people. This was in the last days of fagging. All the boys deeply resented it when fagging was banned, which was McCrum’s parting gesture,[14] one quite out of keeping with the times into which he was moving, of course; I mean, had it stayed two years it would have stayed for ever, because in Thatcherite Britain, fagging’s perfect. So you had all these pretty boys and they would be sent round from one Library to another for comparative purposes on the most spurious pretexts. And when they installed a house telephone system it got really decadent, because people in the Library would ring up, ‘Hi Mark, how are you . . .I’m just sending around Miss Simpkins with a note - fucking pretty, do take a look.’

A lot of it was the manifestation of either displaced heterosexuality or camp, or just a joke of a rather decadent sort. There were always rumours about who was supposed to be going to bed with whom. But the real homosexuals, the people who were actually gay, didn’t join in those kind of games, because it was much harder for them to do so. There was one gay person in my house, and I can think of another couple of gay people in my year who have since come out, and they were much more introverted. The people who were most flamboyantly homosexual almost certainly were not. I suppose there was a degree to which it was a bit like at girls’ schools, where you have ‘pashes’. I don’t know how much active homosexuality went on, one had heard rumours - I mean, I can tell you that none went on in my life. [pp. 261-4]

 

Andrew Callender

Andrew David Callender (born 1964), son of an Eton housemaster, was in R. J. G. Payne’s[15] house from 1977 to 1982.

The house turned out to be one of the best houses in Eton as far as stability goes, and not having too much of the gay element. There were two houses that were very gay and did do fearful atrocities with younger boys. But as far as my house went it was brilliant. It was built around a courtyard, and that made it a much more cohesive unit.
[…]

At that stage, going through puberty or whatever, there are no women about, you're sexually very, very active, and certainly there are a lot of carnal desires. We had two very pretty young boys, and all the senior boys used to have them as their fags, get them into the Library as much as possible. ‘God, you’re attractive,’ they’d say, ‘What a pert little arse you’ve got’, or whatever. There's a strong element of looking at other males with a vague interest, without defining or even knowing what it would actually come down to. I think some people probably did sleep with other boys in my house, but it was always kept under wraps. I didn't. I have a strong revulsion to other men in a sexual sense - it’s not actually that I hate gays, some of them are terrific people. [pp.62-3]

 

[1] An old boy of Harrow School, sometimes considered Eton’s nearest rival in prestige. Danziger says of this: “ Of course, when I went to Harrow I was told about the rivalry that was supposed to have flamed and burned for centuries – not just at school but forever after – but I felt it was half-hearted, listless almost, as if Harrow had long ago surrendered any thoughts of gaining superiority on the sports field or anywhere else. (p. 18)

[2] “Pi”, short for “pious”, was boarding-school slang for sexually puritanical.

[3] “Eight-tanned” meant “beaten by the head of the [rowing] eight, which is the worst beating you can have”, in this case for lying as a joke.

[4] Ian Gilmour, later Baron Gilmour and Lord Privy Seal (1926-2007), two years older than Anthony Blond and in another house.

[5] Cf. “expelled for the usual reason”, the conventional Etonian euphemism then for what was more frankly referred to as “expelled for buggery”.

[6] The date suggests this may be the same scandal recounted by Patrick Dickinson, who left Eton in 1946, in Alisdare Hickson’s The Poisoned Bowl: Sex and the Public School (London, 1986) p. 138:

This boy had a very pretty younger brother in another house. Shortly after I left both brothers and several senior boys were expelled, because the older brother had been pimping for the younger and charging a fee for the use of his own room. I was told this by another housemaster . . . who was very scornful of [the older boy’s] housemaster for not having known what was going on.

[7] Bum-freezers were short jackets worn until 1967 by the Eton boys who had not reached 5’ 4”, and so called because they did not afford the warmth given to the bum by the tails worn by the taller boys. They were often fetishized, as they were mostly worn by the youngest boys, the shapeliness of whose pert little bottoms was  thus not concealed by tails.

[8] Nicholas Crespigny Lawrence Vivian, 6th Baron Vivian. As he was born on 11 December 1935, he was 14 or just turned 15 when Malcolm left Eton.

[9] Until fairly recently at Eton, at afternoon tea-time a regular group of typically three or four friends “messed” together in one of the boys’ rooms.

[10] The Wolfendon report, published by a committee set up by the government, recommended the legalisation of sex between consenting men in 1957.

[11] Danziger misspells the name as “Moorhead”.

[12] Bum-freezers were short jackets worn until 1967 by the Eton boys who had not reached 5’ 4”, and so called because they did not afford the warmth given to the bum by the tails worn by the taller boys. They were often fetishized, as they were mostly worn by the youngest boys, the shapeliness of whose bottoms was  thus not concealed by tails.

[13] Danziger spells his forename conventionally as “Jonathan”.

[14] Michael McCrum gave up being Head Master in July 1980.

[15] Raef Payne is accused of having attended social gatherings for the exchange of boy erotica by anti-boarding-school polemicist Alex Renton in his Stiff Upper Lip: Secrets, Crimes and the Schooling of a Ruling Class (2017).