two kippers and a bottle of gin

If I were a real nurse and if the Gimcrack were a real hospital, I would have liked Marion Wrottesley as a patient….

“At the age of seven Marion was shipped off to England, but her education at a girls’ school in the Cotswolds was swiftly terminated when an aunt heard another pupil say “Pardon”. She was transferred to the more exclusive Felixstowe Ladies’ College, where she learnt to dance and play the piano.


Back in Shanghai in 1940, aged only 17, she married Sean Rainey, an Irishman then serving as a private in the Seaforth Highlanders. This was partly a strategic move to get out of China: the Raineys duly moved to Bangalore. Here two children were born, and young Mrs Rainey served briefly as recruiting officer for the Black Watch while learning about “the sins of gin” and how to mix dry martinis.


Such skills made her welcome when she arrived as a young divorced woman in austere post-war London and fell in with upper-class rebels such as the Labour minister’s daughter Lydia Noel-Burton, who always carried on her person two kippers and a bottle of gin.

Gin and Tonic Cupcakes

In 1949 Marion met an Old Harrovian, Dick Wrottesley, in the Bag of Nails nightclub. The heir to Lord Wrottesley reputedly locked her in the lavatory until she had agreed to marry him.

In spite of blissful summers at Wrottesley, near Wolverhampton, where the family had lived for 900 years, and the birth of their son Mark, the marriage broke down quickly. Dick Wrottesley had already told his wife: “I only married you for your tarty qualities.”


In the early 1960s Marion returned penniless to “Swinging London” where, in 1964, her son Michael would open the fashionable outfitters Hung on You in Chelsea Green. At the reception following Michael Rainey’s marriage to Jane Ormsby-Gore, Marion was assured by the bride’s father, Lord Harlech, that his own family was “full of pisspots”. On learning that Brian Jones and Keith Richards were also present, she declared: “I must find myself a Rolling Stone.”


During this era Marion also formed a close bond with her playboy stepson Richard Wrottesley, who first hit the headlines in 1966 when his Bentley was found upside down in the snow outside the Palace Hotel at St Moritz. At his regency-style flat in St James’s Street, young “Wrotters” introduced his stepmother to his less respectable friends, such as the East End gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray.

Reggie Kray with Shirley Bassey

For the remainder of her life, Marion Wrottesley lived mainly in bedsitters in Chelsea, Kensington, Earl’s Court and further afield. Though a gifted story-teller she never gave in to pressure to write her memoirs. Instead she flourished on National Assistance (her card was crudely marked “Alcoholism”) and became a character in London pubs where she began the day with Fernet Branca or Carlsberg Special.

Published in: on August 14, 2010 at 8:52 am  Comments (42)  
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Lord Longford snorted balderdash

Back in 1971, Dr Martin Cole caused quite a stir with his sex education film “Growing Up”


The scenes that made the front pages involved a 15-year old boy, naked except for a vest, lying on a bed wanking with an blank expression on his face; a young naked woman lying on her side, also masturbating; and a naked couple having rather slow and ritualistic intercourse on a clinically bare set.

The education minister, Margaret Thatcher, denounced the film but said she had no powers to stop it being shown in schools.

Lord Longford snorted ‘Balderdash!’ and stormed out. He was in the middle of researching his anti-pornography bill, which involved watching an ‘exhaustive catalogue of sex films’, visiting a sex supermarket, and going to a strip club, which he found ‘neither pleasant nor unpleasant’.

Lord Longford

The leader of Birmingham Council saw the film and said he felt ‘debased’ by a ‘pseudo-technical display of sexual depravity … This man [Cole] must be totally obsessed with sex.’

To be fair, that might well have been true. The man who the Sun rapidly dubbed ‘Sex King Cole’ responded: ‘These people are clearly tormented by their own neuroses.’

not to be confused with Nat King Cole

The real storm broke when it turned out that the woman wanking in the film was a schoolteacher, 23-year old Jennifer Muscutt, who taught liberal studies to 15-year old boys. Her husband, also a teacher, defended her involvement and said if they had children they’d have no problem showing it to them.

By now, screenings of the film were playing to huge audiences. It was shown by everyone from the Defence of Literature and Arts Society to a Birmingham strip club, which advertised it alongside artistes Saucy Susan, Delightful Delilah and Tantalising Teresa.

Saucy Susan

Just when it looked like it was finally going away – eight months later – questions were raised in the House of Commons about Cole’s use of female volunteers as sex therapists. A young woman had written to him, impressed by his claims in the papers about his treatment for impotent men, and asked to find out more – Cole quickly set her up having sex with his clients in her flat at £1.50 a pop until her policeman boyfriend banged on the door in the middle of a session.