Sunday, 31 July 2011

John Mortimer's biography

Valerie Grove wrote a fascinating biography of the "champagne socialist" and renowned libertarian John Mortimer which contained many revealing anecdotes. It was entitled "A Voyage Around John Mortimer"

One relates to the genesis of the TV series Rumpole of the Bailey created and written by Mortimer. There was an Old Bailey Trial in which Mortimer defended the Mile End Boot Boys - football hooligans - who killed an innocent bystander at Charing Cross Station. He was assisted by James Burge QC (defender of Stephen Ward of the Profumo affair). Burge told Mortimer at the start of the trial "As a matter of fact I am an anarchist. But I dont think even my old darling Prince Peter Kropotkin would have approved of this lot." "There I had Rumpole" Mortimer thought. The original title suggested by John Mortimer was "My Darling Prince Peter Kroptkin", but this was vetoed.

The second anecdote concerns Lord "Boofy" Arran and may not be strictly PC. Arran introduce 2 bills in the House of Lords, one to reduce the age of homosexual consent to 18 and the other for the preservation of badgers. "I cant understand it" said Boofy as he lay dying, "Hardly anyone showed up for the badgers Bill. When we passed the buggers bill the place was packed". "Have you considered" he was asked, "there are very few badgers in the House of Lords".

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