Archives for posts with tag: Rendlesham

As I was stacking boxes for my move I found a whole heap of diaries from the 1980’s.   The first day to day diary I kept was in 1982 and that was primarily because life had become so exciting.

We open the first book on this day September 5th, 1982.  I am 22 years old.

I am in Greece, on the island of Spetses staying with Sir John and Lady Russell.   I am still, at this time, Lord Rendlesham and have flown from Paris to Athens with an older nobleman called Guy de la Bedoyere of whom I had tired.

It was Guy’s Turner that I had marveled in Paris a few days earlier and whose butler, much to my horror, had washed in a washing machine my new Crolla ties.

The magazine Harper’s Bazzar had published the pictures of my infamous birthday party thrown for me by Scott Crolla at the Almeida Theatre.  Word was just reaching me in Greece that people were not at all happy.  Not at all.

If you click on the diary pages you can read the original entries.

I am in love with a beautiful Swiss boy called Robert and it is he that I wave goodbye to at the beginning of the entry.

The following year September 1983 there is no diary entry until I am released from prison on the 18th November.

September 1984 I am in rehearsal for Pornography: a Spectacle at the ICA in London.   There are huge articles about us all in Time Out, The Face and a now defunct London mag called City Limits.  I am living in Balham with a girl called Victoria.  By day I am in a play about gay pornography and by night I sleep with what was effectively my girlfriend.   So was the complexity of my life.  “Every gesture must be full and complete.” says Neil.  Neil Bartlett, director of the show.   During these days he and I began to fall out.  Irrevocably as it turned out.  When we left each other in Toronto months later after our North American tour we would never speak again.

September 1985 I am writing whilst stuck in a tunnel under the alps on a train from Paris to Venice.  My and Ivan Cratwright’s great adventure to Venice.  Staying, en route with Fred Hughes in Paris.

The diary for 1986 was missing but now found.  I will transcribe the entry.  I am yet again in another heterosexual relationship with a woman called Louise.  Why?

“Oh dear, I am in The General Trading Company off Sloan Square – Louise by my side.  Firstly I did not expect the Bahamian bombshell to come back to Whitstable to see me.  I rather thought that she might have given me a miss.

Yesterday before Louise arrived my pinks from Kingstone (?) Cottage arrived, they came to me in a brown cardboard box wrapped in local newspaper.  I planted them carefully, laying a foundation of stones for good drainage and surrounded the root system with peat. Maria helped out the best she could but spent the best part of yesterday drawing on the beach.   The day before that too she had worked hard on minimalist drawings incorporating the seascape – noticeably the foreshore and the horizon, terribly witty references to dead fish – (?) a family with prawn.

Ivan (Cartwright), we collected him from Whitstable station – Korda (Marshall) and I, he was in such a good frame of mind .  He prattled on about being arrested for car thieving and told a remarkable story about having been picked up on Park Lane (London) dressed only in a full length pink, synthetic fur coat, cowboy boots and a micro polka dot bikini!  He was picked up by a vast black men in a Buick.

Korda was completely freaked out by Ivan and as soon as he had the opportunity – left.  However, Ivan enchanted both Rachel (Whiteread) and (?) with his wit and intelligence.  We left for the pub far too late.  Ivan was wearing a pair of black cotton stockings, a black tee-shirt and short black sweat pants all topped off with this platinum blond hair and that face which as you know contorts like nobodies business.

We all slept late and woke early, that’s why when big bertha arrived (Louise) I was knackered.  We took off for a long adventurous but utterly fruitless journey to a closed park.  We did go to Beech House (Hospital School in Chartham)  I remembered yet again the horror of being taken there when I was a child – I remember that it was in that place that my life changed direction and I began to fight, so it was rather apt that I went there – my life again on the edge of a potential nightmare.  India,  8th October 10.15 – 9 months.   It rings in my ears.

As we drove to London yesterday Louise and (?) wrote that evening’s narrative.  For she as an eye for the ironic.  Firstly we locked ourselves out of Louise’s car and house then we saw the corpse of a man freshly killed, his legs crossed at the ankles, in the road.  His clothing partially hidden under a green waterproof police modesty blanket.  All of us knew that ambulances take only the living to be mended as best they can.  Death has no care.  I wondered about his family.  The pulse stopped and the narrative ending for him.  We drove slowly.  Later the image of the corpse quietened me and made me listen.

Louise is my strength whom I do not deserve.  Late last night I felt truly happy and secure.  That’s enough isn’t it?  Enough for a man who rarely lives safely, who is destined to become a lonely old man with personality problems.”

September 1987 I am a patient in the Henderson Hospital in Sutton Surrey where I spent the majority of that year.   I had a breakdown after a particularly bad bout of Hep B.  The Jay who would be fetching me from hospital is, of course, Jay Jopling.

For some odd reason I did not keep a complete diary in 1988.   I am not fully well from my breakdown but have decided to go to New York to see Ana Corbero and Colin Cawdor.  Paul Benny the artist was also staying in the huge apartment.  An entire floor of a converted girls school just over the Williamsburg Bridge.

There is no entry for these dates in 1989.

1990, my thirtieth year.  Living in Chelsea with Phillipa having what looks like a rather glamorous time.

1991 Coppers Bottom has opened at Sadler’s Wells.  Karen, the lead actress is threatening to walk.  I am now living with Anthony H. in South London.

1992 Tim and I are laughing about Damien Hirst not winning the Turner Prize that he seemed so certain to win.  I rather cruelly called Jay and told him how sorry I was whilst sniggering with Tim.

Not long before I get sober.  Just another 5 years.

After 1992 I kept a journal less and less.  I began every year enthusiastically writing everyday like I do now in the blog but by July had lost interest or life was simply too overwhelming.

Anyway, that was fun?

duncan roy as anthony rendlesham

This week, we met Thomas Salme and Adam Wheeler, the former fined for lying about holding a commercial passenger pilot’s licence and the latter for reinventing his academic career.

When I read about men like this, I remember the time I was, in the words of the News of the World, “The Lord of The Lies”.  I was the “Credit Card Earl” who apparently funded his “jet-set lifestyle” by spending money on his credit card with no intention of paying the bill.

For this petty crime I was sent to prison for 10 months.  I was 23.  Made an example of just in case there was some other working class lad who thought he could con his way into the aristocracy.

Wheeler, also 23, was “showered with scholarships” and will be harshly punished; Salme has escaped with a smallish European fine.  Yet, even as they wish to punish them, the public’s attitude toward accomplished liars will be tempered by some envy.

Yes, of course, it’s scary that a man with no formal training can fly commercial passenger jets but, really, who gives a damn if Wheeler reinvented his CV so that he might enjoy the delights of a great university?  Wouldn’t we all, at some level, like to reinvent ourselves?   Public condemnation conceals a private longing for becoming who we always wanted to be.

Come on! Let’s face it, we all tell lies. Some of us just do it rather grandly.

I was 18 when I changed my name. The press loved to describe me as coming “from humble beginnings”.  I would describe my childhood differently: born into a complicated family shamed by illegitimacy.   I realised that there was a better life, a simpler life to be had by telling a lie.  Lying from the earliest age because I simply had no idea what the truth was. My family was riven with lies. My father was in fact my stepfather and the entire family colluded to keep a secret from me, a small boy, by telling lies.

I ran away to Paris, away from the tears and the drama, the secrets and lies. I took the truth by the scruff of the neck and chucked it on to the Rue St Anne. I not only changed my name to Anthony Rendlesham but also appended a delicious title.

Lord Anthony Rendlesham.

Oh, just remembering it now, that moment in Paris after nearly 30 years of not lying about my name causes the hairs on the back of my neck to stand on end. It was so bloody exciting!

When I first lied about my name I expected the lie to vanish after a few hours. In fact, I would tell the same lie for nearly three years. Every time I said my name I buried my sad and ghastly past under the psychic woodpile.

Both the fake pilot and the fraudulent Ivy Leaguer must have known that they would one day get caught. Yet, from my experience that risk fades into the back of one’s mind as the lie grows exponentially. The lie becomes one’s life; the past becomes hard to recognise as one’s own. I often wondered when the ghost of Duncan Roy would come claim me.

For some, pretending is cathartic – a rubbing out of the past one seems to have no control over. I can spot a liar at 50 paces and can tell the truth about others like no one else I know, but the truth about myself was far too excruciating.

Telling the truth is made harder because we live, in the words of Michael Moore, in “lying times”. Honesty has very little currency in modern life – especially in the US where everyone feels that to tinker with the truth is essential if one is going to get on – from the monumental lies politicians tell about weapons of mass destruction and secret torture to the grotesque micro lies we tell ourselves when we allow the plastic surgeon to reinvent our faces.

Both of this week’s imposters worked very hard on their lies: Salme trained all night on a flight simulator; Wheeler became a convincing academic. I was a mere amateur compared with these two. I did not profit from my lie (the credit card was in my own name – I used it right at the end of my adventure, to pay for dinners and shirts).

I simply changed my name and learned how to hold a knife and fork properly. The various aristocratic tribes I infiltrated seemed to accept what I told them as the truth because I sounded right and I was a great deal of fun. They liked having Anthony around.

Of course I didn’t know how (Anthony’s) friends would react to finding that they had a dog in their aristocratic manger. Years later, however, a few of them contacted me, invited me to dinner and told me how sad they were that I had vanished, that they wanted me to know they had liked me, whoever I was pretending to be.

It was a very moving moment. Yet, regardless, they didn’t really know me.  I didn’t really know me.

It would take years of therapy, trauma work and sobriety for me to get to know who I am and put a stop to the fear and shame and resentment.

Like Wheeler and Salme, I know how it feels to be thrust back into one’s own skin.

Part of me will always be Lord Anthony Rendledsham. Anthony is the dynamic, charming, forceful part of me that gets things done. He is stronger than the Duncan me. He protects me when I feel vulnerable or afraid. He is the furious part of me, the catty, sharp-tongued bitchy part  of me who can make terrible enemies. I know that he wants me for himself.

Recently in therapy I realised that I can take what I need from Anthony, the good parts, and leave the rest.

Occasionally I can feel him surging through me.  Whenever I feel that crippling toxic shame I used to feel every day – I can feel him want to stand in front of the child me and fight those who give me pain. But now I can say to him, hey, I can deal with this. Thanks, but no thanks. And he skulks away.

As I grow older I strive for authenticity. I embrace the truth. Even though I fail, I try living without telling lies.  It is the hardest thing of all, the decision not to delude others or myself.