I was trolling through a second hand bookshop recently when I turned up a copy of Mary Whitehouse “Who does she think she is?”, her own account of her campaign against ‘Gratuitous sex and violence’ and for censorship in the media and arts.
The book was published in 1971 by New English Library, home to James Herbert and a slew of pulp skinhead and Hells Angel books for the teens. Strange company indeed.
Stranger still is a poem in the book, written in the late 1940s by a young Mrs Whitehouse about a holiday near the Barmouth estuary.
I found here the quiet place
The still and elemental place –
No noise of people, not a trace
Of voices, cars and hurried pace
Of feet, feet, feet.
Just to sit,
While children play –
Their voices sound,
Like seagull cries.
Honey coloured creatures, fair,
For once slow moving,
Engrossed in eels
Between dun stones with seaweed hung.
Winter days of rush and strain
Will quietened be,
As closed eyes, softly,
Reach for the shore again.
Somthing quite Freudian about those eels, I think.
It seem an editor at New English Library was having some fun, as the chapter titles include No Lady!, Please, Miss!, What Kind Of Loving?, What Happened To Blousie?, A Little Canute?, Pornographer’s Paradise, and Mission Of A Dedicated Man, amongst others. All great titles for blue films I’d say.
For those of you too young to remember just what the crusading MrsWhi ehoutse was haranguing us about, here’s a few words from the book:
“A nation’s youth is its greatest asset. We are poor guardians if we do not ensure their inalienable right to childhood, to mystery, to dreams, to tenderness and to love; if we do not realise that by ceasing to provide authority we may also cease to care; if we do not conscientiously maintain the foundations without which the young cannot build anew; if we do not tell them that there is a third way, neither reactionary nor libertarian, which still waits to be explored: and if we do not offer them the riches of our Christian heritage.”