the real characters

Man and dog in snow

Snow on the promenade

Paraffin Winter
is a murder mystery available as an ebook - the novel includes a number of real characters from the 1960s, some well-known, some not.

Tom Driberg

Driberg was elected to parliament in 1942, as an independent, taking the Labour whip in 1945. After four years out of parliament, he was elected as MP for Barking in 1959, where Tom Driberghe remained until 1974. He became chairman of the Labour Party in 1957. He was enthusiastically gay, and was arrested for cottaging more than once. He was close to the centre of power in the Labour Party, and was a significant influence on Harold Wilson and national Labour Party policy during the early sixties. But he was also known to have connections with the seamier side of East London life, including the Kray twins, and his behind-the-scenes plots and deals were not entirely honourable. Winston Churchill once said of him that he 'gave sodomy a bad name'. However, as a prominent left-wing socialist, he was much respected on the left in his day, before the less virtuous side of his life was known about. Tom Driberg died in 1976.

Valerie Hobson

Valerie Hobson was an English actress, appearing in many films including The Valerie HobsonBride of Frankenstein, Great Expectations and Kind Hearts & Coronets. In 1952, she divorced her first husband to marry John Profumo, the Conservative MP, and later Secretary of State for War. In a letter to a friend, Hobson said that she saw Profumo as a 'safe haven' for herself and her children after her divorce. Unfortunately, Profumo became involved with a call-girl called Christine Keeler, leading to one of the most notorious sex scandals in British political history (see 'Life in 63' page).

However, Hobson remained loyal to Jack Profumo throughout all this. After he retired from political life, the two of them devoted themselves to charity work, washing dishes in an East End homeless charity, amongst other things. She died in London in 1988.

Jess & Dick Callan, and Frank Bingham.

Jess Callan and Frank Bingham
Jess Callan & Frank Bingham

Jess, Dick and Frank were core members of Barking Labour Party during the fifties and sixties, working with Tom Driberg and organising his election campaigns. Dick Callan was Driberg's election agent during his years as the Labour MP for Barking. He was also chair of Barking Labour Party. Jess Callan was a councillor on the Municipal Borough of Barking council (before it combined with Dagenham in 1965),
Dick Callan
Dick Callan
and was Deputy Mayor during 1963-64. Frank Bingham was a family friend of Jess and Dick, and was also a Labour Party activist in Barking. Bingham (as he was generally known) was politically to the left of Dick however, and associated (at least loosely) with more
Jess Callan
Jess Callan in 2013
revolutionary socialist groups. The description of Barking Labour Party 'HQ' in the book is based on Jess's description of her and Dick's flat. Dick Callan died in 2008, Jess died around Christmas 2013, at the age of 92.

Snow on the beach
Snow on the seafront
Birds in the snow

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