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.
Driberg was elected to parliament in 1942, as an
independent, taking the Labour whip in 1945. After four years out
parliament, he was elected as MP for Barking
in 1959, where
he 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 was an English actress,
appearing in many films including The Bride
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
Jess & Dick 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
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 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.