I have no idea how my father became friends with Francis Huxley. But I do know that Francis was intrigued by my father’s charismatic personality. Francis believed that my father had shaman-like qualities, and that he could transform people’s lives. To me, my father was more showman than shaman, although he was also a deeply spiritual and altruistic man,too.
Born in 1908, my father was thirty-one when the 1939-45 war began, and was selected to be an officer in British Intelligence. Like many men in the same position, he was to work for M16 for the rest of his life. He often hinted at the somewhat shady world of ‘safe houses’ and general intrigue that he inhabited. I could never quite grasp how his world operated, and began to see him as a rather dubious sort of John le Carre figure; the ‘perfect spy’, and I never knew if his place in the world was part-fantasy, or not. The Official Secrets Act forbade any explanations.
His ‘cover’ was to be a graphologist. An unusual occupation, but a subject that he was passionate about.He also moved within an interesting circle of friend, which included Karl Haas, conductor of the London Mozart Players, Dame Ruth Railton, the founder of the National Youth Orchestra, and her husband, Lord Cecil Harmsworth King, head of the Mirror group of newspapers, and other people connected to them.
Dad was especially close to Cecil and Ruth, and I was taken to meet them both at their beautiful house in the grounds of Hampton Court. The visit didn’t go down to well, as Ruth, quite rightly, was appalled that I smoked cigarettes constantly.
Anyway, Francis wanted to learn more about my father’s shaman-like attributes, and asked if he could meet me . A meeting was arranged.