In celebration of 50 years of passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, I dedicate this blog to my first cousin twice removed, Horace Mapley (1895-1972).
Horace led an interesting life. I’ve been told (anecdotally) that Horace was the gentleman’s gentleman for PG Wodehouse (Pelham Grenville, 1881-1975) affectionately nicknamed Plum; Wodehouse that is, not Horace!
Wodehouse, of course, conceived the foolish, gormless Bertie Wooster and his enterprising and cool-headed valet, Reginald Jeeves.
I like to believe my Horace was Jeeves’ prototype but there’s no mention of him in any Wodehouse biography. All I know is that, for a working class boy from Newport Pagnell, Horace accompanied Wodehouse to the States a few times.
How did how Horace land his job? In the 1911 census Horace, aged 15, was a page boy living at home at a bakery in Newport Pagnell High Street. A world away, boarding at a lodging house at the salubrious address of 99-101 Ebury Street, Belgravia, was 29 year old ‘author’ P G Wodehouse.
Following the early death of his father, my grandfather was taken to live at the bakery and the boys were like brothers. My family regularly visited Horace after he had retired, and I well remember his one small living room at the Revis Almshouses in the grounds of Newport Pagnell Church.
He was the most delightful and hospitable man serving tea and cakes on doilied porcelain plates; antimacassars and aspidistras everywhere. The house was spick and span and Twinkle, the budgerigar, chirped cheerfully from his cage. For my amusement Horace let him fly free. After Twinkle died, there was another Twinkle – Horace always gave them the same name.
Horace never married and it was only as an adult I understood why. That such a fun, sweet, harmless man could have been jailed for his proclivities makes me angry. I raise a glass to you, Horace, wherever you are.