Trip to Llandudno … Winston Churchill … Solitaire

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Trip to Llandudno

Thirty of us enjoyed a day trip by coach to Llandudno, the largest seaside resort in Wales, with a population of just over 20,000 people.

During the first lockdown due to the corona virus pandemic, frisky goats ventured down from their mountain home on the Great Orme into Llandudno in search of something to eat.

The goats became a sensation on national news roaming the empty streets during the lockdown.

We set off at 10.00am and arrived in time for lunch at the Fish Tram Chips Restaurant. There was only room for sixteen people (advance bookings were not taken), so some people had a takeaway and some dined at the pub over the road.

Most of the group took the Great Orme Tramway to the summit of the Great Orme headland, which has fantastic views over the peninsula. The tramway is a cable hauled 3ft 6in gauge tramway, open seasonally from late March to late October. It takes over 200,000 passengers each year from Llandudno Victoria Station to just below the summit of the Great Orme.

It is Great Britain’s only remaining cable-operated street tramway, and one of only a few surviving in the world.

We didn’t have much time in the town to see the pier on the North Shore, a Grade II listed building, built in 1878. It is the longest pier in Wales and has attractions including a bar, a cafe, amusement arcades, children’s fairground rides and an assortment of shops and kiosks. Professor Codman’s Punch and Judy show (established in 1860) was spotted on the promenade near the entrance to the pier.

All in all, a great day out and as usual great photos can be seen here.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874 – 1965)

Winston Churchill in 1900

Throughout his life, Churchill showed little interest in women other than his wife, enjoyed the company of homosexuals, and was deeply attached to male friends including his secretary Edward Marsh, although there is no evidence of any physical relationships. Edward Marsh, Churchill’s private secretary for twenty-five years was a ‘wispy falsetto-voiced’ man of noted good looks who was known to be homosexual. Churchill described him as “a friend I shall cherish and hold on to all my life”.

In 1895 Churchill was accused of having committed “acts of gross immorality of the Oscar Wilde type” while a cadet at Sandhurst. He sued the accuser for defamation and was awarded £400 in damages.

The writer W Somerset Maugham is said to have asked Churchill whether he ever had any homosexual experience, and been told: “I once went to bed with Ivor Novello: it was very musical.”

When he was told that a member of Parliament had been caught in the park with a guardsman, Churchill said: “On the coldest night of the year? It makes you proud to be British.”

The notebooks kept by the Cabinet Secretaries contain short handwritten accounts of the conversations of ministers on a range of issues. On 24 February 1954 the Cabinet discussed the issues of prostitution and homosexuality, then inextricably linked as ‘sexual offences’ in the eyes of the legislators.

Gay sex between consenting adults, even in private, was a criminal offence, and many hundreds of gay men were being caught and convicted of sodomy and gross indecency every year.

The high-profile journalist Peter Wildeblood had been arrested for homosexual offences the previous month, but he did not stand trial until March. The scandal surrounding his arrest and that of Baron Montagu of Beaulieu led to public discussion of homosexuality.

At Cabinet the Home Secretary David Maxwell Fyfe seemed mystified at the spike in convictions for homosexual offences: “While crime generally has doubled, these offences have risen four and a half times. Some think existing law should be limited to protection of young and public indecency. I don’t agree: homosexuals make a nuisance of themselves. But admit I can’t account for this increase.”

Prime Minister Winston Churchill bluntly replied that the Tory party were not going to accept responsibility for making the law more lenient towards gay men.

Winston Churchill making his famous V for Victory sign 1942

He suggested that an enquiry might be the way forward, proposed limiting press coverage of the convictions of homosexuals, and suggested that any man caught by police should be offered the option of medical treatment. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t touch the subject,” he said. “Let it get worse – in hope of a more united public pressure for some amendment.”

The idea of an enquiry into prostitution and homosexual offences was considered by several Cabinet ministers, among them Oliver Lyttleton, Secretary of State for the Colonies.

But the Prime Minister perhaps best explained the realities of politics in 1954. “Remember that we can’t expect to put the whole world right with a majority of 18,” he told his colleagues.

Seven months after that Cabinet meeting, the Wolfenden committee met for the first time to consider whether a change to the laws on homosexuality and prostitution was needed. They took evidence from a range of people, including religious leaders, police officers and Peter Wildeblood.

When the Report of the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution was finally published in 1957, it came to the conclusion that: “The law’s function is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation and corruption of others. It is not, in our view, the function of the law to intervene in the private life of citizens, or to seek to enforce any particular pattern of behaviour.”

It was ten years before a Labour government backed a private member’s bill to introduce the changes to the law on homosexuality that the Wolfenden committee recommended.

Solitaire

Solitaired have created an online solitaire game featuring LGBT+ figures and activists in history to commemorate Pride Month.

You can play their Pride edition of solitaire here.

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