Thursday, August 24, 2006


Aristocrat, architect, bicycle racer, painter, politician, WWII bomber pilot, and elderly pornographer.

Where else, but England:

The 6th Lord Deramore, who died on Sunday aged 95, was an example of that breed of mildly eccentric hereditary peer whose presence for generations embellished, informed and entertained the "unreformed" House of Lords.

Deramore was a man of diverse talents and enthusiams. As a young man he won the 1½ litre class in the Paris to Nice Trail in an HRG open sports car, and he held a cycling record of 149 miles in one day - from York to Cambridge.

He became an architect, and was a stalwart of the Conservative Party in north Yorkshire (he briefly abandoned the Tories for the UK Independence Party in the 1990s) and an assiduous writer of letters to editors, his favourite topic being the evils of bureaucracy, both the Brussels and the home-grown varieties. He was also a keen and reasonably proficient amateur watercolourist.

Deramore's chief claim to fame, however, or at least so far as the press was concerned, was as a writer of erotic fiction. Sadly, much of his work remains unpublished - he was engagingly frank about his ever-growing pile of rejection slips.

But success finally came in 1997 when, aged 85, he published his first novel. Illustrated on the cover with one of the author's own watercolours, of a naked girl with a teddy bear, Still Waters concerns a young woman who is seduced by a female friend.

After the friend is killed in a motor accident, she falls in love with a divorced man, but cannot have sex with him because she suffers from a rare clinical condition called vaginismus.

According to the author's account, the book concerned "a not very attractive girl who has a bad complex about a small bosom". His inspiration for the more eye-popping gynaecological details came from a newspaper article on an embarrassing medical condition, and his motivation was altruistic: "I wanted to show how there is hope for a woman, even if she is not very attractive."

.... Asked why he had written such a novel at his age, he replied: "I'm old, so there's not a lot else I can do."

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