Wednesday, February 01, 2006

April Ashley

What connects George Jamieson, Elvis Presley, John Prescott, Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, David Bailey, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, John lennon, Mick Jagger, Sarah Churchill, Lord Rowallan, Michael Hutchence, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jean Paul Sartre, and, April Ashley?

George Jamieson became April Ashley.

(Photos: )


Deputy UK Prime Minister John Prescott shared rooms with George Jamieson.

Omar Sharif and Peter O'Toole had affairs with George Jamieson after George became April Ashley.

Winston Churchill's daughter Sarah became friends with April while April was working as a hostess in a club in Paris.

At the same club, Elvis Presley took a fancy to April.

Jean Paul Sartre and Bob Hope became friends with April.

Other friends of April included John Lennon and Mick Jagger.

April was photographed by David Bailey for Vogue.

Catherine Zeta-Jones may one day play the part of April in a film, according to Hollywood producer Mark Sennet.

April married the son of the Chief Scout, Lord Rowallan.

They did not stay married for long.

April slept with Michael Hutchence.

According to :

April will give precious little claps of her hands, for instance, when imitating the sound of Kenneth Tynan being spanked (she shared a flat with the drama critic when she was "the Queen of Chelsea" in the swinging '60s).

George was born in a Liverpool slum.

George Jamieson, as he was christened, was one of nine children. His mother was vicious, his father a drunken but amiable Royal Navy cook. "My mother hated me," April says. "She used to whack me and I would say, 'Mother, why did you do that?' and she replied, 'In case you did anything.' She was threatened with prison by a doctor because of the injuries on me." April examines her nails nonchalantly. "My mother was dead for 10 years before I found out."

Had George wanted to be like his father? "Yes, I thought he was marvellous." He was an ordinary working-class man, she says, who had extraordinary tastes: oysters and mushrooms gently warmed in cream. And he was tiny. "I was the only one in my family who was tall - 178 centimetres. He was a gentle drunk. He drank himself into a stupor every night. He was the only one in my family who understood me. I saw him just before he died and he said, 'Darling, you are so beautiful. I always knew.' "

...Revelations about April didn't deter the Honourable Arthur Corbett, a married nightclub owner, son of the chief scout and, as the future Lord Rowallan, the heir to a 2340-hectare estate. He proposed in 1963. "I told Arthur about my sex change straight away. He was a transvestite himself. At Sandhurst he used to ride side-saddle. I never saw him in a frock. But I could see when 'she' appeared. 'She' was terribly jealous of me. One day, when 'she' was being nasty, I told Arthur, 'I'm going to see my lover in Spain, the Duke of Infantado.' And he took me to the airport with seven suitcases and a great dane. That was before we married. I was never unfaithful to him while we were married."

...She also, she says, had a weakness for toyboys. At Oxford picnics "I was always surrounded by handsome young undergraduates. I went to bed with every one of them, by the way." Did she count the notches on her bedpost? "Oh, no, goodness no." Did she tell prospective lovers her secret?


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