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Inspector Wexford and his women, including Brigitte Bardot | Athens …

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Inspector Wexford and his women, including Brigitte Bardot | Athens …

A good post:

By George Baker

Last updated at 12:13 PM on 15th October 2011

George Baker, who died this month aged 80, was loved by millions
for his performance as the solid, dependable Hampshire detective,
Inspector Wexford.

But, as he admitted with disarming honesty in his memoirs, The
Way To Wexford, his own life could not have been more

˜I was completely dazzled and hopelessly in
lust. It was not a love affair. As far as Brigitte (Bardot) was
concerned, it was just a dalliance, said George

As the end of 1937 approached, my parents and I were still
living in the country where I d been born:

My father, Frank, was a Yorkshire-born businessman who had been
trading in the Balkans for years.

He now combined that with his official duties as British
Vice-Consul in the coastal city of Varna, and his unofficial duties
as a part-time spy, passing on information about the Russians to
British Army Intelligence.


Both he and my mother, Eva, an Irish nurse who had come to
Bulgaria with the Red Cross, knew that war was likely and
I d recently been removed from the German-run
kindergarten ” where I d once
been caned for refusing to sing Deutschland, Deutschland Uber

I was much happier at my new Bulgarian-run school, not least
because I was seated next to an enchanting blonde girl who wore a
blue pleated skirt. I would put my right hand as near to the hem of
her skirt as I decently could and sit in contentment, not listening
to a word that was said. Mind you, I was only six years old.

George and his first wife Julia. She was the daughter of Sir
John Squire, the influential literary critic, poet and
comprehensive drunk

My happiness soon came under a threat far more immediate than
any posed by Hitler: I contracted double pneumonia, which at that
time was often terminal. My mother and a local nurse,
Condy, took turns to watch over me day and night
” and it didn t take long
before I d fallen in love with Condy, too.

Crisis point came one morning in January when I turned purple
and could not breathe. Condy and Mother wrapped me in a blanket,
opened the French windows and stuck my head into the bitterly cold
wind blowing in from the Black Sea. I was forced to take a deep
breath, and I lived.

When my health was fully recovered, Father took my elder brother
(also Frank) and me on a business trip through Bulgaria. Frank was
nine by then, while I was seven, and we had a wonderful time
driving through small villages on the banks of the Danube in
Father s open-topped Fiat

While we were away, we had a picnic with Condy and her family.
There were a few ladies of varying ages there, and I suddenly
realised how much Father loved women.

Towards them, he was attentive, solicitous, flirtatious, with a
wonderful twinkle. I had always thought women were quite wonderful,
but now I knew
it.     Â

We stayed in Bulgaria until May 1940. The plan was for Mother to
take us five children (my youngest brother, Terence, was only just
one) to Paris, along with our nanny, Irinka. Father had to stay and
continue his duties, but he would join us as soon as he could and
we would live in Yorkshire.

To my young eyes, the scene at Sofia station was awe-inspiring:
noise, bustle, steam and hundreds of people saying their farewells
to Mother.

She was very much admired for all the work she had done with the
Red Cross, and our carriage was bursting with flowers and
chocolates. Father had come to see us off.

Mother was laughing, and yet the tears were streaming down her

His eyes were twinkling. He called me over to the window, using
the Bulgarian diminutive of George as a sign of affection.

˜Jora, remember, always take a woman by the
waist and a bottle by the neck. Then you ll
never go wrong.

The train pulled out of the station. I stayed at the window and
waved goodbye to him. Mother took my place and waved and waved and
waved, long after the platform was out of sight. That was the last
time I saw my father, and my mother saw her husband.

George and Julia with two of their daughters.
˜It was another nail in the coffin of our
solvency, he said about his growing family

There is no easy way of telling a 12-year-old that his father
has died, but the headmaster of my Yorkshire prep school did as
well as anyone could.

I knew Father had been knocked down by a truck in Cairo (where
he d been sent to handle British shipping) and
had been in hospital for several weeks but now ”
on a beautiful, early summer afternoon ” I
learned that he would never be coming to join us.

Father s death could not have come at a worse
time for Mother. Having taken a job in London, monitoring Bulgarian
radio broadcasts for the BBC, she d become so
obsessed with the idea that the Bulgarians were secretly
broadcasting coded messages to the Allies that she resigned her job
and had a nervous breakdown.

So at the end of the summer term, it fell to me to take my two
younger brothers and my sister down from Yorkshire, across London
and on to Sussex where my mother was renting a cottage.

When we finally arrived, exhausted, Mother greeted us with an
old blanket round her shoulders and a cigarette dangling from her

˜Ah, there you are, George. Feed the
children. I m writing a

And with that she swept upstairs. It was the first time we had
seen her since Father had died.

The burden of coping with five children aged between four and 14
with no income took a heavy toll. The house was a shambles, we
often didn t have enough money to buy food and
we looked like gipsies.

One awful night, Mother was shouting Father s
name into the darkness. I could hear my brother trying to do his
times table to drown out the noise.

That night Irinka, our nanny, crept into my room, ostensibly to
check I was all right. She stroked my forehead, and then kissed me
on the mouth.

Her tongue played on my lips, and her body was warm through her
nightdress. She took my hand and put it between her thighs. There
we lay, she kissing me and stroking my head while I stroked her
with my free hand.

We lay there until Mother stopped shouting. Then Irinka, who at
21 was nine years older than me, gave me one last kiss and returned
to her bed.

George in The Dam Busters

These days, it would be considered child abuse, but in
Irinka s defence, I think she was lonely and
frightened and feeling a long way from home.

From my point of view, the only abuse was that it never happened

At the age of 15, and without telling my mother, I said goodbye
to my boarding school teachers and went to London to try my luck on
the stage.

After stints as a dispatch clerk and a pool attendant, my first
proper acting job was in rep at Richmond Theatre.

Aged 17, I d been there for almost a year
when, taking the train to Sussex to see my mother, I found myself
sitting opposite an attractive blonde woman, beautifully dressed in
a tweed suit and crocodile skin shoes.

˜You re a very beau
garcon, she said, opening the conversation.
˜What do you do?

She seemed impressed that I was an actor, and told me her name
was Ginny Wharton, that she was divorced and that she was spending
Christmas with her mother near Chichester.

˜Have you ever been to Chichester? You must
come. The cathedral is wonderful.

˜Yes, I must.

˜Come on December 28, she
said suddenly, ˜There s a
very good hotel called the Dolphin. Let s say
midday. I ll be waiting for

Of course, Christmas couldn t pass soon
enough, and on the 28th I made my way to the hotel with rising
excitement. She was waiting in the lounge.

We had some coffee, talked about nothing and then she said:
˜I m staying in room 27. I
shall go up in a moment Give me five minutes and then come up and
join me.

I found Ginny in bed and naked. Lines by the poet John Donne
echoed in my mind:

˜License my roving hands, and let them
Before, behind, between,

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Inspector Wexford and his women, including Brigitte Bardot | Athens …

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