Towards a Quaker View of Sex

Keith Wedmore recalls members of the Working Group


Keith Wedmore share his recollections about other persons in the group.


From March 20, 2013 interview with Mark Bowman


…there was something in particular you recall around a particular gift or perspective or role that someone in particular played within the group.

Keith W.  Well, Alfred Torrie was a very well-rounded psychiatrist.

Mark B.  He published a lot.  I found a lot of books published by him.

Keith W.  Yes.  And so he brought a lot of common sense as well as psychiatric experience.  I think that…who was it now?  The lady.  Oh, yes, Lotte.  I think Lotte had tended almost to specialize in [sexually distressed] people…I don’t think her practice was entirely all around.  I think that she had a sort of Mother Teresa feeling about her patients.  Oh, I think I sent her somebody, somebody in my meeting who I thought was gay, and finally…I can’t remember at what stage in my existence, but this was, I think, before all this stuff came out.  But he went along to Lotte and it changed his life, I mean, it was wonderful.  But that’s the sort of thing that she really did.  She would take people out of their nest of misery, and it was quite often sexual, so that she almost developed, so to speak, in psychiatry, a corner in sexuality, rather as John Mortimer and I had, in the law, a corner in indecency. 

So Alfred Torrie was a good psychiatric all around-er.  Lotte Rosenberg was an absolute gift to people who were crushed by sexual troubles.  Mervyn Parry was a very normal sort of guy.  He had this interesting triangular situation.  But the fact that he was at a borstal, of course, so he had had England’s toughest young crooks.  The borstal institutions were institutions for young prisoners, and if you went to borstal you were more or less marked for life as an offender.  It didn’t do your resumé any good.  But anyway, so he will have got quite a bit from that. 

Kenneth Nicholson, oh, of course, Friends School Saffron Walden, where my daughter was later to go.  I’d forgotten Kenneth.  Well, that’s interesting.  You know, really, these things come back.  As a headmaster—and I don’t remember that he had any particular interest in gayness, particularly, while I’m at it—but he was running a liberal Friends boarding school, which was not quite a public school in the English sense.  I’m trying to think whether it was or not.  No, I don’t think so.  The one at Reading was, Leighton Park. 

There was a very posh school and they used to play football with Eton College and so on.  Saffron Walden was a little bit out in the sticks, and it was more liberal, very intelligent.  And he just had the experience, I suppose, that a headmaster must have, of how teenagers…  By the time you’re 14, you’re what you’re going to be the rest of your life, let’s face it, so he had people who were even 17 and 18, never mind 14, so he could see their paths and where they were going, and no doubt he knew something about their troubles.  I mean, he was a sympathetic sort of guy. 

Joyce James was simply…she was unable to attend during the last year.  I wonder if she was sick.  That’s possible.  But she was just a charming, ordinary, but I think it was her ordinariness which was really her claim.  I mean, we wanted somebody who didn’t have any particular specialty.  Alastair Heron.  He survived a long time.  Very well-known Friend.

Mark B.   He was quite prominent, yes.

Keith W.  Yes.

Mark B.  He and Anna Bidder and Kenneth Barnes have entries in Wikipedia. 

Keith W.  Yes, that’s right.  They’re all mentioned because he [Alastair Heron] was the general editor of this thing.  I’d forgotten that.  So that he was finally responsible for collating it.  It’s an administrative job, isn’t it?  He was finally responsible for collating the various suggestions and seeing that they got into some sort of form where they could be discussed at the next meeting. 

Richard Fox was a wonderfully bouncy guy, yes.  A very confident psychiatrist.  Maudsley Hospital.  He was good.  And of course he was younger.  He was nearer my—he was probably about six years older.  How old was I?  Let me see.  In 1957 I would have been 25.  Well, he could have been 31 or 34 or something.  And he just had a…he was one of these busy psychiatrists who sees an awful lot of patients.  He can’t have been a Freudian.  You know, [he saw folks] for just two or three sessions and that kind of thing. 

Anna Bidder, research work and teacher.  She’s very humble here.  Teacher in zoology.  My goodness.  Had she not refused such things on principle, she would have certainly been Dame Anna Bidder long before she died, and I imagine she had been specifically invited, because she founded Cavendish College, which is…I mean, almost singlehanded.  But that was an amazing thing to do.