Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A British life

From an obituary of Cambridge economist Wynne Godley:
His background, though it might misleadingly be called privileged, was mixed up. The first Lord Kilbracken had been a protégé of a Liberal prime minister, Gladstone, but was a Conservative; and the second, Wynne’s father Hugh, also a Tory, had been madly in love with Violet Asquith, the daughter of another Liberal prime minister. Hugh separated from Wynne’s mother about the time he was born, and was impotent, anti-Semitic and alcoholic. Wynne’s mother paraded naked in front of him and would tell him, as a child, of the intense pleasure she got from sexual intercourse. But he reached the age of 17 not knowing that women had vaginas.
He was supremely happy at Oxford, where his tutor was Isaiah Berlin, to whom he said he owed all his higher education. But, he wrote, “Nora [his stepmother] shot herself in the head with a shotgun; my father, his entire fortune squandered, died alone in a hospital where the nurses were unkind to him; my half-sister was committed to a high-security mental institution at Epsom; my mother had a bad stroke and lived out her last six years hemiplegic and helpless, her mind altered. She told her nurses that they were ‘lower-class scum’ and complained that I was ‘marrying the daughter of a New York yid’ [the sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein].”
American economics blogger Tyler Cowen, who adverted to this obit, titles his link 'A British Life'. Incidentally and on a point of trivia, Godley would probably have taught David Laws at King's.


Sean said...

Truly a better class of dysfunctionality, no doubt they were all keeping the British end up.

worm said...

excellent, there are families out there that are much madder than mine!

malty said...

The obituary is inaccurate, Epsom is a mental institution.

Gaw said...

Makes me proud to think that this is representative in some way. By the way, he was obviously not a very good listener. Did he not take on board anything his mother said?