Read An English Madam: The Life and Work Of Cynthia Payne by Paul Bailey Free Online
Book Title: An English Madam: The Life and Work Of Cynthia Payne|
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The author of the book: Paul Bailey
Edition: Book Club Associates
Date of issue: 1982
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Format files: PDF
The size of the: 6.55 MB
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On Wednesday December 6th, 1978, the term 'luncheon voucher' took on a new currency. Members of the clergy, Parliament, the Bar and big business were gathered together in Streatham for a Christmas party when the police burst in and arrested the hostess. Films, devices and hastily dressing people were taken to the station. Over a year later Cynthia Payne was sentenced to eighteen months in Holloway Prison for 'keeping a disorderly house'.
Her distinguished guests went unnamed. Members of the press fell over themselves leaping to her defence. To an amused and largely sympathetic public, Cynthia Payne came to stand for naughtiness as opposed to wickedness - a beacon for 'genial old buffers' in the gloom of declining years. Throughout Paul Bailey's touching, frequently uproarious telling of Cynthia's own story one can see that the sympathy was not misplaced.
Cynthia's anarchic dazzle was there right from the beginning, though she had had to overcome the early loss of an adoring mother, the rebuffs of a distant father and comparisons with a determinedly prim sister. Her cousin could not remember a time when Cynthia wasn't talking about sex. It was a fun-loving childhood, to put it mildly.
A sequence of largely unscrupulous lovers, who left her frequently pregnant and financially struggling, plus two children and three abortions, led her to the conclusion that 'there wasn't a single man in the whole wide bloody world I could rely on to look after me.' First as a landlady, briefly as a prostitute's maid (having to make lots of tea to accommodate the 'Golden Rain' trade), rather unenthusiastically on the game herself for two years, Cynthia finally had her epiphany: 'I found myself when I started organizing sex for other people.'
Her business worked well because Cynthia was above all understanding and she could keep a straight face. Some of her clients' requirements were eye-opening. There was the ex-police superintendent who drove fervently to Somerset so he could take off his clothes and clean Agatha's cooker, the collector of taxes anxious to pretend he was a lesbian, the clergyman who clearly wanted an angel with wings. Through Cynthia's portals passed transvestites and slaves galore, a night watchman who had never tried sex until he was sixty-two, and her own father.
In part, Cynthia's establishment was dedicated to giving the elderly their confidence back, and she gave a £3 discount to old age pensioners, and charged half-price to those who were pretty well past it. She chose her girls for their character and honesty. Her clients were satisfied and impressed. Cynthia's story is fascinating and funny and it will be a rare reader who is not taken by surprise at some point in this book. If it all seems as normal as poached egg on toast, admit, you've been to Cynthia's.
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Read information about the authorBritish writer and Literary Fellow at Newcastle and Durham Universities (1972-74), he was Visiting Lecturer in English Literature at the North Dakota State University (1977-79). He was awarded the E. M. Forster Award in 1974 and in 1978 he won the George Orwell Prize for his essay "The Limitations of Despair", first published in The Listener magazine.
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