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Andrew O’Hagan writes about child abuse, the BBC and the British public

It was a time of Player’s cigarettes and gin after hours at the pubs on Great Portland Street. Broadcasting House was a maze of stairwells, long corridors and unknown powers, a world within worlds that couldn’t quite decide whether it was a branch of the civil service or a theatrical den. Many of the men who worked there were getting their own way in the national interest, and the best (or worst) of them combined the secrecy of Whitehall with the languor of Fitzrovia. It was Patrick Hamilton in conversation with George Smiley down a blind alley off Rathbone Place, with froth sliding down the insides of pint tumblers and lipsticked fags in every ashtray. Men such as Gamlin practically lived in Langham Place: their outer bounds were Soho, Bloomsbury, Marylebone, and everything else was the World Service.

In the issue of Lilliput magazine for May 1943 Gamlin wrote an essay called ‘Why I Hate Boys’, which is signed ‘A School-Master’. It was a developing theme, boys, children, whatever, and in 1946 Methuen published a book written by Gamlin and Anthony Gilbert called Don’t Be Afreud! A Short Guide to Youth Control (The Book of the Weak). The book is just about as funny as it wants to be, with author photographs (‘aged 7 and 8 approx’) and a caption: ‘The authors on their way to the Psychoanalyst’. Gamlin, in common with later youthquakers such as Jimmy Savile, never liked children, never had any, never wanted any, and on the whole couldn’t bear them, except on occasion to fuck.

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