Arthur Mullard’s real name was Mullord – a French name – but his upbringing was strictly cockney.
After a stint in the army, during which time he became the regimental boxing champ, he followed that career professionally for a while. However, twenty fights and a knockout which wiped his memory cut the career short.
Little is known about his life in the Forties, but after WW2, he drifted into the movie business, working as a stuntman – mostly doing fight scenes. His tough, lumbering, broken-nosed appearance and heavy cockney accent enabled him to rise from bit parts such as bouncers to comedy “heavies” in films such as the Peter Sellers vehicles, “Two Way Stretch” and “Wrong Arm Of The Law”.
By now, he had changed one letter of his surname – turning Mullord into Mullard. He reasoned this would be more acceptable to the British public, who were familiar with Mullard’s radio and TV valves.
Then, in the Seventies, he finally graduated from minor film roles to television sitcoms – also making a number of records. But his recording career came to an abrupt halt, following a disastrous live appearance on “Top Of The Pops” where he and Hylda Baker forgot the words to their novelty cover of “You’re The One That I Want” from the musical, “Grease”.
After that, his star waned and he returned to his humble roots in a council flat in Islington. He died there in 1995, aged 85.
But shortly after, events were to take a bizarre turn when his daughter Barbara went public with her account of years of sexual abuse suffered at the hands of her father – leading to the suicide of her mother.
I recall that, at the time, many felt the woman had MADE UP her claims, either for financial gain – or simply to attract attention. This was more comforting than the idea that the man whose film appearances they had enjoyed for so many years was in reality an incestuous monster.
However, I know BETTER. I lived near to Islington in the Seventies.
Now I should make it clear from the start that despite meeting many celebrities at that time (being in London and working in the West End, including as a chauffeur) I never met Arthur.
But back in those halcyon Seventies, I LIVED for four months with his sister-in-law – Christiane Mullord.
And while Christiane had only met him briefly and never spoke of him during our time together, it is the period BEFORE our relationship that is instructive…
I first encountered Christiane after my cat had had kittens. I had placed an advert, “kittens: free to good home” with my phone number, in a local vet’s waiting room and she called me up to warn me of bogus excrescences who picked up animals from such advertisements, to sell to labs, for vivisection. Apparently some of these scum even took their kids with them, as window dressing.
I replied that I had by now managed to place the kittens – and I was pretty sure all of the recipients were kosher, being friends of friends and suchlike.
But we got talking and the upshot was, finding we had music in common, I soon formed a relationship with her – and her partner, George.
I went around to their Guinness Trust flat in Islington a number of times, spending innocent evenings listening to records of theirs while they listened to ones I had bought with me.
But as time went by, I learned more about their relationship. It transpired George was in fact a LODGER in the flat and that her husband was Jeremy Mullord – Arthur Mullard’s younger brother – and he was “away a lot”.
Furthermore, their relationship was KNOWN to Jeremy – but for appearances, when he returned home, George would return to his room.
At this point, I will try to describe these people, beginning with Christiane’s husband, Jeremy…
Apparently, he fancied himself as an academic (and so had understandably retained his original surname) and the reason he was never around (I never met HIM either) was he was taking course after course at various universities (education was FREE in Britain in the Seventies).
But according to Christiane, he was less interested in qualifications than the young female students he could NAIL there. Basically, he was trying to re-live his youth.
He sounded like a total CREEP.
His marriage to Christiane had occurred while he was studying in Paris. She had been unfortunate enough to encounter him and was impressed by his apparent class. At that time, she knew nothing of his (in)famous brother.
Christiane was a sweetheart. At forty-seven, she was several years older than Jeremy, but her classic French look – high cheekbones, long hair and killer body – had made her irresistible to him. For a while.
But later, once settled in England, he had introduced her to George…
George was a REAL academic, whom Jeremy had met at some university. But his qualifications had only lead to a job as head librarian at an Islington library.
And when George needed a new place (for reasons I can only GUESS at) Jeremy invited him to come and stay with him and Christiane. Since they had no children (Christiane had hit “the change” early) they had a spare room in the poky little Islington walk-up.
The arrangement had suited all at first. George could “service” Christiane, leaving Jeremy to fill his boots at the university. But there was a problem, for Christiane – it turned out that George was a monumental PERVERT.
He would go “dogging” (and this before the term was even used) hanging around in parks where street prostitutes took their punters, he would pick up their discarded condoms, put them on and masturbate into them.
It is hard to understand why a person would take all of the risks of acquiring an STD – without at least having had the fun involved. But that was George.
He also had a glass eye which he would remove, to shock people. A real charmer.
But from his cultivated accent, education and poise, you would never have known what lay beneath.
Of course, our nights spent listening to music was his way of “grooming” (another term which did not exist then) me – then a young man in his early twenties.
Eventually, our relationship grew closer and when he heard I had a Polaroid camera (rare in those days) it was suggested that I could bring it with me next time, to take some “artistic” pictures of Christiane.
It was further suggested that afterwards, I might spend some TIME with Christiane, provided he could enjoy her in his room, immediately after (I did not know about his condom routine yet).
Now you have to remember I was young, free and single at that time – therefore the prospect appealed. Christiane was gorgeous and appeared to be willing, so why not?
However, when the night came, events here took a bizarre turn too. After a few relatively tame nudie snaps, George suggested Christiane go “split-beaver” – at which point, she burst into tears and ran from the room. I suddenly realised that Christiane was not on board for this at all.
George calmly remarked that she was a “silly cow” and said he would talk to her. He then disappeared for a few minutes, after which she returned to the room alone.
She lay down beside me and we talked. It soon became apparent what the REAL position was. At first, she had been excited by George. But then as the true nature of his depravity had revealed itself, she had become less enamoured of the situation.
And the only reason she had gone along with George’s suggestions was that it might lead to a sexual encounter with ME. But my sympathetic reaction at her distress – as opposed to George’s callous one – had awakened something else. She realised she had FEELINGS for me.
Thus we made love. And it was fantastic. But as we lay in the afterglow (something that she told me had never happened with George – once he had finished, he was as cold as yesterday’s mashed potatoes) we began to consider the ramifications of what was happening.
Eventually, she said she had better go and “service” him. She said she would return as soon as possible.
I lay there in contemplation – and realised that for the first time in my life, I felt like MURDERING a fellow human being (George, of course).
No doubt some would have DONE that – but being at least a borderline intellectual, I remained lying there, trying to analyse WHY.
By all of the conventions of the time, she was “George’s bird” (remember, this was the Seventies) and I had merely been lucky enough to sleep with her. So what RIGHT did I have to feel this way?
Well, after a while she came back – explaining she had just showered BIG TIME. So we made love again.
Eventually, I left. We kissed at the doorway. George was still in his room – I never saw him again.
To cut a long story short: the next day we talked over the phone – I came around while George was at work at the library – picked her and her stuff up – and we lived together for four months.
The huge gap in our ages ensured that our affair would not last – but we had a great four months and when it ended, amicably, I returned her to her flat.
George had been chucked OUT as his name was not on the rental agreement (in those days, rent was collected at the DOOR) and so she was alone.
I returned a week later. She told me she had started divorce proceedings against Jeremy for in effect, desertion – and that once she had settled back down, she would move on with her life. I knew she had several woman friends and would be okay.
After that, I never saw her again, either.
So there it is. I have changed some of the names in this account – although all of those involved may be DEAD by now. If not, they would be in their eighties. There is just ONE Christiane Mullord (her REAL name, back then) in the current UK phone book, but as she lives in Accrington, Lancashire – it is probably not HER.
In any case, this has been a chapter of my life that is in the distant PAST. Revisiting it now (other than in this reminiscence) would be pointless.
But life behind Islington’s closed doors in those far-off days can now be seen in a clearer light. And whilst Arthur Mullard MIGHT have lead a blameless life and his daughter’s story might be utter fiction – I somehow do not THINK so…