Authors: Peter Keogh
Tags: #Su Pollard, #Debbie Reynolds, #Gay Australia, #Gay England, #Hollywood, #Sexual, #Abuse, #Catholic, #Trial, #Cancer, #Prostate, #Thyroidectomy, #Chemotherapy, #Vanuatu, #New Zealand, #New York, #Maly Drama Theatre, #Bali, #Julie Andrews, #Angela Lansbury
FILLING IN THE GAPS
My Hi-de-High Life - The Sequel
First published in 2015 by Apex Publishing Ltd
12A St. John's Road, Clacton on Sea, Essex
CO15 4BP, United Kingdom
Please email any queries to
Digital edition converted and distributed by
Andrews UK Limited
Copyright Â© 2015 Peter Keogh
The author has asserted his moral rights
Cover photo: Jon Hewson, Mandurah Coastal Times
Cover design: Hannah Blamires
All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that no part of this book is to be reproduced, in any shape or form. Or by way of trade, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser, without prior permission of the copyright holder.
Last year I wrote a book!
It was a little book, which to my great surprise seemed to strike a chord with quite a few people from all over the world who kindly informed me they had been moved by it in various ways - some said it had made them laugh and cry and some were inspired by it - all of which truly touches me.
To my family, friends and each of you who purchased my book my deepest thanks.
To all who supported me from the first written word to publication I also owe enormous thanks but most especially to Chris Cowlin of Apex Publishing whose tireless faith in and encouragement of my book made what seemed an impossible dream become a reality and the remarkable Lynne Burford from
Lynne Burford Publicity
whose belief in and support of Sach and me in every aspect of our lives inspires us daily!
Now in response to many requests and before my memory fails me completely and people start saying, â
Didn't that funny old man over there
to be Peter Keogh?
' I thought that I would try to
Fill in the Gaps'
left out of my first book. I hope you that may continue to enjoy my further adventures and even my misadventures!
Thankfully I am surrounded by the most wonderful, funny and especially tolerant people in my life who put up with all of my many quirky ways, people like Lynne Burford and David Shallue - more family than friends, John Frost and Shane O'Connor, Peter and Norma Powell, Peter and Leonie Hansen who are my best audience. Leonie kindly helped edit portions of this book together with Leanne Morton, Marlene Cream and Val, Jan and Peter Hallam - two persons who I admire hugely. Also special thanks to John Burbidge, a very dear friend and a successful author in his own right, and his partner Bruce Robertson for their expert and kind advice and John's extremely detailed editing, Stan Suiter and his whole family, Betty Box Office, Valerie Adnams, Peter and Mary Costello and especially my family...well, most of them! Since losing Debbie Reynolds's PA, Jenny Powers, one lovely surprise, has been our friendship with dear Donald Light who is Debbie Reynolds' â
' and whose friendship we treasure. There are too many of you to mention here but I sincerely hope that you all know who you are and how much you mean to me. I do want to make special mention of Ian Howells who knew me way back
and who I was pleased to establish contact again with through Facebook.
About the Author
Peter Keogh was born in rural Australia during the 1950s. Growing up in a religious family where homosexuality was considered an anathema, he struggled to come to terms with his true identity. He was also subject to physical and sexual abuse, which was to shape his later life.
After a string of jobs, Peter moved to London where he met and worked with some of the biggest names in show business, including comedy actress Su Pollard, whom he married. For several years, Peter enjoyed the celebrity lifestyle, mixing with some of the most famous people of the day, including Princess Diana. After being accused of theft, Peter was also involved in one of the most publicised trials of the time. When his marriage to Su Pollard ended, Peter travelled to the USA, where he went on to work with many iconic stars, including film legend Debbie Reynolds.
Filling in the Gaps
follows on from Peter's first successful autobiography,
My Hi-De-High Life
, and includes more tantalising details of a life well lived. Book publication has also opened up a new career for Peter as an author, with further projects in the pipeline.
Finally able to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality, Peter lives with his long-time partner, Sacha Mahboub, near Perth, Australia.
They say that if one writes a book the next one is always much harder, so I pursue this with trepidation but inspired by the comments of so many who have asked me to
Fill in the Gaps
Before I continue the next part of my journey, I would like to share with you something that only came to light very recently. My dear mum has been quite unwell and she gave me a large bundle of typed notes that my late dad had written during and just before the war when he was engaged to Mum. Included in those notes was one page written in 1951 by Harry Impson, who it appears, served with Dad overseas during World War Two. I was six years old at the time and the note, in which I am mentioned by name, was sent to Dad to give to me when I was older. In fact, to me now he is quite the hero and I realise how lucky I was to have him as a dad. Hopefully, it also gives you, the reader, a fairer picture of the man I have written about but without much clarity of him as a âman', apart from being a distant parent.
Dated July 15
From W. X Cpl. Impson 3568 âB' Coy 2/16
“This letter will occasion you some surprise but I thought you would be interested to hear about âDoug' from one who has been with him all the time.
In Syria Doug received his baptism of fire in a heavy engagement involving the crossing of the Litani River under heavy fire and capturing dominating ridges that were stubbornly defended. He did a splendid job as we lost our platoon commander (wounded) and I had to act as sergeant, Doug led the section, and led it well through many bitter scrapes, not bad for the youngest in the section was it?
The action in which Doug was wounded involved the capture of Sidon along the coast of Tyre (memories of Biblical history). We advanced across open country for about three miles and were within half a mile of Sidon when the enemy counter attacked with tanks and with one tank at very close hand. Most of the group with me were killed and Doug wounded.
That should have been enough to give any boy the jitters but Doug carried on for an hour or so after he was hit! The wound has healed well and he is working in the orderly room here at the hospital.
I will miss him very much when I leave here, for at any age it is stimulating to have as a companion such a clean living lad, whose strong faith guides his actions!”
I find the above letter quite sad now because he was obviously an exceptional man and I miss him as I write this more than any other time since his death in 1999.
Mum also gave me a sort of diary he had written about the pleasure he had travelling throughout Western Australia with Mum and especially his brother Len and his family. I will try to collate his writings soon. They are a total joy and were a revelation to me. In my earlier book, and later on in this one, you will note that Dad and I had some major issues with regard to closeness, for various reasons. I cannot tell you how much I wish I knew the man represented in his writings. I never heard him say â
I love you'
to anyone, and how I yearned to hear those words. Mum too probably! However, in his writings a side of Dad I never dreamed existed touched me deeply - his love of his family, his fiancÃ©e at the time (my mum) and his respect for and caring of his fellow soldiers. Plus his wonderful sense of humour! Following are a few quotes from his diary about travelling from Fremantle to fight overseas that made me see him through newer and clearer eyes. The photo below is of his regiment, most of who were killed and were mentioned in the letter above. Dad is in white shorts, second from the left.
On learning he was about to be shipped overseas:
The thought of having to leave all that was dear to me was not very pleasant, but this was offset by the thought that we all had a job to do and it was my job as much as anyone else's.”
“As the ship left Fremantle wharf I climbed up the rigging and had a very good vantage point to see all that was going on. I felt that I wanted to be alone to sort my thoughts. A feeling which was foreign had come over me and left an ache in my heart. Where was Nita (my mother) - would she be true to me, would she miss me, and a thousand other thoughts flashed through my mind!”
This was written about his ship coming into Aden:
“The journey had an exciting incident as we were bombed by the Italians who occupied Eritrea only a few miles away! When the sirens sounded we were herded below much to our disgust as we wanted to see what was going on. Fortunately for us all of the bombs fell wide. I spent the majority of the time writing letters although I knew they would not be posted before we arrived at our destination but I had made a promise that I would write every week and I intended to keep it while I could.”
For me the letters were a goldmine of information about a man I really wanted to know more about. Now reading the letters I believe that we were both actually quite alike and could have been great friends as well as father and son. It makes me feel rather sad but also warmed by the gift of his writings. Perhaps a little of his writing talents may have rubbed off on me after all!
As you continue to read you will note that sex seems to raise its head a great deal in my writings, hopefully in most cases with a hint of humour. Looking back, I realise now that the reason it does so is that I seemed to use it as a sort of currency to obtain the affection I yearned for - if someone wanted me sexually I felt I was accepted and needed, whereas more often than not all the person wanted was sex. For me the hook with a partner was huge once a relationship was consummated. I guess because of my inability to communicate satisfactorily in any other way - having such a bad stammer and absolutely no confidence in any aspect of myself - sex was my only way of making contact. And because I was cute looking there was never any lack of people wanting to have sex with me, but few wanted to stay very long afterwards!
Growing up on a farming property I was surrounded by a large family who, whilst close, had no sense of how important it was to supply a needy child with the physical affection that I in particular craved. The Keogh family were a strong unit but it was very much a family where the male was the master of his domain and all that came with it. I also knew that I was quite different to my cousins who, whenever we had a family function, would play all the manly pursuits that were totally foreign to me. I would seek out my female cousins and thoroughly enjoy their company much more than kicking a football, or each other! Even the adults were often aggressive towards one another, which terrified me. In those days, women and children were not allowed into public bars and I can recall sitting in our car outside the Mt. Barker Hotel with my younger sister Jenny and watching horrified as two uncles thrashed the living daylights out of each other, starting in the bar and ending up on the footpath. It also instilled in me an almost total hatred of drunken people that is still with me today, but to a lesser degree. I think it is the aggression that alcohol seems to trigger that I recoil from. Even the smell of beer on a person's breath in those days would turn my stomach. It wasn't until my late twenties that I found I could tolerate alcohol but being unskilled in the mature manner of drinking alcohol I would drink liqueurs as if they were a milkshake. As a result, after one drink I would often be under the table and after two
I would sometimes be under the host
My parents were actually quite nurturing of my sister and me but were limited by their own childhood experiences. I'm sure that when I was born they had high expectations for their first born but after I wore my aunt's brassiere to school as a five-year-old those expectations were lowered considerably! I often felt that I was adopted and as I grew a little older and was able to figure out that it took nine months from conception to birth I was very confused about how I could have been conceived in 1943 if the war ended in 1945, when I knew that Dad was in the thick of all the fighting! My overactive imagination took hold of the situation and convinced me that if I was not adopted, perhaps one of my uncles was in fact my dad - after all, there were many of them! I later discovered that Dad was actually wounded in New Guinea and flown home in 1943 - whew!
Today Mum speaks fondly of her love for Dad and that he was her one and only romantic involvement, something not that common these days. She had never heard of the words homosexual, lesbian or orgasm. She told me that she couldn't even spell âorgasm' let alone know what one was! However, they loved each other deeply in their own ways. Dad being a staunch Catholic was a slight cause of conflict between them because Mum was raised by parents who were extremely anti-Catholic and did not understand any aspect of Catholicism. To her credit, she attended mass regularly until I was in my teens and was totally supportive of my sister and me being raised as Catholics.
Dad's parents were two of the people I admired most in my youth. Grandma Kitty, as the name would suggest, was a kind, loving and very religious woman who never seemed young to me, even though she would only have been in her forties at that time - she always dressed âdown'. However, she loved me dearly. Grandfather Jimmy was like Dad, a strict disciplinarian who intimidated me. What intrigued me was how he had so many hairs growing from almost every visible orifice. There were so many hairs growing out of his nose that whenever he sneezed I was surprised that he didn't get a whiplash! Mum's parents used to live away from us as her father was a railway station master. As a result I did not see as much of them so I was not able to bond with them very often. I always saw them as a unit because they were so much in love with each other and they were rarely apart. This continued right up until Granddad's death. They were always hand-in-hand whenever they left the house and consistently tactile, something sadly I never learned.
The country, or bush as we called it, held no appeal for me whatsoever. I did love the fresh milk and the butter which my family would churn but it took ages to do and seemed like such a chore. One funny incident happened when I was staying with my uncle and aunt and I trotted off with them early one morning to watch them milk the cows. My uncle was tugging away without much success on one of the cow's teats when, in utter, or
, frustration, he bent over and bit the teat but thankfully not enough to break the skin. I was really shocked. Then in desperation he pulled the teat so hard it almost touched the ground! Mum recounted this today at lunch to the shock and great amusement of all at the table. Not something the RSPCA would approve of I'm sure!
I did love the smells of the farm and especially in springtime when everything was renewing itself, including the animals! I would spend hours sitting with the little chickens and ducklings as they followed their parents in the cutest lines. I even loved the warm and earthy smell of a new lamb or calf that I would often bottle feed. I was such a clucky young thing and would let the calves suckle my hands for ages. I won't recount my sadder experiences on the farm as they were covered in detail in my earlier book and but they still upset me today when I occasionally think of them. Mum told me recently that whenever I went to a family farm during school holidays I was an avid letter writer and would detail each of my day's adventures, to their great amusement. Apparently in one letter I told them how I had spent the day watching my Uncle Eric crutch sheep, which is the removal of wool from around the tail and between the rear legs of a sheep. When I went to bed I couldn't sleep, so I tried counting sheep, as one is advised to do, and I said that it didn't help because all I could see were the bottoms of the sheep as they jumped away after crutching. She also said that I used an old envelope that wouldn't stick down, so I applied some of my aunt's salad dressing to seal it. It did the trick but when the letter arrived at Mum's and Dad's the smell was sickening and the paper very soggy. When they finally managed to open the salad dressing-sealed section it stuck to Dad's fingers!