A Letter

Dear Richard,

I thought of Pete as I watched White Mischief and the movie is all about the White Kenyans and Happy Valley before and during WWII.  If you don’t know, it’s the story of how the cuckolded Jock Broughton murdered Josh Erroll.  Erroll was somewhere in the succession line for the King of England.  

The ghost of the Happy Valley crowd was still around in the early 1990’s and it was something to behold.  Pete was mostly dismissive of the whole bunch, but they knew their way around and were ready to go off somewhere difficult and Pete liked that.  Some ended poorly, caught up in the dream of being a White Kenyan in Africa. They thought they could do pretty much anything they wanted.  It used to be a thing, Richard.  Don’t know if it still is, but in the movie the character played by John Hurt looks and acts a lot like Pete.  The character was rough and thoroughly adapted to tribal life.  Taciturn and critical of rich, lazy, drug and booze addicted white people in Africa. 

So, Pete and I’d drive out to Karen Blixen’s old place.  It was for rent a lot of the time and they had a little shop there and we’d drink beer looking out at the Rift Valley and the Maasai were usually around with their cattle and we’d buy stuff from the women.  Then we’d go along the Ngong Road to the ditch where they found Erroll shot dead in his car one night in 1941. 

Pete always got a kick out of discussing the old days, since the new days were not much different, and like I say, you could still see the decaying remnants of that time here and there, in people and places.  When we weren’t working, we’d hang out at the Muthaiga Club, the Ngong Race Course (Pete and I picked a few winners), Wilson Airport where Heather would fly Pete and me (we missed Beryl Markham by a few years, she’d taught Heather how to fly into war zones), the old Norfolk Hotel, the railway station (Pete was a fan), Lake Naivasha, Mt. Kenya, etc.   Speaking of Mt. Kenya, I don’t think Pete ever climbed that one.  He did Mt. Kilimanjaro, but not Kenya.  It was a tougher climb than Kilimanjaro and you needed equipment. 

Anyway, I’d recommend you watch White Mischief, it’s on Amazon Prime.  Greta Scacchi is near perfect.  Incidentally, in real life, Boughton was tried for the murder, but since he was an English gentleman, he was found not guilty, even though he was guilty as hell, and a year or so later he killed himself.  His wife went on to live in Kenya, going through a few other White Kenyans and their money.  I really shouldn’t put her down.  She was probably just fine, but I’ll never know.  Hey, Richard how many people do you know who care about the wife of Jock Boughton?  Well, Pete and I did and that was the dream we were living … you understand, between our bouts of malaria and amoeba and getting in and out of trouble with the men with guns.  I promise not to write too many times, but Pete is still here with me, and so it is hard not to write you since this is the sort of stuff I’d write to him.  Thanks, and love to you and your family.  Duke 


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