But the half was not told me. He really was a poor little rich boy :
The book tells how, for 10 years before her son was born in 1921, Eaton's mother Ruth – a feminist, Ibsenite, Wagnerian and Nietzschean by his account – had been the mistress of Francis Errington, an eminent ecclesiastical lawyer many decades her senior. Errington was unhappily married to a "lady of title" with whom he already had a grown-up family. When Ruth became pregnant with their only child she refused an abortion, but agreed to collude in an elaborate deception that would preserve them both from scandal.
This involved her making a short trip to Canada where (after a whirlwind romance) she would "marry" a fictitious husband – the "father" of her child. The phantom was given a name, Charles Eaton (after a department store in Montreal); a face (a photograph of a handsome young officer friend of Errington's who had died in the trenches); and a cover story that would explain his absence.
Eaton, the story went, was a mining engineer who would be offered a wonderful job in Italy. Shortly after the birth of his child there on April 5 1921, he would die of a ruptured appendix, leaving Ruth a "widow" with a baby in tow.
As the Italian doctors who "failed" to diagnose appendicitis were "not to be trusted", her child would be born at a hotel in Lausanne. That element of the story was true at least. But Charles Le Gai Eaton was born not in April but three months earlier, on January 1 1921, with his real father, Francis Errington, dancing attendance nearby.
After a period in Switzerland, Ruth and her baby returned to the family home in London, where Gai was brought up in an almost entirely female household, the object of his mother's possessive and eccentric devotion. He shared her bed until he was six and learned nothing at all about religion, Ruth having warned a succession of nursemaids that they would be dismissed if they ever mentioned God.
Apart from the elderly gentleman Gai knew only as "Uncle", outside the family they had few friends – Ruth having advised her son that the English in general were "cold, stupid, lacking intellect, lacking culture, and either sexually repressed or perverts".
In 1933 Errington's wife died, and three months later an astonished Gai wrote in his diary: "Maman is going to marry Uncle... Uncle is no real relation of ours. He was a great friend of my father." When his mother suggested the boy address her new husband as "father" and change his name to Errington, Gai demurred, confiding to his diary that it would be unfair to the memory of his "real" father who had died so tragically young.
It was when he was 16 and at Charterhouse that his mother finally told him the truth, although she made him promise never to let Errington know that he knew. So began an elaborate charade: "On April 5 each year [Gai] received a birthday gift from his father, both of them knowing this was not his birthday, and each year in the Christmas holidays his father took him to a Swiss resort to skate and ski so that they were constantly together. Still his lips were sealed."
Blimey. Poor kid. It's true that children are adaptable, but all the same ...
Well you would, wouldn't you ? His mother sounds like a "woman of character" - a.k.a. utter pointy-head. I wonder what her maiden name was - from the above it sounds as if it may not have been Eaton ? In fact (the wonder of google and genealogy) she was born Ruth Frances Muddock.
The upshot of such a complicated web of deception was that Gai "became obsessed with the need to discover Truth".
"There were long periods when she was so infuriated with the English that she forbade English to be spoken around the house, only French and Russian were acceptable"
It was not long before he was reintroduced to an old acquaintance, a Jamaican artist, Corah Hamilton, who was living in London. They married in 1956 and she soon gave birth to the first of their three children.
Their happiness, however, seems to have unhinged his mother, Ruth, who became viciously abusive about her new black daughter-in-law, and it was with some relief that in 1959 Eaton accepted an offer of a post as director of the Colonial Office's information office in Jamaica.
Hmm. One knoweth not what to say. But he had a robust view on Muslim immigration :
Eaton decried the despots and human rights abuses in the Muslim world, and, closer to home, held a hard line on Muslim immigrants: "It is time for the Muslims in Britain to settle down, to find their own way, to form a real community and to discover a specifically British way of living Islam," he noted. "The constant arrival of uneducated, non English-speaking immigrants from the subcontinent makes that more difficult. This is no curry island."He was wrong about that last sentence, wasn't he ? The Telegraph obit also contains this wee factoid :
Until about 1990, Britain's white converts were reckoned to number 5,000; that number is now thought to have grown to between 10,000 and 20,000.
UPDATE - "A philosopher, author of genius and profound insight, Gai Eaton was widely revered by the community as the closest thing to a towering patriarch in articulating Islam for modern Britain", said Dr. Muhammad "Two million Muslim terrorists" Abdul Bari.