"That there's some corner of a foreign field/ That is forever ..." filled with the bones of a psychotic sex maniac who could have shagged for Britain at the Olympics! Yes, I'm afraid that is Rupert Brooke, the poet who penned arguably the most patriotic poem since Shakespeare wrote Henry V's speech upon St. Crispian's day. According to Nigel Jones, a biographer of Brooke, in today's Daily Mail, the man was a raving 'shagaholic' and either sex would do! I know, I know, how one's illusions are shattered.
He was a lot more than that, though. Brooke’s fevered letters to his lovers and friends reveal a tormented mind which, in stark contrast to his Greek god looks and seemingly straightforward personality, descend into the dark depths of a sick hatred of women, anti-Semitism and sometimes sheer madness.
He was, of course, on the fringes of what would be known as the 'Bloomsbury set' which included such worthies as Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey and John Keynes, another multiple 'shagger'. I'm no expert but one is forced to ask if there was a single member of the Bloomsbury set who wasn't 'away with the fairies' - in the full sense of that phrase!
One particularly interesting item in the article, well, it's interesting if like me you have a fondness for esoterica, is that one of Brooke's 'shagees', so to speak, was the Irish actress Cathleen Nesbit who, much later at the age of 86, would star with Gene Hackman in the film 'French Connection II'. 'Nottalotta people know that!' so you could confirm your reputation as an 'A1 crasher' by dropping that into the conversation at your next dinner party.
Amongst his other conquests was a cousin of Laurence Olivier and the daughter of the then Duke of Wellington. Where he found the time - and energy - to write poetry I have no idea. Perhaps, on the whole, it was better that he died young and somewhat obscurely on a hospital ship in 1915 whilst on his way to Gallipoli.
However, I am delighted to be able to tell you that, indeed, there is "honey still for tea" at the Old Vicarage, Grantchester but you will need to be awfully good chums with Jeffrey Archer to get a taste. Yeeeeeeeeees, quite!