. . . Subsequently the tabloids made much of our different backgrounds, the working-class Jewish boy from the East End and the Catholic aristocrat with her title. But we were, in our early forties, a long way from our backgrounds and, as usual with the tabloids, these descriptions were more for headlines than accuracy. Although Harold was technically born into the working class–his father worked in a tailoring factory–ever since the success of The Caretaker in 1960 he had been extremely well-off by most standards: he was able, for example, to retire his father, worn-out with his labours, to salubrious Hove where his parents would live happily for another thirty years.
Again technically, since my father was an earl and my mother a countess, I could be argued to be an aristocrat. But my father, born Frank Pakenham, only succeeded to the Earldom of Longford when I was nearly thirty; my childhood was spent in a modest North Oxford house, my father, with no private income, teaching at the University. My mother, being a Harley Street doctor’s daughter, was in any case convinced (and thus convinced us) that the middle classes were the salt of the earth whereas the aristocracy was feckless, unpunctual and extravagant, an assumption that our beloved father’s attitude to life did nothing to discourage. I had no inherited money myself, and had earned my own living since the age of twenty-one, first working for a publisher and, after marriage, by journalism and books.