Sir Ernest Marples (9th December 1907 to 6th July 1978)

 

You donít get many knights and government ministers buried up in the north but hereís one in Manchesterís biggest cemetery. Wonderfully he had a fetish for being whipped senselessly while dressed in women's clothing (I'm a three-times-a-month man.) He lived his final years on a large vineyard estate in France and breathed his last breath in a Monte Carlo hospital. He was returned home to Manchester to be lowered into the family plot where I'm stood. If you've ever seen the films Scandal or The Bank Job you'll have seen characters based on him... allegedly.

He was born in a threadbare part of Manchester and rose almost to the top. A humble start with jobs as a miner and a postman didnít throw light on any future success. Before the Second World War interrupted everyoneís lives Ernest enlisted in the Royal Artillery and rose to the rank of Captain before being medically discharged aged 37. Aged 44 he became Conservative MP for Wallasey and became a junior minister in the 1951-55 government. By 50 he was Postmaster General (seeing the introduction of Premium Bond scheme and postcodes.) By 52 he was near the very top and was Minister of Transport for five years. During this tenure he oversaw the introduction of lots of familiar things - parking meters, the driving licence, the MOT test and single/double yellow lines.

 

Away from the stiff grey world of government Ernest was a lively rogue. If you read books about the Profumo Affair your eyes will soon find his name. Lord Denning produced a report summarising his investigation into a possible breach of security but he omitted some salacious details. He learnt of sex parties attended by people in society's upper echelons. At some of these orgies drinks were served by a servile male. He was later known as "The Man In The Mask" and was fully naked except for an apron and a mask. If he made a mistake he didn't mind being whipped. This man was supposed to be Ernest.