Tuesday, December 26, 2023

June 1944: Uncle Paul Passes the Prostitute Test

I occasionally need help making heads or tails of what's in my uncle's UKNA file, and I shared this with a friend of mine:

"Temperate in his habits and not easily attracted to the opposite sex."

He read that phrase and responded, "makes me wonder if they threw women at them just to see how they would react."

I had wondered about that comment as well, but didn't know what the significance was. Why did they take note of that? 

But then I came across the following quote about SOE leadership in A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell (italics are mine):

Baker Street was also finally heeding her warnings about its choice of agents and, in truth, becoming less naïve. It now tested male recruits' suitability by targeting them with professional seducers during training to see how they behaved. A new assessment board of psychologists sought to weed out the uncontrolled egos that had so enthralled it in the early days.

 So yeah, they probably did throw women at the recruits.  There were a number of SOE agents who endangered entire resistance groups because they couldn't keep it in their pants.  

I also have to wonder about Uncle Paul's resistance to the prostitute.  Was he trying to stay true to the love of his life (who had been married off to someone else for her protection) or something else?

The friend offered this perspective: "As far as your uncle just being faithful by nature, it's possible, but men behave oddly when they think they may die without ever having sex again. Or maybe he was just smart enough to figure it was a setup."

Uncle Paul really was extraordinarily intelligent. He might well have spotted the setup (that seems entirely possible given what I know about him). And he might also have wanted to remain true the woman he loved.  And maybe he just felt awkward being approached by a prostitute. I've known plenty of heterosexual men who would have been like deer-in-headlights if sex worker approached them.

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