It’s been a pretty hectic period for Stephen Goodson over the past few months. Any thoughts of settling down to a quiet life in rural Pringle appear to have flown right out of the window for the newest director to the Board of the Reserve Bank.
He’s moved to Pringle Bay from Rondebosch, married for the third time, orchestrated the shareholder vote in his favour at the Reserve Bank and bid farewell to a family member.
The Russian Imperial flag that flutters above the door of his sea view deck indicates an interesting man. And Goodson is indeed an interesting character.
Theoretically Goodson is still on honeymoon, having tied the knot for the third time just two weeks ago. His wife, Liliya is almost half his age and Russian, a theme which seems to present itself repeatedly in his colourful life. “The flag is for Liliya”, he says, “so that she doesn’t feel too home sick”.
The modest home, with the old light blue chev parked outside gives no outward appearance of anything untoward. But stepping up to the door of the wooden house one gets one’s first taste of the intimate history of this man. A brass plaque with the word Mitford engraved on it greets the curious visitor. Seemingly innocuous in itself, when investigated, it opens up a pedigree of fascinating proportions. Goodson hails from the heady aristocracy, and the family member he bid farewell to this month, was the highly controversial Lady Diana Mitford Mosley.
Goodson comes from a long line of activists, Diana Mosley not least of them. Mosley’s sisters, Unity, Jessica and Nancy were well known as being active communists, socialists and fascists, an interest which was spurred in them through their father, David Mitford, the second Baron Redesdale, himself an ardent supporter of the fascists. Diana, born into aristocratic circles was catapulted into infamy when she left her first husband, Bryan Guinness, heir to the Guinness empire and openly became the lover of Sir Oswald Mosley. Their eventual marriage taking place in the drawing room of Joseph Goebbels’ home in Berlin, with Hitler a guest.
Goodson speaks with fondness for Diana, a woman feted as the most beautiful in her era. One, however, gets a sense of impatience in him when he speaks of her husband, Sir Oswald Mosley. Goodson believes that Oswald, who was the youngest member of the British House of Commons at the time, destroyed a promising political career when he established the British Union of Fascists, which could have seen him ultimately as Prime Minister of England.
To his credit though Oswald did gain the dubious title of being the first man ever to be jailed in Holloway prison. This as a result of family friend, Winston Churchill, who took the decision that Diana and Oswald should not be separated whilst languishing in jail during the second world war.
The photo on the wall
A simple frame holding a black and white photograph hangs in Goodson’s lounge. It is of a young woman standing between two men. The young woman is an aunt of Goodson’s and the man next to her is Felix Yousoupov, yet another close family friend. Yousoupov, a Russian aristocrat, was the man who orchestrated the tenuous murder of Rasputin and who himself only died in 1967.
Goodson recalls how his aunt would leave Russia, swimming in the exotic jewels of the Russian aristocrat who was unable to take his wealth out of the country. “She would simply cross over into England, dripping with Yousoupov’s wealth”.