Yorkshire Transvestite Conquers Everest

If you find my stories of my new life in a strange land confusing, you might want to read the tale of Maurice Wilson from the beginning.

My virtual acquaintance, Mr Pudding, has been extolling the contributions that his fellow Yorkshiremen have made to the world, for good or ill. From George Bamber who devised the first double yellow lines to the metaphysical poetry of Andrew Marvell.

This bout of county pride has come as something of a surprise. It is rare for a Yorkshireman to be so boastful, given their usual shy and self-effacing nature, and this venture into extraversion is to be encouraged.

For that reason, and to demonstrate the camaraderie and mutual respect that exists between the Red and White Rose counties, here is a Lancastrian’s contribution to this celebration of Yorkist culture — I give you soldier, mystic, aviator and mountaineer, Maurice Wilson.

Maurice was born in Bradford in 1898, the son of a woollen mill owner. By that, I don’t mean that his father had been knitted or that the mill was constructed of blanket squares. The mill produced woollen goods and his father owned it, which you’ve probably worked out for yourself by now.

But I digress. Maurice Wilson was to achieve fleeting fame as one of the great eccentrics of his time before perishing in an ill-fated attempt to climb Everest at the age of thirty-six, dressed in women’s clothes.

He had fought with great bravery in World War One and was awarded the Military Cross for single-handedly holding a German advance at bay with a machine gun. He was seriously wounded by machine-gun fire himself a few months later and was sent home to recover.

He was not to regain his health completely, however, and Maurice left the army in 1919, his body and psyche scarred by his experiences of war.

He established businesses in London, America and New Zealand and although he achieved a degree of wealth, he was unable to find the happiness he yearned for, while his health deteriorated further, both physically and mentally.

His ailments were suddenly cured in 1932 after a 35-day regime of intensive prayer and fasting which Maurice claimed had been prescribed to him by a mystery man he met in Mayfair.

Whether the mystery man of Mayfair ever existed as anything other than a convenient alliteration is a moot point, but Maurice went on to develop his own blend of Christianity and eastern mysticism which he believed could solve the ills of the world, mainly through meditation and anorexia.

He needed a publicity coup in order to promote his beliefs and decided that he could achieve this by becoming the first man to conquer Everest, even though he had previously climbed nothing higher than the steps of his father’s mill.

And so he formulated his plan which was to fly a small plane to Tibet (he’d never actually flown one before), crash it into the slopes of the mountain and then set off up the hill alone and without oxygen.

The expedition was a failure inasmuch as Maurice did not survive it. However, his supporters (in Yorkshire) believe that he had indeed succeeded in reaching the summit of Everest some 18 years before Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing.

The greater mystery, though, is the range of ladies lingerie found among his belongings when his body was discovered the following year by the 1935 Everest Expedition.

It was they who put it about that Maurice was a transvestite and a fetishist, an allegation fiercely denied (in Yorkshire) as an outrageous slander that impugned the reputation of a true Yorkshire hero.

We will never know, but mud sticks and posthumous public recognition of his achievement was denied him.

Now you may think that I have made up the story of Maurice Wilson, but it is all true and verifiable, on the BBC website for example, or Wikipedia.

I shall leave you with the video that first introduced me to his story, as told by my fellow Lancastrian, Mike Harding.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

14 comments… Add yours
  • john 16th December 2011

    THAT title must be the best EVER in blogland!!!

  • Mr Parrot 16th December 2011

    Thanks John, though I have to say that the title almost wrote itself.

  • Elizabeth 16th December 2011

    Might I gently remind you, good sir, that Bradford used to be a Lancastrian town and was only won over to its true and right status in the fair county of Yorkshire by the bravery, tenacity and fortitude of those who bear the sign of the White Rose. We tried our very best to eradicate those whose mental dispositions were towards a ruddier, more wild rose gules, but it was inevitable that those whose madness gave them a frenzid litheness were able to escape into our many beautious and lush forests and sadly breed. That Maurice is a descendant of these is quickly discernible to those who know a true tyke when we see them.

    Respectable Yorkshire folk, of whatever gender, do not wear brassieres over their helmets and as there were no reports of pinnies found amongst the swathes of cotton interlock, the rumours must conclusively be false. His mysticism is a further emphasis. We Yorkshire folk deal in telling it how it is now and rely on nothing more than goose grease and brown paper to effect cures.This gentleman was obviously a descendant of the House of Lancaster merely trying to find his de-ranged way back to his own kind, carrying a sample suitcase from his father’s textile business to pay his way. x

  • Mr Parrot 16th December 2011

    Elizabeth, I believe you may be confusing your Bradford with the Bradford that lies in east Manchester that is, and always will be, of the Lancastrian persuasion. It is not in the Lancastrian nature to make territorial demands beyond the confines of our own fragrant lands.

    But speaking of nature and the argument that nurture will always win out, Maurice was a denizen of Yorkshire and a product of that society. It seems churlish to credit his personal peccadillos to his blameless antecedents, regardless of the hue of their buttonhole.

    As for your theory that he might simply have been carrying a sample suitcase with him on his journey, you might be closer to the truth than you imagine.

  • Elizabeth 16th December 2011

    Indeed, I only wish that were the truth, but I am not confused in my Bradfords and please may it be noted that you villainous reds still withold Pontefract and parts of the North York moors as part of the Duchy of Lancaster; we will not be contented until full possession as well as postcode is ours. Not within your nature? Pray sir, who was it that cut down the bridge over the Aire at Ferrybridge so that you might forbid us from taking possession of lands that were our own? There was nothing fragrant in your demeanour or lands, then!

    Thank mercy for our own River Cock that was able to bog down your armies before you were able to do any more damage. They say that it ran red with Lancastrian blood for days afterwards. Even the weather was on the side of the Yorkists as the snow blew in your faces. Ha!! True victory will out!

    I have long said that there are scurrulous infiltrators of your camp within our midst…in Maurice we surely have proof! x

  • Mr Parrot 16th December 2011

    Good grief, you mean Pontefract is ours? And I’ve been buying Pomfret cakes that were rightfully mine? Typical Yorkist skulldiggery.

    As for the River Cock, picking on a coachload of pensioners from Bolton isn’t so brave, especially when all they wanted to do was present a few historical weapons to the Leeds Armoury.

  • Mr Pudding 16th December 2011

    This is a Lancastrian conspiracy! Just because something appears in Wikipedia or within the BBC website doesn’t make it true! The Maurice Wilson to whom you and that incomprehensible Harding fellow refer never existed though according to my research there have been a total of 15,742 Maurice Wilsons in human history. 2,404 of these were born in Yorkshire and they were all fine upstanding fellows who certainly did not display a penchant for ladies’ underwear! By the way, other research has revealed that these people were all Lancashire born and bred:- Noel Edmonds, Saddam Hussein, Margaret Thatcher and Richard Nixon. They all wore ladies’ underwear apart from Thatcher whose nickname at university was “The Lancashire Hot Pot”.

  • Mr Parrot 16th December 2011

    I’m afraid you are in denial YP. Check the censuses and you will find him with his parents, Mark and Sarah Wilson at 10 Burnett Avenue, along with his three brothers and a servant no less.

    And why would you deny him? A perfect example of “strong in th’ arm an’ weak in th’ ‘ead” so admired on the wrong side of the Pennines.

    So what if he was a hero while wearing women’s underwear. As Mike Harding points out, everyone needs a hobby.

  • Mr Pudding 16th December 2011

    Grrrr! When next travelling on the A625 near White Edge Lodge, don’t be surprised if you see a mad man with a bazooka standing on the grass verge. As Yorkshire Pudding points out, every Lancastrian needs an explosion.

  • Elizabeth 16th December 2011

    If YP’s bazooka doesn’t work, we Yorkshire folk have another cunning plan…there’s arsenic in those Pomfret cakes you’ve been tucking into! x

  • Trevor Rowley 17th December 2011

    The exact cause of the Wars of the Roses are almost totally lost on me so the reason we are expected to loath the Yorkshire lot (other than they are like those quirky neighbours that most of us have had from time to time – weird sounds coming over the back garden fence that we can’t quite identify and strange looking vehicles pulling up on their drive with even stranger looking occupants spilling out etc). On and off, I’ve worked alongside Yorkshire folk for many a year and they were fine colleagues and we had many a laugh. For us, there was certainly no “us and them”.

    As for folk coming out of Yorkshire, Albert Pierrepoint, the state executioner like his father and uncle before, is a good example of a Yorkshireman who knew he’d done a good thing when his family trundled a handcart, fully-loaded with all their possessions, over the tops from Bradford, only to fetch up in Failsworth, on the Manchester side of Oldham. His judgement doesn’t seem to have let him down (and Albert certainly knew a bad ‘un when he came across one – just ask half of Hitler’s top brass who Albert was obliged to despatch to their maker after Nuremburg) and I believe he eventually retired to Southport or St Annes up the Lancashire coast.

    So, no more “us and them” please, boys and girls. At the end of the day we’re just northern folk separated by a big ‘ill (we’re so close, we almost share the same rainfall).

  • Elizabeth 17th December 2011

    ‘Almost’…Trevor. The devil is in the detail. 😀 x

  • rhymeswithplague 17th December 2011

    I have known personally exactly four inhabitants of the British Isles. One is a lovely woman from Manchester, two are musical lads from Yorkshire (whom I wrote about here, and one was a chap of indeterminate origin who had attended Cambridge and worked for IBM at High Wycombe. The Yorkshire lads seemed no worse and no better than the others, but I may be letting my American egalitarianism sway me. Now that I have “met” Elizabeth and Pudding and Parrots here in Blogland, though, I must say that my American egalitarianism has been reinforced. All of you are super.

  • Trevor Rowley 18th December 2011

    Sorry, Elizabeth. Your reply was much too cryptic for me. I’d be much obliged if you would explain it for me if you don’t mind.


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