upon a time,
before the world-wide web and zombi-phones, a young deodorised man
in pastel-coloured clothes called Alan drove 60 miles through northern
Irish counties Tyrone, Antrim and Down just to suck my over-sensitive
50-year-old cock - which he did unusually well, as I noted in my
diary. I remember nothing of this, nor of most of my sexual encounters
with men, which (and who) quickly merged with my memory-fog - in
which initial good feelings are blotted out by later disappointment.
I hope he thought that the 120 mile drive was worth it. He didn't
stay for dinner, let alone bed and breakfast. I never heard from
have been several Alans in my life, most of them queer, one of them
ex-anorectic as well. Álainn means 'handsome' in Irish.
once upon a time, once only, this time in London, a handsome hairy,
bearded Turk called Alim pleaded with me to pass my small hand and
half my scrawny arm through his arse-hole and up his rectum into
his colon. This was another bizarre experience - especially for
someone who likes neither arse-holes nor sodomy. I guess I felt
sorry for him. Such is complaisance. Maybe my mother felt sorry
for my father.
was the priest of St-Eustache, formerly the Markets church in Paris,
who was famous for being a torn-denim freak, and the lawyer in Pisa
who could only achieve orgasm if his balls were being beaten by
an erect (or semi-erect) cock.
there is The Missing Year.
my eightieth year I hadn't thought about it. Most of my life is
a blank with foggy bits, so it never occurred to me to wonder where
I was between my birth and my adoption. I reckon there is no way
to find out. The curious thing is how incurious I have always been
about my early life. I asked my mother only twice about my father.
The first time, I was maybe 10 years old, and was easily fobbed
off and diverted.
second time was just before discovering officially that my 'aunt'
was actually my mother, and just after happily declaring myself,
at the age of forty, to be an enthusiastic homosexual to all and
sundry, including my newly-identified mother and her shocked sister.
They both 'got over it' quite quickly : it was just another in a
long line of disappointing events since the age of eight, including
three months in Belfast prison for shoplifting food.
mother was not forthcoming this second time, either, but I gathered
that she 'was taken advantage of' (probably raped) at a New Year's
Eve party somewhere in Belfast at the end of 1940. A small or large
event - I don't know. But on no evidence whatever I think that the
culprit was a Canadian serviceman (of which there were many in the
United Kingdom at the beginning of the war), possibly French-Canadian.
man, who probably never knew he had engendered me (unless he was
a not-so-distant Canadian cousin on my mother's mother's side, which
is also a sneaking suspicion) imbued me with very few of his genes.
I look very like my mother, could even (at a pinch) fit into her
clothes, had the distinctive mannerism of my grandmother which was
a tendency to walk with my hands behind my back. I also shared my
mother's spathulate, stumpy thumbs. But these familial similarities
did not penetrate the fog of my consciousness, which is still thinly
present in my eightieth year.
myself, my mother often felt 'out of her depth' at the strange social
gatherings of adults called 'parties'. Even in her fifties she looked
a little unprotected at New Year's Eve parties. It has only occurred
to me while writing this that she must on those occasions have remembered
the fateful one which blighted her life. But later in life her unprotectedness
stood her in good stead. She frequently and sturdily travelled alone
and was often befriended by totally-honourable locals - in Prague,
Warsaw, Lake Balaton in Hungary, Amman, the Trans-Siberian Express,
Hong-Kong, Singapore...and on Cyprus, who enjoyed her eager innocence
- no, naivety. This quality is not valued in men, as I found out.
Both men and women find it baffling. Men are expected to be sentimental
(to use Schiller's distinctiuon), not naive.
never struck me as particularly odd that I had no father. Middle-class
fathers were not particularly in evidence at that time, but I did
see the fathers of some of my playmates. Perhaps I understood from
the beginning of rational consciousness that I was naturally 'different',
but not in the way that young gay males describe it. I was more
interested in what was betweern the legs of my female playmates
than what my male friends were quite happy to present for my inspection.
didn't feel that I was a changeling for more than half an hour.
I just knew, without any regret, that my life was different to those
of my contemporaries. They had fathers and mothers from the time
of their births, while my mother featured very little in my life
before she was demobilised from the WAAF in 1945, when I was four.
She had joined up (I guess) as soon as possible after giving birth
to me in a mysterious but beautiful and posh establishment in Berkshire,
to which she had to go after various ineffective attempts at abortion.
A primary-schoolteacher in Northern Ireland could not possibly have
an illegitimate child. She had intended to give me up for adoption,
but that in the end she couldn't do it. And so she joined the WAAF
as a maintainer of barrage-balloons and dogsbody meteorologist so
that she could visit me on her time off during the mysterious year
between her giving birth and adopting me.
she told me about cloud-types and air-streams, and I look at satellite
weather-maps every day.
told me as much as she felt she was able to, but refused to say
anything about my father. And, in any case, unliuke most fatherless
children, I haven't been interested. Why not ? I never fantasised
a father. I am actually incapable of fantasy or making up stories.
I lack imagination. Is there a foggy connection ?
protestant and middle-class, with a mother who had been a midwife,
and a brother who was a doctor in the Navy, she was spared the appalling
fate of Irish catholic mother-and-baby homes about which we know
so much today. It was not so difficult to wangle her a wartime passage
to England during the summer holiday when she was belatedly starting
to show her increase in girth. She was extremely lucky that the
wartime government had taken over lovely (if draughty) homes in
the countryside for city women to give birth in. The WAAF, where
she made friends easily, was infinitely more enjoyable than a Magdalen
Laundry, and I was, presumably, not starved or abused, but well
looked after in that lost year. Who looked after me, and where ?
I never thought of asking.
the prelude to war in 1938-1939, the UK government needed to to
ensure that there were resources in the cities to care for war casualties
over and above existing medical demand. The result was the establishment
of the Emergency Medical Service and within it, the Emergency Maternity
homes, hospitals and large properties in rural areas were commandeered
to create a network of emergency maternity hospitals and later,
hostels. Women in their final four weeks of pregnancy were strongly
advised to evacuate from high-risk cities to billets near to these
hospitals to await the arrival of their baby. On September 2, 1939,
over 12,000 pregnant women left their city homes to wait out the
final weeks of their pregnancy in the countryside.
was also unaware of the Catholic-Protestant divide until I was at
least eight. Our next-door neighbours in middle-class East Belfast
were, it seems to me, happy catholics. I had been taken to a catholic
church and soon afterwards set up an altar with candles in my bedroom...and
set the house on fire.
was born in 1941 - a wartime Maternity Hostel.
is the original name of this handsome building, possibly due to
the poverty of the soil
round about it, and nothing to do with children 'born out of wedlock'.
But where did I go after this ? My mother at one point mumbled something
about a Mrs Gordon. Obviously, someone looked after me, bottle-fed
me unless she was a wet-nurse.
Has my dislike of large breasts and make-up anything to do with
my experiences for the first year of my life ? Did I cost a lot
of money ?
I finally, the foggy child, discovered that my look-alike Guardian
was actually my mother, I referred to her by her first name, Mattie
(Martha) or, 'My Aunt'. Most people who saw us together after my
mid-teens must have realised the situation, but nobody told me.
A significant part of the fog was Mattie's other sister, Elizabeth,
who lived nearby and filled the house with antagonism when she visited
the house, which she did every day that my grandmother was alive.
She was happily and respectably married, with two children slightly
older and slightly younger than me, who were brought up to pity
- perhaps to deride - me for my ineptitude at mechanical things,
numbers and suitably-boyish construction. Our house of three women
and a slightly-strange child, had just one screwdriver, no pliers,
one small hammer...and I had, many years later, to teach myself
about electrical gadgets and, eventually, to operate an electric
grandmother, the midwife, could not abide left-handedness. When
I went to pre-school I had left-handedness knocked out of me - more
or less. I am still left-footed and my left arm is more powerful
than my right. I wear a watch on the 'wrong' wrist. Being left-footed
is a further handicap when you are bad at games which involve kicking
an inane (but not harmless) ball in a cold, muddy field with a lot
of boys you are wary of.
after the 'missing year' I existed in a time of miasma, from which
I started to emerge only in my seventies. This 'fog of unawareness'
of the currents and world around me kept me from asking questions.
My only survival technique was books. I learned to read when I was
four, thereafter I have lived through books. The only people I have
felt connection with since my 'teens are those who have read - or
exchange - the same books : my mother, and my permanent friend for
the past 30 years.
love of books and stories may well be related to my complete lack
of imagination. I was never afraid of the dark, of snakes, spiders,
monsters...only male teachers and authority-figures, and of course
many of my male peers. I have never been able to fantasise sexually
or in any other way. I could not write two lines of dialogue or
write a novel. I am extremely bad at lying - and at detecting lies.
Yet I wanted to be a writer! I am in awe of those few novelists
who not only do considerable research for their books, but also
write with style.
must be significant that my earliest memory is standing up in the
bath to be dried by my sweet, gentle and patronised aunt Marcella
who was mother to me for around 3 years, with her mother always
in the background, often in the kitchen baking. I pointed to my
stiff little cock and asked her what it was called. Willy, she
told me. End of conversation. Was this an innocent question - in
which case why do I remember it ? Or had I already picked up on
the genital taboo that pervades and corrupts all civilisation ?
Was I innocently taunting her, the put-upon, unbeautiful (except
to me) sister who worked in an office all day at a clerical job
she hated ?
next memory is of riding my tricycle. I rode it into the centre
of Belfast, and was brought back by members of the now-reviled RUC,
who were always kind to protestants, especially blond-haired protestant
children who 'spoke nicely'. Then come - around the age of four,
I suppose, my memories of interest in what little girls didn't have
between their legs.
I loved climbing trees below one particular 'tom-boy' girl
(whose name I forget, though I remember the tree rather well) and
pulling her pants down. She thought it naughty fun, too. But another
little girl suffered badly from my predilection. We had agreed to
show each other our private parts, and sworn not to tell any adult.
Not only did we show each other what was between our legs, but we
also explored each other tentatively.
I should have expected, Brenda told her mother. (I have never been
able to 'read' people.) Her mother went hot-foot to my grandmother,
and I was caned. Immediately after my punishment I went straight
to the kitchen drawer, removed a knife, went and found Brenda and
slashed her big mouth in a truly reprehensible (not to say
Biblical and Freudian) act. She had to get several stitches, poor
girl, for her betrayal of trust.
interest in other boys' willies came later, after I went to primary
school - where my mother taught the five-year-olds. I guess it coincided
with collecting frog-spawn and discovering newts and sticklebacks
with boys I found attractive but was not encouraged to befriend.
Probably the only physical prowess (aged 5) of my whole life, was
at pissing right over the two-metre high, delightfully-smelly, algæ-green
outside-toilet walls at the far end of the school playground. This
alternated with my reprehensible joy at chasing the little girls
into their (adjoining) toilet area and, if possible, lifting up
their little skirts. I was an unholy terror, but because the school
was where my mother taught, I don't remember being punished or even
I would be delivered into the clutches of 'Social Services'
and forced to receive 'guidance' rather earlier than I in
fact was. My later visits to the ridiculous Child Guidance Clinic
were forced on me by the 'elite' boys-only school that I hated (but
where my mother had been encouraged or bullied into spending on
sending me) because of my outbursts of mis-directed rage which inevitably
followed taunting by my peers. They worked out very quickly that
I could be teased beyond a point of endurance when I would lash
out, literally blinded by rage. They would melt into the background,
and I would be apprehended having broken a window or thrown wildly
whatever came to hand - sometimes accidentally hitting a 'master'
with a stone or a Dinky toy, and once actually gashing a fleeing
tormentor by blindly throwing a knife in his direction. This is
all the more remarkable since I was despised for not being able
to throw or catch a ball in the horrible 'games' of rugby
or cricket that every boy had to play at least three times a week.
When bad weather descended, we were forced to do cross-country runs
instead. I have always hated exercise. I have always been lithe.
And I am now the same weight that I was at the age of eighteen.
patriarchal forces working on my mother encouraged her to spend
more of her modest income on making me a boarder at the tight-lipped
institution for continuing mental mutilation (just two miles from
my home) in a final attempt to 'rub the corners off' a square peg
in a round hole. My reaction to this was, first, to 'borrow' day-boys'
motor-bikes during my 'study periods' and charge my batteries of
resistance by going 'for a spin', a 'joy-ride' - in my school uniform
and without a helmet. I kept to minor roads, and favoured the Craigantlet
Hill Climb just beyond the school grounds, which was an international
race in the 1950s.
so I learned to ride a motor-bike, with very little damage done
to the machines I 'commandeered'. In the 1950s motor-bikes did not
have locks or ignitions: one just kick-started them and rode off
- which was my most serious problem, since I am left-footed and
have never been able to kick-start a bike with my right foot. Twenty-five
years later I would be the proud owner of a shaft-propelled Honda
CX-500 which had an ignition and self-starter. I could never have
held it to the left of me in order to kick the start-lever, as I
had to do with smaller bikes. Strangely, I was never made to answer
for my near-suicidal escapades. There was a strange conspiracy of
silence. Not even my mother mentioned it - and I had entirely forgotten
about it until I started writing this page.
second act of rebellion was to run away to France. This, however,
was nipped in the bud when I slipped home in the middle of the night
to collect my passport - and woke up my mother. I had just enough
money for the boat to Liverpool, and hoped that on docking there
I could hitch-hike and depend on the kindness of strangers.
psycho-doctor that I was ever sent to was, I now realise, was in
considerable need of help to 'loosen up'. There was no way that
any of them could help me, now (at eight years old) with added stammer
which ridiculous Elocution Lessons could not help.
was much caned between the ages of eight and eighteen. More than
enough to make me, within my fog, dumbly resent all authority. But
at home, despite the currents swirling around my behaviour and very
existence, I never felt unloved or unappreciated. I have always
felt loved, and so I have never sought love. What I looked for in
others - children and adults - was inspiration...which is probably
harder to find than love. For most of my life I have had to inspire
myself, which has proved useful in my emotionally self-sufficient
'old age'. But if inspiration is lacking, the next best thing is
I also had from my "aunts" was reliability - an unerestimated
virtue. They could be relied upon. They taught me to be reliable.
There have been very few times in my life when I failed to do as
I promised, and on those occasions simple fatigue - more physical
than moral - was the reason. They also said what they thought, though
not necessarily at the moment when they thought it. This led me
to believe - for most of my life - what other people said.
would seem that I did not suffer from rejection in that first year.
My foster-mother, too, Mrs Gordon (?) was probably a good person,
whom I never had the opportunity to thank had it even entered my
mind. Assuming that she lived not far from where I was born, my
mother would have hitch-hiked from an air base in East Anglia to
see me when she had leave, so she could monitor my condition and
progress. Had she anything to do with the Gorham family of Newmarket
whom she visited regularly after the war ? The fact that I probably
know her name (or an approximation to it), but nothing at all about
my father suggests that he might not have been a stranger, might
even have had one of the surnames in my mother's family which I
and others might have recognised. None of my few cousins, aunts
or uncles could (or would) offer any suggestion after my mother's
mother trained as a schoolteacher in what was then a new-fangled
teachers' training college. In the school year 1938-9 she had the
opportunity to teach in Canada, and she stayed with her cousins
in Winnipeg. She adored Canada. She wanted to stay there, but in
September 1939 the Second World War was declared, and she felt obliged
to return to Belfast. This is bizarre, but it was a normal reaction
at the time - even though Belfast would be bombed, not Winnipeg.
Similarly her sister, who had been enjoying herself chastely in
London, was prevailed upon to return from the vulnerable capital
to her mother and her sister. For the rest of her life she regretted
her decision. She hated the job she had to take in a dismal telephone
accounts office of the government department of posts and telegraphs,
she missed her jolly friends (a pair of whom I discovered to be
lesbian after I myself merrily "came out". My strait-laced
and work-ethical uncle, who had just graduated in medicine, joined
up as a naval lieutenant and had a spiffing war. Men to adventure,
women to drudgery...but my mother definitely enjoyed her war, and
for several years afterwards visited friends she had made there.
final journey to where I was being fostered was to take me, now
that I was formally adopted, from Berkshire to Belfast on a long,
grimy, dismal trip by steam-train and boat. Having secured a cabin
for both of us, she had her first experience of undressing a one-year-old
placed on the top bunk. As the boat rolled, I fell on my head on
to the floor. She must have wondered often if this was the cause
of my 'waywardness'. More than once she wailed (as many parents
have done) "What did I do wrong ?" The answer should surely
have been as obvious to her as it later was to me.
have a very hard head.
least one of her Canadian cousins passed through Belfast a few times
during the war. Food parcels came from Canada. The Canadian Rutherfords
(cousins of my grandmother) featured quite a bit in my early life.
I even had some other young scion of the tribe (living in St John,
New Brunswick) as a pen-pal for a while. But we had nothing to share.
grandmother and her various sisters in Ulster and in Canada, all
very homely and ample women, all married dull, narrow-minded, mean
men. It was only because her Masonic Grand Wizard husband had recently
died that my grandmother was able to accept me into the household
after the 'missing year'. In fact, his death, it now occurs to me,
might have changed my mother's decision to have 'her wee bastard'
adopted by someone else. Her refusal to acknowledge me as her son
denied me a good, free education at the Masonic School in Dublin,
which by all accounts would have been rather more congenial and
mind-enlarging than the degenerate Campbell College, Belfast, with
its septuagenarian and/or incompetent teachers, only a couple of
whom (by far the best) had received any training in the difficult
art of imparting knowledge and enthusiasm to children (like myself)
who loved learning things. The only good teachers I had in my 10
years at this snooty, sporty and militarist establishment taught
English, French and Biology - the subjects I excelled at, but could
teachers do as much damage as 'child-molesters'. They are the unnatural
enemies of their pupils.
low-level but long-lasting unpleasantness that I encountered there
obliterated the residue of my
manic, 'precocious' playful sexual phase, which I was unable to
convert to team-sport. It started to fade as I started reading more
and more. It has never really returned. Apart from a few sexual
encounters in the bushes of the extensive grounds of the oppressive
school, I had no sexual interest in girls or boys until I was 20.
At that point I had a brief but glorious infatuation with (as I
have only in the last year come to realise) a very troubled girl
in Denmark, who introduced me to my nipples and then dumped me for
'my best friend' who was also from Belfast. At that point my capacity
for and interest in emotional sex and romance shut down until my
fortieth year, when I awoke to a love of bearded faces and bodies.
Even in my fortieth year black ones were not available. Come to
think of it, they still are not, where I now am in rural France.
I cruised men, what I wanted wasn't 'sex', but childish, naughty,
brotherly fun with someone beautiful, preferably darker than me.
My unconscious desire for an older brother or sister has, needless
to say, never been fulfilled. You could say that my sexuality has
never left the infantile phase. Moreover, my ludic appetite has
been best satisfied - non-sexually - by dogs. Dogs are fun. Dogs
aren't wounded by careless words They enjoy silliness. You can sing
silly songs to them. You can chase them round the house. You can
stroke their ears and rub their bellies at any time. They will always
let you know when they want some attention. They are not only 'uncomplicated'
but honestly appreciative. Dogs can also be vegetarian if you give
them a low-carbohydrate diet with eggs.
don't like other adults to be 'childish' except 'on stage' - and
so we old, serious children have few or no true friends.
last early vivid memory is of my happy wonder at seeing a picture
of a black face. There were, of course, no people of colour in Belfast
in the 1940s, but there were books featuring Little Black Sambo
and Epaminondas with whom I fell in love. Since then I have disliked
my skin colour. My timidity later on in school showers was only
partly due to shame at my 'weediness', the other part was regret
at my paleness. Why this should be, I don't know. Perhaps I somehow
knew that people of colour were oppressed, and immediately identified
with them. I made a parallel identification with ogres, whom I thought
much more exciting than princesses. Thus, from the age of four,
I had a different outlook on life from other children - an 'attitude'
which was suppressed and repressed for the ten years that my brain
was subsumed by the grotesque schooling that passed for 'top class
education', such as my talented and dull, docile cousins would have
thrived under - but did not receive.
repressed misery at the posh boys' school made me consider suicide
from the age of eight. But the only action I took was to stand out
on the shed-roof below my bedroom window on cold wet winter nights,
in the hope that I might get terminal pneumonia or TB. I can't remember
if this action lasted only a short time, or was intermittent over
symptom of this misery (presumably) was my tendency to turn over
in my sleep and bang my head on my hands while tunefully moaning
the same four-note theme (which is the skeleton, so to speak, or
embryo, of many great themes in European classical music which captivated
ne as much as books). This distressed my aunt, but nobody seems
to have realised that this was a reaction to stress and a call for
help. I would do the same today if I were sufficiently stressed;
but since I resolved on leaving school that I would never again
allow myself to be subjected to stress, I have rarely resorted to
I count as great success : I resisted the certain defeat that is
encapsulated in the phrase If you can't beat them, join them.
(inevitably ?) there was the sheet of thin glass or membrane of
stretched cling-film between myself and others. In the rare moments
of 'very good sex' I have persuaded myself (to my emotional cost)
that it disappeared. I feel more distinct from my 'fellow-man' than
I do from the entirely different canine species. And of course,
at the end of my 'teens I too loved Hesse's Steppenwolf.
is easy to be a hermit if you have always lived on your own, have
never worn (sincve you left school) a tie or jeans or Doc Martens
or a business suit, have almost never gone to dances or parties
(or pubs, except to cruise), have never been part of 'pop culture',
owned a television (or a microwave), bought a mortgage, life insurance,
smartphone or almost anything new.
generation - the one before the Baby-Boomers was very subdued. Even
the one or two 'bad boys' to whom I was attracted before I was discouraged
to do so, would not raise an eyebrow nowadays. I liked them precisely
because they weren't boring, and, unlike some of the respectable
kids, they didn't bully me. We took each other as we found each
other. The society of the 1940s and 1950s was colourless, law-abiding,
stultifying - and apathetic. This was the heyday of locking people
up for having quite reasonable emotional crises and 'illegitimate'
children, many of whom were packed off to The Dominions as unpaid
child labour. I was very lucky that my respectable 'adoption' afforded
me considerable protection. Had I been a working-class child, my
errant behaviour might well have earned me a place in some kind
of 'reform' establishment for the maladjusted. This is what
happened to my long-term ex-lover companion-in-fondness, a quiet,
introverted boy who was labelled 'difficult' because of what would
now be described as mildly autistic behaviour. At different times
(he is twenty years younger) the same type of insane psychiatrist
declared us both 'schizoid', one of many meaningless and obscurantist
psychological labels, of which schizophrenic was the most
outrageous - and ubiquitous.
I was a teenager, my 'deviant' peers were prescribed electric shock
therapy for 'sexual perversions' such as nightly masturbation. Being
'undersexed' for most of my life, this was not one of my practices.
Interestingly, my lack of interest in going to pubs or dances 'to
meet girls' was never commented on. Sexual activity came later in
those days - unless, like me, you had reduced its urgency by precocious
and promiscuous during childhood.
have never 'visited' a prostitute nor 'had recourse' to financially-agreed
intercourse.I never even considered it.
I was in a hotel in downtown Bangui (Central African Republic, then
ruled by Jean-Bedel Bokassa),
a beautiful, unpainted, small-breasted chambermaid came to my room
and hesitantly offered herself to me (naming no price) under the
ancient, rattling air-conditioner.
If I had
been raised in Africa, or even Southern Europe,I might never have
ended up attracted almost entirely to bearded men, because unpainted,
small-breasted, dark-hued women take my breath away.
Perhaps if they had had beards or moustaches as well, I would have
floated up in ecstasy to Paradise to sit at the right front paw
of the Hermaphrodite Polymorphously-perverse Creator.
chambermaid was somewhat disturbed by my request for her to sit
on me and receive my willy slowly, from below, while we massaged
each other's nipples gently. It was, she was, beautiful for, to
It was safe for her (since I had had a vasectomy).
I did not ejaculate. I don't think she "experienced orgasm"
- but the encounter was tender and (for me) delicious, financially-rewarding
for her - and not to be repeated.
Neither of us was up too late. Neither was regretfully depleted.
this last heterosexual encounter and my first and only heterosexual
love affair I had just one brief fling - with a very sweet woman
who gave me a lift in my hitch-hiking days -which lasted until my
late forties. The 'sex' was 'quite nice' (as it has subsequently
been with many men) but it was lacking both in lust and in love.
It was sort-of-suburban, really. The fling did not last long.
DÉJÀ VU !
day after writing the above paragraph, I received a message from
a man over ten years younger than I, from four départements
(over 400 km) to the north-east of Rouergue where I now live happily
and asexually, informing me that he would love to suck my cock !
Although (of course) i have no memory of him his guy had contacted
me over ten years previously but had not fulfilled his promise to
a later message he told me that he had only recently discovered
(in his sixties !) What sort of fog has he
been living in ? Perhaps mine is a mere fairy mist...