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
and slow-to-squirt 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 him again.
have been several Alans in my life, most of them queer, one of them
originally called Alim and very hairy. Álainn means
'handsome' in Irish.
was the famous Fr. Bénéteau of St-Eustache, formerly
the Markets church in Paris, who was famous for being a torn-denim
freak, and the human rights lawyer in Pisa who could only achieve
orgasm if his balls were being beaten by an erect (or semi-erect)
cock. There was a very sweet foot-fetishist in Amsterdam who gave
my feet such pleasure that I nearly fainted. None of them was called
once upon a time, once only, this time in London, a handsome hairy,
bearded Turk pleaded with me to pass my suitably-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 ungentle, unloving,m funless
sodomy. I guess I felt sorry for him. Such is complaisance. Maybe
my mother felt sorry for my hot, insistent father.
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 - more as described
by people diagnosed to be 'on the autistic spectrum' or suffering
I had always been told I was adopted, which I was somewhat proud
of. I was rarely curious about my biological mother, and almost
never about my 'mythical' father. Indeed I did not realise
that I was lacking a father until my 'aunt' (who lived with
her sister, and was a primary school teacher) was pressured to make
the mistake of sending me to a fee-paying same-sex preparatory school
she could ill-afford, in order 'to rub the corners off'
me. There I very quickly changed from quiet, book-loving, happy
child to 'maladjusted' - not because of bullying by other
boys, which never exceeded being 'knocked about a bit' and thrown
down by a future Ireland Rugby captain, and pinned by his friends
while he pissed in my mouth. No, it was the sneering superciliousness
of some of the (barely- or absolutely un-qualified) teachers who
changed me, and made my mother's life a misery. The strange
thing is that I didn't understand that I was unhappy: I just felt
it, wordlessly. And so I never talked about it, just endured it.
poet Philip Larkin said that his childhood was a 'forgotten boredom'.
remember very little about my childhood - just dramatic incidents
stabbing through the fog, sometimes brought to the surface by the
Madeleine effect.. Though, through seinile rumination, it
has cleared a lot recently, I am still living in a kind of fog.
I am not a high-achieving autist - on the contrary, mathematics
and strategy (as in chess) are quite beyond me. But I have or have
had many of the other symptoms of autism, including head-banging,
literalness, sudden tantrums of frustration, and an inability to
understand why other people do not share my interests. I have always
tended to withdraw into books. When other boys my age were turning
their attention towards girls, I was reading Dostoyevsky and listening
to Tchaikovsky and Sibelius. I was attracted to the mother of a
schoolfriend, and visited her eagerly and frequently for Lapsang
Souchong and conversation.Eventually I did find a girl-friend of
my own generation, but she in due course fled from my immature 'calf-love'.
After that, my interest in women reverted to the intellectual and
I 'dropped out' of university. Then went back to read philosophy.
I mostly lived 'on welfare' in low-rent dwellings in beautiful rural
dwellings. The property boom would not reach Ireland for another
twenty years. At the age of 39, during a visit to Paris, I learned
that I was sensually and sexually more interested in men than in
women. I "came out" to my 'aunts'. They
were very shocked at first, but they both 'got over it' quite quickly
: it was just another in a long line of disappointing events since
I was eight, including three months in Belfast prison for shoplifting
food. They had expected me to be at least a general practitioner
like their brother.
propulsion into the cosmopolitan world of homosensuality was like
being reborn. I met many men, visited a few of their homes, and
invited several bearded people to my rural nest in Northern Ireland.
started to wonder about my actual forebears and decided to obtain
my original birth certificate. So I was summoned to London - where
I went fairly often, since there were very few nen attractive to
me (i.e. mature, bearded and hairy) or attracted to me in either
part of Ireland.
I returned with the knowledge that my younger 'aunt' was
my mother. I had always known her as 'Mattie' (Martha), and her
sister, Marcella, as Girlie. They both had taken the news of my
sensual leanings pretty well, but my new-found, old-found mother
was both distressed and relieved when I presented her with my new
information. How I (and for that matter, a lot of other people)
had missed the great physical likeness between us, even to the point
of us both having identical and rarely-occurring spathulate (broad)
thumbs, I don't rightly know. I would even have been able (just)
to wear her shirts or blouses, since my physique is that of a herring.
her relief at being able to tell the truth at last, she still refused
to give any information on my father. My mother was frank and honest
only up to the barrier of his identity, if indeed she even knew
turned out that shehad been impregnated in her first and only "sexual
congress" during a New Year's Eve party given by a squadron
of the RAF in Belfast at the beginning of the second world war.
She was a primary schoolteacher in her early thirties, at Dundonald
primary school outside Belfast, where her father had been Principal
- as well as a dignitary in Order of Freemasons - and which I eventually
attended. She never saw her impregnator again. She did not even
know she was pregnant until about the 4th month. It was 1941. Travel
between Northern Ireland and other parts of the English "United
Kingdom" was tightly restricted.
Mattie, having tried abortifacients and tumbling downstairs, having
tried suicide by swimming towards the Isle of Man - and swimming
back again - through her mother's connections with the medical
profession (she had been a midwife), got a pass to go to England
for unspecified 'medical reasons'. There, in some discreet
but shameful place in Wokingham, she gave birth to me, fully intending
to have me adopted. Amongst her family and friends, only her own
mother knew the situation.
the fulness of time, however, I was possibly the only person fooled
by the adoption.
I was born, she found that she simply couldn't send me off for
adoption. So she parked me somewhere (a 'Baby Farm'?) and
enlisted as a meteorologist in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force,
so that she would be on the same landmass, though mostly in East
Anglia. Thus she was able to hitch-hike to see me once or twice
a month, while she simultaneously started the procedure to adopt
brought me to Belfast in 1942, where I was nurtured mainly by her
mother and her sister, until she was demobilised in 1945. Despite
being forced to become at least partially right-handed, I think
I was quite a happy and a thoughtful child - until interfering males
(mainly my right-wing uncle who was a doctor, and my scheduled role-model)
advised my mother to send me to the preparatory school mentioned
above, and then the very poor-quality Public School (which referred
to itself, risibly, as The Eton of Ulster), to remove any 'effeminacy'
incurred through an upbringing by 'mere women'.
my eightieth year I hadn't thought about the missing period between
my birth and my adoption and subsequent residence in Belfast. Most
of my past is occluded a blank with foggy bits, so it never
occurred to me to wonder. Maybe I have always lived too much in
the present. I reckon there is no way to find out. The curious thing
is how incurious I have always been about my unremembered early
life, especially that missing year. Where was I ? How was I looked
after ? Has it anything to do with my mild phobia of make-up, especially
bright-red lips (and clowns), lots of teeth, big eyes and breasts
I asked Mattie only twice about my father. The first time, I was
maybe 10 years old, and was easily fobbed off and diverted. The
second time was just after happily declaring myself, at the age
of forty, to all and sundry, as an enthusiastic experimenter in
was only a little more forthcoming this second time, but I gathered
that she 'was taken advantage of' at a New Year's Eve party at Crawfordsburn
Country Club, outside Belfast, at the end of 1940. In my teens the
three of us often went for Sunday lunch at the 17th century Crawfordsburn
Inn, very close to where I was engendered.
was bored and miserable after my wonderful year in Canada. There
were no entertainments, there was the black-out - and when I met
some RAF officers whom I found glamorous, resting between "ops",
I was delighted. I went to dances and parties, and eventually became
infatuated with one particular pilot - tall, handsome, fun-loving,
extravert (longish, narrow face, like yours), bright eyes, always
bubbly and with a Mephistophelian cast of countenance, really. I
offered no resistance because I was simply curious. Although I was
32 I didn't know what "it" was all about. I was totally
A couple of days later he was posted to the Middle East and I never
heard from him again."
272 Squadron was formed at RAF Machrihanish in the summer
of 1918 and spent just a few months performing coa stal reconnaissance
patrols over the river Clyde before disbanding.
reformed at RAF Aldergrove [north-west of Belfast] on 19 November
1940 and, until April 1941, convoy escorts in the North Atlantic
were its main duty. In April 1941 the squadron was withdrawn
to convert to the Bristol Beaufighter, in preparation for
a move to Egypt. The first aircraft flew from the UK to Egypt
on 24-28 May, and on 29 May it was rushed north to help cover
the evacuation of Crete. The squadron was thenceforth to take
on a wide range of duties, performing convoy escorts, strafing
ground and shipping targets and carrying out fighter reconnaissance
sweeps in the Mediterranean from its new base on the island
was born in mid-September. Did this man leave for 'The Middle East'
in January or in May ? More likely in May. The squadron included
a pilot from Canada and another from the USA. Others joined it from
the Royal Belgian Air Force.
imbued me with very few of his genes - except (possibly) a tendency
to rebelliousness. Certainly not his deviousness. I look very like
my mother, though with a longer face, and could even (at a pinch)
fit into her upper garments after I had fully grown. I 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 and broad feet. But these familial similarities did not penetrate
the fog of my consciousness, which is still thinly present in my
wonderful year in Canada was as an exchange teacher in Winnipeg,
where she lived with one of the many cousins of her Ulster Protestant
family. They were also in New Brunswick and Vancouver.
protestant and middle-class, with a mother who had been a midwife,
and a brother who had 'joined up' as a doctor in the Navy, my mother
was spared the appalling fate of Irish catholic mother-and-baby
homes about which we now know so much. 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. The religious difference
intrigued me. Soon after entering a catholic church for the first
time I set up an altar with candles in a cupboard 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'.
where did I go after this ? My mother at one point mumbled something
about a Mrs Gordon. Obviously, someone looked after me and bottle-fed
me, unless she was a wet-nurse. Did that 'missing year' cost a lot
of money ? Why did I not wonder about it until I was eighty ?
2022, when I was 81, I finally took a DNA test with a very commercial
and pushy American trans-national business called ancestry.com.
here to see the curious result of that test
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 let on to
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 by
a stick or ruler over the knuckles. 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 very wary of.
I reached 80, I realised that I had acquired Autism Spectrum
Disorder, which mostly subsided after I left school, but which
has returned in my senescence and caused me some grief.
after the 'missing year' I existed in a time of miasma, from which
I started to emerge only in my seventies. This 'mist 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 Malcolm, my intimate,
handsome and bearded (but not cohabiting) friend for 30 years.
myself, Mattie 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 distinction), rather than 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.
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 Mattie 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 what I now realise was probably a sudden
excess of cortisol.
Autism Spectrum Disorder and excess of Cortisol
If an individual with ASD is faced with a dramatic or unexpected,
unpleasant situation, the event can be experienced as quite
stressful. Typical descriptions of the result include went
crazy, lost it, exploded, and went nuts. This is
associated with a dramatically-increased level of cortisol.
There are both fast and slow triggers. A person may become
upset by a loud noise, threatening or confrontational bureaucratic
or official behaviour or by a series of small trivial
events. The stressed individual gets taken over, and goes
into a brief "fugue state", which is "acted
out" by shouting or hitting or violent stammering. Confrontation
or punishment at this stage may serve as an additional trigger
and result in an even greater adrenal cortisol secretion and
a serious "scene". The excess of cortisol has impaired
normal cognitive function.
Restraint may even be required in order to keep the person
from harming themselves or others. During the de-escalation
period when the cortisol level subsides, the individual becomes
calmer, and a period of subdued behaviour and interaction
My tormentor(s) would sidle off, 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. Older boys had the option of
the very cold outdoor swimming-pool in summer. Summers in Belfast
were pretty cool in the 1950s, and I have always been 'coldrife'.
bad weather descended, we were forced to do cross-country runs instead.
I have always hated compulsory exercise. exercise for exercise's
sake. I have always been lithe, yet tired easily, even on walks
through the woods with Mattie. And I am still 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 himself
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 miasma, dumbly resent all authority.
But at home, despite the currents swirling around my behaviour,
I never felt unloved or unappreciated. Despite the Ulster Protestant
lack of touchy-feeliness (kissing was peremptory)I have always felt
loved, and so I have never sought love to fill a hole or a want.
What I looked for in others - children and adults - was inspiring
companionability...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'. With Malcolm, who also
has a 'low sex-drive', I have enjoyed quiet companionability, sharing
a love of beards, reading the same books, listening to the same
radio programmes, watching films together: frank and fraternal intimacy.
I also had from my "aunts" was reliability - an under-estimated
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 ?
had 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, macho
and work-ethical uncle, who had just graduated in medicine, joined
up as a naval lieutenant and had a fulfiling 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 somewhere 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 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.
I used to turn over in bed and bang my forehead against the back
of my hands to relieve stress. I have done this even quite recently.
But it is possible that from that drop I became separated from other
people's experience in my private mist, often unaware of what was
going on in the society around me. I didn't even realise that I
was "a drop-out", didn't even know the term. I was surprised
when someone sometime in the 1980s called me a proto-hippy hermit.
the war, at least one of my mother's Canadian cousins passed through
Belfast. Food parcels came from Manitoba. 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, because I was embedded
in my misty mind, 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 Master 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 free education at the Masonic School for boys 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, reactionary 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, trained
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 not combine.
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.
Then I got a summer job in Denmark and was in friendly contact with
several girls around my age, all of them attractive in one way or
another. I didn't have to seek them out; they were friends and co-workers.
I cruised men, what I wanted was not '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 and anthropological 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 nine or ten. 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.
symptom of this misery (presumably) was my tendency to turn over
in my sleep and bang my head on yjr backs of 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 it.
I count as great success : I resisted the certain defeat that is
encapsulated in the phrase If you can't beat them, join them.
I would amend that corrupting adage with If you can't beat them,
laugh at them. View life as a joke in poor taste. An ironic sense
of humour is the most valuable of qualities
(inevitably ?) there was the sheet of thin glass or membrane of
stretched cling-film between myself and others. In the many moments
of 'very good sex' I have had with many different men, I 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
don't think that I reached emotional puberty until I was forty.
Not even when I went to prison for three months at the age of thirty-two.
Sometimes I think that I am living my life backwards, and that now
I am in a favoured and precocious, presumptuous childhood, even
though I have thought about suicide since I was ten or even earlier.
is easy to be a hermit if you have always lived on your own, have
never worn (since I left school) a tie or jeans or Doc Martens or
'trainers'or a business suit, have almost never gone to dances or
parties (or pubs, except to look for a pal), 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 very safe for conformers: 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
a relatively 'undersexed' hovering bisexual 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.
I was not remotely aroused by any part of a female body, and not
all that much by other men's cocks. I have rarely had erotic dreams
of either kind, and no nocturnal emissions. Sexual activity came
later in the nineteen-fifties - unless, like me, you had reduced
its urgency by precocious and promiscuous exploration during childhood.
have never 'visited' a prostitute nor 'had recourse' to financially-agreed
intercourse.I never even considered it. It was women's personalities
which interested me, not their pale bodies. I have never understood
the attraction of white legs, breasts or make-up.
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 still take my breath away with their
beauty and sometimes cause twitches in my groin.
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 and to me.
It was safe for her (since I had had a vasectomy).
I did not ejaculate. I don't think she "experienced orgasm"
but my encounter was tender and delicious. Hers was financially-rewarding.
It would not be repeated.
Neither of us was damaged, nor ecstatic. Neither was regretfully
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, 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, this guy had contacted me over
ten years previously but had not fulfilled his promise to visit.
This time I declined his kind offer.
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...