Non-homosensual (and indeed many 'gay') men and women must think
me completely freakish not to like women's breasts.
have no firm (or even sagging) idea why this is so - because I
am a woman-respecter, feminist and admirer of my mother and aunt.
Neither of them had noticeable breasts, but my grandmother did.
My grandmother who hated my left-handedness. Could that be the
reason ? Or perhaps some blowsy, big-breasted woman leaned into
my cot or pram at a tender age - even before I was brought to
Belfast - and scared me, thus making me dislike lipstick or make-up
on women ever after - apart from subtle eye-liner and the kind
of make-up that women of the Ottoman court might have had - and
men in Bollywood films. But my cot theory cannot apply to my dislike
of high heels, except as "power-dressing". And it is
somewhat contradicted by my liking of roly-poly "mother-figures".
I would think that the latter corresponded with the unknown foster-mother
I had for a year - and the vampish former remains some kind of
comes as even more freakish (if not hypocritical) from a man who
had four snakes tattooed in and around his groin, and has worn
earrings for decades. (Obviously I don't mind earrings, even very
dangly, glittery ones.) My one and only girlfriend had very small
breasts and wore no or almost no make-up. My mother hardly ever
wore stockings or a hat - which appalled me at the snob-school's
ghastly Sports Day when all other mothers (it seemed) wore both
and "looked respectable". I never thought of how my
mother might have been ashamed of me, one of the least sporty
of pupils, an intelligent "maladjusted" child who was
intellectually unambitious and bored-lazy to boot.
am always horrified by women's fashions - whether fur coats or
skimpy dresses apparently designed to cause hypothermia. I think
of the poor whores on the rue Saint-Denis in Paris, grotesquely
made up and wearing almost nothing in the January wind - and I
am filled with pity. I want Social Services to give them nice
warm clothes and money to live on.
men generally seem to like women with lots of make-up and impractical
not to say cruel clothing - whether Bette Midler, Judy Garland,
Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Jacqui Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Bea
Arthur (thank you, Malcolm, for this little list). "Gay"
men like horrible mindless music, and some of them like plastic-looking,
Nazi-imitating leather gear. I am in a small minority among the
homos, thinking rhinoceroses and sharks much more beautiful than
Madonna, and horses much more sexy than almost any human. If only
there were more rhinoceroi!
is even odder when I remember I wanted to be a ballet-dancer at
the age of seven, and, because that was impossible, I decided
that "I want to be an actor" - a slot on the children's
programme of the 1950s on the Northern Ireland BBC. This desire
might have been fed by my weekly Elocution Lessons given by a
very nice man called Grahame Roberts who (I think) was the husband
of the producer of the children's programme, Cicely Matthews.
have already sung the praises of the BBC, but I have nothing but
contempt for what is now called BBC Radio Ulster. I may be mistaken,
but I certainly have the feeling (along with the "Catholic
Community" that the only audible voices from the impressive
Broadcasting House in Belfast were - until the 1970s - Protestant:
"A Protestant Radio for a Protestant People", to adapt
the slogan of the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in
1922, "A Protestant State for a Protestant People".
But I digress.
duly auditioned, and was given as tiny a role in some for-children
playlet or other as I was later to be given (as Lepidus) in a
school production of Julius Caesar. I was so nervous that I could
hardly remember my two lines. My voice has always been low, and
I used to stammer (hence the elocution lessons). I still stammer
sometimes in French, especially when upset or angry. I could never
address a crowd, except with the aid of a microphone, and people
who are hard of hearing have great difficulty in interpreting
my low murmur, which, in the days of Gay Phone Dating (the 1980s),
men told me was 'sexy'.
to the pernicious notion of "identity", I, the non-identifying
outsider, have never had any need lor desire for it, nor will
I ever - except as "DEAD".
I am Irish, born in England and raised in the British part of
Ireland. Most of my culture comes from Britain, Europe and Palestine
- and more recently, the USA. Only a small part comes from Ireland.
European, some of my mind-set is African, some is Asian, and some
The Protective Spirit of my house is Marquesan.
Homosensual, some of my best friends have been women (some of
them with quite big breasts) and I tend to avoid the company of
As a Whitey, I have always wanted to be black.
As a human, I have more empathy with dogs and donkeys than with
If I have rarefied musical tastes (for oriental classical musics,
early jazz and Irish slow airs) I can also enjoy Jimi Hendrix.
As a life-long sponger on the welfare system, I am happily and
necessarily frugal, am non-destructive,
and have no illusions about my own importance.
an anti-natalist I have polluted the planet less than most.
If I am dissident, I believe in courtesy, generosity, tolerance,
openness and changeability of mind...
suspect that certain palaeolithic "lone wolf" human
males bonded more easily with wolves than with other humans -
hence the emergence of the much-abused Canis lupus familiaris,
think of all the (fake)
blood that has splattered
and gushed and oozed
through the fake world of films -
and none of it menstrual.
menstrual blood tastes better than many kinds of factory-made
jam, but can be mentioned in any company even less than suicide-as-intelligent-choice.
Ireland is a land of suicide, much of it rural and sad. Perhaps
there is nowhere now that suicide can be joyous.
an Irishman-by-choice I am not ashamed to say that half a pint
of Guinness (which looks as if it might be a mix of piss, shit
and cream) is quite enough for me - because the deliciousness
of Guinness (unlike wine) is in the first three or four sips.
Thereafter it is merely a means of getting drunk, and neither
inebriation nor the places which encourage it have ever appealed
to me. (I have never visited and am never likely to visit the
"Irish Pub" in the nearby small town of Caussade.) There
are exceptions, of course. I recently found an excellent pub in
Newcastle, county Down, whose Guinness was dreamy and where Malcolm
and I shared a large portion of the traditional French moules
& frites - the mussels in a creamy-winey sauce - which,
up to that moment, I never had in France ! Chips (frites,
French fries) are a rarity in my diet - not because I dislike
them, but because I so rarely eat out. Making them in my own home
has not been a success. Thus I tend to eat sautéed potatoes
which are not the same thing at all because they taste more potatoey
- assuming that the potatoes have a taste, which they rarely do
in Ireland. I am a fan of French potatoes, especially Roseval,
Rose de France, and white-skinned varieties with yellow interiors.
The Irish seem to eat potatoes only to mop up gravy, so they don't
need to have a taste. I eat them neat, with salad and nothing
else but a nice light, dry white wine. A basic and delicious vegetarian
I first had my eyes opened to the homosexual demi-monde, I was
shy and hesitant in the cruising-pubs like Therese in Patricia
Highsmith's novel Carol, which has a brilliant description
of a homosensual wooing. Like Therese I found the verbal side
difficult. Few people had the élan to pull my clothes off
and start loving me in every which way. Few people could (or were
prepared to) talk either about any of the many things which interest
me, or about the psychosensual delights ahead. Most 'gay' men
are too clogged with expectations to be spontaneous and open.
In a way I was lucky not knowing what to expect, and thus so open
to suggestion that I ended up having half my forearm up a lovely
Turk's backside. (As I write, Malcolm is doing the same to a long-dead
pheasant that his neighbour parked at his door. I am not a fan
of pheasant.) The few men who encouraged and harvested my shy
sensuality tended to be 'alternative, hippyish, psychotropic or
entheogen-receptive. They did not find me 'lover-material', but
they offered me their generous (always bearded, sometimes long-haired)
sensuality, by which I remain gratefully enriched.
think sex flows more sluggishly in all of us than we care to believe,
especially men care to believe," says Carol in Patricia
Highsmith's book. "The first adventures are usually nothing
but a satisfying of curiosity, and after that one keeps repeating
the same actions, trying to find - what ?" [...] "A
friend or a companion or maybe just a sharer. [...] I think people
often try to find through sex things that are much easier to find
through other ways." Maybe not easier to find,
but more findable. Or perhaps we realise that they are not worth
seeking, that the game (as in sex) is not worth the emotional
candle. Experience or the finding might be entirely due to chance,
and if it doesn't arrive easily it might be best not to bother,
since the searching might actually preclude or impede the discovery.
How many are the men I have wasted time, money and emotional energy
on! Not that they were vampires...
I have always had a problem with the males of my own species.
My favourite playmates when I was little were girls.
are heroines: Medea, Christine de Pisan, Mary Wollstonecraft,
George Eliot, Flannery O'Connor, Leonora Carrington, Alice Neel,
and a few dozen others.
I was sent to the male-only private school I had to make friends
with other boys. This wasn't too much of a problem, apart from
the rugger-bugger-bullies and the teasers who pushed me over the
edge and laughed when I became violent. Plus hostile teachers.
Remarkably, two different teachers took me under their wings,
so to speak. The first sat with me in the dining-room of my preparatory
school where I was forced to eat my disgusting dinner - though
why he didn't just tell me that I needn't eat it I do not know.
The second was my French teacher in secondary school, who gloried
in the name of Raoul Larmour and imbued me with a love of French
poetry a couple of years before a young English teacher came along
and introduced me to The Waste Land. I got on so well with
my French teacher, unusually for that snobs' academy, a Belfastman,
that I actually invited him to my attic bedroom where I served
him omelette cooked on a paraffin stove, and we drank the Monbazillac
which he had brought with him - my initiation into a lifelong
interest in wine. His fellow-teacher (and possible semi-queer)
came along, too. The innocence of the 1950s! That could never
happen now - and it was probably unique then.
first poem that I ever wrote was in French - and it gained me
the only prize I ever received.
left school I went along with Raoul and his alcohol-loving fellow-teacher
on school trips to Paris as an unofficial helper. This confirmed
my early love of Paris, a city which I now thoroughly disdain.
years later I met another teacher from the school at that time,
and still teaching German there - cruising in a public convenience
at Newtownards, not far from Belfast.
I was at school I became fascinated by the mother of a schoolfriend,
and spent many afternoons with her drinking Lapsang Suchong, eating
cake, and talking about philosophy. I brightened her housewife-life,
I guess, and neither her husband nor her sons seemed to mind -
but my mother was somewhat disapproving (especially since I often
cut piano lessons to go and feel happy and free with Barney's
mother. She need not have worried. There was nothing unseemly.
Mrs Isherwood,with whom I was just beginning my truly-Platonic
attraction to intelligent Older Women, was just my substitute
for Madame de Staël. When I was little, I visited my grandmother's
friends on my own. In those days, children were largely autonomous.
So I could go off and visit old ladies, little girls my own age,
or little boys as I wanted. I didn't even have to say where I
In my heterosexual
years the women I met were only slightly older than I, and when
I started having serious doubts about my sexuality, I wrote to
the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association asking if there was
any procedure for a man who liked women but was more interested
in sex with men to look for a nice gay woman as a friend. I have
never had a queer woman as a friend. A few years after my letter
I had a steamy affair with the partner of the secretary of NIGRA,
Sean McGouran - with whom Malcolm now communicates via Facebook.
Our shared love-beast called Mark has disappeared from our ken,
perhaps dead now.
when he manned the phones for the Gay Helpline in Belfast, came
across the record of my plaintive search for a Platonic female
something that I do not understand about the way most men (mainly
heterosexual) act and think. I find them inscrutable and daunting,
often mildly threatening in their constant desire to be superior
in their mean badinage ('banter'), their patronising or sneering,
or in their self-proclaimed expertise. Apart from a few exceptions
(the interesting, uncompetitive, and talented few) they are boring.
the women I like tend to have husbands or partners with whom I
cannot relate or who cannot relate to me, and so I am again out
on a limb. Unattached people are, in any case, something of a
problem for couples, and unattached antinatalists are quite a
challenge for couples with children. I don't like groups or group
activities. But I have never had any problem 'keeping myself amused'
in my existential isolation (as this website demonstrates), which
alienates me from the lonely people, too.
the household I was raised in was not normal, this never really
registered with me. It didn't register that there was no male
apart from myself. I had cousins in normal families, but I did
not compare my situation with theirs. I had no feeling that there
was an Absent Father. I guess this is strange, shows a lack of
social awareness - or retardedness. Other children did not remark
on it, nor on the fact that my two "aunts" (only one
of whom was my aunt) worked for a living. I guess that middle-class
children in the Belfast of the 1950s were kinder than children
now. I was cocooned in a veil of unknowing, happy in my skin,
in my own way, but made miserable when exposed to the horrible,
hypocritical patriarchy which controlled my life until I left
have at least one secret or lie. In mine, the one secret withheld
from me and almost everyone else was that my adopter was my mother.
This is nothing compared with the secrets, lies and hypocrisy
of most families, as can be learned from countless memoirs and
biographies. And when I eventually found out the truth, it was
no big shock; rather was it a pleasant piece of news. Because
both my mother and aunt were very much themselves and not moulded
into wifeness, there were no other secrets, no other lies.
at school was full of petty lies which failed to keep me out of
trouble. Once I had left I tossed mendaciousness and falseness
into the dung-heap along with everything else that my schooling
entailed, probably inspired by the honesty and openness of my
mother and aunt. Thus I made myself unemployable.
too keen a nose for falseness of most kinds, and too great an
intolerance of sham, cant and hypocrisy to be a social person
or a socially-acceptable person. I love dogs because they are
readable and transparent. I am not so keen on cats because of
their furtiveness, a furtiveness very similar to that of "homosexuals"
in the old days.
Yvette and Girlie (Marcella).
mother (left) and her older sister in their late seventies, and
the Girl Next-door (a little older than I),
back from Canada to see her mother and aunt, still living next
Her father "ran off" with another woman, partly because
his live-in sister-in-law was such a pain.
I hardly ever played with Yvette as a child. I don't think she
liked me. I found her inscrutable.