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 said 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 is "primitive".
The Protective Spirit of my house is Marquesan.
- Homosensual, some of my best friends have been touchy-feely
women (some of them with quite big breasts) and I tend to avoid
the company of men.
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 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 must can be mentioned even less than suicide-as-intelligent-choice.
Ireland is a land of suicide, much of it rural and sad. Perhaps
there is nowhere that suicide can be joyous.
an Irishman-by-choice I am not ashamed to say that half a pint
of Guinness (which might be a mix of piss, shit and cream) is
quite enough for me - because the deliciousness of Guinness (unlike
wine) is in it first three or four sips. Thereafter is 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. 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 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 dish.
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 men I have wasted time, money and emotional energy on!
Not that they were vampires...
a homosensual male and a 'self-taught' (that is to say, not college-perverted)
painter I am appalled by the celebrated, vampiric, bullying Francis
Bacon. With Malcolm I watched an excellent television documentary
on his sordid and destructive life. He seems to have been an utterly
loathsome man, with a single talent for the grotesque almost entirely
based on Picasso's meretricious painting Guernica. Picasso
had never been to Guernica, so his pseudo-political painting was
a mere doodle on news reports. Bacon had not seen action in the
second world war, unlike the great painter-commentator on war,
Otto Dix, whose works radiate authenticity. Bacon's grotesqueries
(most of them very well composed) are predictable, easily-identifiable
- hence very marketable. Galleries dislike painters whose work
is unpredictable, as I learned from the Belfast painter Colin
Middleton, who (along with Hugh Brody) encouraged me at the beginning
of my small output and short career.
paintings are pleasing, they are very superficial.
There is no "bullness" (tauricity ?) about them. His
only painting of a dog (from 1952) similarly has no canicity about
it, only a rather silly menace...
will be understood by comparing this dog with the sensually pro-canine
portraits by the contemporaneous Lucien
course, Bacon (like the wonderfully subtle Rothko) was not painting
for cosy homes, but for large, preferably public, spaces. Delacroix
and David likewise, with their extravagant and also somewhat meretricious
set-pieces such as the magnificent, racist, decoratively-sadistic
Death of Sardanapalus in the Louvre. Bacon's sado-maso
pictures do have a certain decorativeness (mainly in their repetitious,
static composition), but whereas I could have a grisly Dix or
Goya in my house, I could not have a Bacon. I would end up destroying
it. Both Dix and Goya saw the actual horrors of war; Bacon cleverly
fantasised rape, dismemberment, disembowelment and agony, which
was then marketed to a frankly-degenerate creamy clientèle
of the rich, thick and cruel.
comes as no surprise to learn that Bacon did not like cuddles
or affection. One of his unfortunate lovers committed suicide
(famously on a hotel lavatory the day of the opening of Bacon's
prestigious exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris) seemingly
because his affection was repaid by violence and contempt. It
is a pity that the Francis-George relationship had not worked
out as the relationship between Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell
did. Orton had so much more to offer than Bacon.
(even less genuinely Irish than I am) claimed he was typically
homo in hating to grow old. I, on the other hand, rejoice in it.
I am entering the best years of my life. I am finally almost an
adult - a "Senior Citizen" proud and happy to be senior,
even if I reject citizenship with all the bile than I can spew!
Technically speaking, Irish citizenship and French residency suit
me very well. Ireland is a constitutionally-neutral country (like
Switzerland) which has never had National Service. On the other
hand, abortion is still illegal in both parts of the island. France
is still a militaristic state, but its quality of life (especially
in the very distinct, rural south-west) is very high. Both countries
will remain in the European Union as long as it lasts.
* * * * *
writing the above (over two months ago) there has been a dramatic
change in my life.
landlord murdered Malc's and my calm and friendly dog Oscar (some
15 years ago ?) I swore that I would never have another dog and
suffer the weeks of separation-misery at his disappearance and
demise. That misery was made much worse by the violence of his
moved permanently to France (and having Malcolm visit more often)
I thought that I should rescue a dog. I resolved to rescue one
that was unlikely to be adopted.
I saw an SOS on the free online advertisement-site LeBonCoin,
and immediately made enquiries about an "unadoptable"
and "damaged" Belgian Malinois (Merchelse herder).
We met on neutral ground, because in his "box" or stall
at the Dog Shelter, he "went mad" when anyone approached.
When he saw me he growled and lunged and tried to run away, but
I just hunkered and waited. All his front teeth are worn down
to stumps from trying to bite through iron bars. After a few minutes
he calmed down. And a few minutes later the lovely young woman
who was so concerned about him that she put the SOS on the website
herself, on her own initiative (how very unFrench!), took us both
walking in the field with him on the lead. It was no problem for
her to give the lead to me, and so we began to know each other,
As (pronounced 'ass', meaning 'ace' as in 'ace of
hearts') and I. He even let me rub his head and back.
I had brought
Josette, my neighbour, along. She feeds stray cats (which of course
are something of a trial to people in the neighbourhood) - to
my mind an irresponsible, self-congratulatorily-sentimental practice
which encourages the birth of malnourished kittens - and has a
beautiful cat of her own, as well as a sweet little Yorkshire
bitch. At the beginning of the encounter with As, Josette signalled
Non! Non! - but after 20 minutes she was smiling encouragement
at us both. As we were leaving, As* hopped into the back seat
of the car. We had bonded! Josette and I returned to Caylus via
the lovely, little-used road through the Aveyron Gorges, and she
gave me her blessing for his adoption.
Next day I went back to the Shelter, signed the forms, and took
him home as a beautiful work-in-progress, albeit parasitic. I
improved his name to Asterix - which brings a smile to the faces
of French people, even as he growls at them in fear, for he is
afraid of both corpulent and haggard men, children, and some women.
car he simply lies down on the back seat, unlike other dogs I
have had, who like to see what is going on outside the vehicle.
One even wanted to help me to drive.
dogs (especially those I have lived with) more interesting than
people. The end result of my literacy is that I prefer books to
people. I prefer plants (especially trees) to people. I prefer
good ceramics to people. Humans are the only hypocritical animals.
They use language as a means of hiding their feelings and intentions
- which is why I am something of an Outsider, or - a better word
- an Asider.
(so very rarely) look out, they see little more than their own
not even half-finish this memoir because I am questioning why
I even started it. I am a pedestrian rather than a good writer
and I am allergic to publishers and their industry. I wonder why
people - from the alleged Moses to the actual Dostoyevsky - put
so much effort into merely supplying a market. It is indeed a
pity that some poor, gifted - even visionary - fools feel they
have to waste their lives writing in order for us degenerates
to have sufficient reading material - and fuel the literacy industry.
Authoring is yet another - and tedious - form of self-oppression.
to read the excellent work of others than write something mediocre.
In any case, what mumblings I want to produce are better expressed
in my daily and very brief blogs.
Appreciation is an even greater - and more modest - art than
a stack of small diaries beside me as I write this, with accounts
of bizarre meetings, incidents and partings in the search for
someone to relate to, sharingly, by pathetic sexualised routes.
My moments of sensual joy have been few and fleeting. My disappointments
have been many and occasionally tinged with bitterness.
# Beautiful day. Having expected Paul to arrive at
2, I ate a hash-cake at 1. At 4 I got a call from him
asking to be picked up some 30 miles away. His car had
broken down again.
Had some terrific cuddles - amazingly transcendental and
flowy. I was very stoned on the strong hash-cake and collapsed
into his wonderfully-welcoming arms after cooking (and
eating) dinner. Our encounters are overwhelming.
Drove next morning into Downpatrick where we met Malcolm
and Oscar [our shared lurcher] and had a lovely walk together.
Took Paul home.
# (10 days later) Continuing silence from Paul, despite
my messages on his answering-machine. The cuddles are
wonderful, but his unreliability freaks me out.
# (one month later) To Strangford in morning. [The
little port at the mouth of the long, shallow fjord of
Strangford Lough is mentioned by Boccaccio.]
Phonecall from Paul in afternoon.
# (another week later) Paul failed to turn up for dinner.
not get in touch again until June 2000, when I (old enough
to be his father, and almost as forgiving as a dog) brought
him to my house for champagne, psilocybe mushrooms - and
transcendental cuddles. Some 10 days later he actually
arrived in time for dinner and more squirty cuddles.
Two weeks after that we had another wonderful time after
champagne and mushrooms (and drinking each other's delicious
piss: mushrooms are not metabolised, so one can ingest
them again). After splendid mutual beard-pulling (with
simultaneous scrotum-pulling) and wrestly, squirty cuddles,
we licked chilled gooseberry fool off each other's willy.
Then more expressions and squirts of sensual love, which
seemed to my naive, romantic imagination powerfully chthonic,
but, in his case, alas! in his case, were only "sex-deep".
He was one of the few men whom I really liked to sleep
beside. For me, erotic (as opposed to hypocaustic) activity
is emotional rather than mechanical.
I would have the privilege of sleeping also with his witty
little firework of a dog, called Streak, who liked to
spend the night under the duvet at Paul's feet! Paul was
unusually good with dogs, and our Oscar adored him.
men seem to me to be either mind-numbingly conventional
or narcissistic shit-heads - or both. Unfortunately Paul
turned out to be the latter.
Paul and Malcolm, whose ourobolos-lizard tattoo I designed.
erratic encounters continued, involving several no-shows
and long periods of incommunicado on his part. Paul was
one of those millions of men who don't realise that 'love'
is more than a strong emotion: it is an active and generous
commitment. After his death by choking I learned that
these mostly were periods devoted to his toxic and scumbag
family, with occasional dalliances with other, lesser
men. I was going through long bouts of what might have
been Chronic (or maybe Chthonic ?) Fatigue Syndrome with
'moderate' depression, interspersed with short 'high'
periods. Now I see myself as mildly Aspergerish and mildly
bipolar - and in excellent health. I have generally treated
'sex' as an emotional process of excavation rather than
a mechanical act of relief. I have, with some success
nevertheless, devoted my life to protecting myself from
my culture - and now, finally, I have managed to exile
myself from the slurry-green isle on which I spent most
of my life.
sexual encounters were recorded for 2001, the last pocket-diary
that I wrote in - whose final entries were
11th September: USA Gets taste of its own medicine.
13th September: Sixty today. How the hell have I managed
to live so long ?
after Oct. 8, and no more pocket diaries acquired.
did in fact find a partner by the inefficient sexualised route.
We have had "ups and downs" for 25 years. Our connection
was not sexual, but 'mystic', and the sexual element faded rather
rapidly because of our different personalities and Malcolm's passive
timidity. For a while I looked for a bearded improvement, but
my search became gradually less and less rewarding, and Malcolm
and I found that we had a great deal to share - Oscar the lurcher
who taught us so much, music, food, great cinema, travels - and
France, which Malcolm loves. After 25 years I have not got tired
of his company (whereas half an hour with anyone else is quite
enough) - and I still find him innocently beautiful.
Oscar and Malcolm
he is with me in France, our mornings are blessed by Asterix padding
off to his room to herd him into my bed, so that he can lie on
top of both of us and play his favourite bite-wrestling game,
while Malcolm cups my balls comfortingly in his hand. I love Asterix's
smell, and like to bury my nose in his fur. I have more empathy
with dogs than with humans, because, after all, humans have their
much-vaunted 'intelligence' to deal with life, and dogs do not
- yet dogs cope with whatever situation they are in far far better
than humans. In fact, I have always felt inferior in elegance
and integrity to every one of the dogs I had the privilege to
sustain. Asterix was 5 years on his own 'guarding' an empty warehouse
at night, kept in a cage during the daytime, irregularly fed and
beaten - yet (apart from his teeth) he is undamaged, gentle, cuddly,
funny, beautiful - and his bad reaction to confrontation or approach
by certain kinds of human whom he finds threatening is only to
be expected, and will diminish in time.
also became a Nurture-in-progress after we first met. Even now,
his dyspraxia has not yet allowed him to organise dishwashing
so that the cleanest items (such as glasses, cutlery and plates
pre-cleaned by Asterix) are washed first, and the most intransigent
ones last. But over the years he has slowly recovered from his
damaging childhood, and, after I started this memoir, still wrapped
up in himself, he began to write his own memoir: literary therapy
for him, as this memoir is not to me. I hate that I am trapped
by words which not only govern my thinking, my consciousness,
but create it. The truest freedom is, surely, freedom from language.
painting as the fatigue took greater hold, and as I realised that
some stones or bits of bark are at least as beautiful as any painting
I could do - but I helped Malcolm with his when he started - at
the age of 50. More recently I have stopped writing and translating
poems, except for the occasional haiku and blog-poem - though
I have done some revision of my poetry pages on this site. Recently,
I even entered a poetry competition with a 450-line poem on being
and nothingness. Given the current state of poetry (barely literate,
anti-intellectual, anti-metaphysical) it hasn't a chance.
end by quoting the Oglala Lakota thinker, Russell Means, as he
addressed an audience of thousands on the irrelevance of Marxism
to American Indians:
"The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is
that I detest writing.
The process itself epitomizes the European concept of "legitimate"
that what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken."