THE BROTHEL IN HUSKISSON STREET:Remembrances. Gay 80s (continued).BY STEVEN BENSON

Ok, now I have your attention:come with me on another foray into my gay past! This succeeds Princes Gate East https://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/for-pride-story-writing-group-steps-to-freedompauls-gay-start-in-life-reflections-by-steven-benson/

But now we are back in the first person….so I shall give you DIRECT memories/reportage, in the form of things random, lost and found, from my gay (self) inheritance…

 

A flat next to a brothel(a down-market one{IF there are UP-market ones!});a madame, over 70 dwelling in a shoddy, seedy den…. Harmless in herself but the fulcrum for pimps and robbers (the prossies, themselves, were NO trouble!)…

One gave a client a wank in the shared back alley; well, I GLIMPSED what was going on…I was making one of my ubiquitous pies(I think) :P….

A T.V once shot through her window into the “area” below(just feet from my ground floor flat)….

My unuseable front room, because of the noise and threat of violence….

A flat (mine, not the madame’s) of variegated hues, as is my CURRENT flat(see here for current razzledazzle bathroom… it contains the C.A.B yellow and blue of the erstwhile Huskisson Street flat Razzle-dazzle/rainbow)———

I made it all myself(my first self-decorated apartment): Huskisson Street…

£10 a week rent (yes, really)

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I peregrinate, now, through this home of yore, as if it is THEN(in my memory’s eye, that is): I enter the neat (mock?) Georgian house, through its pillared portico, into a smart hallway (not the eerie liminal world of Princes Gate East) and into my new gay world( part 2) {“You are My World”, an electrifyingly swirling Communards hit from the mid 80s}. Like Princes Gate East, this flat, WAS my gay world (albeit feeling often invaded by my insalubrious neighbours, who burgled me twice and whose madame liked to “mind” my car, the implicit threat being, if I did not allow her to do this,it would be damaged/stolen!).

In effect, because of the problematic on-the-front-line sitting room, it was a bedsit. To be honest, I was not actually IN the flat that often!…..

But, I forgot, I am meandering….

The guided tour (round the flat and my memory):
I enter the doorway; to the right, the unuseable but bright “on the street” front room, only part furnished. Occasionally, I would protest the difficulties in using this space and, defiantly, play my hi-fi LOUD, but the noises(shouting) from the brothel were threatening and invasive; and it remained, just that: a protest.

To the left, centre of operations:gay memorabilia on the walls(handsome men cut out from magazines, political gay posters), Gay Mens Press imprints on the rudimentary shelves, videos (it WAS about 1986!), LPs (in a cabinet) ranging from “It’s Raining Men”{12 inch:P} to Rachmaninov, a cluttered work table; and off this, in effect, bedsit, a red-painted kitchen, with a fridge so ancient that it was full of dangerous gas, which, later, nearly poisoned me when it leaked (I car-spray painted it lurid green).

Inviting friends round for 1. meals: I recall a speciality: black-eye bean pie{what lol?} and flapjacks and scones, all made myself(even the pastry!)

2. tea-parties. They all brought differently-flavoured teas; it was caffeine-high heaven!

3. Mum and dad came, regularly, for meals too: my dad would be vociferously greeted, on the doorstep, by the madame proclaiming “Do you want business, love?”!!!!My mum, a social worker, was unphased. {I feel sadness, NOW: dad died last year and mum died in 2009. But they are there, in Huskisson St, with me, in that frozen time of memory and recall; as I, hopefully and hopelessly create an act of remembrance and try( in vain, but, in some spiritual sense, achieve it)to immortalize them and redeem them from death.

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So, as from Princes Gate East,I used my Huskisson St pad, as a base, and “went on the scene”, minimum three(usually four!) nights per week; not forgetting the physically tawdry- but psychologically and emotionally life-enhancing -Gay/Link Centre


I was a fragile thing. I, sketchily in some ways, and wholeheartedly in others, inhabited and took ownership of my (still) new gay life and self(hood). I had much fun ; and even intermittent sex and a few very brief relationships; but, concomitantly, I was yet full of angst, a residue from the last fraught months at Aber, and the two years of (self)exile back “home”(with mum and dad)in Grassendale( a definite unheimliche heimat)


It is both painful and solacing reading this, now, as I write it: how do you/I marry the past with the present(and, then, the future), even when there is not a significant disjunct between how I am now and how I was then(though that becomes a chasm, pre Princes Gate East)?. How do you manage and mediate the architectonic plates and dissonances of time?. It is a rhetorical question, merely, because, mainly, I fail to know…I do my best by making links between time past and present; I re-live, in memory only-though it can, occasionally, even, fleetingly, feel more real than the present/”present”-the past via the very act of writing, the act of remembrance and commemoration(or, sometimes, it is a threnody). I try for continuities between the eras: STILL collect books and LPs with 70s/80s garish camp covers and  even, occasionally, 12″ disco singles; and have an archive of lgbt/queer books, with a particular yen for Gay Mens Press early (rare) imprints. Through the Lps, I reclaim Ponti and others’ whacky, under-rehearsed but exuberant performances of unknown piano repertoire, which in my teens and early twenties- those years of self-tortured ambivalence around my sexual orientation, which(it makes me angry to recall) most lgbt people of that period (and, still, even now) have to go through because of hetero-patriarchal, heterosexist norms imposed on them)-gave me succour and solace and some sublimated hope and joy

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That gay life I built up, then, in the formative 80s,I continue NOW: not so much clubs and disco/hi- nrg, but (lower energy!) groups and  friends, especially safe-space lgbt groups, which are really an extension of the old Link(gay) Centre, still in my mind as a template (adapted!) for a space where lgbtq+ people can go and feel/BE safe: I  CREATED three of those groups(one with a friend); AND I am PROUD OF IT/THEM. They still meet today, and have taken on a bit of a life of their own, giving myself and other lgbtq+ people a HOME, a safe space to meet other people sans judgement. I also re-affirm my gay identity through some camp language (“girl” to my gay men friends, “sweetie” etc) to lighten up a sometimes grim, heteronormativized world. I brook no criticism or judgement for this.

And, last but certainly not least, I have found an entry point to non-lgbt-specific politics,in my love/respect/admiration for the great Jeremy Corbyn, who supported lgbt issues from the 70s and whose manifesto includes DETAILED, thought out education policies(including on trans) so kids do not have to go through what those of our generation(and later) had to endure. That was my way in to Jeremy’s other policies of hope and equality, where we are all different but equal, his rainbow coalition. In fact, that act of being included, as a gay man, in mainstream politics, is an ADDITION to the past. I have even integrated the (adopted) Welsh, Aber-esque Steve with the gay Steve, in retrospect, anyway. https://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/a-gay-man-in-wales-integrating-by-steven-benson/


Time, memory, with/beyond recall…Remembrance… snapshots… time-links: THE BROTHEL IS DEAD; LONG LIVE THE BROTHEL.

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About decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)
This entry was posted in "Pride", a la recherche Benjamin gay queer archive assembalge, alterity, blurred captures, camp, doppelganger, ecriture cuir, gay, gay affirmative writing, Jeremy Corbyn, Michael Ponti, psychogeography, psychogeography urban life village life village in the city, queer, queer constellations rememberances straightqueer, queer geography, Queer wrting, Quirky captures, Rememberances, safer spaces(guidelines), Self-actualisation, SPECTRAL PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY, uncanny other, Uncategorized, Utopia, working outside hegemonies. Bookmark the permalink.

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