Paul, in memory, re-entered and re-claimed his first flat(since coming out as gay ); in his act of rememberance, he walked around the land of yesteryear,but also(in vertical time) the demesne of today, as his memory joined the past and present.By that very act of the flaneurie of the past, he recalled how he had broken free and remained free.The year in Princes Gate East had probably been the most significant and character-forming(especially in regard to his unapologetically gay identity) in his whole life.

He entered the big, decaying  house,into the ramshackle, slightly uncanny hallway. It was dark; and there were spectral dead letters to unknown denizens of the past piled up on a table. The flat was at the back of the ground floor; there was no bulb in the light above the door, he remembered, adding to the penumbrous feeling of the whole house; the upstairs was like some shut off area of dark dreams.

This was a big moment for Paul; he had forced himself out from the strangling carapace of middle class, repressive surburbia, ejected himself up Ryedale Road, like a cannon ball seeking its target.

This is how it was and is (Paul is viewing the flat for the first time, walking around it, in memory, as he did when he lived there,thirty-three years ago; and, re-living it as if it were now).

Through the door… a dark(again!) bathroom straight ahead of the entrance; to the left, into the main room, which, on closer perusal,turned out to be the only room; a vast, semi-desuetudinous space, with the vestiges of a decorated ceiling (a very high one).Was it just a bedsit, then? “I suppose”, he thought, “nowadays you would call it a ‘studio'” as he gradually realised/remembered that the bedroom was poised above the main living area, somehow on top of the tiny(no window) kitchen and the glimpsed bathroom; he circumvented an exploration of the main area and headed towards the kitchen: “that’s nice”, he said: “wooden kitchen shelves”;realising, next, that they were, in fact, a ladder to the bedroom, which was a slightly uncomfortable six foot below the ceiling, all in the one vast, cavernous room. Climbing up the ladder/shelves, he found a double-bed, perched above the main space, somewhat precariously, and again, disconcertingly, filled with shadowy, unknown spaces,(which he decided to ignore!). The light bulb hung down,perilously, into the main room, at the side of the bed. Back to the kitchen, and there was an archaic small gas cooker (probably unsafe, looking back),and no fridge.

Yet it was enough. Physical space refracted psychological and emotional space. This was Paul’s gay space; and Paul’s gay base. From here he would go inward (into reclaiming his occluded gay self) and outwards(to the Gay Centre, and Sadie’s and other dens of…pleasure … and dancing… and.. friendship). Still full of angst, there was, yet, now, a strong ray of hope.. No matter the 10p in the slot gas meter and the Health and Safety nightmare that was this pied-de-terre. It was HOME; his gay home; he had come home, to HIMSELF; that is all that mattered. It had been, and still was, then (easier, now, but still not quite a finished work!) like hewing out a life from the arid stone of heteronormative hegemony; he had carved a new sculpture, but a living one. Corny, but he was re-born and re-made. This flat was the psycho-geographical manifestation of that.

Paul used to lie on his dais(bed) reading Gay Mens Press novels from the second earliest incarnation of “News from Nowhere”(another gay-friendly haven) and then fall asleep, to the sound of rats clawing and scraping above and below. He remembered in visual images, like shots of lightning in the dark sky of time and memory.


Paul wanted to recall as fully and clearly as possible, given the hazy curtain of time that hid his clear vision of the past-like that eerie curtain he had seen in the old deserted ABC a few months ago:- he wanted to recall Mark, the ravenhaired Irishman from County Longford, who , one evening, had come to his flat,(having met him in the decrepit Gay Centre of the time) and who had sat with him on the sofa and whom, after two tantalizing hours and a bit of grappling, he had taken to his pedestal bed in the sky, and who had shouted, when Paul had said, amidst the throes, that he was hurting him, “I can’t help it if I love you to bits”, in a lilting Celtic accent. Mark with skin like alabaster, threaded like veined marble;exquisitely handsome Mark, who, also, conformed to Paul’s ideal of the darkhaired, slim man, he had always desired. Mark who loved Abba, so that Paul could not listen to a track by this band but think, yearningly,of him. He remembered how, the second time Mark was meant to appear, he did not turn up, with Paul,periodically and anxiously, walking the tiny distance to the 80 bus-stop on the corner of Granby St, to see if he was getting off the bus. It had been/is (recalling it) excruciating. Gone was the ecstatic feeling, following their first (and only once repeated, four years later)night of passion, when he had walked to work through Greenbank Park and all the birds of Liverpoolshire sang, as everything became three-dimensional and joyously bright-hued, like some variegated Hopkins poem. (He had the tendency to experience life through the transfiguring lens of literature). Now everything was drear and dark, like the Matthew Arnold poem; it was no longer the radiant beach of another former home, Aberystwyth, but the night-time with the tide receding, leaving him embattled, alone and confused: not for the last time!

Despite the traumas of this (the most intense of his post coming out love-passions and one of the {rarely} actualized ones), he survived and , somehow, amidst and athwart the desolate sense of loss, it affirmed his newly found gay self and identity: he had met and made love to an exquisitely beautiful man . He still, occasionally, bumped into this man, now like himself, in his fifties: he was still not badlooking. He had, in fact, told him, a few years back, about the huge effect he had had on him. Again, time was somersaulting in many directions at once.


Paul did not know if he wanted to finish his story. {Neither did Steve}. When you are back in  “another country” that is the past, do you want to return to the present, especially if, in some significant ways, it is troubled? Steve found writing third person narrative hard; ok, he had made a stab at it. He found it interesting how people felt the need (privacy?/self-protective distancing?)to re-write (parts/all) of their lives as if written by/about someone else, which persona was merely a flimsy mask.

That said, I quite liked writing MY short story, Steve said.


1140 words, 28.6.16




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Jeremy Corbyn was dying to read his alternative Queen’s Speech in the Commons.

The time came(We all know about “our Therese{faux Scouse accent here}”; let’s leave that particular tediousness out!).

So, Liz read the , disconcertingly, short official Speech out, bedecked in her European Union colours hat. May, with slightly quaky voice (“strong and stable?”) gave her redoubt, embattled as she was. Then Jeremy (PLEAZE:the Right Honourable, leader of Her Maj’s Official and Loyal{sic} Opposition)Corbyn, MP, waded into May’s deep waters.

Liz, meanwhile, had been meant to up sticks to Ascot-official story-but, really, she was hiding in that lift{did you notice it as she left the Houses of Parliament?; we never actually saw her get out!}. She had a secret intercom connection with Jeremy; they had, earlier, come to an arrangement that she would listen, from the lift, (where she was ensconced),to his speech; and then give her opinion thereon.

“By jeebers”, she thought; “I like this”, as he got into his stride, as he spoke eloquently, angrily and quirkily but statesmanlikely, about the parlous state of the nation and her new “government”: re a “softer Brexit”(that chimed with her hat!), something to do with “equality”, re-industrializationism; and other matters which she knew, from her previous heart-to-heart with him, were SO dear to him

(Philip had complained, already, about the amassing number of Facebook groups like “JC for PM” and “We love Jeremy” that she had joined, of late,under the nom-de-plume, “the leftie queen’s Queen”).

Regarding today’s marvellous splurge of a speech, she uttered “I wish he had got in that bit about abolishing me and the rest of the monarchy; but never mind: this is juicy stuff, I love it; remind me to join that Movementum thingy(if only cos Philip, reactionary old sod, would HATE it)”.

It was a two-way link: she began to FEED the Leader of the Oposition some lines, direct into his earpiece, and by one of Jezza’s (as she had latched on to calling him in an ersatz Liverpudlian fashion) clumsy yet gorgeous segues, there it was: wow :”We are waiting in the wings to form a government”. “Oh my Royal crown”, she ejaculated, I never liked that Therese woman; he is really going for it: I am getting quite aroused. ”

Then.. she thought she was hearing things… he said it (better late than never) :”we add a new promise to our manifesto:the monarchy will be abolished and a republic will be formed”. So, he had KEPT his part of the bargain!. This surely WAS strong and stable stuff. “Talking of stable”, she cogitated to herself,{her Maj suffered from bad OCD}” have I remembered to shut that stable door after my little canter this morning?”. She forced herself back to the present excitement. “but that bloody Fixed Term Parliament Act; did I agree to THAT?; our Therese will need some MASSIVE vote of no confidence, before I can ask my Jeremy{as she had begun to think of him}to form a government, and then win a Maj(ority) in another General Election, and be MY(and the peoples’, of course!) PM.”

“Ok, Philip will go MAD, but I am going to use the Royal Prerogawahatsapp, not used since my role model, in the reign of that kindly Henry 8th, and INTERVENE. Let’s get him in power and he can, well and truly, abolish all of us(including my frightful heir, Charles; and William and Harry think it is all a terrible faff: they have even hinted that to the gutter Press!)”

Meanwhile, Jeremy, in the Chamber,was raising his voice, in a stentorian peroration, and Liz felt she was going to climax in her knickers (“he is SO masterful”):”Omg”, she moaned, “I DO love him when he is angry… And Dianne, sitting next to him; what a team: I think I might be going a tad -what do they call it nowadays?-Lesbainian”. She whispered, passionately and vociferously into the mouthpiece, “Jeremy, my darling, I shall SORT it: the monarchy is herewith finished!”



Did she succeed in her plan? Did Jeremy become PM? Were any dirty (or “DIRTY”?) deals done? FIND OUT IN PART THREE.

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{INTRO}Whoah, it was fierce; it was wild.

Lived next to a


(Nice old


Shame about the


Telly came out the


Right through the

The house next to


S C A R Y.


Live in my

Front room;


Broke in


{SLOW DOWN/DEAD PAN!} It was all very traumatic but there were two especially bizarre incidents: a prostitute gave a client a blowjob in our shared alleyway; and mum and dad would arrive for tea, for my dad to be greeted- shouted raucously through the window-by the Madam:”do you want business, love”…




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I am looking at a photo of myself(Christmas Eve, 1988), taken in Huskisson Street, Toxteth, when I was twenty nine: I am sporting a rather fetching fringe(where did all my hair go?).

I am in my second(Liverpool) flat, since coming out as a (mainly!)strong, openly gay man. I am pretending to drink a bottle of whiskey, standing with arm on the shoulder of an erstwhile friend (and father figure). There are Gay Mens Press novels on the shelves, mildly homo-erotic cut-out pictures on the wall, letters (whom were they from?), posters from the Anti Clause 28 campaign I was then involved with

and the (obligatory) empty wine bottle, covered in wax!

{We are “all our yesterdays”, Shakespeare, “Macbeth”; we are, also, all our todays and tomorrows}

This flat was a wonderful base for peregrinations outwards to the “scene” (Sadie’s, Jodie’s et al; of which, also more, later) and the Link Centre(to be continued!). Ten minutes walk from town. It was also a hub for lgbt(l and g, as it was then)political activity around the anti Clause 28 Campaign.

That I experienced such an in-the-fast-lane life, then, I struggle to compute, now; but I did, and that life helped me become who I am (now): a WHOLE person, happier in my personhood as an openly gay man(despite the exigencies and trials of living thus in 80s UK; and we were lucky in comparison with much of the rest of the world).

Huskisson Street: the starting-point for all the following ramblings forwards and backwards of these vignettes……..

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And so I repaired(being the word), once more, to the newly re-invented, struggling treasure-trove of a bookshop (with café:)). It wasn’t term time but the café was twentyfold busier than its host bookshop. It had become a weekly joy(tinged with sadness) and routine… almost a pilgrimage.


“It’s only a business/a shop”; “an outpost of capitalism”.

“Its a bit saddo coming here every week!”.


My higher self SHOUTS back:

“It’s MORE than that to me{personal construct]: it is a bolthole, a haven, a sanctuary; IT IS SAFE; it is sociable:friends; or people just sat reading books in the café, like me, or peregrinating round the (small number of) aisles and shelves for that elusive book-hit, book-buzz, the perfect, elusive book; a silent communion of unknown book and coffee lovers. (The super-ego feels it has to state, clearly, I don’t think these strangers are my FRIENDS; I DO actually meet friends and partners there; you get it?. I am not talking to random denizens of bookshop or café!{though why not???!}We worry so much about what people think and internalise it{that is why people do not come out as gay}). Bookfilled and espresso-enlivened solitude is beautiful. Also, it is an ACADEMIC bookshop(ok, you might have guessed which one it is!), with novels(3 for 2, a small-ish but quirky collection). AND- though I sometimes use this a as a(semi) specious “reasoning” for buying from there {less books each time, like coming off a tranquillizer}-it needs supporting; the chain has CLOSED other branches, under fire from Amazon and the web generally. It is a creation of capitalism and a VICTIM of capitalism, in the vicious ideology’s need for endless re-invention and cycle of devouring itself{Lewis’s FAILED to re-invent, and, well, failed}.

SO, it is my well-worn (self)psychogeographical theme, which started with the decay of Lewis’s in 2010

My OWN body is in trouble now; the metaphor, unfortunately, works even better, and on even more levels: the fragile shop= a symbol  of my vulnerable, beleaguered body….

The little shop is also a metaphor for how we all( some more than others!) have to/choose to(if you are lucky) re-invent ourselves/our lives, to find-existentialist-meaning for going on going on.

Everything reflects back on itself/itselves like a (fairground) hall of mirrors: Jeremy, myself, up against the odds but persevering (fiery sometimes!).


Perhaps, the little bookshop/café is the place to write my hommage/thank you/tribute to the Right Honourable Jeremy Corbyn, M.P, who led the Labour Party for 21 months (projecting forward to election day); who, I hope dearly, will be Prime Minister: HE constantly re-invents himself; an inspiration and a hero….{ to follow}


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In homage, and with affection, to my dear friend Michael:).

Michael said bookshops were “safe spaces” for him;and, I thought, they are safe for me too.

Here is one

To (re) coin some fruity (!) images, they are island/oases amidst the turbulent sea and barren deserts of  “real life”,( with its medical horrors and its quotidian irritances and others’ incompetences.)

Escapism/”escapism” is not wrong!Sometimes, it is the ONLY(rational) response  to beleagurement(of the body, for instance), to “challenging”{euphemism}situations; be it being ensconced on my chaise-longue IMG_6083(with its implications of comfort/security,nay decadence{VERY Huysmans, darling}; sat next to dear friends, discussing literature: beloved friends with whom I can talk about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.(Thanks, ineffably, to them for the consolation and emotional/intellectual stimulation they bring:)); or, be it a BOOKSHOP(though the heavenly drug of the mass book-spend/ the glorious coveting must be controlled and GRADUALLY{like a drug-addict withdrawing bit by bit}reduced, if only for financial reasons because I want to OWN, to POSSESS, to IMBIBE the whole world’s books);

or, a café, wherein to read(currently Ali Smith’s book- with its beautiful end-paper illustrations, including book-art-“Artful”, 2012,musings on time, literature, love and loss): there I hunker down, with espresso and muffin.

How we construct our own safe(r) spaces is a big topic, especially if you are from a minoritized grouping and have experienced, for instance, homophobia in some public spaces


I am a gay man{have I told you that?!:P}; and , by no means, feel safe everywhere. But in some chaincafes and in Boho indie cafes, I feel safe, with my (queer/gay) books, thoughts and writings.

But how couldst I forget my gay/queer space in my OWN home; my own repository of untold, now RE-told gay/queer stories, history and culture: check out the titles; it is “a room of my own”; my own IMG_6038(safe) bookshop:)





Posted in a la recherche Benjamin gay queer archive assembalge, cafes, ecriture cuir, gay, gay affirmative writing, gay literature, Phenomenology, queer, queer theory, Queer wrting, safer spaces(guidelines), safety for marginalised groups, Self-actualisation, Uncategorized, Utopia, working outside hegemonies | 1 Comment


Yes, I remember


A Cavernous,

Art deco,


Gay and Goth happily mixed on a Monday night;fogs of dry ice: in a former ballroom. I do not recall much save the FEEL of it: the extravagant costumes, the loudly pulsating hi-nrg; MUCH more-superficially, anyway- glam than Sadie’s. But it did not quite do it for me again; perhaps something, once more, about little fish in a big pond(EVERYONE was showing off/exhibiting themselves). The anthems were the same(perhaps a bit more indie pop and slightly less wonderful tackiness!); but sounded like gargantuan and musical orgasms and rushs of almost Handelian grandeur(the extended Pirate mix of Maria Vidal’s “Body Rock” was the acme of this sheer exhibitionistic adrenalin fix). “The State ” was not, really, a copping off place; most people were too up themselves to consider anyone BUT themselves; but it was an experience; and differentiated Monday nights from Sadies and Jodys nights.


I am writing this in some haste… and memory(recall, that is) benefits from a slow ruminatory chew(to be tautologous) on that elusive madeleine; so perhaps this is a holding post(holding in the archives of memory) for further teasing out of the lost remnants to re-vivivify into the present of the fully conjured up past…..

{More to come…}

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Pain in Joy

{“SQUARE BRACKETS”. That is a luxury if you actually experience physiological pain, especially if unpredictable and/or severe}

But it’s a nice

Conceit, for un



{“SQUARE BRACKETS”.Ultimately, as Monica Pearl admits, in “Bliss:Opera’s Untenable Pleasure”,collected in “Writing Otherwise”, ed Stacey and Wolff, 2013; a promising, fragmented tome, which explores, not unanalogous to my own writings,the breakdown(nay, destruction) of the line between “academic writing” and “creative writing”; I am doing it now with my square brackets; heaven forfend, I should re-inforce that point lol: viz:She acknowledges that  bliss/ecstasy (mere approximitizations to the onomatopaeic ring/savour of the French original)can only really be sexual/ sensual, experienced IN the actual body; but it is a reference to a sort of intellectual orgasm, like you /I get when I do a massive raid on a bookshop, for the mechant, crazy pleasure/jouissance-the pain is spending too much money-of somehow(irrationally) imbibing/ingesting books sans number/numberless. So let us go with jouissance and its translations!}.

“Shudder” was


Word For the

“name of the

Name”; the ineff

Ability of


So, HEAR those Italian

Stretti; those Con-

Catenations of


Orgasms in

Sound; As all the


Plenitude of



{Ends of Act 2, by Donizetti, Bellini  (early) Verdi et al}



{read Wayne Koestenaum, “The Queens Throat”,1993,a fabulously,(darling) florid rodomontade and gallop through the glorious excesses of the diva, and Italian opera, in (knowingly) purple yet poetic prose-poetry; all in a homoerotic context of “sublimation” of the (Schopenhauerian ) will of sex into singing, and the point of orgasm release transmuted into vocal enunciation. These poor old queans, we might say, pejoratively,nowadays: they weren’t getting any so they THREW it all into opera.}


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inspiration/catalyst: “Gay in the 80s”(Clews,2017).

I have written (here ) about my part in the anti-Clause 28 campaign and two other campaigns with that activist group

But I also lived a somewhat hedonistic- though running parallel with a good deal of angst!-life in clubs, and social groups- between 1984 and 1989 in Liverpool:

Came out in an EXPLOSION; little flat in Princes Gate East, mainly a crashpad for 3 /4 nights per week in





Thinking I was God’s gift(pretty boy),dancing to HI-NRG/EURO/GAY disco{ I still have the 12″(!) vinyl of some of those obscure(now) but popular(then) gay,upbeat “we are what we are(deal with it!)” anthems; “Ski-ing in the Snow”, “First time I had you..”,”The Night(Valerie Dore): (anyone remember those?); and, of course “Body Rock” and “Loves Gone Mad”(most still on U-Tube)}

I danced my tits off: in front of the mirror in Sadie’s , requesting tracks; basically showing off! With lots of friends: clubs were not just about dancing and the (rare!) copping off: they were( to me and my friends, anyway) about solidarity (in a heterosexist world; worse in those days), camaraderie, sharing thoughts about crushes, lust AND our feelings.

The evening usually started with ( a longforgotten bit of gay Liverpool history here!)a visit to the “Link” centre, which gravitated from a top floor climb in a ramshackle old building in Colquitt Street to, well, a top floor semi-desuetudinous building in Bolton St. In both, breathlessness, by the time you got to the top of four flights, was de rigueur, plus a large dose of anticipatory anxiety!(I think the Bolton St premises were extant from the early 90s, (because I had an 18 month interval in Manchester); but memories are, sometimes, hazy(and my madeleine is, only, this act of {re}writing). SO, got to the top of the stairs: a little group huddles in a small room(in both venues), with a decrepit coffee bar. But what matters is that we are friends; we share and talk; and it is our base from which to hit “the scene”(often via “The Lobster Pot”, still extant in Ranelagh St, when I last noticed)

{Tenses; past=(partly) present; at least it is via memory; Derridean traces and Benjaminesque constellations}.

Anyway cod(and chips!:P) philosophy aside, we usually hit Sadie’s early, 10.30 ish

{Gosh, I can feel my present life slipping away a little: I am so ensconced in these past memories; and the past is,sometimes, safe, where the present is not(always)}

I am ashamed of my allegiance, nay obsession, with this club because Sadie only allowed women in if he knew them.

WE often used to sit opposite the front room bar: Steve, Ian, Neil (where are they now?), others and myself; as someone entered up the stairs {gay/lgbt venues in Liverpool are usually, even now, underground, or ABOVE ground} we turned our heads in case he was “the one”( though I am not sure how much I really wanted a boyfriend but, more likely, wanted validation of my attractiveness by sleeping with more men). Joky competitiveness over cute ones would ensue……. Sadie stood, always, by an open window, askance for homophobes, I suppose, silently vetting{when he died, the club endeavoured to survive, for a while, sans him, but collapsed; early /mid 1990s}.

After much uproariousness, dancing with a Stella in one hand, gossip, mixed with emotional sharing, we would wait (even on a Monday night) to the bitter end,as the slowie came on and you had either copped or not(usually, the latter; though I had my moments, occasionally); then comfort eating from a chippie and sometimes back to the flat of one of us(and work at 9 am; how did I manage that??!!). Well, I was young….

Sometimes it was Jodys, which, to me, was more intimidating; people were more cool(ok, basically I was not the big fish!); grimy, be-stained walls, sweating with, well, sweat, and sheer undergroundness

I feel I have come to a (natural)halt there… let us say, these rememberances are to be continued… and will continue in a higgledy-piggledy fashion, in the way memories hit us or or are conjured up(by metaphorical madeleine moments)…………


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