Diary entry February 20th 1981:
‘Went to Soho again tonight, saw Gary in the bookshop and had a long chat with him. The police came in and gave him a lot of grief. They asked me what I was up to and I was shitting myself. When they’d gone I left and walked up a really dark street towards Oxford street. There was a man behind me who was wearing one of those Freddie Mercury leather jackets, he was about thirty but really sexy and I wanted him to talk to me. He looked really mean and I really wanted to have sex with him. He went into a doorway and I waited outside for ages but it was freezing so I gave up. I really need sex with someone who isn’t David.’
So, it would seem that I was indeed hungry for love, and sex. I was getting a lot of attention in work from one of the dealers – a married man with three daughter’s who found it funny to embarrass me in front of everyone in the office by grabbing at my crotch and calling me a pretty boy and regularly asking me if my ring was ‘burning’. I remember being slightly embarrassed but I fancied him so much I was grateful for any male attention. The verbal and physical abuse was most welcome, yet I never dared admit to it. He went on a business trip to Frankfurt (a regular occurrence) and came back with a ‘gift’ for me. Opening it in front of everyone I pulled out a photo’s-only magazine called ‘Gay Man’, which had the most explicit photo on the cover I had ever seen anywhere. ‘You like that don’t you?’ he said, as I slithered out of the office trying unconvincingly to be offended. Still seventeen and for most of the time walking around with a hard-on in my pants which never saw any sign of relief other than when I got home and went to bed, this magazine was a most welcome addition to the homemade book of collected horny pictures I kept hidden under the mattress. In work he went from one extreme to another – he made it very public in one way, most likely saving his neck, making fun of me in front of several people, but deep down I just knew that he was getting something out of it, he had to be. When we were in the lift together, or the gent’s (I perfectly orchestrated this situation many a time) he would go further. Only once did he actually get his hand inside my trousers, but that was enough, and I was high on the attention. One of my jobs was to make him a daily cup of tea at 3pm. I would consciously go in with it a few minutes late, apologising with the cheeky grin I KNEW he liked. It was like an affair that never happened, and in my diary I often wrote how much I loved him:
March 27th 1981:
‘Saw Rod in the lift this afternoon, he’d been to the wine bar and smelled of booze. He stroked my hair and said that I was very pretty and well groomed. If he likes me so much why doesn’t he leave his wife? I think i’ve fallen for him. Went into the record shop at Dagenham East and bought ‘Kids In America’, had to use my bus fare. Walked home and got soaked.’
There you go, you don’t get more naive than that. I was a strange mix of both forward and naive. I was ready to grab a situation, yet naive to the point of never realising when someone was pulling the wool right over my eyes.
One of the Sunday papers had a three page ‘expose’ focussing on the sleazy underworld of London’s Earl’s Court. I clearly remember consciously NOT paying that much attention to it whilst Mum and Dad were in the room, yet reading it over and over again once they had finally gone to bed. The many photo’s they printed and the exciting stories both enthralled and titillated me so much I made my way there before the end of that week. The following Friday I had ventured for the first time all the way to Earl’s Court tube on the District Line, a long but direct journey all the way from Dagenham East. I sat there for the fifty five minutes feeling scared and excited, nervous and confident, a wonderful teenage mixture of emotions and feelings. Oh my, walking down the Earl’s Court Road and into the Coleherne pub took some courage, but the place was so busy it was easy to be anonymous, until inside of course. I had never seen so many men in one place, other than a strike outside Ford’s in Dagenham when I was a kid. But all of these men were attractive, none of them were my mate’s Dad and they all (thank God) looked like they’d come straight from a gay porn magazine, THAT porn magazine – dressed head to toe in leather, with whips, chains and harnesses seemingly the norm. Loud disco music blared from the jukebox, a song that sounded like Donna Summer, but wasn’t. Terrified but in smoky, sleazy heaven I moved cautiously through the throngs of men folk to the bar, ordering a half lager and lime. The barman was unfriendly and wouldn’t take my money, which I found odd. I also didn’t fancy him, a snarling, white-vested, tight jeaned popper-sniffing skinny dude about ten feet tall. The man who’d paid for my drink sat at the end of the bar – overweight, bearded, greasy, leathered and very very sexy. With a wink of an eye and a ‘come here’ finger curl, I was at his side in seconds and spent the next two hours telling him how much I hated my job, loved Donna Summer and Abba and wanted to move out of Rainham. Amongst other things. He probably wanted to hear how much I needed some man love, but THAT wasn’t something I could express verbally at the time, though it wouldn’t take long. I rode the train back home late that night with a rock in my pants and a song in my heart – I had found an opening to a world that was outside of both Rainham and the mundanity of working in an office in the city. I had found my secret place, my escape, and it was full of sexy men.