If ever there were I time I needed this blog… then now would be that time. Writing has always afforded me the opportunity of untangling the scribble of thoughts and furies in my head. When I was a boy I made sense of complications (secrets and lies) by writing. Setting out the problems and finding solutions. My first attempt at creative writing, a series of short stories about mice… written when I was no more than 11 years old. Reading them now they are a fascinating and heart wrenching attempt to unravel the unrelenting brutality I suffered at the hands of my step-father, at school and the casual racism of Whitstable people.
Now I am kept awake at night by other furies, no less brutal. The continuing and evolving cruelty of Brexit. The take down of an elected leader by those who sought to discredit with lies and false allegations of anti-semitism. Watching a good and honest man hooked by his enemies, made to squirm for no good reason other than he sought to challenge the vile status quo and support the arab people of Palestine, confronting apartheid Israel.
Many, many people feel hopeless after the recent UK election. A rigged electoral system, a billionaire owned press spouting lies about a good man then amplified by state media. The obvious similarities to all those soviet style broadcasts we smirked at thirty years ago becoming apparently ours. This, of course, is only the tip of the iceberg. Ha! Riven from the ice by global warming. Climate change another of the challenges facing humanity denied by the same charlatans who sought to destroy Jeremy Corbyn.
There are two distinct types of people at home in the UK. Those who are invested in the truth and those who believe anything they are told. It is clear to people like me they dare not challenge the dominant voice. The others do not dare to take on the establishment. They cower before the lie.
You know I’ve never held my tongue. Restraint is alien to me. I’d rather lose a friend than stay quiet. This happened just before Christmas three years ago at an old friend’s house. Tom Croft and his wife Max. Sir Tom Croft. I’d know Tom since my teens and was very fond of his parents and his spinster aunt. I had spent years of Christmas at Tom’s beautiful converted barn. They had very kindly included me in many of their social events. Lunches, beach parties and garden parties, their garden is magnificent! However, their pretentious gardener, the vile Posy Gentles is not. I’d not always enjoyed these excursions. Their posh white friends were gruelling company. Trapped in a tight spot, forced to find any conversation with Amicia De Moubray, married to Kent’s Lord Lieutenant is a special kind of hell. However, I played the game and respecting Tom’s feelings ignored their right wing banta and kept my end of the conversation non controversial.
Christmas Day, three years ago at an intimate supper with Tom and Max I was forced to endure a local carpenter’s offensive opinion of gay men. I complained. Tom kept quiet as his wife, a Guardian editor, sought to protect the idiot carpenter and silence my experience as a gay man. She sought like most right wing women, at the highly polished, mahogany dinner table, to defend the dominant article: a white heterosexual male who didn’t want to understand his privilege. Who couldn’t bare… not for one moment to walk in another man’s shoes. I couldn’t shake the resentment and wrote her the following day:
‘Privilege has nothing to do with money. You may very well have come from a worst family situation than me (tho I doubt it) even if that was the case my journey as a gay man these past 60 years has not been easy and when I share my story I do not expect you to diminish my experience.
I do not expect you to be gay holocaust denier. I do not expect you to do anything other than respectfully listen to those who suffered because they were/are out gay men fighting for equality, visibility and anti vilification.
Here is what you refused that night to acknowledge for me and millions of other men my age:
1. Born a criminal. Know what that means? Ask other gay men in their sixties. It means when I was born a gay man could still be sent to jail for being gay. In fact, men were still being sent to jail for consensual sex acts as recently as 1988.
2. Facing violent prejudice in the street if you were an out gay man. Swearing, spitting hitting and worse. And as I found recently still evident on the less enlightened streets of some European countries.
3. The aids crisis deliberately ignored by government because it was perceived as a gay plague. Watching over 100 young men dying gruesome deaths.
4. Section 28, Margaret Thatcher’s draconian discriminatory anti gay law.
5. Marriage and other institutions lgbt people were excluded from.
6. Fear of openly expressing affection to ones we/I loved. This is perhaps the most egregious.’
She replied she did not recognise herself from my description and we were no longer friends. She wrote this from a holiday in Istanbul she and her husband shared with Anne McElvoy and Martin Ivens, the editor of The Sunday Times, who have located to my home town of Whitstable. One can imagine how they soothed her ruffled feathers and told her to ignore the uppity faggot.
The Guardian is now under the thumb of MI5. Forced to destroy their hard drives by a man from the ministry, the editor removed after printing ghastly truths provided by Julian Assange. How can anyone have any respect for Max Croft?
Arriving from London last Tuesday Sir Tom and his dog were waiting at the station. He said hello. I shook my head. His absurd wife, Lady Max Croft greeted him with a shrill. I do not need their garden parties, their equally dreary friends or their condescension. I do not need them to protect their friends from uncomfortable truths.