Click on above to enlarge
in the Belper News – July 5th
Belper Golden Rainbows has formed a walking group. In the
morning before our formal meeting time of 1pm, we’ve started a
series of informative historic walks around Belper. July
18th will be our third morning outing, leaving the Cottage
Project car park on Bridge Street at 11am, when we’ll walk up
the hill to visit the Belper Unitarian Chapel for a free guided
tour by Frances St Lawrence. Donations will be welcome.
The last outing on June 20th took us to a picturesque viewing
area overlooking the River Derwent at Bridgefoot. This
small public garden was officially opened in October 2001 by a
group of former pupils who attended Bridge House School in the
Having written my first book, Miss Calder’s Children; to honour
the memory of headmistress Florence Calder (1876-1970) I was
asked to unveil Calder’s Corner. Belper Golden Rainbows
walkers were delighted to see that Calder’s Corner has been
rejuvenated by Belper Garden Club and sponsored by Amerol
See above one of my early information sheets, a copy of the
front page of the Belper News dated October 17th 2001 which
gives details of the opening ceremony.
Adapted from a part of Secret Summer; here is an account
of a recent walk with my friend Iain Greenwood
In the ‘Switzerland of England’, a giant crag called High Tor
crowns dark woods to the east of the River Derwent at Matlock
Bath. Beware of dangerous, seemingly bottomless holes half
hidden by centuries of accumulated foliage. Watch out for
traitorous chasms and sudden sheer drops hundreds of feet down
to the river below.
On a sunny but cool April 6th 2018, Iain Greenwood and I braved
these dangers in our trek to the summit of High Tor.
We found the entrance to the woodland grounds, a rough path
which zigzagged all the way up to the very top of High Tor crag.
Immediately the trail became very steep and quite difficult.
We made hard and painful progress into a darkness which was
rather like a cave. On both sides we were enclosed by
impenetrable stands of oak, maple, beech and bits of holly which
brought a coolness to match the dimness. On top, leafy
canopies interlocked to form a roof producing the effect of an
Eventually we collapsed onto the prostrate trunk of a fallen
tree taking a few minutes to catch our breath, albeit enjoying
such majestic woods - a magical place. I put my nose into
a sweet white blossom - rowan, reputed to be used by witches.
‘There! Look, over there.’ Iain was pointing into
the shadows under bramble. ‘Did you see that?’
They are seldom seen. It was a jenny wren, quick as
lightening with its cute cocked tail. We listened to its
shrill call and breathed deeply. The wood was full of
birdsong and the dank scent of wild garlic.
Suddenly, we noticed the log upon which we were sitting.
It was remarkably comfortable, smooth, and in good condition for
a fallen limb. I stood up and looked at it. It was
not a fallen tree at all! We’d been sitting on a fat,
healthy, living root - the lower part of a massive beech tree,
towering above, exploding in all directions in mammoth branches
and lesser sub-branches - a vast expanse of foliage. Iain
craned his neck and gazed up into a luxuriant world illuminated
in lime green. The sky could not be seen – however - it
was replaced by a lovely verdant glow.
We studied the giant root which had provided a seat. It
was part of a considerable root system uncovered and cleaned by
years of erosion. For decades, enormous tentacles had dug
in with determination in a continual effort to keep ahead of a
natural process of undermining. We admired these immense
legs. They extended along a bank, grasping at rocks,
searching out deep cracks, exploring long fissures to firmly
anchor the colossal living beech above. In so doing, they
had produced mysterious cavities into the hillside. Gloomy
hollows were begging to be explored. Enchanted places had
always fascinated me and I was now mesmerised into an idle and
pleasant contemplation. The reverie was broken a need to
We came to a dark ground-cover of creeping ivy. Pushing
through a curtain of scraggy yew, a flapping blackbird SCREAMED
out his complaint and terrified us just before we emerged into
brilliant light and the gentle spring warmth of English
‘Careful!’ shouted Iain. ‘It seems like we’re a mile up in
In sudden horror, I stepped back - well back. Somewhere
between heaven and earth, we were standing on a high rocky ledge
and were only inches from a sheer drop into the canopies of
distant trees and the River Derwent far below. Gingerly,
for a view to die for, I steadied myself by grasping the slim
trunk of a young ash tree. Somehow it had rooted itself
into a crack in the vertical limestone cliff. Ignoring
urgent protestations from Iain, I trusted to the strength of
that baby ash and leaned out to take in the full view of that
famous High Tor rock face - now looking like the north face of
the Eiger. We estimated that we were still only about half
‘Look at those cars down on the road!’ I said. ‘They’re
like Dinky Toys. We might be in an aeroplane.’ Iain
turned his head from left to right beholding a magnificent
panorama of a lovely valley edged by wood and moors.
Looking southwards, the Lovers’ Walks followed the shimmering
river. Tiny visitors enjoying this pretty resort moved
around riverside gardens and paraded along dignified Georgian
and Victorian facades.
The road and river curved westwards until they were out of
sight, blending into the deep, green gorge. High to the
east, above the dense woodland, there was an expanse of open
fields. Higher still and further distant, emerging from
very dark woods were the dramatic crags of Black Rocks.
With the support of the young ash, I had given myself a
birds-eye view looking directly down a sheer rocky drop on to
the tops of a few terraced, three-storey, stone cottages, far
below. Other scattered dwellings, humble old cottages,
half hidden in foliage, were climbing up the opposite side of
the valley; so far away, so small, they seemed like models.
Eventually, the slope levelled slightly to support a saddle of
meadow before, again, steepening into a further sylvan delight.
We plunged back into a verdant murk of tangle to continue our
difficult ascent. After a while, things got better.
The thickets gave way to more agreeable glades, allowing for an
explosion of colour. Bluebells, anemone and celandine were
highlighted by mottled sunshine. The walking became easier
over a natural paving of smoothed stone and worn spreading tree
I was activated! I had seen something and ran ahead to
inspect, what appeared to be, a solid rock wall partly obscured
by falling ivy. This obstacle threatened to block all
‘This is it!’ I called in excitement. ‘This is the
beginning of Giddy Edge. To get to the crag top, we need
to follow this rocky lip, to the right, around the cliff face …
if we can ever find it … here! Here it is.’
We pushed through bushes, shrubs and squeezed behind the ivy
curtain hard up against the rock to emerge onto a narrow verge
which, after a few cautious steps, afforded intermittent views
of the world far below.
‘All this adventure!’ I felt like a character in King
Giddy Edge lived up to its name. The narrow cliff edge
rendered the explorers inches away from a sheer fall of hundreds
of feet. This induced in us some unsteadiness and
inflicted a distinct dizziness. Most of the time, any fall
could have been stopped by a frantic grasp at several stunted
hawthorn bushes - small comfort for us adventurers.
Iain took a photograph which can be seen above.
Eventually, the path appeared to come to an abrupt halt,
suggesting that the walker would soon be walking on thin air.
To the rescue came a welcome rail firmly anchored into the dark
grey rock face. It protected against a dangerous narrowing
foot-hold which took climbers to the brink of a sheer drop to
Against a cool biting wind at that altitude, we intrepid
mountaineers made slow and careful progress. The
appearance of a brave weather-beaten ash tree, half strangled by
creeping ivy, indicated the end of this frightening ordeal.
Suddenly, it was all brilliant sunshine! An unexpected
emergence into an open, sloping space, carpeted by moss,
interspersed with a natural paving of sparkling grit stone, was
familiar to me. I had seen these special effects before
from gemstones admired in countless Peak District nick-knack
shops. The sun picked out specks of translucent rocks.
There were fluorspars, calcites, barites - the ground was all a
In triumph, we made a dash over this cheerful adornment to the
peak of this famous tor. It raised its naked head straight
from the valley floor, a sheer height of 350ft from river to
summit. With elation, we were standing over the giant
‘face in the rock’ which had always intrigued. Carefully,
we approached that famous edge to take in that famous view.
To the north, Matlock town spread up the hillside. Many
miles beyond those hills, the dim outline of Kinder Scout – the
roof of Derbyshire – was just visible. The walls of Riber
Castle crowned the hill to the east. To the west, Victoria
Tower poked out of the aerial woodlands of the Heights of
Abraham. Directly below, the River Derwent sparkled
through gaps in the foliage as it meandered southwards through
We are approaching the 13th
anniversary of the death of Narvel’s friend Derek Goostrey.
Click on photo
above to listen to an edited version of the eulogy Narvel read
out at Derek’s funeral at Heanor Church on
Monday, March 7th, 2005
It was a privilege to have composed this tribute to Derek
Goostrey, who was better known to readers of Lost Lad as
Danny Forrester. I would like to thank Kali and Ross for
asking me to read it in front of the largest congregation Heanor
Church has seen in 20 years.
Monday, July 16th
in 1945, the first ever atomic bomb was exploded by the
Americans in New Mexico. The flash, which was seen 250
miles away, cast a shadow over the lives of us all.
On that same day, nearer to home, at number one Preston Street,
Broken Cross in Macclesfield, a less flashy event took place;
the birth of Derek and his twin brother Barry Goostrey - half an
hour apart. Less flashy, perhaps, but it certainly had an
impact on my life and, I suspect, greatly improved the lives of
many people here today. A few years later, the Goostrey
family moved to
32 Nelson Street
in Heanor. In Heanor Schooldays, I wrote -
"If you seek the source of the magic which made the days of
Howitt Secondary Modern School so special, I suggest you go to
32 Nelson Street. That Spartan dwelling, the modest home
of Derek and Barry, was diffused throughout with a quality of
consideration, camaraderie, caring and kindness. A
cheerful atmosphere was presided over by mum, Nora and
stepfather, Christopher Dodsley. They had almost nothing,
but they were prepared to share what little they had."
I give thanks today for the friendship they shared, the
happiness they gave, at a time when I needed it most. For
almost the half century which followed, Derek, that surviving
brother, a character of buoyant and uplifting personality, right
up to the end, could still work his magic on me. The
Goostrey charm defied analysis, that same charm inspired me to
write two books about them forty years later.
Derek Goostrey was, quite simply, the best example of all the
finest qualities of Heanorian youth, as we were during that
wonderful period of 1958 to 1960. He was open, honest,
sincere, good-natured, easy-going and totally free from any of
the artificial affectation which has so often infested the world
in which I live - and we did live in different worlds.
Perhaps he is now reunited with his twin brother Barry who,
tragically, died young in 1964. Barry inspired the
original 'lost lad' in my book. I invested our collective
grief into shaping his character - Brian Forrester. Heanor
Schooldays, an earlier effort, was actually dedicated to Barry
Goostrey - 'One of our mates who was taken early'.
As school pals, Derek and I were close. As adults, we were
separated for many years by the Atlantic Ocean. In those
years, he married Karen and leaves behind one much-loved
daughter Kali, who gave him two beautiful granddaughters, Gaia
and Kristie. He also leaves behind many special friends
such as Julie, who tells me that she'll always treasure some
fantastic memories. His best friend was Mick Hancock.
Friendship! Derek had friends in abundance. It won't
be the same in the Derby County Supporters bus when it makes its
next journey to Pride Park, will it? There'll be a yawning
gap there which won't easily be filled. And, of course,
we've all heard wild accounts of much rejoicing and great
jollity in the public houses of Heanor. He often told me
about the fun he had with his mates, his adventures, the quiz
nights and the competitions. Perhaps this is not quite the
time or place to relate such riotous details.
Derek was well supported by his employer, Robert Pretties, and
will be greatly missed by colleagues at work. He was a
principal personality at our William Howitt Secondary Modern
School annual reunion each October. The organiser, Kathy
Syson, and many former pupils, too numerous to mention, will
certainly feel his absence when we next meet.
Ten years ago, Derek and I were reunited. A reunion which
gave birth to this extract from Lost Lad. It's a
fictitious BBC Radio Derby interview in which Derek makes an
appearance as Danny Forrester. [Here I read a short
extract from page 216 in Lost Lad]
In recent years, as adults, Derek's cheerful support and loyalty
never once wavered. He enthusiastically encouraged my work
by attending every launch, every talk and buying all five
titles, all of them signed - 'Dobba'. When together, we
regressed. We enjoyed being trapped in a time warp
somewhere in the summer of 1960 at Howitt School, always in role
of two mischievous fifteen-year-olds, always recycling funny
stories about grumpy old Mrs Buxcey.
Yesterday, Derek Goostrey, one of Heanor's most popular, one of
Heanor's best, made our lives a little richer. Today,
Heanor is a little poorer. Good night, dear friend ... a
bit of young Dobba died with you on February 23rd ... he'll miss
LGBT History Exhibition in Chesterfield Museum on
Saturday, February 3rd 2018
Above photograph taken by Allan Morton of -
Terry Durand, Ryan Whittington (Manager of Derbyshire LGBT +)
Narvel Annable and Greg Pickup.
Greg has organised and produced this splendid Derbyshire LGBT +
History Exhibition at Chesterfield Museum during the launch and
private view on February 3rd 2018. It was very well
Greg’s work includes LGBT History research and oral history
interviews to take place this year.
The Chesterfield Museum Exhibition will continue until
Fred & Narvel
Iain, Peter & Narvel
DARING SAFARI THROUGH AN ENCHANTED WOOD
Following the publication of my last title SEA CHANGE
in 2014, Allan Morton and I embarked on a daring safari through
an enchanted wood to discover the remains of a famous gigantic
It once housed a family of charcoal burners in the dark depths
of Shining Cliff Woods in Ambergate. Difficult to find,
but we finally located it with Allan’s technology. The
attached photographs he took are proof that we were successful.
The following extract from SEA CHANGE throws light on this
little known and fascinating chapter of Derbyshire history.
The winter sun struggled up over the horizon, partially blocked
by trees casting long dark shadows over a landscape of sparkling
white snow. Presently, they came on a weird circle of
jet-black sculptures erupting from ice. Almost
immediately, Simeon deciphered these strange shapes as the
remains of an ancient tree in the last stages of decay.
And what a tree! Its diameter must have been in excess of
two or three prostrate men end to end, and a girth of a dozen
children, arms outstretched, hand to hand. He looked up to
gauge the probable height of this once living entity when Mab’s
smile caught his eye.
‘Wow!’ he said. ‘Think of all the creatures which must
have lived in that massive tree.’
‘Generations of them,’ she breathed in awed whisper. ‘A
living entity; a verdant myriad of limbs forming the leafy world
of an ancient yew.’
‘Older than the Old Manor House?’
‘Much older. This venerable yew was reputed to be 2000
years old 200 years ago when it housed a family of charcoal
Mab spent the next ten minutes explaining how the aged and
hollowed gigantic tree trunk accommodated Luke and Betty Kenny.
Their eight children where somehow sheltered in turf-roofed
sheds wedged into the vast system of branches, main branches and
sub branches of that colossal tree. The author admitted an
element of legend to this extraordinary history, the subject of
Mab’s current book.
‘Charcoal! But what good is burnt wood?’
‘I draw with it. And a blacksmith needs a fire of intense
heat in his forge … and it’s necessary to make gunpowder.’
Mab was more interested in the social history associated with
this improbable Kenny domicile. Had Simeon heard of the
nursery rhyme Rock-a-bye Baby? Yes - and he recited –
In the tree top
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
Cradle and all
She said these lyrics were composed, as it were, on the hoof.
Softly, Betty crooned to her baby which reposed in a cradle
fashioned from a hollowed-out branch. Presumably, ‘cradle
and all’ was suspended by ropes attached to one of the yew tree
Allan and Narvel
Nottingham Pride 2017
Andy Brown’s 60th Birthday Bash on April 20th 2017
From left to right - Chris, Andrew and Iain
I’m grateful to Iain for posting a festive photograph on
Facebook of himself, Andrew and Chris - all big smiles in full
swing having a fantastic time at the Crown. I responded
with - ‘Thank you, it’s the next-best-thing to being there.’
As suggested, I sent Andy a cheque payable to Derbyshire
LGBT and thanked him for his continuing excellent work
supporting Derbyshire LGBT
Narvel at BBC RADIO DERBY
FEB 29th 2016
Narvel & Terry at Lea
At home in Belper 1978
Narvel in back garden Michigan
Outside my home in Michigan
Happy days on hols Cliff House
Outside Cliff House
Xmas fancy dress "Victorian
Perin Court Hotel 1979
Narvel at nine months
As a child I had an Aunty Fran and Uncle Bill.
Their two boys, Don and Malcolm were my cousins – or
so I always thought. This familiar family with
their familiar friendly faces were part of daily life
in Stanley Common, Heanor and Derby in the 1940s and
1950s. Unconscientiously, it was assumed they
were relatives. In fact they were not. It
all started when Frances King met her colleague Connie
Annable in a Derby hospital sometime in the late 1920s
or early 1930s and became close life-long friends.
Decades passed. I emigrated to the USA, returned
some 13 years later and eventually became an author /
campaigner for gay rights in the 21st century
appearing frequently in the Derby
In recent years this caught the attention of my King
Cousins who have kindly made several visits with
interesting information, exciting revelations,
entertaining conversation supported by old family
photographs I never knew existed.
On the last visit, Don and Malcolm invited me to study
and identify the following old baby photo of a ‘very
close relative’. I had no idea who it was.
On the back, it was dated April 1946. Inscribed
in the neat hand of Aunty Fran was the child’s name –
The little nine-month-old, chubby, cute, cosy and
cuddly is a picture of pure happiness. I was
seized to go back 67 years and say to this child –
‘Hey, kid! Smile while you can. When they
find out you can’t kick a football, can’t fancy a
lass, can’t knock down a pint of beer and can’t defend
yourself with bare knuckles – life will become grim
Inspired by frequent references to the 1960s pop idol
Billy Fury, a friend has used his considerable talent
and creativity to produce this original video.
see this short video
By way of support, I offer
these two extracts. The first is from Lost
Lad and the second
from Secret Summer.
Simeon held a precious vinyl disc. This magical
music bore the legend - Maybe Tomorrow.
Later, in that same store, examining the sleeve of a
prized long playing record, he stood very still and
looked. He peered long and hard into the
stunningly handsome features of his teenage idol -
Billy Fury: an image of popular culture in 1959.
Ahmed found a small photograph in Simeon’s wallet.
‘He’s nice. I'd sure like to swing on that.
But it's in the rule book - no competition. No
sir! Time to say goodbye to your boyfriend.’
He crushed it in his fist, at the same time, looking
directly into Simeon's eyes to savour the hurt.
It was hurt which gave no voice. The English boy
was struck dumb, unable to explain himself, unable to
defend himself. He was bewitched, infatuated; he
was in love with this beautiful but cruel American.
With no voice to put him straight, Ahmed never did
discover the identity of the 'competition' who,
incidentally, was not Simeon's boyfriend. If
only! In England in 1966, there was a certain
face, a certain voice and name which was familiar in
almost every household: a name which was totally
unknown to the American public. No Detroiter had
ever seen, or had ever heard of the British pop legend
- Billy Fury.
These photographs include several of me standing by a
Ford Granada in different Derbyshire locations.
From a Derby Telegraph letter printed October 9th 2013,
due to homophobic incidents, you’ll know my teaching
career came to an abrupt end in April 1995.
Early retirement on a tiny pension meant I had to find
an alternative income. I conceived an idea of
using my car to offer tours around Derbyshire under a
heading - Curiosities of Derbyshire. It might
appeal to foreign visitors as well as the domestic
market. The photographs were to become a part of
a promotional brochure.
In different locations I’d tell appropriate stories
In Matlock Bath and Castleton I’d speak of Rowan being
tied to mine engines to guard against breakdowns.
I’d entertain my guests with romantic mysteries, lore
and occult associations in the wilds of Derbyshire,
giving examples which were not far away from where the
car stood. Visitors would hear about about the
elusive fairies of Caldon Low, the cunning goblin
called Hob who dwells in a round-barrow near
Chatsworth, pagan deities, stone circles, sacred
groves, human sacrifices, subterranean dwellings of
elementals and flying saucers seen over Kinder Scout.
They would be told of a mermaid who swims
atmidnight on the eve of Easter Sunday, the bottomless
pit of Eldon Hole, the Eagle Stone near Curbar which
is said to turn as the cock crows.
I think people enjoy curious and uncanny tales.
At Stanton Moor I’d seize the opportunity to speak of
the erotic legend of nine young girls and just one boy
who had angered God by committing an obscene act on
the Sabbath day! Nine pretty maidens long ago
illicitly stole off onto the moor with a naughty lad
who was also a fiddler – and boy did he fiddle!
He fiddled so much; God turned them all to stone.
The ‘obscene act’ was no more than a dance vilified by
puritanical superstition and ignorance. It was a
17th century explanation of the Nine Ladies
From all this, it can be seen that, as a repressed gay
man in 1995, I was already nursing a horror of
religious ignorance and bigotry later to be expressed
in my vociferous campaigning against homophobia.
Taken at Ripley Town Hall July
To see more Civil
Wedding pictures click on photo above
September 3rd 2013
Today marks the 37th anniversary
of meeting my partner Terry Durand. It is also
the G20 Day of Action against Putin’s despicable
homophobic law. Protestors will meet outside the Prime
Minister’s residence in Downing Street in London to
speak out for LGBT Russians who are persecuted every
day. David Cameron will be urged to raise the
issue with President Vladimir Putin at the forthcoming
Terry and I first met in the ancient stone cottage of
Victor Bamford [1914-2005] in Becksitch Lane, Belper
on September 3rd 1976.
He was popular and quaint. He appeared in Lost
Lad and Scruffy
Jasper the Belper Goblin. Gnarled and humped
sitting beneath a brass plate – Make
new friends but keep the old, one is silver the other
Victor with deep set leering eyes was an interesting
old character and a mine of clandestine information.
He entertained his secretive gentleman callers with a
nice cup of tea, perhaps a few cakes, pleasant
conversation and plenty of gossip within the hidden
circles of Belper’s gay community. Long
before gay venues became available; many repressed
Beaurepeirians will have come together in Victor’s old
fashioned comfortable sitting room - just as Terry and
This item with photographs was printed in the Belper
August 23rd 2006
– Gay author ties the knot.
Old friends and neighbours flocked to Ripley Town Hall
to witness the civil partnership of local author,
Narvel Annable to his partner Terry Durand. Mr
Annable mentioned in an article in the Belper
Gay author to enjoy a very civil wedding – July 5th 2006
– that anyone wishing to turn up on the day was more
The happy couple said they are surprised at the number
of friends who went to watch them tie the knot –
‘We only expected our witnesses to turn up.
About 15 people came into the chamber. When we
came out, there were more people waiting for us
outside. Those people came to make a statement!
It was heartening. You must remember that, for
decades, gay men like us amongst heterosexual
neighbours have lived under the shadow of social
disapproval. Our good neighbours made the day an
landed a speaking part in London Weekend
series which helped promote his book A
Judge Too Far.
This episode, Love
You To Death,
was filmed at Nottingham’s Galleries of
Justice and screened on January 26th 2004.
The photograph shows an actor, Noah
Huntley, in the role of John Tanner who was
convicted of murdering Rachel McLean.
Terry played himself as a member of the
jury. Keith Matthewman QC took the part
of the judge. Derby
a feature about the forthcoming event,
June 27th 2003.
Still A teenager - Just - The scruffy
chicken of 1965
People ask, why call yourself a scruffy chicken? Scruffy
in the title of Scruffy
not so much a comment on me; it is more a
criticism of the Derby and Nottingham
snobs who made me feel scruffy
– scruffy accent, scruffy clothes, scruffy
manners, scruffy education etc.
I have often reflected on that sad 'elite'
of oppressed people who (to make their own
position safer) felt the need to denigrate
other human beings regarded as inferior in
the British class structure. It was
group based - a culture of cruelty.
It included well rehearsed techniques and
comments which gave some of them a
sadistic thrill. They enjoyed seeing
the ‘lower orders’ quail and flinch.
Narvel & Terry on Honeymoon at Matlock Bath in
Campbell recieving an award at County Hall
Peter & Terry at Derby University (Peter's first
ever visit to Derby)
Ian Narvel Gerald &
at Derby Friend's 30th. Birthday Party
Terry at the Cliff House Hotel in 1979
Gay History Month 2008
at Heanor Library
This event was promoted by Derbyshire County
‘Join Narvel Annable for an evening
of tea and cakes and ramble through Derbyshire in
the 1960s at Heanor Library on Wednesday, February
27th 7 to 9pm.’
It was better than that! A
responsive full house with a reasonable age spread
included a few gay-friendly heterosexuals. All
were supportive in body language and eye-contact.
Their kindness was encouraging and meant so much.
The audience was invited back to the house
of a Heanor friend, David, who generously put on a
Bess West, Narvel and Sarah at the
launch of Miss Calder’s Children 1997