Narvel Annable 
GAY CAMPAIGNER /AUTHOR

 

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BBC Derby Hate Crime

 

October 2018

 

Please click on the link below to hear several BBC Radio Derby interviews at Belper Golden Rainbows on October 17th. There is also a separate live interview with PC Fred Bray on October 18th and a live interview with Narvel Annable on October 21st.

 

 

 

Hello Readers, 

Our Belper Golden Rainbows LGBT group has, over the last 14 months, increased in its popularity and strength - but the extraordinary development of the October 17th meeting took us all by surprise! 

Our sessions are in two parts.  The walking group meets in the Cottage Project car park at 11am.  As ever, PC Fred Bray was there with regular attendee John and two new faces, civilian volunteers assisting the police, Georgia and Beth.  A cool sunny morning, the five of us enjoyed a brisk walk to the Belper River Gardens where I delivered my usual commentary with a LGBT theme. 

The surprise came when we returned at 1pm to discover a bumper crop of visitors including six newcomers.  Regulars Ken, Chris and my husband Terry, armed with the usual free sandwiches and cake, had already arrived together with our guest speaker.  He is the Derbyshire LGBT + new Project Officer Hate Crime Advocate - John Yates-Harold.  We were twelve.  One more holding a microphone made up our best turn out ever. 

Sally, a BBC Radio Derby producer, had come to find out more about the well known Hate Crime Monitoring Police Officer, Fred Bray whose lively personality always adds zest to each event as he offers practical professional advice to those of us who are in need.  Sally interviewed Fred as well as the recruited volunteers. 

She also interviewed Terry and me regarding our work at Belper Golden Rainbows and focused on a particularly nasty homophobic incident we recently suffered in Matlock. 

In addition, I was pleased to be invited for a live interview with Dean Pepall at the BBC Radio Derby Studios on Sunday morning, October 21st.

 

Narvel Annable

 

Thanks to Allan Morton, Information Sheets 164 and 165 have now been uploaded to DropBox.  The links are here:

https://bit.ly/2P8z7wj 

https://bit.ly/2PSGF5M

 

They have also been posted to both Facebook and Twitter as usual. 

For this technical wizardry, I give full credit to my friend and fellow writer Allan who, for the last ten years, has generously given his time and effort to make my work more effective - indeed possible.

October 7th. 2018 Worksop Guardian

Dear Editor, 

The gathering on Saturday, September 29th at Community House on Wood Street in Mansfield was billed as an LGBTQ+ Health & Wellbeing Free Event.  For us, the Derbyshire LGBT+ Belper Golden Rainbows group, it will be affectionately remembered as the first ever Mansfield Pride

With our two tables and two chairs we, Fred, Terry and Narvel, were certainly proud and privileged to have been given the opportunity to be one of several stalls, making connections, browsing other stands, chatting with local health organisations who offer support and advice.

Mansfield man, Fred Bray, a specialist Police Officer in hate crime issues, has been a tower of strength in our Belper group.  In the Community House he quickly assembled a selection of my autobiographic novels on the table.  He decorated the walls with hundreds of campaigning letters to the press - items I’ve had printed over the last 20 years.

My husband, Terry Durand, has been at my side for the last 42 years - an invaluable and constant help in decades of activism.

The morning and afternoon was well attended by members of the public continually in conversation with Terry, Fred and I providing an opportunity to ask questions, exchange views, make comment and spark discussion on a variety of gay issues and concerns.

Among the guest speakers are two who will always be remembered.

       ‘You could hear a pin drop while they spoke.  The emotion in the room spilled into conversation afterwards,’ said Yvonne one of the organisers.

Dr Manny Barot delivered an outstanding presentation effectively challenging hate crime supported by heartrending images of past cruelties. 

I had an opportunity to share with Manny details of my personal horrors in 1957 C of E, Mundy Street Boys School in Heanor.  It was a culture of cruelty controlled by a sadistic schoolmaster who inflicted emotional injuries which still hurt me today.  In 2014, I was diagnosed with PTSD.

Sam Hope, who runs a counselling and training consultancy, gave an excellent speech on gender diversity.  In a private exchange, Sam took time and trouble explaining to me the significance of the T in LGBT.  In a few words, light was shed on darkness.  Thank you, Sam.

It was a pleasant surprise to be sitting in front of two extraordinary leading lights from Worksop - Helen Azar and Claire Bradley head LGBT + Service Nottinghamshire.

Worksop Out on Wednesday [WOW] volunteers at Centre Place has been supporting LGBT people, brave and honest youngsters, who have suffered appalling problems coming to terms with their sexuality over the last ten years.

Lesley Watkins and Yvonne Hudson can be proud of their first Mansfield Pride.  They have helped rescue us from the anxiety and shame inflicted by a cruel and ignorant heterosexual majority.  They also remind us that human unhappiness has effects far beyond the individual.  It reaches out to touch the lives of everyone.

As a gay man, no stranger to homophobia, I am deeply grateful for their efforts.

Narvel Annable

 

 

 

July 21st 2018 

Belper News 

Dear Editor, 

Before the formal meeting of Belper Golden Rainbows on July18th, a few of us met in the Cottage Project car park at 11.00 to enjoy a short uphill walk under a sunny sky to visit the 18th century Belper Unitarian Chapel tucked away on Field Row off Green Lane.  Unitarians sharing diverse opinion, free of dogmatic assertion have a positive attitude to LGBT issues.  

On this, our third morning outing, we were warmly welcomed and shown around by Frances St Lawrence, an enthusiastic guide who gave us a comprehensive tour.  We climbed the outdoor cantilevered stairway up to a balcony with an excellent view over Belper and the river valley beyond.  Just below us, the neat floral graveyard, immaculately maintained and festooned with a riot of summer colour. 

This balcony leads us into the top gallery.  Here was a view of steeply raked, beautifully polished original box pews and commemorative plaques.   

By complete contrast we descended below - deep below.  Frances kindly lit numerous candles to enable us to explore the cool crypt beneath the chapel where Strutt family members are interred under arched catacombs.  An intriguing and somewhat creepy adventure! 

We were all grateful to Frances for taking time and trouble to give us such an interesting morning. 

Narvel Annable      

 

Hello Readers, 

Above is a photo of our group in front of Belper Cottage Project just before we went on our first Belper walk. From left to right - PC Fred Bray, Terry Durand, Ken Hopkins and Narvel Annable.  Other regular attendees of Belper Golden Rainbows did not wish to be photographed.   

There will be another Belper walk on June 20th when we meet at 11.15 in the Belper Cottage Project car park for those who are interested.  If you have any questions or concerns about this walk, we hope, the second of many more, please phone me - 01 773 834483.   

We’ll return to the cottage at 1pm for the formal Derbyshire LGBT + session when our guest speaker, the editor of QB Magazine, David Edgley will speak on the subject of Older LGBT people in ‘care’ homes.  His presentations have been acclaimed for the entertaining, amusing and informative style we have come to enjoy in the pages of QB over the last 102 editions.  He is also a leading light at Nottinghamshire Rainbow Heritage - www.nottsrainbowheritage.org.uk  Members of that team have worked hard many years improving the lives of people who share same sex attraction.  David will arrive with equipment to illustrate his talk.  A short film will be shown which should elicit questions, comment and discussion.

 

The information below may also useful. 

Warm wishes, 

Narvel 

Derbyshire LGBT + launched ‘Golden Rainbows’ last September.  It is a social support group for people who identify as gay.  We meet on the third Wednesday of each month between 1 and 3pm at The Cottage Project, 16 Chapel Street [the A6] in Belper just opposite the bus station.  A free car park is available behind the cottage.  Free admission and free refreshments are available at all meetings. 

A Derbyshire LGBT + research paper highlighted the immense isolation and loneliness faced by older members of the gay community in rural Derbyshire.  CEO Ian Robson and his team based at 7 Bramble Street in Derby have conceived and promoted this much needed initiative in the Belper area.  The aim is to reduce loneliness, potentially a killer for older people who share same-sex attraction. 

                                                                     

Belper Golden Rainbows last walk is on the Derbyshire constabulary website: 

http://www.derbyshire.police.uk/My-Local-Police/North-Division/Amber-Valley-LPU/BelperTown/News/2018/May-22-Police-Derbyshire-LGBT-historic-walk-around-Belper.aspx

 

 

 

Click on above "Sheet 163" to enlarge

 

 

Click on above  "Sheet 162" to enlarge

 

 

 

The handing over of a cheque to Derbyshire LGBT+ is on the Fire Service website as well:

 

http://www.derbys-fire.gov.uk/news/news-items/money-raised-donated-to-derbyshire-lgbt-charity

 

Belper LGBT Group UPDATE

 

Hello Readers, 

In our meeting of April 18th 2018, our guest speaker and regular attendee, PC Fred Bray once again offered practical professional advice on the subject of HATE CRIME.  We all enjoyed the usual free food and hot drinks. 

Since our last meeting, sadly, I’ve been informed of the passing of an old friend known better to readers of Scruffy Chicken as David Bond the number two of the 1960s Derby Elite of nodding heads led by Claud Hoadley.   

At 90+, David’s long life was overshadowed by two devastating homophobic attacks in his younger days which left him a profoundly private and frightened man who kept himself very much to himself.  Before introducing Fred, in a brief eulogy, I outlined David’s two traumas one of which nearly cost him his life.   

To support the eulogy, I distributed around the group copies of old Sheets 74 and 75 which can be accessed by clicking on these links -  

Sheet 74 - https://goo.gl/UDEL64 

Sheet 75 - https://goo.gl/GpRSr3    

Sheet 74 gives a graphic and somewhat disturbing description of secretive homosexual life in 1965 in which David Bond [1927-2018] and Barrister Brian Smedley [1934-2007] were regular friends meeting at our gentleman’s club, the Derby Turkish Baths.  Brian was a prestigious dinner guest, a desirable social catch, often turning up at David’s home and also the home of leading light and top snob Claud Hoadley. 

In these exclusive gay gatherings of more than half a century back, there was a good reason for the occasional appearance of an uneducated scruffy teenager at that august table such as my roughly-spoken younger self - hence the title Scruffy Chicken.  I expect it was a combination of light relief, novelty value and desirable decoration. 

Foreshadowing David Edgley’s June 20th talk at Belper Golden Rainbows on the subject of Older LGBT people in ‘care’ homes; I was shocked to learn that David Bond went into a local nursing home shortly after our last communication in early January.  He didn’t tell me.  David never revealed his LGBT status to anybody outside his small select circle of gay friends. 

Click on the link below, Sheet 160 to read about Wirksworth’s secret Puzzle Gardens, a nasty homophobic incident in a Matlock Cafe and offensive homophobic football chanting.  By contrast, join me with Allan Morton in a magical walk through Ambergate’s enchanted Shining Cliff Woods - in an extract from Sea Change. 

https://tinyurl.com/infosheet160 

 

To view latest news sheet 161 click on the link below

https://goo.gl/c5PELV

 

Hello Readers, 

On February 21st, 2018, at Belper Golden Rainbows, PC ANDY SUDBURY will be the guest speaker on the subject of hate crime.  Several of my readers have booked for this event. 

 

DAN WEBBER, the Events Coordinator of Furthest From The Sea Music Comedy and Arts and Director of the ‘Looking Back, Looking Forward’ project has agreed to be our guest speaker for March 21st. to talk about his excellent work.  

 

PAUL HUNT - Chief Features Writer - Shout! Magazine and leading LGBT light in Bradford has kindly agreed to make a 140 mile round trip to be the guest speaker in Belper on April 18th.   

During the years from 2007 to 2012, I made annual appearances at Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield to be a part of pride events promoting the gay cause and my novels.  Paul will talk about his work in LGBT activism.  

 

GREG PICKUP was our guest speaker on October 18th.  He continues in his LGBT History research and oral history interviews and is opening a new LGBT Exhibition at Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery at St Mary’s Gate S41 7TD on Saturday, February 3rd. from 2 to 4pm.  It sounds really exciting.  We look forward to this interesting event now firmly in my diary.  

We hope to see you next Wednesday. 

Warm wishes.

 

Derbyshire LGBT + launched ‘Golden Rainbows’ a new social support group for people who identify as gay.  We meet on the third Wednesday of each month between 1 and 3pm at The Cottage Project, 16 Chapel Street [the A6] in Belper just opposite the bus station.  

A free car park is available behind the cottage.  Free admission and free refreshments are available at all meetings.   

The aim of our group is to reduce loneliness, potentially a killer for older people who share same-sex attraction.   

I’m pleased to report a gradual increase in numbers at all meetings.  When David Edgley was the guest speaker during our last meeting on November 15th, eight people attended.   

Accordingly, Derbyshire LGBT + are improving the lives of senior gays who should not be marginalized or restricted to a ghetto of lonely segregation.  For further information - phone 01 332 207704. 

In the New Year, fellow writer and good friend Allan Morton will film my Detroit Riots presentation at Golden Rainbows on January 17th.  This item, to be posted on twitter and Facebook, will be an added promotion for the monthly Belper Cottage Project initiative.  Allan will reassure the group that nobody except the guest speaker will appear on camera. 

Terry and I hope you join us next Wednesday.

 

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

 

Hello Readers, 

The link below will take you to a short BBC Radio broadcast from November 1960. 

https://tinyurl.com/gotanycopies

 

I have nostalgic memories of autumn 1960 when, at the age of 15, I attended a Pre-Apprentice course at the ultra modern Ilkeston College of Further Education on Field Lane.  The very concept of ‘Further Education’ was new.  Alas, this 1950s vision of a bright future - has now been demolished! 

A reference to Lady Chatterley’s Lover immediately flagged up Wednesday, November 16th 1960 when, at lunch time, I paid my 3/6 [17p] to buy one of the 200,000 copies printed after a 30 year ban of that controversial book.  It was famously vilified by out-of-touch prosecutor, Mr Mervyn Griffith-Jones who said –

       ‘Is this a book you would wish your wife or servant to read?’ 

In our humble tiny terraced cottage opposite Stanley Common Miner’s Welfare, the nearest we had to a servant was Aunty Brenda.  She came to ‘muck us out’ once a week and would certainly have been disgusted by the ‘goings on’ between Lord Chatterley’s roughly-spoken gamekeeper and Her lascivious Ladyship. 

As a testosterone charged, deeply closeted 15-year-old guilt-ridden homosexual, I was entranced with the page everybody was talking about. It was a conversation between gamekeeper and gamekeeper’s fully-inflated manhood – John Thomas - straining at the bit for access to Lady Jane’s womanhood.

       ‘Arrr, John Thomas!  Rock ‘ard, an lookin’ up at me!  A know what thee wants – c***!  That’s what thee wants!  C***!  C***!  An that’s what thee’s goin’ to get.’ 

Boasting possession of the infamous book, I memorised this lewd exchange between man and manhood.  In the role of randy gamekeeper, using the voice and mannerisms of Long John Silver, Narvel entertained his fellow students at the Ilkeston College in the style of his Heanor Howitt impressions earlier in the year. 

With relish and access to the caretaker's yard brush for a crutch, I mimicked Tony Hancock, impersonating Robert Newton's interpretation of Robert Louis Stevenson's colourful character - Long John Silver, from his 1881 book - Treasure Island.

       "Aarr, Jim lad!" and the occasional "Avast there!" 

This nautical romp consisted of hopping around the playground with a limp neck and imaginary squawking parrot on ye shoulder screeching 'Pieces of Eight!’  It took off, and soon there were several 'Silvers' capering around Howitt Secondary Modern School playground. 

I savoured his new found influence but had to find new material when the novelty waned. 

       A half crazed, boggle eyed hermit, complete with stout wooden staff, screaming imprecations after the style of -

       "REPENT!!  Ye lusting sinners!  Hear me!  Ye are DOOMED!!" had little impact, miserably falling short of the desired effect, especially when cock of the school Rocky Martin shouted -

       "Shut it!"

       "Nay, Brethren, give heed, I have seen the light."

       "Y'll see my fist in a minute." 

Alas, my comic impressions didn’t take off in Ilkeston in quite the same way as in Heanor, but some sexy boys were suitably intrigued by that erotic presentation. 

You might well ask, how could I possibly know what happened on Wednesday, November 16th1960?  The memory is clearly fixed because November 16th 1960 is also the day Gilbert Harding died at the age of 53.  

Who?  Fifty-seven years ago, this irascible broadcaster, always on our TV sets, dubbed ‘the rudest man in Britain’ was FAMOUS.  He was so famous; his name did not appear under his likeness at Madam Tussauds.  The plaque simply said, ‘The most famous man in Britain’. 

Only a few people knew Mr Harding was gay.  I never met him, but - as you will learn if you ever read Sea Change - in 1958 at the tender age of twelve, having been abducted into a secret circle of paedophiles, I was one of the few – who knew. 

Mingling with 'rough trade', I heard talk about a gay criminal, 'a swinger' with an appalling reputation for seediness, shotguns and torture.  Ronnie Kray took 'what he wanted'.  He selected boys with 'long lashes with a melting look around the eyes'.  They were plied with drink, shown off at the Society Club in Jermyn Street and sometimes taken to Kray's luxury flat in Walthamstow where show business celebrity friends were entertained. 

Rough-and-ready Cockney lads boasted of their connections, their sexual experience within the mobster underworld and certain high profile figures of the Establishment.  One extremely desirable thug claimed intimate carnal knowledge of Gilbert Harding and Lord Boothby. 

Needless to say, I resisted boasting these big names to the Pre-Apprentice Ilkeston boys or, for that matter, any Heanor boys late of Howitt Secondary School. 

Narvel Annable 

 

Hello Readers,  

The Editor of Nottingham’s excellent Queer Bulletin, David Edgley, has kindly agreed to be the guest speaker at Belper next Wednesday, November 15th - 1 to 3pm.   

David is big stuff!   

http://lgbthistoryfestival.org/blog/2014/09/13/nottingham-centre-lgbt-universe.html 

I often refer to him as Mr Nottingham.  His presentations have been acclaimed for the entertaining, amusing and informative style we have come to enjoy in the pages of QB over the last 99 editions.  He is also a leading light at Nottinghamshire Rainbow Heritage - www.nottsrainbowheritage.org.uk  Members of that team have worked hard many years improving the lives of people who share same sex attraction. 

Next Wednesday, David will arrive with equipment to illustrate his talk on the subject of LGBT issues and its history which should elicit questions, comment and discussion.  

Free admission and complimentary refreshments of sandwiches, cakes & tea or coffee will be served to everyone, for this and all meetings at Belper Golden Rainbows who meet on the third Wednesday of each month between 1 and 3pm at The Cottage Project, 16 Chapel Street [the A6] in Belper just opposite the bus station.  

David will be helping us to celebrate our third meeting of this new social support group for people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender.  

A Derbyshire LGBT research paper highlighted the immense isolation and loneliness faced by older members of the gay community in rural Derbyshire.  The aim of our group is to reduce loneliness, potentially a killer for older people who share same-sex attraction.   

Senior gays should not be marginalized or restricted to a ghetto of lonely segregation.  For further information - phone 01 332 207704.

Warm wishes

Narvel

 

Hello Readers, 

The inaugural meeting of Golden Rainbows, the new Belper LGBT support group on September 20th, uncovered a painful homophobic incident in a local restaurant which wounded with emotional damage.  The victim benefited from professional advice offered by the group leader.  It should be remembered that some gay people are always going to be a tempting target for cruel louts looking for fun. 

In my letter to the Derby Telegraph printed on September 26th, I described this appalling event which I gather comes under the heading of a hate crime or incident.  Regarding the distinction between a hate incident and a hate crime, like many others, I am still not entirely clear about the difference between the two.  Accordingly, I applaud the meeting below which will take place this Thursday.

 

Hate Crime Talks

Reach Out Mens Group at Derbyshire LGBT+

Added by Chris

October 5, 2017
7:00 PM

Derbyshire LGBT+
7 bramble street
Derby 

For further details ring 01332 20 77 04.  Terry and I will certainly be there. 

This Derbyshire experience has triggered outrage on my Facebook page - not least from Tony Fenwick MBE the CEO of Schools OUT UK/LGBT History Month. 

Tony told me about a young man who had a glass smashed into his face for holding hands with his boyfriend in an unprovoked homophobic attack at a Wetherspoon pub.  Click on the link for further details.

 

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/man-glassed-for-holding-hands-with-boyfriend-in-unprovoked-homophobic-attack-at-peckham-wetherspoon-a3485966.html 

Yes, I know we should come forward and alert the authorities, but there are myriad human complexities and fears which can block contact with the police.  Unfortunately, living in a relatively small town, our victim was fearful that he might encounter the culprits sometime on the street.  He was unwilling to take the matter further even though the group leader offered to accompany him to the police station.  For corroboration, it has been suggested that the restaurant might still have CCTV recording of the incident which, I gather, is now about a month ago. 

I will continue to urge our victim to report this matter to the police. 

Regarding Belper’s Golden Rainbows, on a more cheerful note, I proposed David Edgley of Nottinghamshire's Rainbow Heritage as the guest speaker on November 22nd.  He has kindly accepted this invitation. 

I think Greg Pickup will give a talk on October 18th.  I hope so. 

I was asked to give a talk and will be happy to entertain the Belper Group on January 17th 2018.  In addition, I suggested doing a ‘Connor style’ gay themed Belper walk sometime in the spring or summer. 

We are planning to enjoy a Christmas meal on December 20th.  

You can be sure that I’ll do all I can to publicise and champion this Belper initiative, hopefully increasing the numbers in future meetings. 

Fellow writer and good friend Allan Morton has been promoting me over the last five years.  By extension, he has also been supporting and boosting Derbyshire LGBT in the same way.  Naturally, I was especially pleased to see him attend our inaugural meeting.  He has posted several different items advertising Golden Rainbows on Facebook and Twitter in the run-up to and actually on the day of ember 20th.  See my Facebook page.

 

http://tinyurl.com/narvelannable

www.twitter.com/NarvelAnnable  

Sheet 158 is now on Facebook and Twitter. The link is: https://tinyurl.com/infosheet158

Best wishes,

Narvel

 DETROIT RIOTS

 

A major film is being made in the US about the Detroit riots 50 years ago. I often think about Laurent.  He was the African American boy I loved.  I wonder if he’s still alive? 

To see the film trailer, click on one of the links below.  The first is my Facebook page and the second is twitter. 

From 1963 to 1976, I lived in Detroit visiting the UK annually for as many weeks as funds would stretch.  I had several jobs but was most content as a messenger at a Detroit bank located downtown.  The pay was poor but duties undemanding and totally stress free.   

Each morning at 8.30, I stood on the sidewalk in front of the impressive Palladian frontage of the bank with its Greek columns and capitals asserting the confidence of American capitalism.  It was my daily duty to meet the President of the Detroit Bank.  As the massive Lincoln Continental gracefully glided to a halt before the mighty edifice of finance, a regular exchange was like a mantra - 

‘Good morning, Sir.’ ‘Morning,’ came a grunt from the great man.  It sounded more like a reprimand than a greeting.  ‘Tell ‘em to wash it.’

It was the same every day.  The six-foot-plus President eased himself out of the driving seat set for a tall man, quickly replaced by a humble five-foot-nine messenger who would not dare to adjust the power seating position.  With difficulty, I drove the stately beast.  It was dangerous deeply reclined with a restricted view together with inadequate control of a large vehicle.  In these precarious circumstances, the Lincoln slowly moved to the corner, right and right again and first left into a narrow street dwarfed by two skyscrapers.  A little way down on the right was the entrance to an expensive downtown multi-storey park used by executives.  A young black guy was waiting to take the car to its usual reserved location.

‘Mr X would like his car washed,’ said the driver.                

‘Yes,’ hissed the scowling youth somewhat aggressively.

This ungracious response to a polite request irked me.  The unwarranted attitude had been endured for several days when I finally decided to challenge the attendant.  His rudeness was no mystery.  An overnight sleep stealing low of unbearable humidity had not dipped under 70 degrees.  Worst was to follow!  Another miserable scorcher in the 90s was fast approaching this hazy polluted oven of concrete and cement.  Even worst still, the atmosphere was thick with ethnic hatred.  These were the 1960s when Detroit was gripped by racial turmoil eventually leading to an explosion of burning riots which left city blocks gutted resembling a war zone.  Notwithstanding, the humble messenger attempted a remonstration with the African American along the lines of their shared lowly circumstances.

‘Look!’ I implored, ‘I’m no different to you!  I’m not pretending that I’m better than you.  We’re about the same age and are probably paid the same.  When I ask you to wash this car, I’m just following orders.  There is no need to be so nasty to me!’

The black boy seemed to be startled by this outburst when the drama was interrupted by an older black man.

‘Hey!  Hold on there!  What’s this all about?’

The man turned out to be the boy’s boss.  I reiterated my main points and tried to explain that I was not prejudiced against the attendant.  In so doing, the two Americans were suddenly transfixed by an unfamiliar foreign accent known in England as broad Derbyshire.

‘Where on God’s earth is you from?’ asked the boss man.

I launched into another spiel describing a background and family of Stanley Common mine workers emerging from the bowels of the earth with faces encrusted with coal dust - so deeply ingrained - no amount of soap and scrubbing could ever remove the blackening which marked the lowly status of a common collier.  I added my belief that at £8 per week, existing in a primitive terrace cottage, there was precious little difference between a coal miner and a cotton picking slave.  For good measure, I threw in the fact that while Detroit Negroes drive around in huge beautiful automobiles, my kin folk get around on pushbikes.     

This tetchy polemic was cut short by the boss striding forward with an air of menace.  He was a big man, albeit with a benign expression signalling good humour, indulging a child throwing a tantrum.

‘Well, Englishman, I guess that’s better out than in,’ he said, now in full smile.  The smile faded addressing his subordinate, ‘Laurent!  It’s your job to be nice to our customers.  We don’t sneer at them, we help them.  You can start by explaining the pre-sets.’             

The boss was referring to the complication of power seat controls.  In past days he had noticed me struggling to drive the Lincoln.  Sullenly, with a touch of shame, Laurent slipped into the passenger seat and asked his customer to get back into the car.  He was invited to push a button marked ‘medium’ which immediately raised and moved the driving seat forward to suit a man of average size.  Both boys beamed at this sudden demonstration of electronic wizardry and made eye contact in that intimate space.  For two youths looking at each other, the moment lasted longer than it should have done.  Hostilities had magically evaporated and I was now free to savour perfect proportions of quintessential African features.  I scanned tempting thick lips, a wide nose and big beautiful wondrous round eyes.  In return, the black boy was able to examine a Caucasian countenance so very enticingly close. 

Yes we fell in love.   

But this was fantasy, all too soon violated by the feared explosion of city violence.  The long hot smouldering month of July 1967 burst into flames on Monday 24th.  Like thousands of white workers from segregated suburbs carefully cleansed of Negroes, Narvel did not dare make the daily 20 mile commute from his home to downtown Detroit.  There were fearful comparisons of the 1943 race riot in which 38 people were shot dead.  Some commentators spoke of this current incendiary event as the first spark of a civil war.  Since 1964, dozens of major American cities had already suffered riots and looting.  After several city blocks had been gutted, beyond the control of regular riot police, Federal Paratroopers were sent in to restore order.  A few nervous employees of the Detroit Bank started to trickle back on the following Monday and I steeled myself for a return to work on the Tuesday

My affair with Laurent did not last long.  You must try to understand the reality of my world.  Most people live in a heterosexual network where heterosexual friends get introduced to other heterosexual friends, heterosexual relatives and heterosexual colleagues.  When something bad happens, people swap news, close ranks, offer help, support, advice, condolences - heterosexuals get the lot.  My family threw me to the wolves.  I was on my own. 

In 1960s Detroit we were the despised minority in hiding.  We were known as fags, queers or degenerates.  The race issue simply complicated an already difficult situation.  Had the parking people been all white, I was still isolated from relatives and others who, in their view, knew there was something seriously wrong with me.  Not a word was ever spoken, but the tension and shame was always hanging in the air.  There’s an expression, the elephant in the roomI was that invisible elephant, an embarrassment never to be acknowledged.  The love that dare not speak its name was another reference to homosexuality.  Humiliations were endured on a regular basis. 

At this time, 50 years on when a major film is being made in the US about the Detroit riots, I often think about Laurent the boy I loved and wonder if he’s still alive. 

Narvel Annable

 

Click on above to see Detroit Riot short trailer

 

 

The Guildhall Theatre, Derby, May 19th

 

Dan Webber, the Events Coordinator of Furthest From The Sea Music Comedy and Arts has selected author and campaigner Narvel Annable for inclusion with other writers as part of the ‘Looking Back, Looking Forward’ project.   

Narvel will read an edited extract from his autobiographic novel Scruffy Chicken entitled 'A Tale of Jasper, The Belper Crone' on Friday, 19th May at The Clubrooms at The Guildhall Theatre, Derby.  Doors open at 7pm, the show starts at 7.30.  ADMISSION FREE 

In this piece, edited from his popular YouTube video ‘Queens’, Narvel uses a total of six voices based on real people he knew.  

Jasper - the hideous old hunched back Belper Crone who spent his days giving pleasure to others in public lavatories. 

Mr Toad - the pushy pompous ugly lewd lecher, proud of his impressive manhood, always looking for his next conquest.   

Julian - the effeminate affected artificial ponce who is racked with religious guilt. 

Clarence Soames - the sneering sarcastic super snob of Nottingham. 

Dolly - a softly spoken, funny little fat ‘Queen of the Cottages’, renowned for his beautiful round vowels.    

Narvel - as he was, more a half century back.  The onetime scruffy chicken with his scruffy broad Derbyshire accent.   

Allan Morton will film and promote Narvel’s performance on one of his Allan Morton Presents YouTube videos.  

 

Hello Readers, 

RIPLEY LIBRARY has an LGBT exhibition similar to the one at Matlock Records Office which explores the history of sexuality and gender identity in Derbyshire.  Entry is free until the end of May. 

OTHER STORIES examines local trials and tribulations of LGBT people over the last two centuries.  It includes an important milestone in the battle for gay rights: 50 years since the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which only partially decriminalised homosexual acts between men over 21. 

Imaginative project leader Greg Pickup who has been awarded £86,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund has organized this display. 

Good friend Allan Morton visited the library and, as you see on the photographs, was pleased find two of my novels in the display.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRIBUTE TO TOAD 

Hello Readers,

If Paul Sharpley had been alive to celebrate his recent birthday on April 29th - he would be 87 years old.

Who is Paul Sharpley?  You know him better as the notorious Mr Toad, the star of SCRUFFY CHICKEN.  For the three years of writing that book, in declining health, Paul continued to insist he would never survive to collect his complimentary copy.  Accordingly, in the summer of 2005, I sent him the following fractious letter, consistent with the ongoing fretful narrative of our stormy relationship. 

Dear Paul,

As you are determined to die before my autobiographical novel is published, I send you the following extract in which I express my affection for you.  Yes - AFFECTION! in spite of the bumpy ride along the rough road of our 41 years of fractious friendship. 

Paul died on January 1st 2006.  This was the day upon which SCRUFFY CHICKEN, the novel he never read, was published. 

 

 

 

 

 

EXTRACT FROM SCRUFFY CHICKEN 

In the next few weeks Simeon Hogg found Mr Toad to be, quintessentially, the very essence of old-fashioned Englishness in its purest form.  Toad was as salty and as vulgar as a seaside postcard. The best times in Simeon's life would not be sitting in the S & C Coffee Bar in Uptown Detroit in the company of intolerant chickens.  No.  The best times would be spent with his dear old friend Mr Toad, being tossed and blown about on the North Sea on board the Bridlington Belle.   

Toad was quaint.  Toad was funny.  Toad was a bundle of fun.  Toad was a barrel of laughs.  He represented an amusing character in caricature - perhaps one of the last of the type.  He did not know it at the time, but for Simeon Hogg, these precious hilarious moments were the beginning of a lifelong friendship, nay, a love affair; a love affair which would last for the whole of the remaining 20th century and into part of the 21st century. 

End of extract. 

As a Facebook tribute to Paul Sharpley 1930 - 2006, I’ve asked Allan Morton to append his excellent imaginative photographs of Bridlington and Flamborough, as seen above, taken during a recent holiday. 

Paul had known and loved Bridlington since childhood.  In 1965 we ran along the stone pier to where the Bridlington Belle was about to depart on one of its regular coastal tours around the chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head.  Like two eager boys we pushed and shoved our way to the front for the best view, standing on the tip of the bow.  A man with an accordion appeared on the deck and played popular pre-war seaside songs.  A few fat, common women - raucous ladies with fat sunburned legs - performed a jolly knees-up, encouraged by squeals of merriment accompanied by screaming seagulls swooping from a blinding blue sky. 

On the voyage, I fell into a happy reverie leaning over the prow, watching it crash, splash and cut through the sparkling blue of the cold North Sea.  At my side stood Paul, silent, also enjoying a rare moment of pure happiness with his new friend who actually liked him, genuinely liked him for what he was - warts and all. 

 

 

FORTY YEARS ON

 

Hello Readers,

Diverse organisations and gay support groups have asked me to give readings from my novels or speak to audiences on the subject of homophobia.  Relating to LGBT issues, over the years, I’ve received requests to be interviewed in newspapers, on the radio with occasional appearances on television.  

The latest TV event was an invitation by Channel 4 to be part of a documentary, Secrets of the Sauna, billed as an examination of gay relationships.  This film, aired last year, was produced and directed by Michael Ogden who recently sent me the following email -

 

Dear Narvel,

 I really hope you and Terry are well.  I'm getting in touch because an old friend of mine is performing in a new Alan Bennett play in London.  He's looking to talk to a gay former teacher.

 It's just for research for his role. Would you mind if I put him in touch? 

 He's a very lovely guy.

 Mike Ogden

 

On 18 Mar 2017, I responded - 

Hello Mike, 

Delighted to hear from you.  By all means, put your friend in touch with me.  I’d like to help.

Hope all is well with you and your good work.  I’m still often recognised and asked about Secrets of the Sauna.

 

Mike wrote to Danny Lee Wynter -  

Please e-meet Narvel.  Narvel and his husband Terry were wonderfully kind to me when I was making a documentary about saunas.  Narvel was equally as kind - if not more so - to write to me many years before when I made a documentary about coming out! 

All the very best, I hope it's an interesting experience for you both,

Michael Ogden

 

Danny wrote - 

Hello Narvel,  

Thank you so much for agreeing to correspond with me. That's very generous of you! 

So, I should fill you in first on why I would like to probe your experience of being a teacher in a public / grammar or all boys’ school during the late sixties. 

I'm currently rehearsing Alan Bennett's first play FORTY YEARS ON for the Festival Theatre in Chichester.  The play is set in a public school in the South Downs in 1968, the same year it was written.  I am playing Tempest, a Junior House Master.  

We are exploring the fact he is gay, 34 years old, incredibly bright, though perhaps deeply cynical with high aspirations and allusions of grandeur.  

Once the play is over I’m not sure I can envisage him sticking around long within the education system.  By the 70's he would have perhaps left the profession altogether and pegged it to London to work in publishing. 

Best wishes, 

Danny Lee Wynter

Founder of The Act For Change Project  

www.act-for-change.com

 

Represented by United Agents

unitedagents.co.uk/danny-lee-wynter

 

I responded to Danny by presenting his questions in italics - 

Good morning, Danny 

What was your relationship like with the parents and governors of the school? 

No contact at all with governors.  Due to my strictness in the classroom, some parents were supportive and some much less so.  Never any references to sexuality, but mothers of a few daughters were quite hostile to my enforced seating plans designed to split up disruptive friendship groups.   

How did you view the Headmasters teaching values, what was your relationship with him like?  

Mr X was a homophobe, but he liked my traditional approach to teaching.  He probably took the view that a man well past 30 should be married - and was suspicious.  Relations were polite but formal. 

When I was a history master at the Valley Comprehensive School in Worksop, north Nottinghamshire, I taught as I was taught in the 1950s.  I was too strict, too formal, too unwilling to modernise and reluctant to embrace progressive trends in state education which arrived in the 1980s.  This ‘Mr Chips’ mindset was a cloak to conceal the continuing anxiety of leading a double life.  Inside, I was a frightened homosexual trying to look like a confident heterosexual on the outside.  It had to look like a teacher easily fitting in with pupils and staff. 

For about 16 years, for the most part, Mr Annable succeeded in dodging disapproval and maintained a mask of po-faced respectability hiding inside a small bungalow in the ultra conservative colliery village of Clowne in north-east Derbyshire.  Like most isolated, closeted gay men, I spoke little of myself and was constantly on guard.  It became a way of life. 

From time to time there were alarming incidents at school.  Our staffroom, predominately macho male, was a hotbed of football fanaticism, strong language and laddish crude humour.

One afternoon, a colleague lazily leaned back in his seat and insouciantly yawned out –

          ‘Nothing much to do.  I suppose we could go out and beat up a queer.’ 

Probably disappointed at a lack of response, he repeated the bait several times over the following weeks.  Others took notice.  One of them gave advice - 

          ‘You know, Narvel, you really should make more effort to socialise.  Try to fit in.  Come to the pub with us after school once in a while.’  He lowered his voice in earnest.  ‘Get yourself a girlfriend: talk about her.  Better still, get yourself married.  If the boss [headmaster] thought you were queer, he’d have you out of here so fast your feet wouldn’t touch the ground!’ 

The final two years saw gay hate terminating a teaching career.  Although my private life continued to remain very private, some pupils began to speculate on Mr Annable’s sexuality.  They turned him into an object of fun inflicting humiliating hurtful episodes.  I might have survived a few, but there were too many.  A steady torturous drip destroyed my credibility and confidence.  At the edge of a breakdown, a shell of my former self, there came a point when my position was untenable.  I was unable to discharge professional duties.  These appalling disrespectful attacks were never taken seriously by senior management.  One culprit was told –

‘That was a silly thing to say.’ 

On Thursday, April 6th 1995, a colleague commented on continuing melancholy, my appearance and exhaustion.  She earnestly advised ‘a few days off’.  I walked out of that classroom and never returned. 

Which other teachers did you find yourself drawn towards and why? 

Mrs X was a compassionate Head of Special Needs.  We got on very well and nearly 40 years on - we still exchange Christmas cards and letters.  A compassionate lady, I think she always knew.  Nothing was ever said at school but, after retirement, she has always cheered me on in campaigning. 

I observed most colleagues with mixed feelings.  It was easy to categorize the assorted types.  In the far corner of the main staff room, they were known as The Old Guard.  Like me, after 18 years, they had been there for as long as anybody could remember.  Most of them were from the Technical Department - politically reactionary, right wingers doing what they do best, grumbling and grouching about everything.   

Their arch enemies were in the opposite corner, the English Department, equally odious in a different way.  I called them the far left.  They were the progressives.  They tolerated noisy classrooms, kids chattering and wandering around - not much work done and reluctant to punish.  Sarcastic with an acid wit sums them up.      

English teachers didn’t stay long.  They moved on to better things.  Me?  Well, historians had their own smaller staffroom in the 6th Form Block.  They were a mixture of the two extremes.  I used to think I was a good teacher and was comfortable conversing with the old-fashioned tech types.  That said, they were hostile to queers - as, of course, were some progressives.   

I recall one of the traditionalists letting rip in a plaintive cry -

       ‘Of course, I’m a voice in the wilderness, but if you want my opinion, I wouldn’t touch that scumbag with a bargepole.  I wouldn’t stand for it.  The headmaster should ... ’ 

What role, if any, did religion play in the life of the school? 

Not a lot.  Mr X, in flowing gown, swept on to the stage every morning and conducted a formal Christian assembly with hymns and prayers.  I was on moderately good terms with the Head of Religious Instruction who, almost exclusively, taught Christianity.  He did not approve of my indifference to all religions.  I didn’t dare give him my true opinion about brainwashing, soul destroying Jehovah's Witnesses or the hated Leviticus.

And finally (for now, anyway!) which world events, if any, during the period of the nineteen sixties had a direct and visceral impact on your school experience?

As a student in the 1960s, no major event could influence my teaching because I was not a teacher until the 1970s; however, you might obtain some inspiration from this experience. 

A little boy had a strong impact on my life.  I’ll never forget it.  It was around February time, miserable cold wet dark days.  It would be early 1990s.  He was only two-years-old.  James Bulger was led away from a Liverpool shopping centre by two ten-year-olds.  We all saw it captured on grainy CCTV images.  It burned into the nation’s conscience.  It also seared into my conscience.  Somehow, I took it very personally.  This little toddler, so trusting, was holding on to the hand of one of the boys.  They walked him two and a half miles through busy streets, eventually to a quiet canal towpath.  They tortured him ...  

They tortured this poor helpless child.  They took pleasure in his anguish, his heartfelt tears and his pain.  We were given to understand that his hopeless cries for help egged them on.   This, the child who had trusted them, the child who had faith in these boys - before they murdered him.        

There was a moral decline during the few years before I ‘escaped’ from teaching in 1995.  In reality, I suffered a mental breakdown.  With Bulger, Britain’s self-doubt had taken on a horrible shape.  How can I put it?  A blighted economy, grim times - felt as if nobody was in charge.  Crime, poverty, boy races in cars terrorising law abiding people in their own streets - even in the pit village of Clowne where I lived.  I suffered a plague of screaming motorbikes.  Yobs removing baffles.  It was physically painful - like - anarchy rules.  Even the police seemed to give up! 

For several days, the sweet little face of James stared out at us from newspapers and TV stoking up public outrage.  The populous were inflamed.  Furious crowds screamed abuse and banged on the police van which brought the boys into court. 

I feel that a particular heinous killing says something about the moral state of the nation.  It must have been at about that time, I heard a new word, an ugly word - underclass.  Some MP put it quite well -

“This is a hammer blow against the sleeping conscience of the nation.  There is a growing sense of moral decline.” 

Chaos and a breakdown of discipline within the Valley Comprehensive School seemed to mirror the national chaos under the failing discipline of John Major.  I was failing as a teacher and a human being. 

Further emails were sent to Danny - 

This is an extract from Double Life in which I call myself Simeon Hogg - Sim-ME-on.  The following actually happened to me.  The boys, now men in their 40s, are real. 

In nearly two decades, only once did Simeon achieve a breakthrough and enjoy a friendly, meaningful relationship with a group of pupils.  They were a boisterous bunch of ruffians with an appalling reputation throughout the school.  Progressive staff referred to the Ronnie, Bobbie and Freddie mob as ‘challenging behaviour’.  Hard-nosed traditionalists abused them with loutish language and occasional violence to keep order and impose discipline.  Mr Hogg identified himself with this ‘old guard’ but never condoned corporal punishment. 

This gang of three, by popularity and sheer force of personality, imposed on the rest of the class an influence which could make life very difficult for a teacher who took his work seriously.  On one occasion, after an onerous hour, Mr Hogg dismissed the class but detained the terrible trio.  Unwisely perhaps, they were ordered to remain behind, explain their disruptive attitude and suffer a reprimand.  Simeon had little confidence in his strategy - but it was worth a try. 

Many years on, without success, he tried to recall and reconstruct this extraordinary conference of four and locate the exact point when everything changed between the teacher and his charges.  The sea change happened during a moment when a criticism of Ronnie was interrupted by an effective heartfelt defence from his number two – Bobbie.  In plain language normally considered disrespectful to a member of staff, despite limited articulation, Bobbie managed to paint a picture of his best friend who was experiencing all the stresses and chaotic adolescent miseries which could have been a 14-year-old Simeon. 

Effectively, the atmosphere of this detention, this coerced punishment suddenly transformed into a voluntary and valuable meeting between four equals.  It was a magical moment, a sudden switch from monochrome into glorious Technicolor where three boys wanted to stay and further explain their lives to an adult who was now more counsellor than schoolmaster. 

It was a dodgy situation for Mr Hogg!  He was hearing confidential information about his colleagues which was verging on ‘unprofessional conduct’.  He was hearing distressing details of their home life.  His sympathetic ear encouraged further trust to the point that his teacher status had morphed into the confidentiality of the confessional.  Now treated like a newly acquired friend, Simeon was begged to guard the secrets which had been entrusted to him for safe keeping. 

Were these revelations true?  Were these boys telling lies?  In the weeks which followed, cautiously and casually, Simeon cross-referenced the accounts with a few friendly colleagues and one trusted deputy head who had access to private files.  Although the boys hid behind a veneer of defiant swagger, their new confidant concluded that there was indeed a case to answer.  They were victims of an insensitive system all too willing to exploit youths from a deprived background and give three dogs a bad name.  Bobby said,

       ‘I can’t help the way I speak, sir.  It’s me voice, it irritates folk.  It’s not my fault, sir.  Honest.’ 

Simeon had always been annoyed by a certain element of insolence in the utterances delivered by Bobby.  There was a sardonic tone which, at a low level, challenged authority and continued to chafe.  Notwithstanding, he accepted that the pupil’s lilt of speech was natural, a part of Bobby’s personality.  It was not intentionally disrespectful. 

The new friendship was affirmed, enjoyed by all four but did not really solve any problems.  It reduced the stress of teaching in that particular class and, by osmosis, improved Mr Hogg’s standing in the whole that 4th Year. 

So now, somewhere into the start of a new academic year, Ronnie, Bobbie and Freddie will now be 5th years.  He had not seen them.  And that was a pity.  They were worth looking at, especially Freddie, the cute one.  Of the three, he was the least assertive, not to mention his perfect bottom well displayed in close fitting trousers. 

During this time, discipline and respect for masters in the school was rapidly deteriorating.  Corporal punishment was still available to the Head and his Deputies but, to the relief of Simeon, forbidden to other teachers.  A minority of macho ‘old guard’ staff regularly applied a violent fist to quickly correct any irritation such as casual insolence.  This type of transgression having reached the ears of senior management usually resulted in a gentle reprimand and advice along the lines of - ‘Don’t get me wrong, I know Bobbie and his scumbags can infuriate, but just go easy.  Stand back.  It’s not worth it.’ 

Detention after school was used with increasing frequency.  But it was a formal detention of one hour from 4 to 5pm.  To punish a pupil required the completion of a detailed Incident Report in triplicate to the Head of House who would send a letter to the parents.  Overwhelmed with work and stress, most staff already bogged down by red tape simply could not find the energy and time to cope with ever mounting bureaucracy.  Some hard cases (like Bobbie) would make sure the letter never reached his parents anyway; or he might simply refuse to attend the detention.  In the mid 1980s in Mrs Thatcher’s Britain, to Simeon and many of his beleaguered colleagues, it just felt like the world was falling apart.  

Some months after that extraordinary impromptu detention, which magically morphed into a constructive conference of equals, a history master was whispering with the terrible trio in the library.  Seated in front of written notes and open books, it was intended to look like a teacher helping his pupils.  Actually, it was Simeon enjoying a casual chat with Ronnie, Bobby and Freddie when the subject of school punishments came up.

       ‘Do you remember that time, big bust up, when I ordered you lot to stay behind in class?’ asked Simeon.

       ‘We’ll never forget it!’ responded chief spokesman Ronnie, slightly abashed.  The others displayed a degree of embarrassment and a short silence forced Freddie into respectful speech.

       ‘We’re sorry we upset you, sir.  Honest.’

       ‘Yeah,’ mumbled Bobby.

       ‘It’s just that ... well ... I wondered ... Well, you, all three of you, could have just refused to stay behind.  You’re known for refusing detention. Not to mention disrupting other detentions.  You could have simply walked out of the room.  Why didn’t you walk out?’ 

They looked at each other for a lead.

       ‘I expect ...’ started Ronnie. 

       ‘I think it’s because we liked you, sir,’ interrupted Bobby.

       ‘Liked me!  After I’d pitched into you all!’

       ‘Well we knew you’d got a temper ... I mean ...’ stumbled Freddie.

       ‘Tantrums don’t amount to good discipline or good teaching, lads.  I wish I was a good teacher.  Afraid I’m not.’

       ‘I’ll tell you what, sir,’ said Ronnie, ‘We were sorry to have upset you so much.  We felt bad about it.  That’s what it was.’ 

This thoughtful exchange with boys from a rough, chaotic, dysfunctional troubled background was very affecting to Simeon.  He thought on it deeply.  So - all along, could it have been that the trio unconsciously engineered this extraordinary reconciliation?  For this stern master, it was a sort of Damascene moment, one shining flash, the most significant instant in his whole teaching career.  The mask of Mr Chips had slipped and revealed a useless stressed-out Mr Hogg who had suddenly stepped back and was staggered by the futility of his position. 

End of extract.

 

Hello Danny, 

The following extract from Double Life may not be pertinent to your forthcoming role in the play, but I ask you to read the 850 words.  1975 saw me graduate from Eastern Michigan University with a Magna Cum Laude degree.  Several hundred students graduated with a new pioneering major in Black History.  To the dismay of my parents and family, I was one of a very small group of white faces with that major. 

Having been arrested for an act of ‘gross indecency’ in a public toilet some years before in the 1960s, I was barely on speaking terms with the family who had all but disowned me.      

 

Extract from Double Life

It was the same every day.  The six-foot-plus President of Manufacturers National Bank eased himself out of the driving seat set for a tall man, quickly replaced by a humble five-foot-nine messenger who would not dare to adjust the power seating position.  With difficulty, Simeon drove the stately beast.  It was dangerous.  He was deeply reclined with a restricted view together with inadequate control of a large vehicle.  In these precarious circumstances, the Lincoln slowly moved to the corner, right and right again and first left into a narrow street dwarfed by two skyscrapers.  A little way down on the right was the entrance to an expensive downtown multi-storey park used by executives.  A young black guy was waiting to take the car to its usual reserved location.

          ‘Mr de Hammarskjold would like his car washed,’ said the driver.                     ‘Yes,’ hissed the scowling youth somewhat aggressively. 

This ungracious response to a polite request irked Simeon.  The unwarranted attitude had been endured for several days when he finally decided to challenge the attendant.  His rudeness was no mystery.  An overnight sleep stealing low of unbearable humidity had not dipped under 70 degrees.  Worst was to follow!  Another miserable scorcher in the 90s was fast approaching this hazy polluted oven of concrete and cement.   

Even worst still, the atmosphere was thick with ethnic hatred.  These were the 1960s when Detroit was gripped by racial turmoil eventually leading to an explosion of burning riots which left city blocks gutted resembling a war zone.  Notwithstanding, the humble messenger attempted a remonstration with the African American along the lines of their shared lowly circumstances.

          ‘Look!’ he implored, ‘I’m no different to you!  I’m not pretending that I’m better than you.  We’re about the same age and are probably paid the same.  When I ask you to wash this car, I’m just following orders.  There is no need to be so nasty to me!’ 

The black boy seemed to be startled by this outburst when the drama was interrupted by an older black man.

          ‘Hey!  Hold on there!  What’s this all about?’ 

The man turned out to be the boy’s boss.  Simeon reiterated his main points and tried to explain that he was not prejudiced against the attendant.  In so doing, the two Americans were suddenly transfixed by an unfamiliar foreign accent known in England as broad Derbyshire.

          ‘Where on God’s earth is you from?’ asked the boss man. 

Simeon launched into another spiel describing a background and family of mine workers emerging from the bowels of the earth with faces encrusted with coal dust - so deeply ingrained - no amount of soap and scrubbing could ever remove the blackening which marked the lowly status of a common collier.  He added his belief that at £8 per week, existing in a primitive terrace cottage, there was precious little difference between a coal miner and a cotton picking slave.  For good measure, he threw in the fact that while Detroit Negroes drive around in huge beautiful automobiles, Simeon’s kin folk get around on pushbikes.

This tetchy polemic was cut short by the boss striding forward with an air of menace.  He was a big man, albeit with benign expression signalling good humour, indulging a child throwing a tantrum.

          ‘Well, Englishman, I guess that’s better out than in,’ he said, now in full smile.  The smile faded addressing his subordinate, ‘Laurent!  It’s your job to be nice to our customers.  We don’t sneer at them, we help them.  You can start by explaining the pre-sets.’                  

The boss was referring to the complication of power seat controls.  In past days he had noticed Simeon struggling to drive the Lincoln.  Sullenly, with a touch of shame, Laurent slipped into the passenger seat and asked his customer to get back into the car.  He was invited to push a button marked ‘medium’ which immediately raised and moved the driving seat forward to suit a man of average size.  

Both boys beamed at this sudden demonstration of electronic wizardry and made eye contact in that intimate space.  For two youths looking at each other, the moment lasted longer than it should have done.  Hostilities had magically evaporated and Simeon was now free to savour perfect proportions of quintessential African features.  He scanned tempting thick lips, a wide nose and big beautiful wondrous round eyes.  In return, the black boy was able to examine a Caucasian countenance so very enticingly close.

          ‘Yeah!  I guess we done some good here,’ came a commanding deep voice from big black boss’s face which had abruptly jutted into the car.  It shattered the tender moment of incipient mutual affection.  ‘You got time for a coffee?’  Simeon declined.  He had already exceeded the time quota for parking The President’s car.  ‘Lunch?’  Yes, he could return during his lunch hour.  He shook hands with the boss (firm grip) and then accepted Laurent’s gentler warm hand.  Further embarrassing seconds passed before, reluctantly, it was relinquished; another exciting moment of extended duration. 

For more information about Danny’s play FORTY YEARS ON - click on the links below. 

 

https://www.cft.org.uk/whats-on/event/forty-years-on#gallery

 

https://www.cft.org.uk/news/forty-years-on-rehearsal-gallery

 

https://www.cft.org.uk/whats-on/event/forty-years-on#gallery

 

 

 

 

Gay History Month 2017

 

Hello Readers, 

Dan Webber - actor, writer, producer, director and TV critic - is the Events Coordinator of a new series of spoken word presentations taking place throughout the year in venues across Derby. 

The launch will take place at 7pm on Friday, February 24th at Derby Museum.  Admission £2 at the door. 

I have been asked to address audiences by submitting several pieces of my work - the first of which will be heard during the launch.  I’m grateful to Dan for the opportunity to help commemorate 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in his Looking Back, Looking Forward presentations. 

For further information, please click here

 

Narvel.

 

MACHO MENTALITY

 

Hello Readers, 

The recent explosion of sexual allegations against football trainers take me back to grim days in the 1950s.  My father was ashamed and loathed the son who was not a ‘proper son’ because I hated the Beautiful Game and could not defend myself with bare knuckles in the playground.  Sound bites spat out in pit talk are forever seared into my psyche -

       ‘What sort ‘o lad ‘ave we got!  Aye [he] can’t kick a ball.’ 

The FA, a group of elderly white men with antiquated attitudes, has been blocking progress which could have protected youths from coaches who abuse their trust.  These outdated values came under the heading of CHARACTER BUILDING which was supposed to turn you into A MAN.  Dad threatened me with National Service which will ‘knock the softness out of you.’  I missed British conscription by months and narrowly escaped Vietnam admitting to being a ‘degenerate’ when located in Detroit in the 1960s.  Dad said -

       ‘Aye’s no good at oat.  Aye can’t knock back a pint and can’t fancy a lass.’ 

As we approach 2017, this macho mentality is still alive and well on football terraces.  Neil Bleasley, a gay football player and fan, has written Football’s Coming Out.  He often hears homophobic abuse.  Unlike racism which has been reduced, vile and disgusting sexual comments are rarely challenged.  The FA is guilty, taking the view that anti-gay remarks are just ‘banter.’ 

Neil’s book is realistic, but also optimistic in that slow progress is being made.  KICK OUT HOMOPHOBIA is a growing movement supported by some of the country’s biggest football clubs. 

Dad [1913-1972] would be surprised to see me reading a book about football. 

Narvel Annable.

 

 

 

 

‘Unsure what to choose for the BBC's #LovetoRead reading campaign?  Well there are plenty of Narvel Annable books to choose from here!’

Allan Morton - November 2016

 

 

 

Bonfire Night

 

 An extract from Sea Change

 

With mixed feelings, Old Simeon looked back on that somewhat sombre mood around a warming crackling bonfire on a cold Wednesday evening of November 5th 1958. 

In the previous days, strong men Oaf, Blubba, Sambo and Congo laboured long hours to build the biggest bonfire ever seen at Fairytale Castle to make Simeon’s last evening a special occasion.  He recalled the circle of faces glowing in orange and reds illuminated by flames leaping up licking the dark sky.  Completely free from light pollution, the night vault was normally as black as ink.  There were no fireworks, but all eyes followed a hypnotic ballet above the great blaze.

The wind whipped up swirls of burning, glowing debris twisting, bending and gracefully corkscrewing in a spectacular dance.  The crackling blaze of brilliant yellow flames was skilfully supported by a foundation of planks to increase ventilation.  Shadowy trees behind appeared to dance and distort by heat bending effects.  It was lovely and warm.  Boys approached as close as they could, but not too close to the raging inferno.  Alarming cracks and bangs and thuds consumed all under masses and masses of smoke.

Boys and servants knew their Simeon would be spirited away into that ebony night – necessarily under cover of darkness so he could never know where he had been.  Under a cloud of sadness, Edward asked them all to see it like an ancient ritual.  The offering was Simeon.  They must all accept the necessity of sacrifice for the greater good of the community.

As the fire died down to a low pile of glowing embers,  Simeon hugged and kissed them all – Charlie, Bongo, Sambo, Congo, Rabbit, Chunky, Tommy and Tod.  Mournfully they withdrew into Fairytale Castle leaving Simeon with Barry who handed him his precious Cresta Deluxe rucksack.  Edward passed Blubba a large suitcase containing Simeon’s extra clothes acquired during his extended holiday.  These were conveyed to the Morris Oxford where Oaf was already in the driving seat. 

The boys were allowed a few minutes of embrace.  Simeon closed his eyes in an effort to suppress a welling up of tears triggered by a paroxysm of despair and grief.  Salty liquid blurred and smeared the declining embers which would continue to glow throughout that black night.

 

Something About Us

 

 

 

 

Click on above

to watch the documentary.Something About Us featuring Narvel Annable 

I’ve been interviewed by Sheffield based E.D.E.N project film makers and appeared in Something About Us first shown at Worksop Savoy Cinema on February 3rd.  Together with several other gay people with a colourful and troubled past, I was privileged to have been asked to make this contribution to Gay History Month 2016. 

Something about Us was also be screened at the Nottingham Council House on February 23rd.  This is part of Nottinghamshire’s Rainbow Heritage annual Celebration and Awards Evening.

 The stars of this film were not only in front of the camera, they were also in the audience making it a splendid event, full of fun and jubilation.  I refer to the management and volunteers of Centre Place who have been supporting young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people since February 2010.  This is evidence of good organisation, dedication and hard work from an excellent team who provide activities and counselling for young people coming to terms with their sexuality.

 E.D.E.N stands for Equality and Diversity to Educate and Nurture.  That says it all.  This oral history documentary vividly portrayed the impressive educational achievements of working class young people who have created a valuable contribution to the gay cause.  We see boys and girls hailing from a colliery culture researching in libraries, interviewing professionals and clerics with critical intelligence and probing questions.  Amongst themselves, they discuss complex issues, all the time gathering confidence and becoming more articulate gaining experience.  I was impressed.

 Parts of the film were heartrending.  We heard from brave youngsters who had suffered appalling experiences.  We walked in their shoes, endured the harsh realities, the trials and tribulations of LGBT life and felt their pain.  We were reminded that human unhappiness has effects far beyond the individual.  It reaches out to touch the lives of us all.  We also learned that we can help by supporting WOW (Worksop Out on Wednesday) located at the Abbey Community Centre.  Having taught history at the Valley Comprehensive School [1978-1995] - I am well acquainted with prejudice against those who share same-sex attraction in Worksop and Bassetlaw.  WOW is a charity close to my heart.

 Centre Place is one of the most successful groups of its type.  These skilled specialists run an excellent service.  They rescue modern youngsters from the anxiety and shame inflicted by a cruel and ignorant heterosexual majority.  True, there has been progress.  However, even today many gay pupils get beaten up and are more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.

 I salute the gutsy girls and brave boys of WOW; they are the future.  We should follow their lead and pull together to combat homophobia.

 Narvel Annable

 

Hello Readers, 

I received a request for a Facebook posting of Sheet 140, October 2013.  See it by clicking  Here

The reader recalls an exuberant Derby Telegraph letter where I rejoiced to hear about two Derby County fans arrested, fined and banned from football for two years.  My reader was distressed to read an excoriating response from Colin Clark printed days later to which I did not respond.

Over the years I’ve received communications from people along the lines of - ‘Hit back!  Don’t let them get away with it’.

It is unlikely Mr Clark will ever see this belated retort; notwithstanding, here is a message for all unpleasant bigots.

Letter shows whinger Narvel in his true light.

Mr Clark:

 

I found your letter responding to - We’ve waited too long for this splendid justice - October 9th 2013 - deeply offensive, sarcastic and cruel.  I’ve always taken the view that rants from obnoxious homophobes like you say more about ill-informed medieval attitudes than they say about me.  Hence my lack of response until urged to reply by a faithful reader of my books.

Like millions of others, I did not ‘choose’ to be a homosexual.  It is not a ‘lifestyle choice’.  To keep asserting this falsehood demonstrates your profound ignorance.  Homosexuality is part of my DNA, hardwired into my psyche. 

Who would choose to be alienated from family and friends?  Who would choose to suffer childhood trauma and endure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

At the end of your letter, you ‘wondered if I ever had to undergo National Service? I’ve never been instructed to serve Queen and Country, but I had a close call with Uncle Sam.  

In January 1966, living in Detroit, I was horrified to receive conscription papers and a command to attend an army medical.  Why should I, an Englishman, chronically homesick for the green hills and dales of my native Derbyshire, risk life and limb for the Americans?  Why should I be transported to the other side of the globe to harm the Vietnamese people who had never harmed me?

The medical was a de-humanising routine in which groups of naked boys were barked at, ordered from station to station to be tested, touched, poked and prodded to assess their fitness to serve Uncle Sam.  

You said - ‘I bet Narvel kept himself under wraps during his army days.’

Wrong again.  Quite the contrary.  I filled in a form of many questions including one which asked - 'Do you have any homosexual tendencies?' 

At that time, the United States Army had decided that if anyone answered 'yes' to that question, it did not want that person, even if he had made an untrue statement.  The attitude was - 'If, to avoid military service, a man is prepared to make such a statement about himself, to falsely claim that he is a moral 'degenerate': we do not want that man.  He is unfit to serve his country.' 

I answered the question about my sexuality, honestly.  Accordingly, the initial classification was downgraded from A1 to 1Y.  I was overjoyed.

 

Narvel Annable

Stonewall

Click here to go to Sheet 150 which is a commendation from Stonewall.  Lana’s letter includes a reference to the Derbyshire LGBT + Orlando memorial event of June 21st when a man disclosed a staggering catalogue of cruelty.  He suffered emotional trauma since an occurrence during his schooldays.  He was seen kissing another boy.  This incident triggered months of appalling bullying extending beyond the school gates into his home with gay hating abuse and bricks through windows.  The family was forced to move to another town where they were unknown.  Now in his 40s, unable to work, deep trauma has adversely affected this victim’s mental and physical health - a life ruined by ignorance and bigotry.

Printed in the Derby Telegraph, Sept 9 2016  

 

Homophobic attacks hark back to the 1970s 

I’m often told to stop banging on about queers seen as mad, bad and sad!  They say that same sex relations are no longer a sin, or a crime or a sickness.  And yet, in one weekend, two gay revelations screamed from newspaper headlines taking us back to the early 1970s.   

Keith Vaz and Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain news items are similar.  They are rooted in institutionalised homophobia and share elements of entrapment. 

It appears that male escorts were paid thousands to uncover the apparent double life of Mr Vaz who might be gay or bisexual.  If so, trapped in a deeply conservative culture, gay hate certainly kept this longest serving Asian MP in the closet.  Mr Vaz is a respected popular politician with considerable abilities as demonstrated in his chairmanship of the Home Affairs Select Committee.  After a cruel sting, he remains the same man in possession of the same experience and is still valuable to his country.  Was it in the public interest to denounce Mr Vaz?  

Appointing the new Bishop of Grantham has been attacked by the conservative Anglican group Gafcon as ‘a major error and a serious cause for concern.’ As with Mr Vaz, a Sunday newspaper was about to ‘out’ Nicholas Chamberlain as a homosexual in a long term relationship.  It didn’t happen because, bravely, he went public strangling the damaging headlines at birth. 

Mr Vaz and the Bishop are dignified gentlemen in the best sense of that word.  They have the potential to be excellent role models for young people who share same-sex attraction.  They have done nothing illegal and are both successful professionals in a world where gay people are still seen by bible bigots as sinful, unnatural, immoral and inferior. 

Half a century back, Dr Martin Luther King urged attractive African American actress Nichell Nichols to keep her prestigious post as Senior Communications Officer Lt Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise in Star Trek.  In that high profile role, untold numbers of little black girls around the world, for the first time, saw a black woman in an exalted position instead of endlessly being portrayed as cleaners and maids. 

Although racism and homophobia are still endemic, black Americans have made progress, gay Asians can contemplate becoming openly gay Members of Parliament and gay children can aspire to the rank of an openly gay bishop. 

Narvel Annable    

 

Activist lifts lid on the Secrets of the Sauna

 

http://www.belpernews.co.uk/news/local/belper-gay-rights-activist-lifts-the-lid-on-the-secrets-of-the-sauna-1-7786781

 

Reporter Dan Hayes interviewed Narvel Annable in his home and garden resulting in a full page feature with two photographs printed on page 2 of the Belper News on March 9th. 

I’d like to thank Dan for his splendid efforts re the Belper News interview featuring Secrets of the Sauna.  He was friendly and keenly interested in all aspects of my life.  It was a lovely day in full sun.  Still a little under the weather recovering from a heavy cold, our conversation was quite a tonic and perked me up no end. 

Rachael the photographer spent the best part of an hour under brilliant sunshine taking pictures of me in the garden and also working on my computer. 

On page 2, nearly a full page, their work, sensitive and positive, was terrific.  They did a great job promoting my books and writing.  I’m so grateful.  The photographs are excellent.

Narvel

 

Breakdown 2014

 

The following is an edited biography.  It was formed from collaboration between a counsellor and myself during a series of interviews which concluded in January 2016.

 

Hello Readers, 

Since the beginning of therapy in February 2015, the following has become a commentary on the helpful conversations between me and my counsellor.  

The breakdown of October 2014 was in some ways a repeat of the collapse of confidence suffered in 1995 when I ‘escaped’ from teaching.  On that occasion, I was offered and accepted a course of counselling sessions.  It was OK, but the solution was plain and simple - early retirement restored me to full health in one year.  The rest you know.  A penchant for writing and public speaking led to campaigning supported by several openly gay autobiographic novels.  It’s been a reasonably successful and productive two decades, however, it all seemed to unravel with the publication of Sea Change in 2014. 

Lost Lad, Scruffy Chicken and Secret Summer closely followed the joys and sorrows of a life marred by homophobic ignorance.  Such episodes included the exploration of many dark and dangerous recesses in my memory - but I coped and emerged unscathed.  Sea Change was different. 

At Mundy Street Boys School in Heanor, a sadistic schoolmaster choreographed classroom situations in which I suffered excruciating humiliations.  They wreaked emotional damage which will follow me to the grave.  To this day, I endure vivid flashbacks, intrusive thoughts causing distress which still disturbs my sleep.  If not branded into my flesh with a hot iron, the traumas inflicted by that ruthless Church of England regime are burnt into my psyche.  Cruelty has a cost.  I am now paying the bill for picking at a hard scab which, until 2014, had afforded protection against the horrors of late 1957.  Recent counselling sessions have confirmed my belief that, for safety, we repress agonising memories of childhood torture. 

That said, I’m glad I wrote this harrowing account to put on public record what can happen to an abused boy who is seen as - different. So what happened to me in October 2014?  Was it a mental breakdown?  What exactly is a mental breakdown once referred to as a nervous breakdown?  Some have said I should see it as a break-through! 

To answer, we need go back to August 2014 when I was invited by Channel 4 to be part of a documentary, Secrets of the Sauna, billed as an examination of gay relationships.  As of January 2016, this Firecracker Film directed by Michael Ogden, has already aired in Australia, New Zealand and Denmark.  I’m given to understand that it will be televised in the USA, Canada and other countries, but has yet to be seen in the UK.   

In this film, Michael’s work explores erotic anonymity and orgiastic realities, common to many who share same sex attraction.  Despite advice from friends to avoid this TV initiative, I took the view that it could be a vehicle to extend my campaigning to a wider audience.  Assured the programme would depend upon conversations, never descending to the explicit with graphic images; Terry and I were followed around by a camera crew for the five months up to Christmas 2014. 

The first hint of a problem came during a session when Michael made a diplomatic and revealing comment.

          ‘How can I put this, Narvel?  You see ... this is supposed to be fun!’   

He had detected a haze of depression which, at that moment, was adversely affecting the quality of his work.  Michael, with a track record of acclaimed films, is a specialist in documentaries.  I felt dreadful!  Here was my big chance to tell the nation about the reality of homosexual lives by asserting the positive aspects of gay saunas.  Effectively, alas, I was falling down on the job. 

As I gather from friends and associates, DVDs of Secrets of the Sauna are now circulating around the gay community.  Terry and I have seen it several times.  He never wants to see it again.  I’m more philosophical.  I went into this project with my eyes wide open and can’t complain about a result which, to say the least, is disappointing in parts where it gives viewers a bad impression of gay bathers.  On balance my friends are more positive about the effect it will have on my reputation.  I remind them -

          ‘You realise this will ruin me for presenting Housewife’s Choice!’ 

Back in October 2014, a number of unwelcome facts came into sharp focus.  I stopped writing to the press about gay issues.  I stopped writing - full stop.  Double Life, my current book, was on hold.  It was like ... I couldn’t write.  Numerous personal correspondences ceased.  Letters remained unanswered.  I became reclusive, unwilling even to socialise with gay friends.  In general, I had lost my way - figuratively and literally.  Car trips negotiating busy city areas became too much of a challenge. 

Suddenly, after 20 years of being busy, there was time on my hands.  The void was filled with lots of long walks through relaxing woodland.  It afforded some comfort.  If mental health had become an issue, at all costs, physical health must be maintained. 

Counselling was helpful but I resisted any suggestion of antidepressants.  A lifelong aversion to recreational drug use, alcohol and tobacco increased my determination to emerge from this dark period via a healthy active lifestyle coupled with a wholesome diet.  After seven one-to-one sessions, a group course focusing on cognitive behavioural therapy was recommended.  Initially I was unenthusiastic on the grounds of not being in the same league as potential self harmers or people who might be prone to suicide.  Eventually I was persuaded of the advantages offered by a group dynamic situation which would teach useful relaxation techniques.  It was put thus -

          ‘Group members might be interested to hear from an author of eight books who suffered a breakdown in the midst of a Channel 4 documentary about gay relationships.’ 

The therapist suggested further counselling on completion of the group course.  In November 2015, a new counsellor, Ian, interviewed me for an assessment.  He proposed a fresh approach focusing on the harrowing activity I experienced at age 12.  After several sessions, he ‘diagnosed’ PTSD - post-traumatic stress disorder equating me with emotionally damaged soldiers who have endured excruciating experiences in the field of battle.  I was surprised.  Ian clarified.

          ‘You shouldn’t be.  On a daily basis, in late 1957, you described physical attacks such as a blow to the abdomen (winding) rendering you temporally unable to breathe.  You spoke of a sharp kick in the leg (dead legging) cutting you to the ground and ear screaming resulting in a life-long loss of hearing.  All this in front of an audience, a mob of jeering bullies whipped up by a teacher who was supposed to protect you.  You are a victim of torture, as terrible for a 12-year-old, as for a grown man in uniform.  The agonising memories, vivid flashbacks and intrusive thoughts causing rage - are symptoms of PTSD.’ 

I feared Ian would attribute my current malaise to the sexual activity with the man I call Granddad.  Although he (like me) cannot condone adults having sex with children, he is prepared to acknowledge the help and comfort I received from the old coalminer who lived near Mundy Street Boys School.  As a result, this counsellor is in broad agreement with my own assessment as outlined in the introduction to Sea Change

Ian quoted Carl Rogers, page 11, from his book On Becoming a Person.

          ‘It is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial.’ 

So, here we are where we started!  The problems are clearly stated.  Perhaps we have discovered the root of those problems.  Will ongoing conversations, in the following weeks, with this professional therapist extinguish the fires currently marring my life?  Time will tell.  

It occurred to me that the 1957 trauma was an all male ordeal.  If so, how do we explain my life-long tendency to misogyny, in that an acidic female comment can inflict a sting more excruciating and longer lasting than her male counterpart?  Once again, Ian referred to painful motherly incidents seared into her son’s memory banks.   

Occasionally he was prevented from using the school lavatory and arrived home with soiled underpants.  Unsympathetic, she couldn’t cope.  In sad resignation shaking her head –

          ‘You make work for me.’ 

In 1945, Connie Annable at age 34 bore a son.  She already had two daughters aged 9 and 13.  Narvel, the ‘gypsies warning’ was the subject of a frequently recycled family tale involving this pedlar with her unwelcome and inconvenient prediction.  A baby was the last thing Connie wanted.  At that time Mum and Dad were busily involved in a partnership with Philip Daniels an emergent successful retailer taking full advantage of the economic climate at the end of the Second World War.  Cash was plentiful but ladies outerwear, coats gowns and costumes, were not.  Connie, a born saleslady gifted with a vibrant controlling personality was a valuable asset to her new friend Phil.  Annable family mythology spoke of a golden period in which cascades of cash crashed onto a working class couple who had only ever known a meagre hand-to-mouth existence, the usual lot of coalmining stock.

          ‘They spent it as fast as it came in from those crafty Jew boys.  Connie took over £100 a week selling Phil’s stuff on Ilkeston Market,’ commented one of my several cousins who lived in our pit village of Stanley Common. 

The most visible monument to this sudden wealth was a brand new detached house, costing just a few hundred 1939 pounds, proudly towering over the many terraced rows of humble colliery cottages.  Researching this family narrative in 1997 for my first book Miss Calder’s Children, put me in mind of Viv Nicholson, the 1961 Yorkshire housewife who won the equivalent of three million 2016 pounds on the football pools.  Viv and Connie shared a rags-to-riches-to-rags again story.  In 1958, Connie and Sam Annable were back in one of those dowdy terraced cottages - two up / two down - she was still a saleslady in a Derby shop and Sam was happily doing what he did before the war, driving a bus. 

For simplification, here is a timeline - 

1939 - Cynthill, composited from my sisters Cynthia and Hilary, according to the latter, was built costing £500 plus £50 for the land at the pit village of Stanley Common.

1945 - I was born in the front bedroom of Cynthill on July12th.

1948 - Cynthill was suddenly sold.  We all descend to inferior accommodation behind a shop in Belper.

1954 - I gather that the Belper business failed.  Mum, Dad and Narvel downgrade further to live in a small second floor flat over a tiny shop (Annabelle) in the primitive colliery town of Heanor where, under gaslight, I suffered four years at Mundy Street Boys School.

1956 - We move around the corner to inhabit a larger first floor flat in Red Lion Square.

1958 - Annabelle fails.  We return to a pit cottage in Stanley Common. 

Back in 1948, for some reason the grand house was sold and the family moved to less impressive premises above 28 & 30 New Road in Belper - two shops under the name of C & S Outerwear.  C & S stood for Connie and Sam.  The business card included ‘PROP. S ANNABLE’ but another card and letter headings - DANCO - suggested a different owner and a business link between my mother and Philip Daniels.  Some forthcoming relatives and family friends have advanced controversial theories contrary to the official family line which I have always been given to understand.  Put simply, it is their belief that Philip was the real owner of the new house and probably the owner of the Belper property.    

Late 1954 saw yet another abrupt change and downgrade of circumstances owing to, rumoured at the time, bankruptcy.  C & S Outerwear was sold and the family moved to a somewhat dingy flat above a small shop on the main street of Heanor, a grimy colliery town with a rough reputation. 

I assumed we owned the small shop called Annabelle selling hats, handbags and fancy jewellery.  This shop was dwarfed by an adjacent store, three times the size.  Huge letters proclaimed that DANIELS was now open for ladies outerwear.  Over the next three years, Mum and Dad saw a lot of Phil and Edie Daniels due to a close friendship and the sheer proximity to their business next door.  At that time, Phil together with his palatial home in Edwalton, had additional shops in Nottingham, Derby, Long Eaton, Ripley and Ilkeston.  He was a rich and successful businessman. 

To sum up - I’ve reached the conclusion that, before the war, Phil met Connie, was charmed by her sales personality and saw an opportunity to invest in several tax efficient initiatives.  He flattered her, boosted her ego by building an eye-catching house cheaply in a local coal mining village.  The family was installed.  It said to the pit populace of Stanley Common - here is the imposing residence of Sam and Connie Annable - their impressive reward for sudden success, that of selling ladies clothes on Ilkeston Market Place.  Phil anticipated and took advantage of the dramatic inflation which engulfed post-war Britain.  By 1948 he probably quadrupled his money when he sold the house. 

From 1939 to 1958, Connie and Sam were Phil’s employees most likely paid on a basis of commission from the fruits of their labours.  Connie sold clothes and Sam drove (as I recall) a pre-war yellow Bedford van proudly bearing the legend ‘C & S Outerwear’.  His responsibility was to transport stock from wholesale to retail outlets. 

Like his son, Sam had a powerful sexual appetite.  He indulged in several mistresses.  Years later in Detroit mother spat out the following -

          ‘Your Dad ruined the business!’

          ‘How?’

          ‘He squandered all the money on his fancy women.’ 

This corresponded with one distressing scene played out in 1957 when an enraged tearful Connie harangued Sam about his treachery.  I have never seen her so upset.  Although he hardly ever spoke to me, for balance, it should be pointed out that my father never spoke ill of mother.  Even so, she never forgave him for infidelity with these various (as I recall) unpleasant fishwives who behaved to me with total indifference - sometimes worse than indifference.  They are now certainly all dead; to name any would be inappropriate. 

One clear memory - it was in a seafront boarding house in Blackpool.  I was about five-years-old.  Both parents absent - but two women had put me to bed.  It was a chore.  One of them scowled back at me, approached the bed and suddenly whipped back the bedclothes revealing what many little boys do in bed.  I was playing with myself.

          ‘There you are!  Just look at that!  What did I tell you?  Dirty little bugger!’ 

An excruciating damaging cruelty, it was one of several I came to associate with rough common females who, for some reason, hated me.  It was certainly an act of spite inflicted by one of the fancy women.  

Connie was guilty of similar humiliations degrading her son.  I’ll give just one mortifying example which left an ugly scar on my psyche.  It happened during the worst period of my life, December 1957 when I was 12.  On a daily basis, the sadistic Mundy Street master entertained himself by engineering lynch mob style attacks which brought despair and thoughts of suicide.  This perfect storm of a disastrous situation could only exist with the connivance of my indifferent father and hostile mother.  They were ashamed and loathed the son who was not a proper son who could not defend himself with bare knuckles in the playground and hated football.  The following sound bites spat out in pit talk were typical.

          ‘What sort ‘o lad ‘ave we got!  Aye [he] couldna kick a ball.’   

My Dad could hardly bring himself to speak my name.  If it was necessary to reference the despised miserable child, he would, with clear irritation nod towards me and say ‘im’. 

It would have been a Saturday or Sunday morning.  I’d just got out of bed, not yet dressed, but for a vest which barely covered genitalia - no underpants.  Few Heanor boys wore underpants.  Hearing the kettle whistle, I descended to the kitchen where mother mashes [brews] the morning tea in a large brown pot.  As usual, she received me in aloof silence as would have been common in most colliery class homes.  I poured tea into a mug, adding milk from the milk bottle and settled to a pleasant stupor sipping the hot liquid in a few moments of tranquillity in the relative safety of our first floor flat. 

Suddenly there were sounds of giggly girls bursting into the property.  Relatives never knocked; they simply entered as I dived under the table for cover in an attempt to maintain some semblance of dignity.  Undercover of tablecloth, the deception was a success as long as the boy remained perfectly quiet.  He had escaped.  He waited for mother to invite her guests into the front living room giving him a chance to make a bolt for the safety of his bedroom.  Knowing the sensitivity of an adolescent, most mums (even the ones who disliked their offspring) would have spared him the agony of humiliation.  Instead, Connie Annable decided to inflict maximum suffering on a helpless victim.  She said -

          ‘Look under the table’.   

My mind goes forward to an ugly incident in the early 1990s.  One of my colleagues was given tragic news, the sudden death of her mother.  She collapsed into a flood of tears, was inconsolable and had to leave her teaching duties immediately.  She was helped out of the staffroom and taken home.  All other teachers were distressed, rushed over to be supportive, kind and sympathetic.  As a witness to this event, I was also distressed – but not in the same way.  I was distressed at my own extraordinary response to this upsetting scene.  I did not feel sorry for the poor woman; on the contrary, I resented her!  Why?  Because I knew that I was ‘damaged goods’.  Notwithstanding, I was no psychoanalyst, unable to probe the Freudian darkness, to examine the monsters that lurked inside my own id.  Was this hostile reflex connected with a comparison?  Let us assume that I received similar bad news – my long standing partner has died.  Dare I weep?  Dare I show pain, as she did and risk admitting to a ‘degenerate’ relationship, an unnatural closeness? 

Back in Granddad’s carnal kitchen, my parents received support from an unexpected source.  After threatening to kill myself, the old paedophile made a case for me remaining alive and running the daily gauntlet of Mundy Street Boys School. 

He made a contrast between me and my classmate Chunky who was a frequent visitor to the erotic harem.  I was adequately clothed, reasonably well shod and well fed in a house which was kept clean and warm.  Granddad acknowledged that I was despised by disappointed parents, at the same time, was also cared for by these people who took their duties seriously. 

When it came to motherhood, I’ve always acknowledged that my mother was on ‘automatic pilot’.  In this sense, she was generous.  The subject of my homosexuality was never openly declared, in consequence there was never a confrontation in which I might be ordered to ‘pack your bags and get out!’  I have known several gay sons who were summarily ejected from their home.  Put to the test, I do not believe Connie Annable would have ever kicked me out. 

Other Mundy Street boys in 1957 were in a much worse situation than my own.  Chunky and his ‘mam’ were often beaten by his dad.  He was ill-shod, ill-clad, ill-nourished and occasionally starved which explained his frequent appearance at Granddad’s fish and chip suppers.  I witnessed several ravenous attacks on food placed before this impoverished child.  I was moved to pity for this classmate, a rat-like scruff who had never done me any harm.  We were both groomed in erotic arts and were united by the expediency of buying protection with sexual favours.  He was a misshapen ragamuffin of defective bone growth dashing around the playground.  Unlike myself, Chunky’s twisted appearance was a shield to cruel treatment.  It was bad form to target a cripple, but Narvel was seen as fair game.  I was whole but ‘different’ and that difference inspired in the mob a frisson of sadistic pleasure.  That merciless element was all the more ferocious when fired up by an evil schoolmaster. 

Back to 1948 - Sam, Connie, Cynthia, Hilary and Narvel left the big house and moved to Belper where they lived under, behind and above the two shops on New Road.  Did Phil buy the property or rent it? 

The point of this history is to focus on a list of carers who looked after the inconvenient son who disrupted the family business in 1945.  My earliest memory must have been set in Cynthill.  Baby Narvel lying helpless on his back was comforted by tall slender trees swaying outside a window.  Years later, I recall the side and long driveway of this beautiful home being enhanced by Lombardy Poplars.  As a toddler, I have no further memory of the big house.  All early Stanley Common memories were of Aunty Olive and her sister Aunty Brenda because, for the most part, I lived with them.  In Belper, 1948 to 1954, alternate weekends were shared by these Stanley Common sisters and my mother’s sister Aunty Ida who lived in Belper.  I was dearly loved by Aunty Ida and her husband Uncle George, but a woman called Marjorie Harrison living next door but one to C & S Outerwear came as near to a true mother as was possible to achieve.  Shunned by parents and sisters, Marjorie talked to me, listened to me, played with me, and invested time with me even to the extent of taking me on holiday.  She cared for me with affection and compassion.     I had expensive toys.  There were two pedal cars occasionally used, but they could not compete with cardboard boxes which cost nothing at all.  Marjory and her mother Mrs Kirkland spent hours enthralling me with painted cartons which became a miniature village of homes for porcelain penguins, all with individual names.  These articulate and imaginative kind neighbours gave me the most precious gift any lonely child can receive, they gave me time.  They chatted, and I had their full attention.  That house was full of love. 

When Marjorie was not available, a Belper teenager called Sandra was (I suspect) paid to take me on long walks, eating up several hours, along the environs and woodlands of Belper.  From her attitude, I deduced she found her duties something of a chore. 

My Heanor carer was Mrs Booth, affectionately known as ‘Mrs’, who lived in the flat below.  Her extended family of several sisters also helped out. 

Therefore, these kind women would seem to contradict the theory of misogyny.  Ian pointed out that damaging trauma originated from females in or close to the family core - principally my mother and sisters.  He dug out several excruciating incidents as outlined above. 

We move on.  Re-established in our colliery village of Stanley Common, 1959 saw me a frustrated, deeply repressed 14-year-old scruffy chicken.  We had a shy and gentle postmaster called Jack Carrier.  One day he was there - the next day he was gone!

‘What’s happened to him?’  I asked mother.

          ‘That one!  Huh!  Good riddance,’ she snapped.  ‘E were one of them funny sorts.  No good to any woman,’ she growled.

          ‘Well, ‘e were allus [always] nicely spoken and polite ta me,’ sniffed Aunty Brenda, taking another swig of tea. 

The effect on me?  Well, it was the same as the effect on hundreds of thousands like me.  I hid inside of myself.  I became withdrawn and tried to pretend to desire girls.  I drifted into a secret world of fear and insecurity. 

Clearly Jack had been discovered in some way, denounced and driven out of Stanley Common by ignorant homophobic outrage.  In those dark days of rabid gay hate, it was considered quite natural for a heterosexual to ‘chat up’ a woman.  However, if a homosexual engaged another man in conversation, that was seen as ‘soliciting for an immoral purpose’.  Many victims were entrapped by the CID in plainclothes and humiliated in the local press.  Did this happen to Jack? 

The Carriers had been postmasters in Stanley Common since 1924 and John H Carrier was born in 1920.  He could still be alive!  I’ve asked relatives, only to be met with a wall of silence.  Somebody in Stanley Common must know what happened to the inoffensive, mild mannered Jack Carrier who suddenly disappeared 57 years ago. 

Having descended from riches to rags and now back in their terraced rented pit cottage, Connie and Sam decided to emigrate to Detroit and be near their daughter Hilary who had been in the USA since January 1954.  I was sent ahead in November 1963 and docked the day before President Kennedy’s assassination.  It was some months before my parents arrived in 1964 to find relations between their son and daughter completely broken down as graphically revealed in Scruffy Chicken.  Hilary hated me from birth so lifelong estrangement should be no surprise to anybody.  I’m inclined to accept she is no homophobe, but homosexuality was a useful stick to thrash my reputation.   

I was informed Cynthia died in 2002.  A fragile reconciliation took place during the last seven years of her life after she phoned me regarding the death of my mother in 1995.  My father died in 1972.  After American custom, he was on view in open coffin for a few days prior to the funeral.  I wandered over to look at him.  A stranger did the same and shook his head.  We made eye contact.

          ‘Sure makes you think, doesn’t it?’

          ‘Sure does,’ I replied.

          ‘Friend of the family?’

          ‘He’s my dad,’ I explained. 

At this the stranger seemed shocked trying to make sense of baffling information.  He opened his mouth to speak - thought better of it - and then immediately closed his mouth.  Cleary embarrassed, he tried to ease the tension.

          ‘Cynthia never told me she had a brother!’ 

Having been the ‘elephant in the room’ for so many years, it might be assumed that Narvel had a strategy for dealing with this type of mortification.  I had not.  You never get used to pain.  And, at 27, I was still young.  I was painfully self conscious, ill at ease, ashamed and humiliated.  I did what I’ve often done to preserve my dignity.  I walked away from an impossible situation. 

The above best explains why some comments can be deeply wounding.  Sixteen years ago an ignorant common woman read a sanitized account of my Mundy Street agonies.  In Sea Change she could read the un-expurgated version.  She criticised the newspaper article as being ‘mardy’ and self-pitying.  She said it came over as ‘poor Narvel’.  It felt like a kick in the teeth.  I politely disagreed, walked away and have barely spoken to her since.  More recently another woman told me to abandon my campaigning and hoped I would write a normal book - effectively a counsel of despair and deeply offensive.  I politely disagreed and walked away.  I’ll be interested to hear the counsel of Ian the counsellor.    

The death of father left me alone with mother in our suburban Detroit home.  It fell to an unmarried son to care for and administer the affairs of his newly widowed mother.  If I had not seen the significance of the relationship between my parents and Phil Daniels, further dramatic clues would now present themselves.  

It was a shock to discover that Connie Annable was unable to write a cheque.  She had never written a cheque!  On the other hand, she could still sell and was a saleslady at Winkelman’s, a Detroit chain of fashion stores for women.  As ever, Connie was always employed, loved to work and loved to spend.  She had a Winkelman’s credit card loaded to its maximum of $500 and costing monthly interest at a horrendously high rate.  I did the sensible thing - I paid it off.  Mother was a shopaholic constantly buying things she didn’t need.  She had always denounced dad as stingy - ‘He’d skin a flea for its fur!’  During his lifetime, I had as little respect for Sam as he had for the son he despised, but in death ... well, I was beginning to appreciate his problem with mother.  One month later, the credit card was again over $500.  I paid it one more time and thereafter ignored it as the only way to stop Connie spending. 

Sometime in this period, I was arrested on a charge of gross indecency in a public toilet.  Within the Detroit gay community, the 14th Floor of Hudson’s Department Store was a well known meeting place.  Occasionally handsome young officers in plain clothes were dispatched to the men’s rest rooms to tempt ‘degenerates’ into committing an ‘immoral’ act.  Alas, on this particular ill fated afternoon, I yielded to the promise of instant ecstasy.  Very foolish because I’d heard of this type of entrapment.  Agents provocateurs, were undercover agents of the Detroit Police.  They could safely get good results from wholesale easy ensnarement of homosexuals with a gentle disposition.  This is the City of Detroit - the same high-crime-rate Motor City famously averaging ‘three murders a day’ in the 1970s.  It held an appalling reputation for violence, gangsters, Mafia, muggings and general hooliganism.  It even had its own ‘Pink Mafia’ sub-group as I’d already discovered.   Read Secret Summer

Like so many before and after, in shock after disclosure of a police badge, mouth dry as dust; my world suddenly collapsed.  I came quietly.  They all did.  Before being escorted into a cell with hardened criminals, I was allowed one phone call.  Tragically, the only number available was the number of the last person I wanted to call.  Five hours later, Hilary and brother-in-law bailed me out with the standard $100.  I was released and escorted to the main desk in the foyer.  The relatives, utterly disgusted, had come - and gone. 

The prisoner stood alone before a towering Police Desk Sergeant.  Behind his elevated fortress, the officer’s head was ten feet above my head.  The former inmate was seen as half-living slime which had dared to creep out of the gutter.  That high countenance twisted into an expression of execration such that I flinched from the assault of its sheer malice.  Three words were uttered.  And those words were invested with all the bitterness and venom available to the man who spat them out –

          ‘Call your sister.’                                   

Reeling from the impact of such tongue lashing, frozen to the spot for several seconds, the detainee realised there would be no formal dismissal and, in fact, he was free to go. 

Homosexuality had always been a useful stick with which to strike me.  The next day I paid her the $100 and offered to be candid and admit the folly of my conduct at Hudson’s.  True to form she took full advantage of my distress and misery to denounce weakness, a useless life, sordid behaviour and deviant personality which had disgraced the family name.  For a woman who had been the principal source of lifelong character assassination, that arrest and concomitant humiliation was to Hilary, a gift from heaven. 

I graduated from university in 1975 and obtained a post teaching Black History in a private catholic school.  At long last, I had a chance to save money and hopefully return to Derbyshire realising a long held ambition.   In all 13 years of residence in America, chronically homesick, I managed to visit the UK for as long as funds would stretch - usually about six weeks each summer holiday. 

Connie was given plenty of warning that she would be on her own in the autumn of 1976.  Daily life was lived in a haze of siege mentality.  When her daughters, nieces and nephews visited the house, the ‘elephant in the room’ withdrew into an extension which had been built in the 1960s.  In this sense, I was truly invisible and glad to be so. 

Alone with mother, following the years after her husband’s passing, a few words were occasionally exchanged prompted by a natural need for companionship.  Connie found Narvel’s existence tolerable enough to meet this need.  There was no affection.  Now in her mid 60s, she was mellowing, coming to terms with a young man who, at least, kept his homosexuality well hidden and attended to general household needs.  I had replaced Sam with a level of reasonable satisfaction - no praise, but no complaints. 

As the date of my departure approached, it was necessary for me to discuss practical matters - necessary finances, household bills, the car etc.  Mum could not drive.  Most of the time, I chauffeured her to and from work; other times the daughters helped out.  These arrangements were problematic because I was on speaking terms with mum only.  I made it perfectly clear that the family would need to take on the responsibility of an elderly lady needing close supervision in my sudden and permanent absence - fast approaching.  I was going for good.  Connie needed to fully understand the implications and how it would affect her life.  In all conscience, I don’t think she fully gathered how she would need to depend upon Cynthia and Hilary, nephews and nieces.  I braced myself for a grudging family conclave to discuss the ramifications of this new situation and insisted to mother that she must warn the family and call for this meeting. 

Unfortunately, Connie Annable is inert.  She does nothing.  She waits for others to organize her, to do for her - as Sam Annable and Phil Daniels did.  During one stressful confrontation she snapped -

          ‘Why don’t you take me with you and look after me? 

This sounded like a line which had been deliberately fed to her.  It was unexpected and called for a careful rethink.  My initial reaction was to stick to Plan A and rid myself of the family for good.  That said, the possible advantages of Plan B began to take shape.  It occurred to me that a family conclave had, in fact, taken place in my absence with the demon daughters seeing a golden chance to offload motherly responsibilities.  Connie always presented herself as very popular, ever needed, ever wanted by her doting children and grandchildren.  Up to this moment, I was taken in by self-promoting ongoing propaganda and began to see Connie in a different light. 

Accordingly, in July 1976 the house was sold.  Mother and son set sail on the QE2, both hoping for a new beginning and an improving relationship.  For a while, it did seem that way.  Cautiously I bought a small terraced cottage in Belper so Mum could be near old friends and relatives in Stanley Common.  The purchase left sufficient funds for Connie to return to the US if the plan failed. 

In the autumn of 1976 I met my future long term partner Terry Durand who was married with children.  The trauma and shock of coming to terms with his life-long repressed same sex attraction triggered a breakdown and several weeks in a psychiatric hospital.  Electric shock aversion therapy was suggested as a ‘cure’ for his homosexuality.  This low point was followed by a painful and slow journey to eventual contentment and happiness.  On September 3rd 2016, we’ll be celebrating our 40 years together. 

Established in our new home, away from the malevolent influence of American relatives and certain poisonous family friends, the chemistry between Narvel and Connie had improved.  Make no mistake, homosexuality and Mundy Street still cast a dark shadow over our frail relationship, but we were reconciled to a routine of civility and mutual cooperation.  We didn’t like each other, but open hatred increasingly took a back seat. 

Whilst I was living with mother, Terry became homeless following his divorce.  Our tiny two up / two down cottage was hardly big enough for mother and son, notwithstanding, I asked her if Terry might come and live with us.  Without hesitation, she readily agreed.  I shouldn’t have been surprised.  In that way, she was always generous.  And then something extraordinary happened.  The addition of Terry made a dramatic change to the relationship dynamic.  Heretofore, there had been little joy in the mother / son equation; now the house received a boost of warmth transforming it into a home.  Connie liked Terry and Terry liked Connie.  She was able to accept my partner as a ‘best friend’.  That was OK.  He was Narvel’s mucker, his mate, his pal.  The world would see it that way.  All would be well.  Terry was also practical; he could make things and mend things.  As an electrical contractor, he had a ‘proper job’.  He could mend a puncture.  He could lay bricks.  He was as butch as a brick.  He was a ‘proper lad’.  Sam Annable would have been proud. 

Terry lived with us for the best part of a relatively happy but chaotic and troubled year.  We were support for each other.  The love was real.  With limited access to his boys aged 6 and 9, we saw them infrequently at Connie’s cottage.  One memory is poignant.  I was looking out of the front bedroom window when my partner arrived with his sons.  Traffic roared both ways with intensity making me anxious for their safety.  Having difficulty crossing the busy A6 Derby Road, Terry took firm hold of their little hands until a suitable gap appeared making it safe to approach our front door.  Something about that man holding on to his precious boys wrenched my conscience.  It was symbolic of a man desperately holding his loved ones together against an overwhelming tempest of circumstances which had been tearing that unit asunder.  I was that tempest.  I was destroying that family - but I couldn’t abandon Terry.  As he made perfectly clear in Secrets of the Sauna - he needed me. 

Mum spent quite a lot of time with her pit village relatives until her brother Uncle Arthur died, closely followed by Aunty Brenda and their son Ken.  These losses were a blow to mother.  I’d like to think that Connie felt the loss of her own son when I obtained a teaching post in Worksop causing me to buy a bungalow near the school.  Terry and I visited her at weekends but she had become increasingly isolated from all she had known in the USA. 

A combination of family deaths, isolation, advancing years and a yearning for the flashy materialistic lifestyle of American living led Connie to entertain a return to her daughters.  I was asked to sell the small house and she returned to Detroit in 1981.  She visited Derbyshire a few times before her death in 1995. 

In conclusion, commendation should go to the three counsellors who have guided me through a dark period which descended upon me in October 2014.  With permission, I mentioned only Ian who encouraged a journal which started in September 2015.  He always referred to me as a ‘client’ rather than a ‘patient’ - thus removing the shame, the social unacceptability often associated with mental illness.  

Brooding hateful thoughts only sap my energy and continue to damage.  It does no harm to those who have hurt me years ago.  Endlessly playing back these mental tapes is a futile attempt to alter the outcome of what cannot be altered.  I’m trying to change history.  I’m not religious, but understand the psychological value of forgiveness - letting go.  I can’t forgive or forget, but I will try to avoid.  By this means, I will try to put back the lid [scab] on my historic horrors - the lid which was lifted in writing Sea Change.  Discussing these difficult matters with an understanding and caring professional has been very helpful.   

Also to be praised is a nonjudgmental approach to all the embarrassing aspects when we explored the secret and dark corners of my memories.  Counsellors had no problem with my homosexuality even when conversations explored erotic anonymity and orgiastic realities, common to many who share same sex attraction.  Repeated reassurances have given me enhanced confidence because I suffered a complete collapse of confidence in October 2014.  Trust is so important in professional counselling. 

Crucial to my recovery has been Ian’s foresight and kind permission to keep a journal which has matured into this document.  It should help take the sting out of the stigma surrounding mental illness.  This record of our conversations has evolved into an interesting and revealing family history.  Given that mental health issues are now in vogue, having ‘come out of the closet’ Breakdown 2014 should be well received when posted on Facebook + twitter - and in my website

www.narvelannable.co.uk 

On the last session in January 2016, Ian and I concluded that there isn’t much wrong with me, beyond gathering [and practicing] the strength of will to control anger.  When I give pain permission to intrude into my conscious mind, I allow historic trauma to disturb my peace.  I’ve always said my problem is not so much depression, it is more like fury.  Accordingly, having thoroughly discussed these issues, we agreed to wind up the therapy.

 

Narvel Annable

 

 

Sea Change and  Death on the Derwent 2nd Edition are now available in both Paperback and  Kindle

They can be purchased from Amazon or signed copies direct from Narvel

 

 

 

For more information on Sea Change from Amazon

Click here

 

You can  Buy Now from Narvel through Pay Pal

for £11.00 inclusive of p&p

 

OR

Send a cheque for £11.00 payable to Narvel Annable at

Narvel Annable 44 Dovedale Crescent Belper DERBY DE56 1HJ

with details of your desired inscripton

 

For more information on Death on the Derwent from Amazon

click here

 

Or you can  Buy Now from Narvel through Pay Pal

for £10.00 inclusive of p&p

 

 

OR

Send a cheque for £10.00 payable to Narvel Annable at

Narvel Annable 44 Dovedale Crescent Belper DERBY DE56 1HJ

with details of your desired inscripton

 

 

The following Titles are available on Kindle   £2.11 each

To look inside click on an image

 

 

                                               

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the links below to see Narvel’s latest News Sheets

 

Sheet 141 To view click  here

  

Sheet 142 to view click  here

 

To view the recent Nottingham Post letter about BREAKOUT click  here

 

 

 

Narvel Annable featured in ITV's Real Crime Series

 

Click on picture above to hear Readings at Heanor Library

 

Click on the picture below to view a 7 minute video based on

 Death on the Derwen

 

 

 

Click on the picture above to see Narvel reading an extract from his book 'Secret Summer' at Bradford Pride, 2009. Introduced by Paul Hunt, a leading light of the Bradford LGBT scene.

 

 

Hello Readers, 

A friend sent me the following - Steven was Different and Jake was a Wanted Man.  Beautiful poems, Terry and I were moved and impressed with Bob’s skill and sensitivity.  The parallels between me and Steven were striking. 

Steven was Different resonates with my own life experience but doubt if any of my immediate family would embark on a [last line] ‘healing process’.  Most are dead – I never shed a tear.  

It must be said, in the material sense, Narvel was always well cared for.  However, in December 1957, I discerned the beginnings of character assassination originating from disappointed parents and two older sisters.  As Sea Change will show - bad press, disinformation, lies and a merciless machinery of denigration was spreading like osmosis, like a virus remorselessly through family channels infecting ignorant family friends with a strong predisposition to rabid homophobia.  It was an uncompromising mindset towards the most negative view of an unsatisfactory son.  They trashed my life.

 

Steven was different

 

Steven was different

And his family didn’t like it

They said he wasn’t man enough

But he couldn’t do anything about it.

 

“I am what I am”

He tried to say

But they didn’t understand

About being gay.

 

They made him feel unwanted

He had to get away

He decided to pack his bags

And leave the next day.

 

He made his way to another town

Where he met someone like him

They struck up a friendship

Down at the gym.

 

They found a place to live

Where the neighbours didn’t mind

Instead of being critical

They were accepting and kind.

 

Steven thought of his parents

Set in their ways

Would they continue to reject him

Always?

 

Steven made a name for himself

As a writer of fiction

His experience inspired him

He wrote with conviction.

 

One day his father saw his book

On a library shelf

He began to read and started

To recognise himself.

 

He didn’t know the story

Was written by his son

But it made him think a lot

A healing process had begun.

 

Jake was a Wanted Man

 

Jake was a wanted man.

He was on the run.

Most people hated him.

Life was no fun.

 

He lived rough.

One day when he was out

looking for firewood

He heard a shout.

 

A boy had fallen in the river.

He could see him going down.

He wasn't allowed near children

But he couldn't let him drown.

 

He dived in and pulled him out.

People were coming to the scene.

So Jake ran away

Not wanting to be seen.

 

He watched from a distance.

He felt good inside.

He had done some good at last.

But he still had to hide.

 

Then people came towards him.

He knew he couldn’t stay.

He ran and slipped...into the river...

He was swept away.

 

Jake’s body was never found.

A forever hiding place he had.

The boy and his family never forgot him.

He wasn't all bad.

 

 

Roger and Narvel at the LGBT Celebration Evening in the Ballroom at Nottingham Council House

 

 

Narvel Annable would like to thank Roger Hollier for his skill, time and trouble invested in producing this imaginative and interesting display of letters and memorabilia.

 

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

 

I enjoy reading Ilkeston Life.  It often taps into nostalgic memories of autumn 1960 when, at the age of 15, I attended a Pre-Apprentice course at the ultra modern Ilkeston College of Further Education on Field Lane.  The very concept of ‘Further Education’ was new.

 

Such a memory came into sharp focus on Page 12 in the October 2013 edition of Ilkeston Life.  A reference to Lady Chatterley’s Lover immediately flagged up Wednesday, November 16th when, at lunch time, I paid my 3/6 to buy one of the 200,000 copies printed after a 30 year ban of that controversial book.  It was famously vilified by out-of-touch prosecutor, Mr Mervyn Griffith-Jones who said –

    ‘Is this a book you would wish your wife or servant to read?’

 

In our humble tiny terraced cottage opposite Stanley Common Miner’s Welfare, the nearest we had to a servant was Aunty Brenda.  She came to ‘muck us out’ once a week and would certainly have been disgusted by the ‘goings on’ between Lord Chatterley’s roughly-spoken gamekeeper and Her lascivious Ladyship. 

As a testosterone charged, deeply closeted 15-year-old guilt-ridden homosexual, I was entranced with the page everybody was talking about. It was a conversation between gamekeeper and gamekeeper’s fully-inflated manhood – John Thomas - straining at the bit for access to Lady Jane’s womanhood.

          ‘Arrr, John Thomas!  Rock ‘ard, an lookin’ up at me!  A know what thee wants – c***!  That’s what thee wants!  C***!  C***!  An that’s what thee’s goin’ to get.’ 

Boasting possession of the infamous book, I memorised this lewd exchange between man and manhood.  In the role of randy gamekeeper, using the voice and mannerisms of Long John Silver, Narvel entertained his fellow students at the Ilkeston College in the style of his Heanor Howitt impressions earlier in the year. 

With relish and access to the caretaker's yard brush for a crutch, I mimicked Tony Hancock, impersonating Robert Newton's interpretation of Robert Louis Stevenson's colourful character - Long John Silver, from his 1881 book -Treasure Island.

          "Aarr, Jim lad!" and the occasional "Avast there!" 

This nautical romp consisted of hopping around the playground with a limp neck and imaginary squawking parrot on ye shoulder screeching 'Pieces of Eight!’  It took off, and soon there were several 'Silvers' capering around Howitt Secondary Modern School playground. 

Alas, it didn’t take off in Ilkeston in quite the same way, but some sexy boys were suitably intrigued by that erotic presentation. 

I hear you asking, how could I possibly know all this happened on Wednesday, November 16th?  The memory is clearly fixed because November 16th 1960 is also the day Gilbert Harding died at the age of 53.  Who?  Fifty-three years ago, this irascible broadcaster, always on our TV sets, dubbed ‘the rudest man in Britain’ was FAMOUS.  He was so famous; his name did not appear under his likeness at Madam Tussauds.  It simply said, ‘The most famous man in Britain’. 

Only a few people knew Mr Harding was gay.  I never met him, but - as you will learn if you ever read Sea Change - in 1958 at the tender age of twelve, having been abducted into a secret circle of paedophiles, I was one of the few – who knew. 

Mingling with 'rough trade', I heard talk about a gay criminal, 'a swinger' with an appalling reputation for seediness, shotguns and torture.  Ronnie Kray took 'what he wanted'.  He selected boys with 'long lashes with a melting look around the eyes'.  They were plied with drink, shown off at the Society Club in Jermyn Street and sometimes taken to Kray's luxury flat in Walthamstow where show business celebrity friends were entertained. 

Rough-and-ready Cockney lads boasted of their connections, their sexual experience within the mobster underworld and certain high profile figures of the Establishment.  One extremely desirable thug claimed intimate carnal knowledge of Gilbert Harding and Lord Boothby. 

Needless to say, I resisted boasting these big names to the Pre-Apprentice Ilkeston boys – and for that matter, the Editor of Ilkeston Life. 

Narvel Annable

 

Prayers for Bobby

 

A friend sent me Prayers for Bobby. It’s about a mother played by Sigourney Weaver coming to terms with the suicide of her gay son.  

Religious iconography dominated the opening credits and increased forebodings.  I said to Terry –

          ‘I’m not sure about this.  Perhaps we should stop it now and watch Alien.’ 

I’d rather be with Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley and be thrilled by an indestructible creature stalking and killing the crew of the Nostromo.  That murderous monster was pure fiction, as opposed to the unbearable reality of Sigourney Weaver playing a devout gay hating mother – a more distressing monster slowly crucifying her homosexual son.  For me it was too close to home.  My sleep is fragile.  Homophobic monsters from the id are emotionally disruptive. 

The film had survived just a few minutes when, abruptly, we watched something else.  I could see where it was going.  A revered grandmother said ‘all queers should be lined up and shot’.  The cosy Christian family setting was more frightening than dripping silent emptiness of a gigantic vessel in deep space.  American accents made a familiar back-drop for misery and torment endured in 1960s and 1970s Detroit.  I don’t need to see it.  I know all about it.  I couldn’t even cope with the first five minutes.  On another occasion, Terry might watch it.  I can’t.  I write it, but can’t watch it.  It happened with Maurice and I walked out of Bent after just 20 minutes.  I managed to stay the course with Milk and Brokeback Mountain – but neither were exactly edifying.  

I’m glad Sigourney Weaver lent her celebrity status to this movie.  I’m glad it was made and, based on real-life Bobby Griffith who killed himself in 1983, was widely acclaimed winning awards sending a powerful message which needs to be heard.  There have been too many self hating / self destructing Bobbys brainwashed by ignorant religious mothers.

 

Click above to see a moving trailer from the film

 

Click here  for more videos of Narvel

 

 

 

Rock-a-Bye Baby



An extract from Sea Change followed by a brief YouTube

The sun struggled up over the horizon, blocked by trees casting long dark shadows over a landscape of sparkling white. 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! 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 burners.’

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 her 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 –



Rock-a-bye baby
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, by Betty softly crooning to her baby reposing in a cradle fashioned from a hollowed-out branch. Presumably, ‘cradle and all’ was suspended by ropes attached to one of the yew tree boughs.


‘And what about that poor child? Did it fall?’ asked a horrified Simeon.


‘Some things we can never know for sure,’ smiled Mab.

 







Central Television and BBC Radio





Hello Readers,

The Central TV News item is available. Simply click on to the link below.

Central TV News video

 



Since 1998, I’ve been interviewed on BBC Radio Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham, Manchester and Leicester.

To hear some of those conversations. Simply click on to the link below.

Archive radio interviews





The following link will take you to the BBC Radio Derby interview of January 14th 2013. All extraneous items have been edited out to leave about 20 minutes of my conversation with Andy Potter.

Andy Potter interviews Narvel Annable


Best wishes,

Narvel



Click on the following titles to "look inside"  

Scruffy Chicken

Lost Lad

Death on the Derwent

 





Narvel Annable’s Biography has been posted on the Writing East Midlands website. He is available for Community Group Work / Lectures / Talks / Panels / Live Performances and Workshops.

To View click here


 



Narvel’s link with Matlock Bath


The Grand Pavilion Project

 

 


Last October 2012, Terry and I were pleased to become Friends of the Grand Pavilion and take an interest in the regular emails sent to us by Gregor Macgregor.

I’m grateful to Trina for time and trouble invested in visiting Tnd myself on the Monday morning of March 11th. She told me it was a preliminary interview in advance of a more formal recording for the Oral History part of the Grand Pavilion Project. An hour with Trina was quite an experience! An entertaining whirlwind of enthusiasm and energy, she must be a powerful asset for the Grand Pavilion Project.

To slay the dragon of prejudice and discrimination, I was delighted the project wanted to hear from people like me and my partner of 37 years, Terry Durand. Most of us meet gay people every day – but don’t know it. LGBTs can make themselves invisible! Being open about our sexuality is the best way to cut through decades of fear and mythology. To be closeted and secretive, simply hands ammunition to the hostile.

Terry and I spent our ‘honeymoon’ in our favourite resort of Matlock Bath at the Temple Hotel in the first week of September 1976. In the following week, after the stress of coming to terms with his sexuality, Terry suffered a breakdown, was removed to a psychiatric hospital [Mickleover] and offered Electric Aversion Therapy to ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality.

Homophobia is unacceptable. I hope the Oral History will address this particular ignorance and turn it around in a positive way to promote that positivity. In this way, people who hear our voice might be educated on an issue which, especially in rural England, only a few years ago, was considered taboo.

Around Matlock Bath and The Grand Pavilion there is a whole untold secret history – now told in two novels Scruffy Chicken and Secret Summer - copies of which I have donated to The Grand Pavilion together with several sheets of cuttings for background information. Extracts from the Matlock Mercury and Derby Telegraph highlight my long-term connection with Matlock Bath. former friend, Matlock man and popular drag act Herbert Siddons [1924-2003] was famous for his Old Mother Riley impersonations at the Matlock Lido in the 1950s and 1960s. The Matlock Mercury feature Popular Drag Artiste Remembered was printed on March 16th 2006. It explains how Herbert inspired the character of Becksitch Betty inScruffy Chicken. An odd effeminate man, he had a strangely mobile writhing mouth: it seemed to move all over his face, possibly the result of a broken jaw.

I have a faint memory of Herbert reminiscing about his appearances at the Matlock Picture Palace and the Matlock Bath Grand Pavilion. He also performed as Carmen Miranda and Gracie Fields.

The principal character of Secret Summer, a gorgeous butch-as-a-brick hunk I call Ahmed, detested all effeminate men and especially Matlock Bath! During his first visit to the UK in 1967, at his expense, we travelled around in an impressive flashy Ford Zodiac staying at top hotels. He loved London and was keen to visit the Derbyshire his ‘Booby’ [pet name for Narvel] had always raved about. I thought Matlock Bath was the most beautiful place in the world. My lover had hardly ventured out of hideous-flat-tar-and-cement Detroit. Therefore, I was so sure - once he had explored the mossy nooks and crannies of this idyllic Derbyshire Shangri-La – Ahmed would never want to leave it. To my horror, he wanted to leave it, as soon as he set eyes on it!

As a contrast to the posh hotels, I booked us into a quaint friendly B&B called The Laurels at the foot of Holmes Road where it meets Brunswood Road. It was a favourite.

The Christmas before, I infuriated one of Derby’s snooty set by leaving the party with a fellow teenager, a stunning stud with golden hair. Our host, Claud Hoadley, as I call him in Scruffy Chicken, the First Homosexual of Derbyshire, ranted about this ‘unacceptable elopement’ in which two chickens, perfect strangers, presented themselves at the door of The Laurels asking for accommodation under heavy snow fall in the bleak midwinter. The kind lady showed us a double bed – no questions asked. An excellent breakfast complete with a pretty yuletide view over the magnificent panorama of High Tor was just as romantic.

Six months later, Detroit met Derbyshire – it was hate at first sight. In sulky silence Ahmed and his Booby strolled along North and South Parade. Nothing pleased the American; nothing charmed him. Deeply in love, I’d dreamed of the day when we’d steal a kiss on Lovers Walk - but he refused even to cross the River Derwent via Jubilee Bridge. He found the whole thing primitive (I think he said ‘medieval’) nasty, common, parochial and horribly cheap. The disaster came to an abrupt end after a miserable night on a lumpy bed in The Laurels. He would not eat breakfast and even declined a cup of tea practically throwing two pound notes at the bemused lady – ten shillings more than she needed. We were back in London before noon. I was utterly miserable - but we refused to give up - desperately trying to bridge the unbridgeable, attempting to make our fragile relationship work against a backdrop of hostile homophobia.

 


 

Narvel & Terry on their Honeymoon at Matlock Bath in 1976

 

 

 

 

Taboo within a Taboo

 

A woman asked me questions about my new book Sea Change. I informed her it was a sequel to Lost Lad in which, back in 2003, I had withheld certain significant details. The principal character, Guzzly Granddad, appeared in previous titles where Simeon Hogg (my character) was in his late teens. Acquainted with the old obesity with a taste for teenage boys, she expressed abhorrence at such ‘disgusting behaviour’.

Granddad was not popular with readers. This was a typical reaction. However, she exploded with outrage when told I was procured by a school bully and initiated into the old man’s secret circle of urchins at the tender age of 12. His Dickensian kitchen was conveniently near Mundy Street Boys School in 1957. Eyes blazing, mouth spitting fire -

‘I’d take a knife to that lump of lard and castrate him! I’d do it myself. I would. I would. I mean it. I mean it.’

Shocked by this barbaric hatred, I tried to explain the aim of this novel – don’t cut off goolies – cut off the supply of boys. Sea Change will not condone men who incite boys into sexual activity. Readers are asked to take a step back and consider the big picture. The aim of this book is to slay mythology surrounding paedophilia. The second aim is to explore the folklore of Derbyshire through the eyes of an isolated runaway fleeing an intolerable situation.

Make no mistake – men having sex with children is always wrong – full stop. Notwithstanding, there is much hysteria and nonsense regarding paedophilia. It is said boys fondled by adults are permanently damaged. We are told they grow up unable to enjoy relationships.

I am living proof this is not the case.

However – I am damaged.

In the culture of cruelty at Mundy Street Boys School in Heanor, you were graded by your ability to inflict humiliation, pain and suffering on others. As the following extract from Sea Change will show, in such a brutal regime, my status was rock bottom.

‘Piggy was too frightened to use the school toilet. Mortifying incidents had made Mundy Street lavatory a no-go area for a boy who grew up to be a badly constipated man. Word went around the playground – ‘hog’s on t’ bog’. A crowd gathered to enjoy the sport. Alarmingly, several times, unknown assailants kicked the door causing panic! Violent kicks - loud bangs - terrifying bangs! Within that small cubicle, distressing percussion reverberated with no escape. A quick bolt would result in certain capture by a crazed mob thirsty for blood. Objects were thrown over the top. Taunting abuse through the gap below complemented a monstrous act of torture.’

On several occasions I arrived home with soiled underpants. My mother, unsympathetic, could not cope. In sad resignation, she slowly shook her head. I can hear her now –

‘You make work for me.’

I planned an act of self-destruction, yet words like ‘immoral’ and ‘abhorrent’ are used to describe the man who warned against such an act. He saved my life. It is subjective. In that old coalminer’s primitive kitchen, after initial coercion, I became a willing party to erotic play organized by an adult. At Mundy Street Boys School, effectively, I was a sex slave with no choice. A miserable child was pressed into service pleasuring powerful pupils.

The more culpable villain is the sadistic schoolmaster. He choreographed classroom situations in which I suffered excruciating humiliations. They wreaked emotional damage which will follow me to the grave. To this day, I endure vivid flashbacks, intrusive thoughts causing distress which still disturbs my sleep. If not tattooed on my body, the traumas inflicted by that ruthless Church of England regime are burnt into my psyche. Cruelty has a cost. Approaching my 70s, I am now paying the bill.

Hardly to be recommended - yet it was not the gentle touches of an old man who drove me to wish for death. It was the relentless emotional brutality which will for ever be associated with a pious, scripture-obsessed ayatollah of a headmaster. He presided over a bleak midwinter of daily torment where the greatest sin was to ‘tell tales’. Result – I bottled up my stress for more than half a century until the emotional problems became deeply ingrained.

Remove that academy of atrocities, and you would have removed the steady supply of frightened children to the nearby scullery of a child molester. Sea Change invites you to examine the big picture. Don’t string up my old Granddad who was kind; sack the headmaster and his monstrous teacher who was so skilfully grooming the barbarous school thugs. That is the ‘grooming’ to be concerned about. Here in the 21st century - children kill themselves to escape bullying.

In December 1957, I had nowhere to go. My unfeeling parents took the view that I deserved unhappiness, pain and all the opprobrium I had brought down on my own head due to my own perverse nature. I wouldn’t fight. Male Annables were fighters giving a good account of themselves with bare knuckles in the school playground. I dishonoured the family. I was the boy who didn’t like football. In working-class, coal-mining Heanor, this was unheard of! Unacceptable – sissy - mardy - queer!

I couldn’t spell, do sums and sank to the bottom of the class in most other subjects. That might have been forgiven had I displayed any practicable ability – of which there was none. Rough Heanor lads were supposed to make things. I made nothing. Tortured children tend to do badly in school.

This despised lover of boys, this mysterious Heanorian of no name who hid his face in the shadows; he was the onlyperson to show compassion and offer practical help during that dire period of late 1957. Hearing of my plan to commit suicide, he was horrified.

Nay, lad! Ya moant do that. Life’s precious. A dead boy can do nought. A live boy can do something. Why don’t you run away?’

Kind words spoken by a man reviled and detested by the majority’. Thinking about the grubby harem which dominated my little world 56 years back, I recall the equally detested Good Samaritan who was the only passer-by to aid a man who had been beaten and robbed.

In the book, I explore a possible link between carnal activities in Granddad’s kitchen and the sexual atmosphere which pervaded the classroom and playground of that nearby homoerotic school. I was never quite sure which other boys had knowledge of the secret sect. The older boys were more than usually infused with titillating interest often masked by high spirits, mock combat and frisky fun. In rough packs, I often saw the style and method of that rude old man who was there in spirit – if not in the flesh.

One of the most feared toughs was a frequent visitor to Granddad’s gatherings. I suspect he was instructed to ‘go easy’ on me and use his network of terror to subdue the mob. This would explain the relatively painless January of 1958.

I fully understand the arguments against sexual exploitation. There are real dangers arising from an imbalance of power and control between a child and a man. Those same dangers exist between any child and any guardian irrespective of carnal desire. For example, the perverted schoolmaster with his non-sexual vicious streak was the very person who was supposed to protect me! Without mercy, he was the sadist who inspired in the rabble a frisson of sadistic pleasure.

We must get away from appalling hysteria characterised by ignorant mediaeval-minded people calling for sudden surgery on a man who – however undesirable - became my friend and saviour.

This friend gave me a ‘road map’ to a future which did not include cruel bullies, a monstrous schoolmaster and frosty parents who did not want me anyway. Before Christmas 1957, I had something new. I had hope and, for the first time, had tasted happiness in a clandestine community where, for the most part, I was valued and treated well.

In the humble terraced home of Guzzly Granddad, I never considered myself a victim of sexual abuse. At the Boys School I was certainly a victim of cruel conduct, abuse from a heartless master who should never have been allowed near children. Whilst taking care not to portray this Dickensian kitchen as an ideal environment for young boys, my book does challenge language which supports and reinforces common prejudices.

Over the last 37 years, I have enjoyed a loving relationship with a man, Terry Durand, now my Civil Partner. However distasteful to some readers, I held a genuine affection for ‘my Granddad’. At the same time, I was able to concede the reality of that old man’s erotic predation. I was not fooled, but, in my opinion, I was more used than abused.

My child-like love and loyalty was freely given as a vulnerable, rejected child rescued from desperation, very nearly an act of self-destruction. Initial barriers of revulsion from the touch of an ugly, ancient pile of flesh had been overcome by a network of camaraderie and fellowship from other boys, some of them feral, in the child-sex secret cell. As with previous titles, all names in Sea Change (even nick-names) have been changed. Like previous titles, it is autobiographic, a blend of fact and fiction – essentially telling a true story.

Lost Lad mentioned nothing of this covert club. Why? In deciding to expose this grim chapter of my life, this bleak mid-winter of 1957; I needed to examine reasons for a half century of silence. In many ways it was much to do with a familiar journey made by many who share same-sex attraction.

I hid in a dark well locked closet in fear of being exposed, embarrassed and humiliated. Born into a macho, football crazy, working class, coal mining culture; homophobia was not just endemic, it was almost a badge of honour with some people. A thief, thug or murderer would be afforded more respect than a gentle, honest homosexual. After suffering painful incidents, I learned to exist in isolation and stay deeply hidden inside myself.

In the dying years of the 20th century and early years of the 21st century, gay progress in the form of a better press and slow decline in homophobia made it possible to be a little more open about the reasons for being a bachelor. Little-by-little, constantly testing the water, I was always ready to make a quick retreat.

It was one thing to be homosexual, another thing to tell people about it – and worse, much worse, to write about it! In the same way, it could be said - it was one thing admitting sexual contact with boys my own age - another thing to reveal sexual activity with a man old enough to be my grandfather. Such an admission would attract a higher level of embarrassment and disapproval.

As with the heterosexual majority, the gay community tended to disdain carnal relationships with old men, especially those who were seen as a ‘danger to boys’.

These were the reasons for the long silence. In addition there were reasons for breaking that silence. For the record, I wanted to place the responsibility for prepubescent misery and near death firmly at the door of Mundy Street Boys School with its entrenched callousness. I wanted to challenge unreasoned panic associated with the taboo subject of paedophilia. The activities of Guzzly Granddad represented a taboo within a taboo. He and his friends were an underclass of boy hunters leading a furtive existence subsumed underneath the already clandestine underclass of mainstream homosexuals.

Across three titles biographically exploring my personal encounters in the 1960s, three groups of homosexuals are identified. On top - the professional men, the sneering snobs of stately demeanour affecting upper-class accents enforcing a safe social distance from the lower group.

The lower orders included bizarre types inhabiting a sleazy underworld of public lavatories such as Toby Jug, Nobby the Gnome, Mr Toad and the Belper Goblin. Yet this assortment of crude characters were united in a carnal desire to taste the flesh of young men who were certainly men – well into their teens and well past the stage of adolescence.

The third group, such as Guzzly Granddad and his ‘bum chums’, was a minority occupying a highly secretive, covert invisible space below more conventional members of the gay community. For perspective, it should not be forgotten that before 1967, at any age, all homosexuality was illegal in the UK. Transgressors risked more than a jail sentence. Violent inmates with a homophobic disposition inflicted their own unspeakable punishments on men whose only crime was to share same-sex attraction.

The paedophile circle into which I entered was enjoyable and supportive. Accordingly, as in previous novels the autobiographic text will include erotic episodes. It will be honest, frank and graphic - but will not stray into the sordid or prurient.

It has been suggested to me that Granddad and his pals might not have been so gentle and understanding. Pederasts are like everybody else. They come in categories of good, bad and all gradations in between. For me, fortunately it was good. It could easily have been otherwise. And I am disinclined to condemn people who delivered me safely back to the world of the living.

Arthur C Clarke made an important point about the link between child sex and emotional damage. I kept my mouth shut and was spared the fuss made by irate parents who discover their boy has been, as is often put, ‘touched up’ by a man. In my case, no questions were asked because Mr and Mrs Annable did not want answers from a son who was unsatisfactory in the first place. At least in that, I did not suffer further abuse and more psychological devastation fromrespectable heterosexuals who would have put my friends in prison and smugly nod satisfaction when they were beaten to a pulp by queer-bashing inmates.

If you seek enlightenment, read my book - but don’t expect me to name names. In a hidden world of extreme secrecy, in the thick smog laden days of December 1957; everybody had nicknames. Guzzly Granddad was a survivor. To the best of my knowledge, he died in his bed.

 

 

Belper Arts Festival

 

On May 18th 2013, I was invited to the Belper Arts Festival – Meet the Author - event of book signing and sales in the Main Hall at the Strutts Centre, Derby Road in Belper.

It was another opportunity to chat with visitors and other authors about their work, my own work including campaigning for gay rights.

 

 



Introduction to Sea Change A new novel from Narvel



A Mystery set in Derbyshire 1958



Here is a controversial story of transformation: a journey from despair to delight. Adolescence is the change from boy to man. In a sequel to Lost Lad, Simeon Hogg escapes from a living hell into an enchanted world of fairytale people inhabiting the hidden nooks and crannies of deepest Derbyshire. Follow him as he transforms from a rough and miserable urchin who - ‘suffers a sea-change into something rich and strange’ – as sung by Ariel, the airy spirit from The Tempest.

In previous titles, Narvel Annable has disclosed a promiscuous life style. He includes confidential erotic and embarrassing details which many gay boys and men of the 1950s have taken to their graves. In this brutally honest autobiographic novel, he goes further. He revisits his Dickensian Mundy Street Boys School ordeal of sex slavery and cruel bullying in Heanor. He reveals more youthful adventures set in the shadowy world of homosexuality. With the help of legislation and enlightened education, the gay community of the 21st century hopes these horrors, which have damaged so many, have gone forever.

This novel explodes myths and challenges conventional thinking. Whilst not condoning, it does not condemn. At the brink of self destruction, Simeon’s sexual abuser becomes his saviour, persuading him, giving him courage to escape and live – rather than to stay and die.

Hopefully to be published before Christmas 2013

Narvel Annable


To visit Narvel's facebook click here






Secret Summer Reviews



Review from Bradford’s Telegraph & Argus printed on April 16th 2011



Inspired by a cycling holiday, this is a moving portrayal of a young gay man on the run and ostracised in the 1960s.

Bullied as a child and an adult, Narvel Annable has endured the agony of being treated as an outsider simply because he is gay. He was a guest speaker at an International Day Against Homophobia event in Bradford in 2009 and was nominated for an Equity Partnership award last year. Narvel describes writing his novel as a cathartic experience helping him to deal with painful memories.

Partly set in Bradford, the townscape and terrain of the metropolis is described as –

‘A splendid panorama of pinnacles and finials. Most notable was the distinctive Italianate clock tower of the City Hall and the ornate Venetian Gothic parapets and pinnacles of the Wool Exchange. They reminded Simeon [Narvel’s alter ego] of an ancient fairytale castle.’

Simeon also discovers Bradford Cathedral and is delighted by its tranquil, peaceful ‘secret garden’.

At its heart, Secret Summer is a touching story of young love, laced with a well-paced thriller involving a missing person and a gay criminal underworld. It is also a love letter to Narvel’s native Derbyshire with beautifully written passages devoted to its natural landscape.

Emma Clayton





Review from the Sheffield Star printed on March 14th 2011



Next time you’re browsing a book shop looking for a gay thriller based in Derbyshire, you could do worse that think of Narvel Annable.

The former Worksop Valley Comprehensive teacher’s third novel in his ‘pink whodunit’ trilogy will be released in the UK this month by The Nazca Plains Corporation in Las Vegas.

Depicting a flourishing gay scene in Matlock caves and a homosexual Mafia, Secret Summer follows on from Narvel’s previous efforts Lost Lad and Scruffy Chicken.

Colin Drury



Review from the Harrogate Advertiser printed on May 6th 2011



This dramatic story crosses the Atlantic. It follows Annable’s own experiences, eventually bringing his lead character, Simeon, to Harrogate. He meets Big Bill Bulman, an obese American based on Bill Silvey, whom Annable met in 1966.

Bill was living at the Old Swan Hotel and was a regular visitor to the Royal Baths. Annable describes him as a colourful character who enthused about the town in a roaring Deep South accent and thinks many other people who were in the area at the time will probably remember him.


Vicky Carr]




The Official UK Launch of Secret Summer

 



A Mystery set in Detroit and Derbyshire 1966

This event will take place at Waterstone’s Booksellers, Ltd - St Peters Street in Derby on Saturday, March 26th.

Author Narvel Annable will be available to sign copies and discuss his work from 12 to 2.00pm. Secret Summer published by The Nazca Plains Corporation in Las Vegas has been available in the USA since last September.

For more information contact Narvel or the Manager – manager@derby.waterstones.com Phone 01 332 29 69 97.

Diary Event printed in Nottinghamshire’s April / May 2011 Queer Bulletin - issue 59 on page 8.



MEET THE AUTHOR



Narvel Annable has been invited as the guest speaker at Nottingham’s Breakout social group for gay and bisexual men.

On Tuesday, May 17th, he will entertain by reading edited extracts from his new book Secret Summer. This will give the audience an opportunity to ask questions, exchange views and comment on a variety of LGBT issues.

Existing and new members are always given a warm welcome to Breakout. It is situated at the Broad Street Centre on Broad Street, next door to the Health Shop, just down from the Broadway Cinema. The doors open at 7,30pm and the events begin at 8.00pm concluding at 10.00pm. Weekly meetings are free. Refreshments are available. 0115 9 34 84 85

 


www.breakoutnottm.org.uk

info@breakoutnottm.org.uk



Derby Central Library February 2011



As part of Gay History Month 2011, Sonya Robotham of Derbys Rainbow Fringe Festival has invited Narvel Annable to read selected extracts from Secret Summer at Derby Central Library. In keeping with Sonya’s usual generosity, this will be another free event with free refreshments starting at 6.30 and concluding at 8.00pm on Friday, February 4th. It will give the audience an opportunity to ask questions, exchange views, make comment and spark discussion on a variety of LGBT issues.





Listen to tyrosterry on Yamaha Tyros 4se

 

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