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Sea Change

 

A Mystery set in Derbyshire 1957 and 1958

 

Sea Change 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 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.

 

Narvel Annable has disclosed confidential, erotic and embarrassing details which many gay boys 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 bullying in Heanor.  Cruelty has a cost.  Approaching his 70s, the author is now paying the bill.  Adventures set in a shadowy gay world uncover a furtive existence. Under the secretive mainstream of homosexuals is an underclass – a taboo within a taboo.

 

With the help of legislation and enlightened education, the LGBT 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 in a culture where a boy was esteemed by his ability to inflict humiliation, pain and suffering on others.

 

Another great yarn from the storyteller of gay Derbyshire, Narvel Annable.  Interwoven with references to real-life events and history, he writes a terrific mystery novel.  I wish we had a Narvel in every region of England to tell such tales.

 

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner www.PeterTatchellFoundation.org

 

 

BAR CODE including ADULTS ONLY £10.00

 

 

Introduction to Sea Change

 

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 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 some 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.  The third aim (up close and personal) was summed up by Helen Meynell in a Derby Telegraph feature about Secret Summer, September 24th 2010 -

          ‘His books and campaigns are Narvel’s way of assuaging the guilt he feels for keeping quiet for so long.  Writing has been cathartic and therapeutic helping him through a lot of emotions.’

 

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, Derbyshire; you were esteemed 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 organised 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 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.  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 forever 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.  Until the start of this book in 2010, these highly toxic Mundy Street traumas have never been discussed with anybody or treated by any professional.

 

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. 

 

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.

 

They always said – ‘Hit them back!’  I’m fighting now.  I’m fighting with pen and keyboard - but I couldn’t fight then.  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.  And I do mean tortured!  The Narvel of December 1957 was broken, scarred, and will take his injuries to the grave.

 

This despised lover of boys, this mysterious Heanorian of no name who hid his face in the shadows; he was the only person 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 [must not] 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 57 years ago, I recall the equally detested Good Samaritan who was the only passer-by to aid a man who had been beaten and robbed.  It should also be remembered that unloved children desperate for affection and respect will respond to kindness offered from anyone outside the immediate family.  At my Church of England School, I developed a hatred for all things religious and, at that tender age, was unlikely to receive grooming from any paedophilic cleric.  That said, I believe the sexual scandals which have come to light in recent years were initiated by untold numbers of miserable children, like me, seeking sympathy and understanding from a compassionate man of the cloth.

 

Reader be warned!  Some passages in this book are harrowing.  Publication in 2014 means this novel has been under construction since 2010 when Secret Summer was published.  If harrowing to read, you can be sure it has been painful to write over these past five years.  A 12-year-old reduced to a mindset of self-annihilation is terrible thing.  You have to be there to know what it’s really like when death is the only escape from an intolerable situation.  Actual suicide was halted by fear of failure.  The second floor window over 4 Red Lion Square in Heanor was judged not high enough to assure oblivion.  Years later, I heard about gay boys snuffing their lives by means of a gun in the mouth.  If Sam Annable had owned such a weapon, with its guarantee of certain success, this book would not exist.

 

I have revisited Lost Lad to make a more detailed description of the horrific events in December 1957 at Mundy Street Boys School.  In the eleven years since the publication of Lost Lad, hopefully, I have become a better writer and able to do justice to an account of the darkest days of my life.

 

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 small improvement in January 1958 – a situation which could be described as less agonizing, less traumatic. 

 

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.  For the first time, I 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 challenges language which supports and reinforces common prejudices.

 

Over the last 38 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, nearly 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.  The following events took place in real places peopled by a fictitious cast.  The following caricatured composites were inspired by a selection of the characters I met nearly 60 years ago.  However real flesh and blood the original model, who ends up on these pages (after being processed through my brain) is far from being a real person – alive or dead.    

 

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. 

 

Granddad’s regular visitors used familiar shouts and whistling in the dark to inform that all’s well, a device probably borrowed from his colliery experience.  Paedophilia and coal mining shared a common danger.  Safety–first, team work, trust and eternal vigilance were essential to ward off potential disaster.  His very name was an inspired choice for security.  In the classroom and playground, I often heard references to Granddad.  But then, didn’t we all have a granddad?

 

Across three previous 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 orders’.

 

The lower orders included bizarre types inhabiting a sleazy underworld of public lavatories such as Toby Jug, Nobby the Gnome, Mr Toad, the Gutter-Gobbler and the Belper Goblin.  Yet this assortment of crude characters were united in 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, as a traumatised child, 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 is not intended to be a bawdy book.  It will gain strength from between the lines, from the unspoken and the subtle.  Those lines are not intended to titillate readers disposed to exploit children.  This book is the true story of my experience – how I was procured for Guzzly Granddad, advised to abandon a plan of suicide and run away – get away from unsympathetic, ignorant homophobic parents who, in 1957, could not stand the sight of me.  This flight was followed by adventures composited from encounters with a child trafficking network.  Mab was inspired by a real woman.  Fairytale Castle was a real place somewhere in Britain by the sea and Edward was inspired by a real man.  This is my story, a story only partly told in Lost Lad.

 

As in Lost Lad, Mary McLening and Doris Cook are specially honoured by appearing under their own names.  Their compassion and kindness is recorded in these pages for posterity.

 

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.  Rape is an act of violence - humiliating violence at that.  Nothing of that kind has ever happened to me.  Accordingly, 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 and Edward were survivors.  To the best of my knowledge, they died in their beds.  I remember them with affection.

 

Narvel Annable

 

 

_______________________________________________________

 

NEW
Sea Change





Secret Summer



Scruffy Chicken



Lost Lad



A Judge Too Far



Death on the Derwent

 



Heanor Schooldays

Copyright 2006 Narvel Annable. All Rights Reserved.