Click on above to hear Narvel talking about
Froggy, a boy he met at Heanor fair in 1965
Click on above to hear A Tale of Jasper, The Belper Crone' performed on 19th
May 2017 at The Guildhall Theatre, Derby
Belper Womens Institute talk
Belper WI invitation to Narvel
Then the talk was cancelled
To hear what Central News had
this to say, click on the above
Bradford Pride 2009
Introduced by Paul Hunt
What I call my "Window of Dispair"
Coal Town (part one)
filmed & presented by Allan Morton
Coal Town (part two)
filmed & presented by Allan Morton
Click on the picture below to view a 7
minute video based on
Death on the Derwent
Narvel Annable featured in ITV's
Real Crime Series
Click on above for short clip
Transcripts from the following
videos can be seen below the Big Bill Bullman video
Click below to meet a
selection of some outrageous characters in my novels
Click below to meet
georgeous Gary & my relatives in Horsley Woodhouse Derbyshire
Snobs video link
Click below to meet the snobs
from Scruffy Chicken
Toad video link
Click below to meet
Mister TOAD, Dolly & Becksitch Betty
also from Scruffy Chicken
Big Bill Bullman video
From Scruffy Chicken
In my last effort, you met, gorgeous Gary - who had a
horror of effeminate men. They were not so easily
tolerated in Detroit as in Derbyshire. Highly
visible outrageous homosexuals seemed to dominate the
English scene in the 1960s.
Chicago had an active gay resort called Saugatuck, on the
east side of Lake Michigan. Gary and I were there
Somewhere in the dunes, I fished out, as he would say -
‘One of your freaks.’
It was a screaming black queen known as 'Bun Bun'.
He referred to himself as 'This Lady'.
Bun Bun assumed that Gary, a tempting blond bombshell,
would be as accommodating as I had been.
There was poor Gary, of stony countenance, sitting on his
towel on the beach, helplessly watching an 'attention
grabbing' hullabaloo - a one queen mini circus.
Bun Bun danced and pranced around him, wriggling her back
side, thrusting out already prominent begging buttocks,
yelling out in a thick black accent -
‘Yea Babe! You is some sweet meat! Ooo oo oo!
Hunky honky. Tasty honky. Ooo, This Lady - she
hungry - yeah.
‘This Lady is one hot slut! Bun Bun ready for
action. She want fillin' - yeah! Ooo oo oo!!’
This outrageous trollop continued to caper and orbited
Gary's towel about three more times in her bizarre -
war-dance-come-love-dance, pre-sex ritual.
I’ll never forget the retreating figure of a disappointed
Bun Bun - moving just ahead of her eye-catching,
rhythmic rump, mincing across the sand. She
disappeared into deep shadows of shrubbery - ever onwards
- ever hunting - ever hopeful to find Prince Charming.
And then the volcano erupted.
‘How dare you!’ said Gary. ‘How dare you bring that
vile excrescence near my person? Look at that butch
number over there.’
I took note of a desirable sculpture of deeply tanned
muscles languidly soaking up the sun, looking out over the
water posing on his towel.
‘He was looking in my direction,’ continued Gary. ‘I
was in with a chance. He’s seen that grotesque
spectacle. Now he looks at the lake - no chance,
I reminded Gary that Detroit has a few weird and wacky
queens of its own in the Woodward Bar.
‘What about that bitchy queen Marie?’ I said. ‘Pure
acid!’ I was referring to an incident which had
recently taken place.
There were four of us. Gary - Hubert - Bill Scruggs
and myself enjoying a quite drink minding our own
business. Marie spotted us and screamed out for the
whole bar to hear -
‘Miss Scruggs! There ya are! Honey am a comin'
over. Here comes my BODY.’
We nearly died of embarrassment! Especially poor
Bill who'd just had a toupee fitted.
‘Why, Miss Scruggs,’ quipped the queen. ‘WHAT IS
THAT! A rug on ya head arr perceive. Honey -
you aint a foolin' nobody - an arr LOVE to pull hair.’
She noticed Hubert. To his horror, gave him a big
hug like he was a long lost friend -
‘Ooo so cuddly, nice-big-fat-belly! Look everybody -
it's Hubert. Poor Hubert, those evil queens should
not be referrin' to you as 'The Lady of the Vapours'.
Why that’s just not true. You don't go to the sauna
seven days a week - no - you take Mondays off don't you?
‘But be careful baby, you've had three re-treads on ya
tongue this year to date. Yeah, an those teeth 'll
need scrapin' again soon. That cum just builds up
‘Well it's true! It is. When I go to the sauna
- they hand me a towel. When you go, Hubert, they
hand you knee pads!’
Gary hated such tittle-tattle from the low life of my
quirky collection of friends. He had no time for any
of this nonsense. He viewed old fashioned Hubert as
one of the dregs of Detroit, a shabbily dressed overweight
beer belly who broke wind too often.
‘For God's sake don't suggest another meeting,’ said Gary.
‘I can't take the body odour. He doesn't like me and
I don't like him.
‘Have a good look at him. Hubert
Depression'. He gets his clothes from the Good Will.
He belongs to the 1930's. He should have stayed
‘And PLEASE don't keep talking about Marie. She may
be funny to you but, anybody who is anybody avoids her
like the plague. A vicious mixture of show-off,
spite, chiffon and cheap make-up. ARE YOU LISTENING
‘As for Scruggs, well, he's just a complete waste of
Gary was utterly frustrated by the social gay scene.
His reasoning was simple. If a man wants to attract
another man then -
‘Why in hell's name do they behave like a woman? Why
turn themselves into freaks. For God's sake - that's
just what they are - FREAKS! I'd like to punch their
stupid faces! I really would ... ARE YOU LISTENING
‘I'm at my wits end just trying to find one -
Many gay men are naturally effeminate. Marie wasn’t
so bad. He was revenging himself on men who’d
shunned him, on the streets, out of fear of being labelled
a homosexual themselves. I was always friendly with
Marie. He was a sensitive and, essentially, a
Hubert was nothing to look at. But - he was a friend
and I enjoyed his company. Like many repressed gay
men, estranged from a disapproving family, sometimes
depressed, eventually, he fell into the clutches of
Untold numbers of homosexuals have had their lives warped,
effectively destroyed by active evangelism and rabid
After years of unceasing brainwashing from Jehovah’s
Witnesses, Hubert became celibate. He cut himself
off from gay friends and gay support. He died - a
lonely, sad, broken man.
Back in England - on holiday, I introduced Mr Toad to an
attractive but affected effeminate youth called Julian.
Consumed with lust, Toad invited us to stay with him one
weekend. All went well - until bedtime - when Toad
‘Should you require an aspirin or any assistance in the
night, Julian, don’t hesitate to cum into my boudoir.’
Always waggled his fingers when excited.
Julian, however, thrust his snooty nose in the air -
‘Most unlikely,’ said Julian, who sounded just like a
girl. ‘You, Mr Toad are GROTESQUE. It
would be scraping the bottom of the barrel.’
During that night, I was awakened by whoops and screams.
‘Oooh! Oooh! Oooh!’
A camp queen with - HIGH VOICE - was in rapture - impaled
on a stiff stake of impressive proportions.
Toad - proud of his inflated weapon - was well practiced
in the art of inflicting supreme ecstasy upon a willing
The climax came. Toad’s deep guttural groan
signalled a milky gush, concluding high delight.
Alas - a reaction set in. The rapturous rider
denounced his delirious gallop to that final moment of
PURE JOY. He lectured the ugly loathsome lecher.
‘Mr Toad! We have SINNED! We must pray for
Hours later - breakfast was difficult. Julian, in
foul mood, hardly spoke to his host. But the
gloating toad was triumphant nudging his guest with a
‘Ay ay. Last night ay. HOW WAS THAT FOR THE BOTTOM
OF THE BARREL? You enjoyed that ride on my stallion
last night - didn’t you! He he he.’
‘As Anne Boleyn said to Henry the 8th,’ responded Julian,
‘last night was a sample of what you won’t get.’
‘Well - I’m not going to give you the pleasure of refusing
me, Julian,’ retorted Mr Toad.
‘It would not be a pleasure, Mr Toad,’ responded Julian,
‘it would be - a necessity. For you see, I shall
journey afar, to join a monastery, never to have sex
He packed his bags and stormed out of the house. We
never saw him again.
Some days later, at the Derby Turkish Bath, I found myself
sitting next to Clarence Soames - a desiccated toff.
His naked body seemed to be as white as his very white
face - contrasting sharply with short, neat, raven black
hair. A delicate gentleman.
He seemed supremely indifferent to everybody, showing no
interest at all. Clarence was senior figure from the
ranks of the Nottingham Camp - a social climbing snob.
I attempted conversation.
‘I like ya car.’
After quite a long pause, the deathly-white face slowly
turned to assess the young speaker. With legal
precision, one sharp word was delivered in cut-glarrss
"Ooo arr,’ I continued. ‘Neat, really neat.
Looovely posh leather - nice wooden finish inside - all
good taste. I were admiring it when a tied me
bicycle oop tat lamp post outside.’
"Bicycle. How quaint," came the concise reply,
pregnant with derision.
I continued with enthusiasm, trying to ignore the
"Switches and boottons everywhere ... an automatic
transmission! Very few English cars as got automatic
"We have everything .... except money."
Condescending words, carefully enunciated with subtle
sarcasm, was offensive to me. And yet, for 51 years,
I’ve remembered and admired those words as much as I had
genuinely admired the posh car.
Clarence was heading off a request for money. He
needn’t have worried, I have never asked for money -
before or since.
However - I was enormously impressed with the way this
gentleman had pronounced that one word - 'money'.
It sounded like 'manaaaieryyy' - in stark contrast to my
working class - 'm-oo-ny'.
The character attracting most comment in my books is The
Belper Crone. I call him Jasper. He dwelled in
a primitive isolated cottage practising legendary talents
of body massage - very keen to offer the 'extras'.
He was gnarled and craggy. At first sight, I beheld
a large hawk nose, far forward of deep set grizzled
leering eyes. This hideous hunchback looked
positively Jurassic. I though it wise not to
introduce him to Gary.
Nobody knew Jasper’s age, but he used an earth closet
lavatory. The family were nightsoil men. Back
in the 1880's, young Jasper assisted his father and
brothers who were called 'honey dumpers'.
He was the 'limey-lad' - a boy with a naked flame torch
who walked after the cart spreading lime over any
spillages of excrement to 'get shut at stink'.
After years of emptying buckets of 'jollop', Jasper was
totally immune to all known germs!
Sadly, he was the butt of lavatory jokes. I heard
about the time when he was ordered to retrieve his
father's false teeth from the bottom of a tank of human
Decades later, Jasper spent many hours in a notorious
Belper lavatory. He used a little hammer and chisel
to make a hole at crotch level. It was as big as a
A camp rotundity called Dolly, occupying the next WC
cubicle, amused us with the following anecdote -
‘I recognised the spread!’ said Dolly. ‘A sort of
picnic - cracker biscuits, butter, cheese and a flask of
tea. Sustenance you understand.
‘Well it’s important because he’s there all day long.
That’s how he got that hump you know. A lifetime of
bending down giving pleasure to those naughty rough
I said “Hello” and he replied
“Ello.” We’re old friends of course. “Have you
been busy?” I asked.
“Very busy! Ave ad me teeth out all day. Meh.
One were as big as a cucumber. Meh”
Jasper often ended a sentence with ‘Meh’ - a sort of an
expletive - possibly indicating ‘so there’ - or - perhaps
- expressing irritation.
Stories about Jasper and his false teeth were rooted in
gay folklore. I’ll never forget my first encounter.
A damp foggy night, Dolly guided me past a decrepit
Victorian latrine to a dark cubicle apparently empty.
I hear a sound, a sort of 'click'.
‘Did you hear it?’ whispered Dolly. ‘Lucky boy!
The Click of a Crone. It's the prelude to pleasure,’
sighed this little fat man in soft, round vowels.
‘Advance! Yield! Offer yourself to this master
of the extended orgasm, give yourself - and know true
On dark winter evenings, Jasper would creep into a public
toilet to service and drain the desperate, but he’d forget
where he’d put down his teeth.
‘Where’s me choppers? Meh. A put em somewhere.
Ave ya seen em? Ooo sorry! Well move out at
way. Shift! Where are thee. Meh!’
Bye for now ...
Here is the fourth YouTube, bringing to life characters
from my autobiographic novels. This time, I’ll take
you to Bog Hole or Bog 'ole, as it was called in Horsley
Woodhouse - locally known as ‘osly woodas.
If you’ve read
Lost Lad you’ll have met gorgeous
Gary. In 1960s Michigan, we were teenagers together
- but had different friends.
I liked the unusual. Gary despised the effeminate -
the fat - the ugly - the sick - the old - the poor - the
narrow - the parochial - the ignorant - the untraveled -
the uncultured - the unsuccessful and the stupid.
Which meant he was none too keen to meet my 1960s
relatives who - in many ways - were stuck in a time warp
decades before the 1960s.
Gary revered the young, the butch, the beautiful, the
intelligent, the rich and the sophisticated. He
hated my -
"Weird and wacky menagerie of creeps. What's wrong
with normal people? How could you possibly have
become bored with a gorgeous guy like Earl Vandenburg?
He looks like Rambo for Christ's sake! And lives at
the top of The Jeffersonian Building: a view to die for!"
He was saddened by my ongoing homesickness to get back to
the beautiful hills and dales of Derbyshire and visit my
aunts and uncles in Horsley Woodhouse. Due to
homosexuality, relations with my immediate family in
Detroit had completely broken down leaving irreparable
But we were good friends and he agreed to join me on a
holiday in England.
Bog Hole sounded like a slum - but it wasn’t a slum.
It was a row of six terraced houses occupied by Annables.
The accommodation was simple - Victorian - 'two up, two
down', built for coal miners.
Walking down the cobbles, we met Uncle Wilfred. He
stared very hard at us. It was like - we’d just
landed and emerged from a flying saucer! This
familiar and rude ogling had never failed to annoy me.
Big round rheumy eyes, a pouting lower lip, and an
annoying silence seemed to shoot out a reproach from the
cantankerous old man who eventually gave voice to his
Yown com then!
I translated - You have arrived at last - I'm being
rebuked. I addressed Wilfred directly, in a
sharp manner, to head off a further reprimand.
‘Hello, Uncle Wilfred. How are you?"
"Huh! Our am a? Are think our am a. If a
were an os they'd av shot me."
Sorry to hear that, Uncle Wilfred. You look fit
enough to me.
Know what day it id?
Huh. Arr think Soondy. It me bothdy. Am
Congratulations, Uncle Wilfred. Oh! By the
way, this is ... err - Gary.
Hi! Happy birthday.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we really must visit all the
other Annables before it gets too late.
nedna goo fa may.
Gary looked puzzled. I translated - He said, 'You
need not go for me' or, 'Please don't leave on my
account'. It's pit talk from his coal-mining days.
I'm not quite sure about 'Huh!' Some sort of
expletive, no doubt a censure expressing dissatisfaction
I was just telling Gary we'll have to be going, Uncle
For a moment the sun went out! It was the shadow of a low
"Ooo a should loove ta be in that,"
wished Aunty Joyce who had just joined us.
Huh. Ad sooner cape me fate on t' ground! demeaned
Moving on, we were arrested by the sight of a toothless
old woman sitting on a chair in front of number three.
On nice days, relatives often sat outside their front
She stared up at us - stared hard through crumpled,
screwed up piercing bullet eyes. We were held
by this silent leer which was both inquisitive and
interrogating. I mustered a cheerful -
Good morning, Aunty Nelly. How are you today?"
No answer. I soldiered on - "Meet my friend Gary.
He lives in America."
A slight sardonic nod and contemptuous grimace spread over
her wrinkled face. Gary was repelled by this old hag
and couldn’t even bring himself to utter his usual -
Nelly solved the embarrassing impasse by suddenly shooting
out a spray of verbal bullets as if from a machine gun: a
cascade of irrelevant speech without benefit of
Our Vivienne were on t' rec an the were this lad oo were
goin' t 'it our Vivienne - but our Vivienne sez - 'I've
got a stick and I shall 'it YOU!"
As this brief narrative came to an abrupt halt. We
took a few seconds to absorb and decode such staccato
intelligence. Gary was particularly fascinated by
her mouth on the word 'you' which became a perfect circle.
I muttered polite apologies and moved on to the house of
Aunty Joyce who had invited us - ‘Shall ya cum in an
ave a bita tea?’
Joyce, a lifelong spinster, had always been very nervous
of strange men. The physical nearness of a tall
unknown handsome blond was a challenge. Each time Gary
addressed her directly, in her primitive kitchen, she
averted eye contact. Downcast, Joyce examined
a filthy old peg rug made years ago from bits of coloured
Three tiny cakes and three cups of lukewarm stewed tea
concluded the sparse meal - for which she was thanked.
Small talk had run its course. The conversation
gradually dried up leaving long and slightly embarrassing
pauses - causing a small amount of tension.
During one silence, Joyce looked up through the window and
eased the tension with a slow and easy -
mmmmmmm." The bird moved.
"Nice parakeet," said Gary.
"We call it a budgerigar," I said.
"Mmmmmm," said Aunty Joyce.
Suddenly - the tinkle of a bell! To the rescue came
- Joey. All eyes turned upon the little budgie who
had cleverly rang his bell and provided a delightful
"Elo, Joey! Are ya showin' off. Joey Joey
Joey!" repeated a delighted Aunty Joyce.
She pushed her face up close to the cage and pursed her
lips to make a kissing sound - which both revolted and
annoyed Gary. For the benefit of his hostess, he
tried hard to maintain a half smile to suggest his
pleasure at such charming behaviour, but was further
aggravated when his mischievous friend said -
"Joey Joey Joey! Look at Joey, Gary!"
"I can see Joey," responded the other, through his teeth.
We were all rewarded by a single chirp, a cocked head on
one side and a second peck of the bell. At that
moment the show became really interesting when Joey did
his party trick.
He put his little head under the bell giving the amusing
appearance of wearing a hat. Aunty Joyce twittered
"Put ya 'at on, Joey. Joey Joey Joey. Look,
Narvel, Joey's got 'is 'at on! Joey Joey Joey ... "
and so on.
Back on the cobbles I said - You
favourite Aunty Gertie at number two ...
‘Spare me! Spare me!’ interrupted Gary. ‘I
can’t take anymore Annables’
‘I think you’ll like her’ I said - ‘a highly entertaining
harridan - the sharp tongued matriarch of the Annable
Entering number two (nobody knocked - you just walked in)
we carefully trod around several little kids crawling
along Aunty Gertie's spotless floor.
As long as I could remember, Gertie's living room was full
to overflowing with a humanity of Annables - fussing
doting and cooing at their little ones.
Gertie was generous. The kettle was always on the
boil supplying an endless supply of tea for the multitude.
"Mash 'em some tea, Arr Fred."
Two mugs arrived and Gary tried to look grateful for the
tea he didn’t want - but the home-made fruit-cake was
"Ear - Get thee chops round that!" ordered Aunty Gertie
thrusting a tea plate at her grinning nephew. "Thas
like a bloody Cheshire cat!
I liked Aunty Gertie. Her entertaining banter was a
treat. She sounded and looked like a typical
battle-axe. At 81, with robust health she was still
going strong, criticising, bossing, dominating and
The show went on and on, and it went better when I had an
opportunity to direct. I knew which mischievous
buttons to press to get Gertie going.
"We've been talking to Joey. He put his hat on for
Bloody 'ell! An t' bod on t' middle at table.
What must ya friend think?
"Oh, it was different," said Gary, cautiously.
Slightly intimidated by the crowd in that small room.
Aunty Gertie continued her assault on Aunty Joyce -
Nowt else ta do but talk tat bod all day. Bloody
pathetic. Silly owd bogga! Owd fashioned as
Methuselah. What must ya think, Gary? An you
from America where it's all posh.
Crowded the room may have been - but there was plenty of
room for the elephant in the room - the dread of
homosexuality. Nothing was ever said, but they all
knew that nephew Narvel - couldn’t kick a football,
couldn’t knock down a pint of beer, couldn’t defend
himself with bare knuckles and worse - much worse -
couldn’t fancy a lass.
And Gary felt this too. He had issues with his own
family. Accordingly, like me, he needed a change - a
bit of gay company perhaps - and expressed a desire to
meet the washed up drag act, Becksitch Betty who lived in
Betty’s small room had a comfortable, quaint simplicity.
Darkened by heavily-curtained windows, a blazing fire shot
out a cheerful warm orange glow.
"Nice fire," complimented Gary.
"Could be better," replied their host. "Woodside
'ards!" (a cheap type of local coal) "Like tryin' ta
burn bloody slate! Grey as me granny's 'air.’
Once more, I was mesmerised by a mouth which seemed to -
move all round his face.
‘That loose bitch next door - she gets Derby Brights
(the best local coal) for nowt. ‘She’s filthy!
A sat beind er at bingo. Ya could grow bloody taters
in her neck.’
This last precipitated a tirade against Betty's neighbours
and his personal assessment of the social scene of lower
She stands need ta go on about my morals. She's 'ad
bloody coalman, dustman ... nowt but a tart - dirty cow!
She's 'ad more prick than a second 'and dart-board.
A cut off all 'eads of 'ere daffodils. That's what a
bloody did. That'll learn 'er .. callin' me ta that
dotty bugga other side, ya know, 'im as keeps piddlin' 'is
bloody dotty toes. An 'er filthy kids! Thee
stink! Thee run round with their knickers droppin'
down. And that fat lass, one tooth black, one
wobblin'. What's up we 'im?
Once again, I was breathless with laughter. It was a
splendid performance - however - we took note.
Becksitch Betty, when crossed, was capable of a spiteful
act; vandalising the garden of a neighbour. The old
queen ranted on -
"Can't keep 'er bloody legs closed." Gary looked
suitably shocked. "Big family .. yes. All
ignorant as pigs.
She feeds 'em boiled bones ya know .. oo are, an little 'n
in t' chair, like a bloody monkey. 'Eee is enjoyin'
them bones,' she sez.
An grandma sitin' there, all bloody day, daft old bogga,
three sheets ta wind, red face, piddlin' scabs on 'er
legs, veins stickin' out, six bloody chins ...
Gary had had enough of my weird and wacky friends and
At the end of our UK holiday he’d met sneering snobs,
Dolly, Nobby the Gnome, the Belper Crone, the Toad,
Guzzley Granddad, Gutter Gobler etc etc ...
Bog ole! Belper! No. Not for Gary. He yearned
for the fleshpots of London, Paris, New York or San
To conclude - a tribute to Joyce. Why did we get on
so well? Because we had a lot in common. We
were the butt of family jokes - the unmarried - the odd -
the childless. We shared this indignity. It
brought us together. She liked me. She
respected me and when I became a teacher - she was proud
Know what - that meant everything.
In 1965, I lived in Detroit but enjoyed an extended
cycling holiday in Britain. I was taken to the
Friary Hotel in Derby, in those days an
exclusive meeting place for upper class homosexuals - the
elite Derby Camp as it was known. David, my guide,
affected a cut-glarrss accent. During one picnic, he
remonstrated with a group of curious cows -
‘No. No. Go away, go away.’
On another occasion, a man alighted from a Rolls Royce and
said to his wife - ‘Come on dook, urry oop’
‘Oh dear!’ commented David, ‘It
would have to be
the self-made type’
On entry to The Friary, there seemed - soft silence and
darkness. Eventually, the eyes adjusted to dim
lighting revealing a large Georgian emptiness - empty,
except for a group of shadowy be-suited gentlemen standing
near the bar. Gradually, I discerned ... a low
murmur of ornate voices in conversation. ‘Oh yes,
indeed, quite ... hear hear’
David and I approached the gathering. All eyes were
inclined to a big man, slightly stocky wearing a sneer on
his aquiline profile. It was a classic face, yet, I
was utterly repelled by an artificial slimy drawl.
Words were exhaled in a breathy whisper. The
sibilance of voice was matched by a sickening softness of
"Hilary Raymond Hawley," whispered David - sardonically -
in the style of a grand announcement. "He's HRH to
the bitchy Nottingham Camp. He has an extensive
knowledge of royal families, parrst and present. He
knows all the royal highnesses and all the serene
highnesses. It fascinates him."
Addressing the gathering, he was holding court with a
narrative interrupted by a frequent, forced laugh - ha ha
ha - a nauseating wheeze which accentuated his
"He's the number two," added David. "Watch out!
He's powerful. Not one to be crossed or it could
mean social death.
Have you ... identified the boss?"
At the moment of entry I had
indeed identified the
Top Man. About a dozen pairs of eyes were on him
ever looking for approval.
The most striking aspect of Claud Hoadley - the First
Homosexual of Derbyshire - was his posture. Possibly
this gave him that ... indefinable air of authority.
Hoadley was BOLT upright, straight as a pole - always.
To this stern schoolmarrster, slouching was a sin and, in
that room, every person appeared to be affected, appeared
to be standing at attention, in dread of imminent
reprimand which might shoot out like a whiplash.
"Straighten up there boy! How dare you loll in front
of me! Such disrespectful drooping is indicative of
an indolent and disorderly mind."
He had sharp clear-cut features with shrewd, cold, grey
eyes and cruel lips.
Hoadley's suit was distinguished by its superb cut.
He was the very quintessence of good taste and excellent
grooming, from the top of his perfectly combed hair down
to his highly polished, expensive shoes.
about Claud Hoadley was correct. Those around him
seemed to be anxious to approach his high standards.
I was very impressed when this paragon broke into speech -
I - a lowly Derbyshire teenager, in awe of an
extraordinary accent. If David's 'cut-glass' diction
had been impressive, this Hoadley orgy of enunciation,
such high art of lavish articulation - was more
Do you know, it hit my Derbyshire ear like a thunderbolt.
One word in particular was drawn out with striking
embellishment: 'after' became very southern, sounding like
I noticed that on a walking holiday. Very often,
some peasant would say -
‘Owe do’ - to which Hoadley would respond - ‘Good
In a Youth Hostel, he was holding court, mesmerising his
admiring listeners with impressive vowels. One woman
‘Ooo - a say Gertie. Dunt ‘e talk nice. Ooo a
could listen to im all day.’
Following a long hard walk, cold and starving, I was
desperate for sustenance -
‘Surely it’s near dinner time,’ I said, ‘Won’t the warden
bang that gong?’
‘No need to strike the gong, Narvel. No. We’re
all so hungry - we’re HERE.’ All heads nodded.
Night at the Friary was a ritual for Claud’s retinue of
elite homosexuals. Class conscious values were
communicated - subtly. Members of the club were
encouraged to appear to be, at all times, inwardly
assured, stable, smug - even arrogant. I was
experiencing a culture shock. Unlike in Detroit, in
Derby discussion of money was considered vulgar, unearned
privilege was admired and American pushiness deplored.
Steered by Hoadley and Hawley, the conversation meandered
around various subjects but the correct code of
conduct came out loud and clear;
manual work, technical skills, people in trade, self-made
types and all manner of 'doers' - were to be despised by
this entourage of nodding heads.
I often reflect on that 'elite' of Derby queers - as they
called themselves before the word gay came into general
use - you were either queer or normal. Oppressed
people who - to make their own position safer - felt the
need to denigrate other human beings regarded as inferior
in the British class structure.
These were the sad folk I described in
- affected professionals, fearful timid men trying to
survive in the homophobic 'dark ages' of Derby in 1965.
A time when gay people tried to be invisible, a time when
desires were repressed, were illegal, were a deep, dark
Claud Hoadley was now in full flow, holding full
attention, denouncing The Beatles. They’d just been
awarded the MBE.
‘It was an honour we should all aspire to. But I
arrsk you, what can we expect from a Labour Prime
Minister? Outrageous! atterly, atterly
outrageous. That Canadian Member of Parliament ...
Hilary - what was his name?"
‘Ha ha, Hector Dupuis,’ replied the effeminate and effete
Hilary Raymond Hawley.
"Oh yes. That man is quite right. They are
vulgar nincompoops. Mr Dupuis has been cheapened, a
gentleman of his position!" He spat out the next
sentence with gathering fury.
"He’s been debased to the level of common working-clarrs
ruffians. I applaud his action in returning his
insignia to the Palace. I would have done the
All heads nodded with approval - Hear! Hear! Nobody
dared to mention that Claud had never received an honour
of any kind.
Even David enunciated more carefully, more formally, in
the regal presence of Claud Hoadley.
The lofty shrewd eyes came to rest upon the scruffy youth
who stood at the side of David. The tone was sharp,
clearly cool and censorial.
"Good evening, David. A soupcon late - perhaps -
this evening. I see you appear to have acquired ...
a yang person. May we know the name of this ... new
"Good evening, Claud. Well now, this is Narvel.
He lives in Detroit but he’s as English as the rest of
"Indeed," replied the pedant. "What part of England,
may one arrsk?"
"Horsley Woodhouse," I said. I’d carefully and
slowly pronounced both H's in Horsley Woodhouse, so
carefully and so slowly - that it sounded like a foreign
place in my own ears.
That smug gathering knew, only too well, that the rough
lad before them was much more accustomed to saying 'Ossly
Wuddus'. I winced under the slimy sneer of Hilary
Raymond Hawley, who emitted one of his numerous breathy
'ha ha ha ha's'.
Back in 1963 when I’d just arrived in the US, as a novel
curiosity, I was invited to address a class at the local
Clean-cut, all-American hunky boys yelled out -
"Greetings England!" "Welcome to the US of A."
"Hi, buddy." "Hi ya, Englishman."
My former Heanor mates would have said - ‘Thee teckin t’
Questions were asked. All went well until I started
to describe my house..
"We don't 'av asses like yours. Arr ass's touchin'
t' next ass. Ya know, like ... sort a - all asses in
a row, like. Nar me mate orris - he’s got a nice ass
This produced a sea of shocked faces. Half a second
later, there was an explosion of loud guffaws from raucous
Teacher came to the rescue. An important
"Err, Narvel! Perhaps you'll run that past us again.
I think you're referring to the building in which
you live, if I'm not mistaken.
No sweat. Nothing wrong with the way you speak.
If these kids were bedder educated they’d know the French
don't sound the H either. I think you were referring
to Horace’s HOUSE.’
Back to the Friary - something was said against a new
progressive Canon at Derby Cathedral attempting to
modernise the service. I couldn’t believe it!
"They go to church?" I whispered to David. I
was shocked! Homosexuals going to church!
‘My dear boy!’ said David, ‘You have so much to learn -
they practically own Derby Cathedral! Smells and
bells; they invented it. I'm surprised the
whole congregation don't rise when Hoadley and Hawley make
the grand entrance.
It's the same every
the great and good of Derby sit near the front, always in
the same order. First Miss Bulstrode, the
headmistress of the prestigious Derby High School for
Girls. She chats with Hoadley in Latin and Greek.
Then we have Hawley, who sits next to the tweedy Miss
Penelope DeHaviland, the editor of Derbyshire Life and
Countryside Magazine. They exchange bits of gossip
about the Lord High Sheriff and the Lord Lef - tenant.’
Well so much for snobs. People ask me - why did call
it Scruffy Chicken? The title is more a
comment on the snooty snobs who made me
scruffy. Scruffy accent, scruffy clothes, scruffy
education, scruffy friends, scruffy table manners etc.
Looking back half a century, it seems to me that the ultra
polished diction of nodding heads was an attempt to
compensate for the low status of gays in general society.
I’d guess that most of Hoadley’s devotees came from humble
origins like me in Stanley Common existing in a primitive
terrace cottage. There was precious little
difference between an £8 a week coal miner and a cotton
Yet, to uplift their lowly status, black homosexuals in
Detroit drove around in huge beautiful automobiles with
awe inspiring fins!
At the same time most of my relatives with coal black
faces after a day labouring in the bowels of the earth -
well they went home on pushbikes.
So there you have it - my African American friends
asserting their status swanking at the wheel of a Lincoln
Continental or a Cadillac
and Claud Hoadley’s gang in Derby, asserting their
superiority with affected vowels trying to sound like
I really do think there is a strong link between them.
features Mr TOAD - so called because he actually
resembled a toad. It also includes an obnoxious
queen known as Betty and a nice little fat man called
On the front cover of
Scruffy Chicken you see a
cyclist [that’s me] dwarfed by two craggy moss covered
rocks each profiling - ugly faces.
Look carefully - and you’ll see a toad looking at an old
hag. The hag was Becksitch Betty.
Toad was the very essence of old-fashioned Englishness in
its purest form. He was as salty and as vulgar as a
A WAS IN THAT COTTAGE ALL DAY LONG - OLE AS BIG AS A
DINNER PLATE - AND NEVER REFUSED ONCE! AS I ALWAYS
SAY - THERE’S CORN IN EGYPT.
The best times of my life were not in the company of
They despised him.
No. The best times were when we were together like
two naughty little boys being tossed and blown about on
the North Sea - on board the Bridlington Belle - under a
perfect blue sky.
I didn’t know it at the time, but those precious moments
back in 1965 were the beginning of a lifelong friendship,
nay, a love affair; a love affair which would last into
the 21st century.
Toad was quaint. Toad was funny - a bundle of fun -
a barrel of laughs. He represented an amusing
character in caricature - perhaps one of the last of the
I first heard about him in the company of a little camp
queen called Dolly - the famous Dolly of Derby, an obese
rotundity. He looked like tea cosy on top of a ball.
Dolly! It was the perfect name for this dolly tub
With full, fat lips spoke nicely with beautiful round
vowels. Nice soft voice.
I liked Dolly. He was nice. He took me to the
little terraced cottage of another strange man, a
man, a washed-up drag act, actually, the infamous
Becksitch Betty - so called because he lived on Becksitch
Lane in Belper.
He was the ugliest man I’d ever seen.
he said in effeminate tone,
‘Ooo's this then?
(pointing to me) Ooo a say, Dolly, yav bin robbin' t'
cradle!’ I was still a teenager.
His features and colouring had me utterly transfixed.
Discoloured skin was tightly pulled across a hideously
sharp bone structure. It was difficult to describe
such a repulsive facial tint. At times, it seemed to
be livid, at other times - pallid - most unhealthy.
In full spate of chatter, that horrible face was
mesmerizing. In a common accent, the mouth contorted and
distorted as it painfully - heaved - forth its words.
It was like his mouth went all over his face.
Sort a talked like that. Possibly from a broken
jaw which deformed from side to side causing the full
countenance to twist and writhe.
I was amused and yet repelled. In that mobile face,
mark you, I detected viciousness in the moving flesh, its
kinks and its warps.
He steered the subject to a certain Mr Toad.
Ya know, Dolly, 'e never talks ta me. 'e looks
grotesque. 'e does!
The hideous continued to pass judgment on the hideous.
It's right! 'e looks just like a toad: oogly as sin.
'av ya seen 'im in that 'orrible car?
‘Oh yes,’ said Dolly, ‘I've told him to get a different
car, if only to change the number plate - for cottaging
Cottaging means going from toilet to toilet
Lives in them smelly lavatories,
said Betty, addressing me.
"That ugly little car - it doesn't help," continued Dolly.
"It's the pugnacious way he's huddled over the wheel.
It rather suits him actually. That car looks like a
Toot toot! Toot toot!
added Betty by way of sound effects.
Ya've ta ger
out t' way before 'e knocks ya over.
"Oh yes, he does like his tooter. All part of his
pushy personality you know."
Eventually, I gathered that it was the pupils of the
Herbert Strutt Grammar School in Belper who, many years
before, christened their odd little Music Master 'Mr
Toad'. According to Dolly, he was not only a very
talented musician - but - he had …
delightful talents to offer.
‘You should let me introduce you to him."
Dolly's voice dropped.
He became conspiratorial.
‘It's not what he
looks like. It's what he
can do for you, Betty. Now then!"
This was uttered in a deep purr of strong significance as
the fat man, with wide, orbicular eyes, head cocked to one
side, advised his friend after the style of a parent
giving sage advice to a child. To emphasise, Dolly
raised his finger.
"How many times have I've told you? What do they say
about Mr Toad? You were on the front row when they
were given out. He’s a big lad. He's
especially good at what you like, Betty."
Becksitch Betty was getting interested. His body
writhed in anticipation. His face twisted. His
crooked mouth became gymnastic.
Ooo a say! A sometimes think, Dolly, eee - if
somebody'd just give me one, just do it to me.
Ooo it'd be grand it would.
Bill Bulman” who
was an obese American gentleman I first met in 1966
Please note - I quote him directly using the offensive
racist language of that period.
At that time, Bill was resident in the Old Swan Hotel.
He was also resident, on a daily basis, in the Harrogate
Royal Baths. Exquisite services to fellow bathers
are described in some erotic detail. They queued up
for it! Masked behind a hot hissing haze of gurgling
steam, a muscular tongue conscientiously satisfied a whole
line of horny hunks.
Big Bill, a cultured anglophile with a love of Harrogate’s
beauty and charm, often expressed his feelings with a
roaring Deep South accent.
He wrote me letters raving about the crocuses which were -
‘as big as tulips!’ and bellowed self-promotion with -
‘I’m a landmark in these parts.’
Some time towards the late 1980s, I was surprised to hear
that he still lived in Harrogate. The sad news of
his death came shortly afterwards. I wanted to
honour his memory with a cameo - but also needed to inject
honesty by exploring the paradox of his racial bigotry
contrasted with an assertion of gay rights and the need
for homosexual self-respect.
Many former friends who share same-sex attraction have
proved to be racially prejudiced and quick to
discriminate. Sadly, Big Bill, an amusing character
recalled with affection, is a good example of that
The big man’s throaty conversation was informative,
thoughtful and cultured. And yet, curiously at odds
with his gruff manner. In thick and crusty tones,
Bill Bulman was able to deliver intelligent comment on a
range of diverse subjects.
He was a regular visitor to a rough and rowdy pub called
The Junction in Bradford. Intolerant of effeminate
men, he was appalled by an outrageous and garrulous queen
known as Hetty Howitt, who regularly held court.
This flamboyant flame admitted to 45, but a scruffy urchin
called Fluff had been complimentary, suggesting that
Hetty, well preserved, could get away with late thirties.
My private estimate was middle fifties. Bill,
however, was more experienced and less kind - with a sharp
eye. He let rip an explosive guffaw.
That ol’ queen? Forty five! Why, that
mendacious bitch! Why, he’s a painted
He done put the clock back some 20 years. Next time
– look again. You’ll see more art than nature.
Check out the little haggard lines at the corners of his
eyes. And those eyebrows! Why, they’re more
black than a nigger’s ass; more black than nature ever
This fat old American from the Mississippi Delta possessed
a curious mixture of innate racism and [for 1966] a
progressive attitude to homosexuals.
He passed judgement on the actor Alan Bates who had twice
stayed at the Old Swan Hotel.
Didn’t ya know? Why, sure. It’s true.
He’s as queer as a three dollar bill but he don’t like it.
No, sir. He’s paranoid about his lover Peter
Wyngarde. Peter told me so himself.
‘I have to walk two paces behind Alan. If we go to a
party, we can never arrive together. I have to go
earlier – or later.’
Shit! I wouldn’t stand for that! No way.
I’ve been in this hotel for years an I seen it all.
It is so sad.
Dirk Bogarde. He’s been here with his boys but …
shit … creepin’ around the corridors ... obsessed with
secrecy, caution an God knows what!
I don’t say to shout it from the rooftops but if folks
like us could just find the courage to acknowledge
friendships … Shit!
We should face the world as we are.
Future videos will feature Mr Toad, Dolly, Becksitch
Betty, Jasper the Belper Crone, Nobby the Gnome, Guzzly
Granddad, Simon Tonks, Shaun Stokes, Monks and Muckles.
These quirky curiosities were seen as the ‘lower orders’
by my collection of sneering snobs forming the Derby and
Nottingham elites headed by Claud Hoadley and his ‘nodding
heads’. They include David Bond, Hilary Raymond
Hawley (HRH) and the appalling Clarence Soames.