There we were, gathered in Holborn on a wet Sunday afternoon, each ready to bare his or her soul to the distinguished speaker who was constantly on the verge of appearing but never seemed to arrive.
The first half of the epic length debate consisted of Ian Harvey giving his famous Dunkirk speech that everyone has heard before, and dear old Anthony Grey looking for all the world like the undertaker to the gay world, and saying how much he liked being in with all his Jewish friends.
Things didn’t improve when a show of hands revealed that less than half the people present were actually Jewish. But never mind … Simon Benson was obviously enjoying every moment of it, and everyone agreed that it was very good of him to have arranged the whole thing.
There were the usual stories of How I Told Momma – spiced on this occasion by a few leaden Jewish jokes. The break came as a great relief.
In the interval the Star Turn appeared – looking very biblical with his long beard and eating sandwiches wrapped in tinfoil. He held out much promise.
By the second half, many had left, and the Jewish element in the audience had the strange experience of being a minority in an establishment run primarily for them.
The Star Turn gave us hard stuff about the Jewish attitude to the homosexual. Jewish law does not recognise the existence of homosexuals — only homosexual acts; these are forbidden. If I followed the talk correctly, the soul was regarded as being bisexual, and could only attain full unity when partnered with its other half, which, I gathered, could only happen within heterosexual marriage.
When asked what he would say to a Jew who asked him how to be a good Jew and a practicing homosexual as well, the distinguished speaker was at a loss, Finally he said that he would have to say “do your own thing…” Ten years ago that would have been a fairly radical statement, and the distinguished speaker thought that it was still a radical point of view, because he asked the reporter from the Jewish Chronicle not to report this part of the proceedings.
When the understandably flabergasted reporter asked why, she was given a pathetic string of implausible horrors that could befall Jewish teachers who step out of line. I was depressed, and I left soon after.
On my way out I saw Anthony Grey coming up from the loo, still looking for all the world like the undertaker. He gave me a short, tight smile and went back to the meeting, obviously bored beyond words..