He Wasn’t Kidding

19720914-07BOB STURGESS is a member of London CHE, and also attends many GLF meetings. He is a journalist, and apart from writing and speaking on homophile and allied subjects, Bob contributes articles on the theatre scene to various publications. Three of his own plays have been professionally produced (“In a modest way”) in London.

His interest in Councillor Kidd stems from the fiasco last August, 1971, when Kidd attacked homosexuals and got a lot of publicity as a result. This year, Kidd’s letter to GAY NEWS (Issue 5) prompted this interview, written when Bob was in Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival.

Anatomy of a closed mind
by Bob Sturgess
Edinburgh, September 3.

Pointing through the window of Edinburgh’s Festival Club to Calton Hill (a popular gay venue). Councillor Kidd of Edinburgh Corporation asked me point blank:

You know what I’d do to the homosexuals who pollute our lovely countryside with their presence?

No, I replied, although I had a pretty shrewd idea. He is an imaginative man.

I’d put the Edinburgh Corporation’s police dogs on half rations for a week — make them right vicious — and then you know what I’d do?

No? Gourmet-like, he was savouring the thought with his tongue.

I’d set them loose and let them sink their fangs into all those nancy boys up there; make right mincemeat out of them they would.

He sat back to enjoy the effect of his words but, seeing no reaction on my face, added for good measure:

I said as much in the Council chamber. You can quote me.

I will. Outwardly a kindly man. Councillor Kidd had agreed, at some personal inconvenience, to meet me in person at the Festival Club.

I’m going away tomorrow, he had said over the phone. Must it be a personal interview?

It would be better, I answered.

It’s not a disease you know, it’s — filth.

Would six o’clock be convenient?

Very guid!

How will I recognise you?

I’ll be carrying a stick.

It was with some trepidation that I had entered the Club on the dot of six, to avoid at least gratuitous retribution, and it was a relief to see that, having hurt his leg in a fall, the Councillor was using his stick supportively, not offensively. We sat down in the bar. At the adjoining table sat a brace of purse-lipped Glaswegian parents with their pre-pubescent daughter, who was evincing an unhealthy interest in our conversation, for the Councillor was not of a mind to pull his verbal punches.

Born like it? You think some might be born like it? No, no. It’s a weakness in their bloody minds; they’re easily led – to filth.

You think they all choose to be that way?

I don’t think it, I know it.

The learned Councillor took an ostentatious sip of his ginger beer:

They’re like all those alcoholics and drug addicts who never do an honest day’s work in their lives — they contribute nothing to the life of the Nation.

Do you think journalists contribute anything to the life of the nation?

Most definitely.

Not all journalists are heterosexuals.

His rheumy eyes looked engagingly incredulous.

Really? I didna know that. That surprises me.

He said this very gently, naively, with such child-like simplicity that one could not doubt his sincerity.

They should all be bloody well burnt. Hitler may have had his faults, but you can say this for him — he knew how to deal with those — Arabs.

I thought Goering was a roaring homosexual.

GOERING WAS A ROARING WHAT?

Councillor Kidds’ hearing was anything but acute, and our high-decibel conversation had widened Glasgow’s eyeballs to the size of farmhouse saucers.

A ROARING HOMOSEXUAL.

The little girl gave a frisson of excitement.

Really? That surprises me.

Are you against adult homosexuals engaging in private sex?

Most definitely.

On the assumption that most male and female homosexuals are not that way from choice, wouldn’t you in effect be condemning them to lifelong abstinence?

Most certainly I would. And if they must have sexual outlet, they can always get it for five shillings from a woman of the streets.

But we’re assuming that, being homosexual, they wouldn’t want to go with the opposite sex.

It’s what I said; they’re weak-minded.

Many male homosexuals and lesbians are isolated and unhappy —

They canna be unhappy enough if that’s the life they lead.

— so would you at least allow them social contact with each other?

Most certainly not. It spreads, you see. We have to stop it spreading to the schools — we have to protect our children.

But don’t you think that enlightened sex education would alleviate many people’s unhappines in later life?

We have millions and millions of guid youth. We must protect them from filth.

Scotland’s Mary Whitehouse cast an avuncular eye around the thickly-carpeted room and thought of past battles.

I’ve done a lot to clean up Edinburgh. Everyone knows my views.

I’m sure they do.

If I was running this club, I wouldn’t allow them in; they flock in here in droves, you know, at Festival times. In droves. You can tell them a mile away, stinking with dirty cheap scent — the dirty brutes.

Would you set up a sex-testing panel at the door?

A young waitress caught the Councillor’s roaming eye.

They’d be far better off falling in love with these pretty girl waitresses —

I’m sure it’s what many gay sisters would love to do, but how could they if you didn’t let them in?

… the first step to a guid clean Christian life.

Are you a Christian?

Yes.

Do you detect any contradiction between your religion and your attitude to people?

I dunna take your meaning.

How, for instance, do you think Christ would have treated homosexuals?

Were there any in those days?

It’s a safe presumption.

But I’m talking about today; our country’s going downhill fast.

Wouldn’t Christ have …

I’d put them to real hard work on the roads. Or in the Army. To make men of them. National Service will come back when we’re in the Common Market. I’d put them to marching all day. In my six years in the army I never once came across a homosexual. You’re too tired for sex in the barrack room. You just want to get into bed.

Many homosexuals did a lot of marching in the last war, but it didn’t make them heterosexuals. They simply came back tired homosexuals.

I’d give them a pill and clear them out o’ the road.

Is that what Christ would have done?

They didn’t have a pill in those days.

Don’t you think Christ would have dealt with homosexuals as he dealt with other human beings — with charity and compassion?

I can’t answer that one.

Councillor Kidd, you occupy a responsible public position —

Aye, I’m a family man, and I’ve been 25 years in public service.

Has you aim been to bring happiness to people?

Aye. The great thing about serving in local government is that you learn to give, not take.

Really? Do you have Parliamentary aspirations?

Aye, if God spares me. I’d like to be an MP. The trouble is, every party is agin me. I speak too straight for them. But many people do share my views. I got into local government with the largest majority (3,500) in Scotland for any party.

As a senior public figure do you feel you should be as informed as possible about the subjects on which you pronounce?

It depends.

I see Montgomery Hyde’s ‘The Other Love’ has just been reprinted. It presents a factual survey of (mainly male) homosexuality in Britain and is helping towards greater understanding –

I would never read such rubbish. I wouldn’t I allow the book in my house.

Is it just possible that your views on this subject might be wrong?

Councillor Kidd entered into a thoughtful pause, as if examining a new proposition.

My opinion is not wrong — it’s the opinion of millions.

One gathers that “it was the opinion of millions” that Britain should not rearm against Germany in the late thirties – and that opinion proved almost catastrophically wrong.

That’s as may be. I was surprised, I must confess, that the Churches supported the 1967 Act.

Might they not have been convinced by all the evidence?

What evidence?

The sort of evidence you label as ‘rubbish’.

The room was filling up pleasantly with yoooth and Councillor Kidd had finished his ginger beer. Although Glasgow had left, there were more farm saucers around us than ever, and it was getting time to meet friends and go out on the Fringe. We got up by mutual consent and the mild-mannered Councillor vouchsafed me one last confidence: I’m writing my autobiography, he said, lowering his voice. The things I have to tell — you wouldn’t credit it.

I wouldna, I said.

There, he murmured. I’ve given you plenty of ammunition.

To be directed against whom? I asked.

We shook hands.

If I get into Parliament, I’ll bloody well trounce the London Homosexuals as well.

You could tell he wasn’t Kidding.

The Homosexual Woman & Venereal Disease

19720914-08In Issue No. 1 of Gay News a Consultant wrote a feature on Venereal Disease mainly concerning himself with the male homosexual and the symptoms which surround these diseases, but female homosexuals are not exempt from them, so I shall try to clarify and enlighten women as to their symptoms and the process of going through a Clinic for treatment.

At one time female homosexual patients used to express surprise that they could in fact have been infected with Venereal Disease by contact with their own sex, but the germ Syphilis (spiral shaped) can only live in warm moist conditions such as those which occur in the vagina, mouth and anus, therefore if a female homosexual often practices “cunnilingus” ie the act of tickling the woman’s clitoris with her tongue, she is therefore spreading the infected area simply by kissing, or if there is a very small abrasion in the anogenital region it will enter and can spread through the body in a matter of hours. I must stress here that Syphilis, if left untreated, can kill. This disease progresses through Four Stages and is identified by diagnosing the germs in the sores and by blood tests.

The First Stage

The first sign of syphilis can make its appearance any time between ten days and twelve weeks after infection. The first sign is usually a single, painless ulcer on or around the sexual organs. Although these ulcers are painless and might even appear to clear up all on their own, they should not be ignored they are highly infectious. In fact, if there is an ulcer on or around the sexual organs, it is always sensible to assume that it is syphilitic until proved otherwise at a clinic. If syphilis is not treated at this stage, it might appear to clear up, but usually all that is happening is that the infection has spread to various parts of the body and that the second stage of the disease is developing. As this first stage can be so easily missed, the only really sensible thing to do is to have a check-up, even if there’s only the remotest chance that you may have caught it.

The Second Stage

The most obvious and most typical sign is a body rash which cannot be missed. Usually this rash doesn’t itch or cause discomfort.

This stage may be accompanied by general signs of ill-health, loss of weight, poor appetite, and so on. Because the rash will eventually disappear, this second stage is sometimes ignored. It is, however, the most acute and highly infectious stage of syphilis.

The Third Stage

If untreated, syphilis will continue to develop, and the possibility of infecting others will remain. This third stage is called the latent stage because it is a time when the infection appears to have disappeared since it shows no symptoms. It can last from a few months to a lifetime.

The Fourth Stage

At this stage, the damage caused by the infection becomes apparent. There is absolutely no means of curing the damage. All that treatment can do is to alleviate the symptoms and prevent complications. In one out of every three untreated cases the disease at this stage may have attacked the heart or brain or any other organ.

Treatment of Syphilis consists of a number of injections of penicillin or another antibiotic, and it may be injected daily for seven to fourteen days. Occasionally, a different, longer-acting preparation may be injected. If the disease has been present for quite a time before the patient goes for treatment, the doctor may decide to institute long-term treatment to make sure that the spirochaetes do not have a chance to survive. It is vital to follow the doctor’s instructions on medication if the disease is to be properly eliminated.

Let us now take a look at gonorrhea.

Gonorrhea is the commonest form of Venereal Disease. Its cause is a fragile germ which survives and multiplies in the sexual organs of a woman and should one woman have had intercourse at any time with a male

and picked it up, the germ may be there without her knowing it. In homosexual women, when one sexual passage comes into direct contact with another, the gonocci have a chance to move – a chance which they usually snap up – and when they are settled

Under the microscope, gonococci, the bacteria causing gonorrhoea, are seen as pink, coffee beanshaped germs, lying inside white blood cells.

in their new home, usually at the neck of the womb, they begin to multiply. Sometimes the gonocci may invade the anus as the vagina is very close. When gonorrhea occurs in the anus and rectum the person may not notice it because the symptoms are very mild. Sometimes, however, they will suffer from a discharge or itching or a feeling of dampness at the anus. Also, there may be mucus (slime) or pus in the faeces (shit). Sometimes the symptoms may be severe with a lot of mucus being discharged and a great deal of pain on defaecating. If the condition remains for a long time untreated, warts may develop around the anus.

In the early stages it is very nearly impossible for a woman to know if she has gonorrhea. She may notice discomfort or tickling and a burning feeling on passing urine. She may pass urine more frequently than usual and there may be a discharge from her vagina. Often, if there is a discharge it is very slight, though it may stain the knickers. Occasionally, the discharge is sufficient to cause a sore patch between the legs. There are all sorts of places that gonorrhea may spread to, but the most complicated is when it spreads up through the womb or uterus and into the tubes leading into it, called the fallopian tubes. Usually, this produces a severe infection of the tubes with pain low down in the abdomen on one or both sides. Often there is a temperature, fever, vomiting, nausea and a headache. The woman looks ill and the doctor may have some difficulty in distinguishing the problem from appendicitis or other emergency conditions of the abdomen.

Diagnosis of gonorrhea in women takes longer. More than one examination may be required. A correct diagnosis can be made by taking a smear of the discharge and other secretions and a sample of blood. Treatment is usually with penicillin and started at once. Often one injection is enough, but patients are asked to return to the clinic for confirmation of a cure.

There is another disease which can affect women and can be transmitted to their sexual partners; it is Candida Albicans. This creature commonly lives on the skin, in the mouth, in the bowels and in the vagina. This causes a vaginal discharge in women. Sometimes the discharge is produced in large quantities causing soreness of the inner thighs and staining of the underwear. The itching may be quite severe, and it is often worse at night, probably because of the added warmth of the bed. It can be severe enough to stop the woman from sleeping and if this continues she will become bad tempered, overtired, unable to cope with things. The itching can also be a problem during the day, and the desire to scratch the offending part can be quite embarrassing. Candida Albicans is discovered by a physical examination when the doctor will scrape the inside of the vagina with a blunt instrument (which is painless) and then examine this under the microscope having stained it with a special chemical to colour the fungus if it is present. The treatment consists of using an antibiotic called Nystatin, which comes in the form of special pessaries or cream. The pessaries are placed in the vagina and the antibiotic is released to cover the inside of the vagina. Sometimes a doctor will paint the inside of the vagina with a dilute solution of gentian violet which also kills the fungus – though one does end up with brilliant purple underwear.

Women are prone to a number of infections in the vagina and any woman who has a persistent discharge which stains the underwear should either consult their own doctor or seek advice at a clinic. It is in the interest of all homosexuals to seek medical advice at once if they suspect that they may be infected.

Suburban Unity

Harrow Gay Unity: A Case History

19720914-08In the last few months there have been a number of gay groups emerging with their own local identity. For example, there is London University’s GAYSOC, a merger between CHE and GLF, and Reading’s Gay Alliance. These have been based on the very reasonable feeling that, where the territory is limited, like in a university or an isolated town, it makes more sense to get together a united gay scene, responsive to local needs, rather than to play up the differences between nationwide bodies in a smaller arena. This is GAY UNITY’S position too, even though we are in a London Borough. We hope that this brief account of our history, aims, achievements and failures will help others to develop their own schemes, just as we have learned and adapted through hearing about others’ experiences.

We started in November 1971, as very much GLF, highly motivated to protest and take political action as a result of a spate of gay cottage arrests in Harrow. This was a time of writing letters, but in personal fear and trepidation, because we were so few, and actually operating in our home area. We eventually got ourselves a fairly satisfactory place to meet regularly, and managed to place a regular advertisement in our local paper. Then we expanded fairly slowly, and there was a constant dialogue between two points of view within the group: “We must never concede to the straight system, and if newcomers can’t accept GLF ideology we are better off without them”, versus “We are all gay, and the needs of individuals for a local social scene are more important than their political beliefs”.

About this time too, the Central London GLF meetings came to an end, and we began to feel more that we must look after ourselves since no-one else would. As an experiment, and as a result of the newcomers’ desire for structure in the group and their right to have a democratic say in how things developed, we set up a committee or co-ordinating group (5 elected, 3 to be replaced every month) to deal with the business of letters, money and arrangements. Some GLF-oriented people felt that this was too much and withdrew, while others decided to stay and keep the GLF viewpoint going. In the event, the committee never really worked, and action was still mostly taken by committed individuals and small groups. But socially we were getting more together, and public appearances in pubs and on the streets happened more often. Some of the fear about police and public hostility disappeared and a personal social network of friendship and support developed – the beginnings of a real local alternative scene.

We then decided to call ourselves GAY UNITY to appeal more to all gays in the area and because we felt we had a genuine local identity and were not just an outpost of GLF in the suburbs. But the GLF link was still there, particularly in the belief in the importance of public action and the search for a genuinely different way of life, rather than accepting the status quo of straight society.

The Present Situation

We still meet regularly on Mondays in the same pub. The search for better premises which we can advertise publicly is still on, but there are fewer suitable places in the suburbs. Pub rooms to let are rare, since they are either converted into more lucrative lounges, or new pubs are built without them. Church halls are unsatisfactory anyway, and only one of the many clergymen we wrote to even bothered to reply. Other halls like those belonging to political parties tend to be expensive or to lay down too many conditions.

At our meetings we report and discuss actions and then socialise downstairs in the pub lounge. Recent actions include sniping at the local Festival of Light operations and arranging a confrontation with them. We are on good terms with the Womens Lib, and with the Harrow Youth Movement, and supported HYM with a car and loudspeaker for their candidate in a recent ward by-election. Our main effort now is a series of organised visits to all the pubs in the area. In a group of aboul 8-10, wearing badges, we just go in and have a drink and be ourselves. People stare, and some come up and talk to us, and pass remarks. Without our being aggressive or provocative, the populace is getting to know that “queers” aren’t just the funny people to be found in squalid pubs in the centre of London. We also want to reach the isolated gays in this way, apart from our regular local newspaper and library ads. We want to use leaflets more too, but the experience of other groups has suggested that street handouts don’t seem to have much effect in relation to the effort put in.

In all, this may not seem a lot to be doing, but with our numbers still fairly low, about 25 regular attenders on Mondays (more for parties) it gives us enough to be busy, without putting too much onto individuals. We have kept away from formal organisation, although volunteers can be found for most of the jobs to be done. Without formality, it is admittedly harder to organise things. But when they do happen, everyone feels much more personally involved, and there is a great sense of unity and committment.

For the future, there are a lot of possibilities and hazards. In one of the pubs we went to we were refused service. If it happens more, or again in the same pub, we are ready to make a public issue out of it. Also it looks like some locals want to get at us. for reasons best known to themselves. A confrontation with active hostility, so far avoided, will have to be faced. Also we want to get in touch with more of the gays outside the usual scene. There are the kids still living at home who need to get more acquainted with gayness, and come out more. Then at the other end, there are the older men who haunt the cottages. For them at the moment, this is often the best way to see or take part in sex. But any group that really means what it says about treating people as individuals must evolve ways of bringing all gays into a better personal and social scene. Ideas from others are welcome.

Gay Unity and GLF

Like we said before, we feel that our real affinity remains with the GLF, as the source of ideas and principles, even though we do adapt to our surroundings, and assert our own identity. We try at least to attend GLF co-ordinating group regularly, to make a financial contribution, and to help in the office. Sometimes in the past we have felt over-criticised by individuals who didn’t seem to appreciate our problems. Now there seems to be a good understanding with central GLF. Also we feel that, through our own experience (which is the only way to find out) that many of the GLF approaches are the best ways of working towards a real change in society, especially openness.

Gay Unity and Gay News

Despite the fact that two of Harrow’s original members are in the Gay News collective, in Issue 2 it was reported by someone who knew the real situation, to the effect that Gay Unity had broken off from GLF.

This ‘fact’ was then used in the Editorial of the same issue as evidence of widespread disenchantment with GLF. Gay News then failed to correct the error, partly because the collective felt that an apology to individuals they knew personally would be enough. This was unfortunate, for it was not then a purely local matter. GLF had first reacted to the ‘news’, then reacted even more against Gay News for being deliberately misleading for the sake of journalistic effect.

Other groups got all gleeful about our ‘defection’, and Harrow had to spend a lot of time making the position clear again. Now we hope that we are back on good terms with Gay News. But other groups should take heed. They should be as clear as possible about their decisions and actions when they might be reported. Also they should not rely on any of the media, however sympathetic, to get facts across accurately. Gay News is the best available attempt to provide a national alternative to the straight press. But we should still make some allowance for the pressures on Gay News to be lively, topical and accurate all at the same time – usually at 4.00 am when they finally paste up what will be printed.

Love and peace from all of us at Harrow. Do let us know what you are doing, via Gay News or Come Together or directly by phone or visit our meetings. (Alex – 422-7890 or Janie – 863-1184).


ED. Gay News welcomes articles and news from other small gay groups, whether they be affiliated to CHE, GLF, SMG or independent.

Happily Ever After

19720914-09Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller, (Hart-Davis, £1.75)

This is a marvellously simple book, based on the real-life character of Mary Ann Willson, an American primitive painter of the early 1800’s. If you found The Well of Loneliness rather sentimental, and La Batarde unreadable, this is for you. It’s also for you if you want to know more about one kind of lesbian relationship, for the development of the relationship between Patience and Sarah is described clearly and truly in the first person, both alternating in acting as narrator.

Patience White is a quiet lady of thirty, living with her brother and his family in a small farming town in Connecticut in 1816. She does all the things that a woman did in this sort of environment – cooking, making candles, spinning – but she also paints, has a small private income and has no inclination to marry. ‘I was still young enough to think of marriage, at least to a widower, but I’d never noticed that marriage made anybody else feel better… Well, if a woman’s not going to want marriage, she’d best get busy and want to be a schoolmarm or hire herself out as an embroiderer. All I wanted was to be a painter…’

She also wants, deeply, someone to share her life, and to make this life independant of her rigidly conventional brother and his narrow-minded wife. When Sarah Dowling, twenty-one and tough, arrives with a load of firewood, there’s immediate contact. “I’m Pa’s boy,” says Sarah, ‘he couldn’t get a boy the regular way. Kept getting girls. So he picked me out to be boy because I was biggest.” Sarah in the scandal of the neighbourhood, but she and Patience quickly find that they complement each other, sexually as well as emotionally, and the rest of the book follows their efforts to get away from the village, and to come to terms with their unique situation

The device of having a few chapters written from each girl’s point of view works well on the whole, especially when Sarah goes off to find her own way in the world, believing that she and Patience will never be able to live together. Sarah travels with a book-peddlar, who teaches her to read, and develops her thinking, without disturbing her amusing innocence. When his affection for the young ‘boy’ in breeches and boots seems to become too close, she makes the breakthrough and admits that she is a girl, and goes home to face her angry father and re-establish her love with Patience.

Eventually they do break away, against opposition but with the unexpected help of Patience’s brother, who seems to finally recognise real love, although his shrewish wife certainly don’t have it. Travelling by steamer to the wicked city of New York, and meeting with unexpected help on the way, Patience and Sarah find a small farm near a village on the Hudson, and set up home there. They rebuild the collapsing log cabin, plant their own land, even build their own bed — live there, together, perhaps even happily ever after.

The real painter, Mary Ann Willson and her lover, Miss Brundidge, did exactly that, and this basis in fact adds another delightful facet to the book. I found Patience and Sarah the best recent fiction about lesbians I have read, and a fascinating piece of social history as well.

BLACK HONESTY

19720914-09The Harder they Come starring Jimmy Cliff. Directed by Perry Henzell. Cert ‘AA’. At present showing only at the Gaumont, Notting Hill Gate.
‘The Harder They Come’ Original Soundtrack Recording – Jimmy Cliff & Various Artists – Island LPS 9202

After an extremely successful run at the Brixton Classic, The Harder They Come is now showing at the Gaumont, Notting Hill Gate for an indefinite period.

Despite the fact that this is the first independent production to come out of Jamaica, that the cast is almost entirely made up of non-professional actors, and that, at the time of writing, it has no major distributor, the film has managed to attract considerable attention, especially amongst the most notable critics. And quite justifiably so.

Because the film is honest in its reflections of West Indian life and culture it succeeds on all levels. The depiction of the hardships of Jamaican life give it a political nature, whilst the unpretentiousness of the largely amateur cast allow it to be entertaining and at times very funny.

The story-line is simple but revealing. A young man, Ivan, (played by reggae singer Jimmy Cliff), comes from the country to ‘make it’ in the city. His ambition is to make a hit record but it’s a lot harder and tougher to achieve than he first imagined. He does, however, eventually succeed, but not until after he has been humiliated, exploited in every way, and is wanted by the police for murder.

The film is an angry comment on the social conditions that allow the exploitation and poverty that exist in Jamaica to take place, in what to an outsider is a ‘paradise isle’. Director Perry Henzell controls this anger though and doesn’t allow it to distract one from the purpose and the humour of the film. Also racial oppression is not brought in as being the aggressor, for throughout the film we are shown that black man exploits black man, and the hero, Ivan, is completely materialistic in his outlook on life.

The soundtrack of the film contains the best reggae music I have ever heard. The distinctiveness and vitality of this music, now that we have a chance to hear it well recorded (in stereo), must surely mean that a lot more people will become aware of yet another important musical form. The soundtrack has recently been released by Island records, who also handle the film in this country.

Jimmy Cliff contributes a number of tracks, including the title track, The Harder They Come. This song as a single has already been a huge hit in Jamaica and amongst the West Indian community in this country. Cliff composed this song, as he did all the material he sings on this soundtrack. Another particularly good track by him is Many Rivers To Cross, which has the best lyrics I have heard since Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and Bill Wither’s Lean on Me. The rest of the soundtrack is made up with songs from other popular reggae entertainers such as The Maytals and Desmond Dekker.

If you live in London it is well worth the journey to Notting Hill Gate to see this film. But if that’s not possible, at least hear the soundtrack album. Both are good unpretentious entertainment, and the film and lyrics of the songs provide a much needed insight into West Indian life. Don’t bother to see the new Shaft movie, that’s just another way the white man has learnt to exploit the black man; see something that is honest about one form of black culture.

FOLLOW-UP

19720914-09Follow-Up, published by Don Busby, is a new monthly magazine for ‘the gay scene’.

But as they say themselves, the magazine is “projected, not only at the homosexual, but at anyone who likes entertainment and fun”. They go on to say, in their first editorial, that “Follow-Up is not a campaigning magazine”, and they will not publish material which will “seriousiy offend in any sphere. We only wish to be adult and to be able to laugh at ourselves and society”.

At 75p a copy, Follow-Up is not cheap, but it is professionally produced and contains 64 pages. Amongst its contents there are features, fiction, reviews, full-frontal male pin-ups, but unfortunately no personal ads. The magazine is completely male-orientated too.

There is certainly a market for interesting, well-produced gay magazines, but whether Follow-Up will satisfy the demand remains to be seen. The mag’s editors are Jonathan Kerr and Peter Burton (ex Jeremy).

Thirties Fans Only

19720914-09Cowardy Custard Directed by Wendy Toye, with Patricia Routledge, Elaine Delmar, Derek Waring, John Moffatt. At the Mermaid Theatre.

I went to a marvellous party, and although I paid for my seat, I felt rather like a gate crasher. Tottering dowagers with ga-ga escorts, exquisite young men in pin-stripe suits and immaculate haircuts, aged flappers and drunken ‘cads’, and for God’s sake, I swear I saw Somerset Maugham! The audience were the sort of people you thought had vanished from the face of the earth — but there they were, like an animated Scarfe cartoon.

We settled down, chattered madly through the overture (the overture?!) then sighed and reminisced through a lovely medley of Coward favourites which introduced us to the cast. It was here that doubt began to set in. While the well-known favourites – I’ll See You Again, Play Orchestra Play, You Were There, obviously stood the test of time, there were far too many that didn’t, and it wasn’t until almost definitive versions of I’ve been to a Marvellous Party by Patricia Routledge and The Stately Homes Of England by 4 of the men, that the evening began to show any sign of promise. The first half ended with Why Must the Show Go On? and it was difficult not to ask ‘Why indeed?’.

The London sequence which opened Part 2 with the cast dressed like Pearly Queens on acid, was an extended disaster, and Patricia Routledge almost wiped out her earlier triumph in a dire, sentimental and patronising monologue I’ve Just Come Out From England with which Mr. Coward presumably bored the troops to death during his many overseas tours of the last war.

Elaine Delmar belted her songs loud and clear, but was clearly wrong for Coward’s deceptively fragile melodies, and Una Stubbs managed to be coyer than even her Cliff Richard Show appearances would lead you to believe.

All told, one for those of you only heavily into 30s nostalgia.

Another American Dream

19720914-10JUNIOR BONNER starring Steve McQueen, Ida Lupino, Robert Preston. An ABC Pictures production filmed in colour and TODD-AO, and directed by Sam Peckinpah. Released by Cinerama Releasing (UK) Ltd.

Peckinpah is desperate about the disappearance of the old pioneering America, the rough, wild, dangerous way of living. He’s an artistic, romantic, reactionary who doesn’t fit into the new style frozen fish colour TV style of life. Nor do a lot of us, but in this glorification of the past, he tends to forget about the traumas of pioneering, like poverty, illness, etc. Junior Bonner (Steve McQueen) who in 1972 is gradually ageing, fading just like the travelling rodeo circuit he’s on. After all who wants to see a man risking his life riding bareback on a rampaging bull when the ‘Lucy Show’ is on the colour telly.

The rodeo circuit brings Jr. back to his home town of Prescott, Arizona, where his first sight is the family ranch being bulldozed into a gravel pit. He looks on shocked and stupefied, and Peckinpah’s brilliant direction makes the bulldozers and earth movers look like monsters out of a King Kong film. Jr’s mum (Ida Lupino) seems fairly resigned to her son and husband (Robert Preston) refusing to conform, but approves of her other son, Curly, who is in the tourist trade and making money. Dad, known as Ace Bonner, is 60 and still involved with rodeos. He’s an eccentric womaniser, who wants to go to Australia to mine for gold, as there’s nothing left to pioneer in America, and one can’t help feeling he is Peckinpah transferred to the screen.

Curly, who’s respectably married, wants Jr to join him in ripping off tourists in his Arizona history museum. His wife, as she serves her two kids with yet another bottle of cyclamate filled Coke, comes out with comments like – “Once you’ve seen one rodeo you’ve seen them all”. Curly and Jr are always fighting, the conflict between the old and the new which is very effective, but Peckinpah does overstate his case in the big fight scene in the bar, which while technically superb, attempts to suggest visually that the couple of hundred people there are enjoying fighting each other, rather like one enjoys watching a funny film.

After seeing Junior Bonner I have begun to understand Straw Dogs, Peckinpah’s last film, which appalled and puzzled me when I first saw it. Peckinpah was seeking to destroy the epitome of the 1970’s pseud, the ‘liberal’ American university professor renting a cottage in a Cornish fishing village while writing his thesis, and being patronising to the locals. They set out to destroy him and rape his wife, and if you accept the violence as a symbol – why not? What does the American bullshitter know of their boring and useless lives?

Peckinpah undoubtably tends to be excessive in his images, but his films are made . with real feeling and understanding of the awful plight of man, his degeneration into a plastic culture where he can no longer initiate or invent. Perhaps Junior Bonner is a tamer film than ‘Wild Bunch’ and ‘Straw Dogs’, because of all the criticism Peckinpah has received for the violence in these films, but it is rich in beauty and atmosphere, and I highly recommend it.

Caine Mutinies

19720914-10PULP starring Micheal Caine, Mickey Rooney, Lionel Stander, Lizabeth Scott and Dennis Price. A Klinger-Caine Hodges Production in colour, written and directed by Mike Hodges. Released by United Artists.

To cut a long short story short this is a funny film, a very funny film, in which Caine in company with Rooney and other old time actors and actresses demolishes sarcastically all the butch thrillers he’s ever made, and the books they were taken from. Along the way farce and satire is created out of everything from taxi drivers to cheap crime fiction (Pulp) to package holidays to Humphrey Bogart, and after this film Caine must surely be considered one of Britain’s top comedy actors. No kidding!

Mickey King (Caine), a cheap thriller writer, is assigned to write the life story of Preston Gilbert (Mickey Rooney), a former Hollywood star who retired 15 years earlier, just as Rooney did, and this is the delight of the film: everyone seems to be playing themselves. Gilbert is a notorious practical joker, leading to riotous scenes in restaurants etc., which are made up of a mixture of old style slapstick and biting satirical dialogue, a new style of humour which really works successfully. So for a cynical night out, folks, Pulp is your film.