Needs To Be Noticed

COLLECTED POEMS by Ian Horobin. The Jameson Press, 160 Albion Road, London N16 9JS. Price £2.00.

To have John Betjeman, our newly crowned Poet Laureate, and Laurens van der Post each contribute a separate introduction to a book of poems is quite an achievement for a living poet. Ian Horobin is entitled to that achievement. His poems, to use his own words, “record (and, if possible, evoke) emotion — emotions of a long and varied life, in peace and war, success and failure, hope and sorrow.”

Horobin is a homosexual who has spent several years in English prisons and was also a prisoner of war of the Japanese. He was a Member of Parliament and a Junior Minister in the Macmillan Government of 1957-59. He was gazetted a Life Peer in 1962 but withdrew acceptance as his case was about to come up.

As John Betjeman says “Most poems speak for themselves”. A critical analysis would not be particularly useful, nor, in view of the great variation of the collection, would it be helpful to any potential reader. The poems divide themselves in character into those which express thoughts and emotions, those concerned with the war, and some critical pieces about politics, religion and events. These last will make the most popular appeal and the following quotations will suffice to show why.

From “Holy Orders’’

“A sneak, a pharisee, a dunce
Will tell you what God wants at once,
And do extremely well by it.
But is God really such a shit?”

“To an American Senator”

“Crown me Boston’s, Ireland’s pride;
Watch me run away and hide,
I have my fun with someone’s daughter
Leave her – head safe under water.
Now I’ll run for President,
With the IRA’s consent.
Christian murderers please note:
I’ve scooped the Roman Catholic vote”

From “Finis Coronat Opus”

“From the BBC the children suck
Propaganda and drivel and muck.
The interviewers are rarely civil
Pushing their poison and muck and drivel”.

From “Berber Goatherd”

Jesus loves me. This I know
For Ian Paisley tells me so.
But he hasn’t told us yet
What he thinks of Bernadette”.

Horobin has met with triumph and disaster in his life and has suffered humiliation and public disgrace. But his wit and humour survive and his poems deserve the recognition now denied to him.

Call Me A Cab

THE TAXI by Violette Leduc. Published by Hart-Davis/MacGibbon, £1.40

The Taxi is the last book by Violette Leduc, the author of La Batarde and Ravages. It was written shortly before she died from an illness which spoilt the last few years of her life. It was sad that her constant bad health began so soon after she had finally been internationally-acclaimed as an important writer.

Violette was one of the most eccentric and fascinating ladies Paris has ever known. All her life she was an adventuress – a sort of outlaw – long before it became fashionable to be so. She always described herself as a “bastard”. Her lesbianism, which I would rather call her homosexual-orientated lifestyle, was always less than a secret, and her mini-skirts and wigs were forever shocking the ‘good taste’ of Parisian society. She was born in 1908, but always adopted the fashion and looks of teenage girls.

To me it seems that she put all of this into her last work, which is also one of the most wonderful fantasies one could have dreamed of. Unfortunately, no mere review can do justice to her extraordinary imagination. The story is simply told by means of the dialogue between an adolescent sister and brother who decide to spend a day making love to each other in the back of a luxuriously fitted out taxi. They have been able to realise this forbidden dream by stealing a jewel from the aunt they both hate and despise, and then by paying people to initiate them into the arts of love-making.

First they meet a gorgeous whore, Mademoiselle Cytiese, a lady from Pigalle, who teaches the brother. She then introduces the adolescents to a pederast, Dane, who gives lessons to the sister.

The tale begins when they are at last in the taxi, racing across and around Paris, protected from the driver’s eyes by an orange curtain. They make love, eat pâté, drink champagne and talk.

They talk about what they are doing to each other, what they learnt from their strange teachers, and how they were led to this peculiar situation by some kind of irresistible fate. The most enjoyable aspect about The Taxi is that as well as being a long erotic and fantasising poem, it also succeeeds in involving the reader in depths of feeling and passion that are at times almost frightening. It is important to add that the translation from the French by Helen Weaver is excellent, as it accurately matches Leduc’s unique style.

The Taxi will be performed as a play on the Paris stage soon and I look forward to seeing it staged in London in the near future. Through this kind of interpretation, it will not be so much literature, but a more sensual experience that all can indulge their fantasies in. Art is life, and life, when mirrored in Violette Leduc’s The Taxi, is one long, liberating orgasm.

Liberal Bunkum

A YOUNG PERSON’S GUIDE TO LIFE AND LOVE by Dr Benjamin Spock. Published by Mayflower Books, 40p.

Dr Spock is one of those “slightly disgraceful” but respected “liberals” who use the established forms of communication to condemn established forms of thought, in favour of new established forms of thought. He’s the father of the worst form of mind control — the advice manual, the horrific idea of which is that we need some pillar of soporific liberality to instruct and shape our attitudes, that we are too conditioned into apathy to reason out our own behaviour patterns, or act instinctively.

His book for teenagers contains little that I would imagine they don’t know already, or would want to know, or would do anything to allay fears of that burning sensation which is adolescence. Despite the extended sections on sexual matters, there is scarcely even a passing reference to bisexuality, so often a significant part of our lives. Homosexuality is dispensed with in three brief pages, and classified as either of two conditions, that of a person who takes on the character of a person of the opposite sex, or “appears normal” but desires persons of the same sex. “Men and boys who are effeminate feel like women.” How elucidating for a worried fifteen year old, who not only has to contend with television comedians and parents, but with this repressive bible too.

According to Granada Publishing the original Spock book “Child and Baby Care” sold 23 million copies in the USA alone, and they suppose “that all the parents who read it and all of their children, will want to read this one.” One therefore supposes that Dr Spock’s ideas on homosexuality or anything else, will be for the next few years, one of the major influences on the attitudes of the American public.

Myths about homosexuality are really just the starting point for one long faiiy tale of life. The entire book is full of startling misconceptions and a blatant avoidance of fundamental adolescent feelings, such as the complete disbelief and disagreement of a system which prescribes school, university, job, formalised marriage, and sees marijuana as something which changes “aspects of the personality”, possibly for the worse.

Best Of The Paperbacks

THE MAHOUND by Lance Horner. Pan, 40p.

Those of you who have followed the apparently endless priapic saga of the ‘Flaconhurst’ series of novels, written by Horner and his collaborator Kyle Onstott, licked parched lips over that splendid epic of fellatio ‘Child Of The Sun’, wriggled to ‘Santiago Blood’ and ‘The Tattooed Rood’, will not be disappointed by ‘The Mahound’.

If anything the pricks get bigger, the fucking more frequent and more frantic, and the hero and his friend finally capitulate to the erotic pressures of Africa and get their ends (both ends) away with gentlemen! Needless to say Rory Mahound, the staggeringly well-hung Scottish stud of the title is under the influence of a powerful aphrodisiac at the time. But it’s the first time this reader can remember one of Horner/Onstott’s heroes actually enjoying a little bi-sexuality. Who knows where this permissiveness will lead to next!

This is the eleventh in the series of novels written by this phallically obsessed pair, and one of the best. If you’ve got to read trashy erotica, and don’t we all, then you won’t find better than this at W H Smiths. On second thoughts, buy it somewhere else.

PRICKSONGS AND DESCANTS by Robert Coover. Picador, 50p.

Robert Coover’s stories make rather gloomy reading on the whole. A man makes love to his wife, discovers that she’s been dead for three weeks, and has his genitals smashed to a pulp by a disgusted cop etc, etc. In fact savage attacks and mutilations of one limb or another crop up with almost monotonous regularity.

However there are two stories of true brilliant black humour which will probably appear many times in future horror anthologies.

‘The Hat Act’ takes a magician’s stage show to its horrid, illogical conclusion, while ‘The Baby Sitter’ twines the erotic daydreams of six different people and weaves them into a farcical nightmare that ingeniously arrives at a conclusion that has to be read to be believed. I won’t spoil it for you.

DOWN AND OUT IN BRITAIN by Jeremy Sandford. New English Library, 40p.

‘Edna The Inebriate Woman’ was shown on television some months ago. It was received with enthusiasm, but nothing like the critical acclaim of his earlier work ‘Cathy Come Home’. The reasons are clear – a homeless family has a more immediate appeal than a meths drinking dosser. And yet this book, the background research Sandford used for ‘Edna’, is an even more horrifying indictment of a Welfare State who can spend billions of pounds on destructive weapons and research, and yet has still failed to come to grips with the problems of thousands of sad, wasted people who have somehow lost control of their lives.

Sandford demonstrates with chilling effect how our legal system, law, police, and welfare authorities can turn the inadequate eccentric into a criminal or madman, and that ‘our society is becoming harder and harder for people to live in, and that those who are unable to cope are often not so much helped as given a kick in the crutch.’ Remember that by conservative estimate, 2,000 people will be sleeping rough tonight, in London alone.

For those who care or want to help, there is a list of organisations included who need all kinds of assistance in their endless therapeutic help to the homeless, the addicted, the unfortunates of this world.

Chilling Evil

DEVIL DADDY by John Blackburn. Published by Jonathan Cape, £1.60.

To anyone interested in the Supernatural and the Occult, and who enjoys a good thriller, this new book “Devil Daddy” is a MUST. Written by one of today’s masters of the macabre, it tells of an Evil the world never dreamed existed outside of fiction.

Fighting this evil are Marcus Levin, Bacteriologist, and his pretty Russian-born wife, Tania, who have featured in previous occult thrillers. But none as frightening as this new one. Together they face great danger to discover a fanatical group of Satanists who have opened one of the Gates of Hell and released on the world a plague more frightening than the black death.

Who brutally raped pretty Elsie Kerr? What turned her into an eighty-year-old hag overnight? Who fed a naked body to a farmer’s starving pigs? Many more spine chilling questions arise before the most exciting and breathtaking climax is reached and the reader left shocked and shaking in his chair.

Thank God it can never happen … or could it?

John Blackburn’s previous novels have all been connected with the occult and one earlier work has now been filmed “Nothing But The Night” directed by that horror star we all love, Christopher Lee. Look out for it.

My Book Of The Year

Food comes slightly after sex and just ahead of the music of Purcell in my list of favourite things. I read cookery books like novels and occasionally cook like a novelist. But I suppose I have always regarded food from a sensuous point of view, certainly not from a social, political or economic standpoint. Until that is, I read this book called Technological Eating, by Magnus Pyke. It was published in February, is slim (107pp) and quite expensive (£2.50). But it is truly mind-bending in that it bends the thought into all sorts of directions, not all intimately connected with food.

Dr Pyke is President of the Institute of Food Science and Technology of the United Kingdom, but before pelting him with slings of rehydrated potatoes and spun-protein steaks consider his thesis. His book is really about the way in which technology affects social behaviour and he believes (and most surely demonstrates) that by discussing oven-ready chickens and fish fingers we can learn more about what technology is doing than by thinking about communication satellites or nuclear power-stations. This is one reason why his book is so good, so readable, his examples and subject-matter are everyday things that we all have intimate experience of.

He is saying, quite simply, that the application of technology to food is breaking down all hitherto accepted social structures; food becomes increasingly distanced from man. The only possible provenance for a fish finger is a factory, so where do dietary laws come in? Technology is a divisive influence

in society and he compares the fragmentation of Western industrial communities with the coherence of the extended family system “in which claim to quite distant cousinship is a valid title to food, shelter and support”.

I recommend this book for its facts – did you know that a large American engineering firm had devised a lettuce harvesting machine that picks up four rows at once. It is so efficient that only 600 machines would be needed to harvest all the lettuces in the world. The engineering firm is reluctant to manufacture it.

I recommend this book for its ability to move thought from big, unmanageable concepts towards simple, everyday experience that has a greater effect.

I recommend this book for its humanity, wit, sense and eventual optimism, for its sharp criticism of our consumer-conscious society fixed on acquisition and money value.

Tecs Really Pack A Rod

A QUEER KIND OF DEATH; A PARADE OF COCKEYED CREATURES; I, SAID THE DEMONall written by George Baxt, Jonathan Cape, at £1.05 each.

The above three books are not new publications but I like them so much I feel they are well worth bringing attention to. All are detective novels, the first A Queer Kind Of Death is, strictly speaking, the only gay one of the three. This concerns the departure by electrocution of one Ben Bentley, actor and model, from the world of the living. What a world it is as well, slick, bitchy, homosexual Americana, it positively glitters with decadent (in the best sense) wit.

The main suspect of Ben’s murder is his ‘room mate’ Seth Piro hotly pursued in more ways than one, by the best kind of gay detective, brown and beautiful Pharoh Love. This isn’t cheap humour, this is high glorious camp satire and fun with a surprise ending to beat them all, a gem.

A Parade of Cockeyed Creatures introduces another detective, recently deprived by death of wife and son, Max van Larsen. This one concerns the disappearance of Tippy Blaney a poetic but vigorous seventeen year old with parents of doubtful character. Max is helped in his search for Tippy by one Sylvia Plotkin, twelve stone of cuddly kosher sense and sensibility. As Tippy’s schoolmistress she is everything a teacher ought to be, but never is, and a good portion of the novel is devoted to relationship with Max, which reaches a satisfying conclusion.

Lots of camp characters, a necrophile classmate, ‘The Prince of Darkness’, a dirty old man with a taste for twelve year olds, plus an assortment of thugs, kinks and general exotica. Nice.

I, Said The Demon is the last word in ‘a laugh in every line’ humour. Baxt has in this book refined the style of the earlier two into the most superslick distortion of reality. Pure celluloid fantasy most of it, I literally cried with laughter at the most amazing plot and caricatures of characters that has ever crossed my well-read path.

Max van Larsen again, cross with Sylvia Plotkin, because she has written a book on their previous case together. So had Max, and not even a love as great as Abelard and Heloise, Mark Anthony and Julius Caesar, can remain unscathed when Sylvia becomes a literary celebrity. The case this time concerns the disappearance in 1932 of crooked Judge Kramer, his mistress and forty-thousand dollars.

The craziest characters yet, Lita the Judge’s wife, a prima donna who sings in a soundproof room, Chloe and Romona, two ex-Ziegfield girls approaching ripe old age in the Gothic monstrosity of a Church they live in. Also starring a seeress from Seventh Avenue, Gypsy Marie Rachmaninoff whose son is a hunchbacked peeping Tom called Quasimodo, the divine, divine Madame Vilna ex-star of the Yiddish Theatre who delivers lines that will send you rolling over the floor.

This is the best of the bunch, a really slick piece of work, lines like…

“When did you last see your husband?”
“Half way up the Empire State Building swatting aeroplanes.”…

setting the general tone.

A great book which would make a nice present for a friend with a movie camp sense of humour.

Paper Covered Thrills

ALL IS WELL by Dick Vanden, Olympia Press, 70p.

Another gay goodie from Olympia Press, All Is Well is a much more (dare I use the word) serious book than Frost. It’s the story of a man’s long and tortuous path to reasonable honesty and his inner being. His relationships with his wife and children are vividly portrayed especially with his son Chuck, a 16-year-old sharing his bed with another boy.

Father really begins to come out after he accidentally takes some Mescaline and is saved from the horrors of a bad trip by his son. This turns into the most beautifully described acid trip I have ever read. Vanden slowly and compulsively takes us through a man’s mind as a whole new way of thought hits him with the power of a space rocket.

This is an intricate, beautiful, fantastic, red raw honest novel which at the expense of sounding trite every gay ought to have. Get it, could be good for you.

FROST by Richard Amory. Olympia Press, 70p.

The American way of life in sunny California is the background to this fast (incredibly plotted) gay thriller about a father planning to kill his son told against a landscape of black-white relationships, sexcapades and drugs.

It’s a fast moving but a complicated story. The sexual encounters are unbelievably (wow) exciting and by this I mean the sensually* sexy and not silly unbelievable porn fantasy.

I must say though I enjoyed it much more as an erotic novel than a thriller, but those who like the author’s ‘Loon Trilogy’ will find it well worth reading.

Publications

19720914-10AGITPROP BOOKSHOP
I Give You Oscar Wilde 40p.
A Gay Manifesto 5p.
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Come Together 5p.
and many more books, pamphlets, papers and posters at the shop or by post from 24B (GN) Bethnal Green Road, London E2.

Gay Books & Novels.
The Other Love by H.Montgomery Hyde, 75p.
The Unrecorded Life of Oscar Wilde by Rupert Croft-Cooke, £3.50.
The Wild Boys by William S.Burroughs, £2.50.
Oscar Widle by Philippe Jullian, 60p.
The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall, 50p.
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann, 30p.
I Give You Oscar Wilde by Desmond Hall. 40p
All obtainable by post from: Books,
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