Dilly Boys Make The Times

LONDON: Britain’s press has suddenly discovered the ‘Dilly Boys’ after a book by the same name was published by a small publishing house, Croom Helm. First in where angels fear to tread was the Sunday Mirror. With dazzling originality it called its Sunday Mirror Documentary on the Dilly boys ‘The Dilly Boys’ and admitted that it borrowed heavily from the book.

It saw a Picadilly Circus peopled almost entirely by 13 and 14-year-olds playing the flipper games and the market at Playland and the other mausement arcades, but carefully avoiding naming names or getting close enough to the problem for the article to be more than an empty piece of plagiarism from Mervyn Harris’ book.

It seemed the only people at Piccadilly Circus older than 14 were either older men there to pick up the boys, probation officers leaning on the anti-pedestrian railings or even Sunday Mirror reporters.

The Mirror’s story said: ‘We traced the case-histories of five Dilly boys who, homeless and short of cash got caught up in the dragnet.

‘Two have graduated from amphetamines to hard drugs; one has gone to jail for stealing another has put a girl “in the club”. The fifth has managed to get out of the game and gone back to Bolton.’

Midnight Piccadilly: A day’s rest over, a night’s work begins. [Photograph: Peter Mundy]
Earlier, Victor Sims, the Mirror’s man in the dirty mac at the Dilly had told us: ‘Nearly all of them have heard about the easy pickings to be had in London’s rich heart, and reckon they can eke out a living on their wits.

‘more often, they finish up frozen, half-starved, asleep inside a telephone box, huddled for warmth in a deserted railway coach, in a hotel car park or even in warehouse packing cases.

‘It’s at this stage of disillusionment that the trouble starts. They hang around Piccadilly, desperate for food and shelter. Instead of pocketing their pride and going home, they become easy prey to anyone who will offer them a warm bed …

‘Horrifying? Shameful? Almost unbelievable?

To the senior police officers and detectives at West End Central police station, the problem is very real.

‘The Chief Superintendent told me: “The situation created by these juveniles, who drift into our area is one of the most difficult we have had to handle.”’

The Chief Superintendent didn’t mention gay trade at the Dilly being more of a problem than any other drop-out youth situation there. But the Mirror chose to run as its second headline on the piece: ‘Their trade shames a national showplace’ and under it published a picture of a probation officer ’at “The Meat Rack”, the Piccadilly Circus haunt of young boys waiting for homosexuals.’

Five days later it was Friday and the Times lifted its skirts and had a slam at the Dilly.

In a series called Policemen Talking, Peter Evans wrote a piece on the ‘Missing boys and girls enmeshed in Soho vice nets.’ Racey stuff this for The Times. Police sergeant M Woodheath of the Juveniles Squad, gave us the low-down from her point of view. She said: “If they are young lads, men will start speaking to them and take them home and be nice to them. These boys are usually naive and often accept. The man demands something more of them. Eventually they put these lads on the streets as male prostitutes and they give the men part of their earnings. Their ages can range from 14 upwards. Many of these boys end up as permanent homosexuals. It is very difficult to get at the men in charge of them. Boys are reluctant to give a description or a name and address. They are frightened to give you much.

“One man had ten little boys working as male prostitutes for him from 14 upwards. They were reluctant to give evidence. Some turned up at court to give evidence. He was convicted.

“The same sort of thing happens to girls. Lesbians pick them up from 13 upwards. Three girls from Cardiff were arrested for soliciting before we discovered they were juveniles…”

And so on. It seems you get the Dilly’s dirty washing aired just as publicly in The Times as you do in the Mirror. And The Times gives its readers more details of the washing its discovered.

ED: We’ll carry a full review of Mervyn Harris’ The Dilly Boys in Gay News 17, and we’ll try to look a bit deeper into the rent scene in the future.

Bye-bye Weymouth!

Hullo Morecambe!

19720901-03
MANCHESTER: The Campaign for Homosexual Equality has had to move its first conference next year from Weymouth to Morecambe, because the Dorset resort’s council has reversed a decision it made in July to allow CHE to hold its conference at the Pavilion.

CHE finally got the cold shoulder from Weymouth on August 17 when the council decided by 24 votes to 14 to reject the decision of its entertainments committee to invite the conference to the town after a storm of protest in both the national and the local press.

The Dorset Echo shrilled: “Between 300 and 500 homosexuals will hold a conference in Weymouth next April.

“Their applicaiton was granted yesterday despite angry protests from the Town Council.”

Leading the opposition former mayor, Ald. Wilfred Ward, who thought the idea “a disgusting lead” to give to the town.

He said; “Just how can we get in this town in order to raise money? Are we going to stoop to just anything? We seem to want to get our money without taking into regard any standing of the town.”

Coun. John Knight agreed. He said: “This will bring in a lot of morbid sightseers who will want to see a crowd of queers.”

The Daily Mirror got in on the act, too. On July 21 the paper joined the protesting chorus.

Coun. Clifford Chalker said: “We will be having a conference of prostitutes next.”

Not all Weymouth’s councillors share Mr Chalker’s prehensile views. Ald. Sidney Porter said: “We have no right to stop a bona fide conference. We wouldn’t stop one on grounds of race or creed.”

The Mirror’s bedfellow, The Sunday People joined in the finger-pointing campaign to kill the conference.

Voice of the People, the new-style, old-morality comment column lashed out saying: “Something very queer, but very understandable is going on at the seaside town of Weymouth.

“The queer thing is that some councillors are up in arms over the decision of the entertainments committee to act as hosts to the annual conference of a perfectly legal body.

“The uproar is understandable. Because the body is the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.

“Legal though homosexual acts now are between consenting adults in private, there is strong public distaste for those who engage in them . . .

“If the citizens do let the homosexuals in there is one way that they can dissociate themselves from their guests.

BY CUTTING OUT THE OFFICIAL SHERRY PARTY AND DANCE AT WHICH CONFERENCE DELEGATES ARE USUALLY WELCOMED!” – their boldface.

The Sunday People showed that there’s more than one way to go about queer-bashing and the challenge was taken up by the people of Weymouth.

The paper showed the way to get the boot in to a lot of the good people of sunny Wevmouth.

Mrs H. A. O’Neill wrote to the Echo saying: “I am far from being prudish, unenlightened I or unwordly, but I feel the citizens of Weymouth must band together to have this degrading decision rescinded.”

Despite Mrs O’Neill’s reminder to councillors that it was the citizens of Weymouth who put them on the council, the entertainments committee wouldn’t go back on its word to CHE, and its report to the council said that it (the committee) consider that this conference might lead to better understanding of the problems which face what is understood to be a fairly large number of people, without at the same time, involvement in an extension of licence that would be unacceptable to them.

“The campaign is supported by a large number of highly distinguished and responsible persons prominent in Church and State, who have given it their approval.”

Despite that the council meeting that looked at the entertainment committee’s decision to let CHE have the Pavilion decided that it was not going to risk having 300 to 500 gays in their happy seaside resort.

The Town Clerk, Mr Edward Jones would tell Gay News only that the council had debated this for about an hour and a half. Weymouth Council would make no comment on the reasons for their decision to go back on the entertainment committee’s decision.

As for CHE, Weymouth’s hostility hasn’t upset the Manchester organisation’s hierarchy a bit. A spokesman said: “Weymouth was just one of the resorts we’d approached. We’ve now fixed it all up for Morecambe.”

Presumably the people of Morecambe are more broadminded than A. W. Delacour, of Wyke Cottage, Weymouth, who wrote to the Echo saying: “For the very small minority of our population genuinely trapped psychologically in the homosexual stage of development, one must feel the greatest compassion.

“But the current intellectual cult of defending any sort of aberration or perversion in personal relationships in the name of freedom needs to be challenged and attacked by all who subscribe to the Christian concept of human dignity. There is nothing new about sexual or homosexual licence. What went on in Sodom and Gomorrah 4,000 years ago or in the Roman Empire in the days of St. Paul, is known to everyone.

“Many people in Weymouth must surely beappalled by the insensitivity of certain of their elected representatives in agreeing to receive the conference of the Campaign for Homosexual Inequality (whatever that means!)” – Mr Delacour s cock-up.

Mr Delacour was not available to comment to Gay News on his views on gayness, but we compliment him on this letter and on his error in CHE’s title.