A very enjoyable book and impressive debut. Three stories set roughly 50 years apart in London. All involving rent boys as significant characters. The book is well written and the characters well developed. The story from 1894 was one of the young rent boys involved with the trail of Oscar Wilde. The handling of this story reminded me of the Sins of the Cities of Plain (which is acknowledged in the afterword). The 1954 story about the late coming out of an artist inspired by his muse, who is a rent boy. This was the most enjoyable of the threads as the Jonathan Kemp captured beautifully the writer’s internal struggle and its repercussions. “1998” Was the story told by a lad in prison about falling in love (with a rent boy) which was mesmerising at the end and written with great passion.
The afterward was also a great read and probably reflects the authors academic roots. I discovered Polari Journal [An International Queer Creative Writing Journal, currently on Issue 2] and a few books to add to my wish list (or to request from the library)—
- The Victorian Underground, Kellow Chesney
- The Verdict of You All, Rupert Croft-Cooke
- London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, Matt Cook
“London Triptych” (Jonathan Kemp)
Michael was working today and the weather forecast was pretty grim. So I wasn’t sure whether I’d go to the Pink Festival at Cherry Hinton Hall. It rained a bit, then dried up so I grabbed a jumper and cycled out with the newspapers and a groundsheet after lunch. The park was reasonably busy despite the forecast, and I plonked myself in front of the main stage to listen to the music. Quickly met up with Jonathan and we chatted, drank beer and ate some chips in front of the stage for a few hours, which was very nice and enjoyable and the atmosphere was good.
On the main stage, we saw:
- Secret Circuits
- Samantha Jones — enjoyable
- Voice Couture — enjoyable
Jonathan had to leave to cook a duck, and I was getting cold, so I followed half an hour afterwards, sadly before much of the the more interesting music came on. It was a strange festival experience because I didn’t feel like I was at a gay festival. The crowd wasn’t particularly gay, which probably added to my impression. So sorry to say, Pink Festival itself didn’t work for me this year, but it was good to go.
Great night out at the ADC to see the late night production of What’s Wrong With Angry? by Patrick Wilde,
produced by the CU Amateur Dramatic Club. The audience was buzzing and the main cast were fantastic! Top of the bill were James Frecknell (Steven) and Lowri Amies (Linda)—both carried of their parts with ease and were perfect for the roles. I enjoyed Adam Lawrence as Hutton, the schoolteacher. He was interesting in the role, and really grabbed my attention.
For the first time in all the plays I’ve seen at the ADC there was an encore for the cast. Well deserved for giving such as a passionate production. The late night slot can be hit and miss—this was wonderful.
From the ADC web site:
“Of course I…want to, but I don’t want to want to.”
It is 1992, Section 28 prohibits the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools, and the age of consent for gay men is twenty-one. Sixteen year old Steven Carter, who is just fine with being “dodgy”, falls in love with John Westhead, head boy and popular sporty type. His love is returned until societal expectations force John back into “the closet”. As Steven comes up against pressure at home and at school, Hutton, his teacher, longs to give him some support, but finds that the law is not on his side.
Patrick Wilde wrote the play to challenge the assertion that it’s “easier to be gay now”. The issues that the play wrestles with are as applicable to 2009 as they are to the recent past and it remains a poignant, beautiful and honest tale.”
Watched Beautiful People on BBC iPlayer. It’s pretty impressive that I can lie in bed with my phone and watch TV for 30 mins. Nice way to start a Sunday.