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                 RUSSELL Sq.


The  trees  were  in  full  leaf  giving  the  Square an atmosphere of dreamlike seclusion. Although, as far as the circulating traffic was concerned, it was just a glorified roundabout…. homeward bound daytime people innocently unaware of the nefarious activity within.

It was warm, T-shirt type weather and  not long dark. I  wasn’t  supposed  to  be meeting  Terry  until  ten  and  he  would  probably be  late  anyway, so I had time to kill.

There  was  a  group  of  tourist  kids  sitting  around  a  portable  stereo  and  passing  a  bottle  vodka. 

" Fucking  hippies." I  muttered  as  I  walked  past them….  it  was  time  they  were  gone.

I  made  for  the (by now, closed) tea-house to  see  who  was  loitering  about,  there  were  always  a  few,  even  this  early. I  didn’t  make  it that far as  my  attention  was  attracted  by  a  lad  standing  near  a  tree.  The  fantasy  merry-go-round  whirled  into  action …  he  was  about  eighteen,  dark,  almost  black,  hair …  maybe  French  or  Italian,  perhaps on  holiday,  parents  had  an  early  night, he  slips  out   of  the  hotel   for  his  first  sexual  experience  with  a  man … you  can  almost  see  the  gilded  and  brightly  painted  horses.

I  made  eye  contact  as  I  passed him and gave him the  look  back,  he’d  turned  his  head  to  follow  me  with  his  eyes.  I  stood  under  one  of  the  few  remaining  bushes,  most  of  them  had   been  agent  oranged  by  the  council  in  the  hope  that  it  would  stop  the  sex,  it  hadn’t,  so  now  they  were  letting them  grow  back.

He  sauntered  over …  nervous  in case  he  was  being  watched,  being  his  first  time, of course …  I  thought  I  could  just  hear  the  strains  of  fairground  music  through  the  ever  present  hiss  of  London  traffic.

He  was  wearing  black  trousers,  the  type  waiters  wear,  I  slotted  that  into  the  fantasy. He  was  already  hard as I reached out and  I  felt  his  erection  through  the  thin  material. 

" Where  you  from ?"  I  would  have  preferred  to  have  remained  silent  but  I  was  curious. As  soon  as  he  opened  his  mouth  I  remembered  why  it  was  that  I  had  developed  the  silent  routine.  He  was  English  and  camp.  But  he  had  a  big  cock  and  he  was  young.  I  unzipped  his  flies  and  got  his  cock  out.  He  looked  very  agitated. 

"Is  this  your  first  time ?"  Trying  to  salvage  a  scrap  of  candyfloss. 

" No ."  He answered.  " Is  it  yours ?" He added hopefully.

I  thought  I  did  the  fantasies. As  I  pulled  back  his foreskin  I  felt  something  hard  and knobbly  against  the pad of my thumb. I  experienced  the  feeling  equivalent  of  the  hearing  ” Sorry,  I  didn’t  quite  catch  that.”  Before  I  could  investigate  further  he  nervously  stuffed  his  cock  back  into  his  trousers.  Some  annoying clone went  cruising  by…. slowly. 

" Can  we  go  somewhere  more  private." He asked/suggested.

" Follow  me."  I  wanted  to  keep  the  chat  down  to  a  minimum. 

I  walked  in  a  direct  line,  crossing  over  the  newly  laid  out  flower  beds.  He  was  dawdling  zig-zag   fashion  paying  heed  to  the  daytime  people’s  ornamentation.  I  got  to  the  museum  side of  the  square,  under  the  white  edifice  of  the  Senate  Building.  There  was  a  gap  between  a  tree and a bush. The tree’s  trunk  concealed  you  from  the  pedestrians  a  few  feet  away  on  the  other side  of  the  railings and  the shrubbery in front  of  it  gave  partial  cover  from  the  square.  This  passed  for romantic seclusion  as  far  as  I  was  concerned. He  remained  standing  some  way  off. 

" Now  what’s  she  waiting  for? Playing  precious?" I muttered under my breath already getting bored of the whole situation.

He  took  a  leisurely  stroll  over  and  gingerly  picked  his  way  through  the  shrubbery.  I  was  not  amused. 

" Can  we  go  somewhere  else."  He  kept  looking  around  nervously.  I  gathered  that  he  meant  somewhere  other  than  Russell  Sq.  When  I  had  been  on  the  tourist  virgin/waiter new  to  London  ferris  wheel  I  had  been  considering  a  drive  up  to  the privacy of the  Heath  but …

" No  one  can  see  us  here." 

Some  clone  started  to  come  towards  us  through  the  bushes, I  waved  him  away  with  the back  of  my  hand. 

" Maybe  he  wants  a  threesome." The boy was getting less of a novice by the second or perhaps it was  an attempt at humour.

" He  can  fuck  right  off." Which seemed to be an apt reply either way.

His  cock  was  flaccid,  under  the  guise  of  getting  it hard,  which  didn’t  take  much  doing,  I  examined  the  foreskin  with  my  fingertips.

" Lets  forget  it." In a tone which I hoped he would convey that this was my final decision.

I  pushed  past  him  and  back  onto  the  path.  The  loitering clone   was  pretending  to  have  a  piss/waving his cock around.  The  boy  had  obviously  not  got  the  message  and  caught  up  with  me. 

" He’s  got  a  big  cock." Looking back at the overweight middle-aged nonentity.

" Well  go  with  him then."  I  didn’t  look  round  or  slow  my  pace but he kept up with me.

" Do  you  want  a  threesome  with  us  then ?"

" Forget  it."

He  peeled  off  and  I  continued  in  a  straight  line  towards  the  robot  toilet  on  the  far side of the Square.  Under  such  circumstances  I  figured  it  was  worth  paying  20p  for  some soap  and  water.

Terry  showed  up  later.  I  told  him  the story.

" Point  her  out  to  me  "WARTS  AND  ALL!" " Which  he  thought  amusing  enough  to  warrant shouting out the refrain  several  times  until  he  got bored  of  the  joke.  




"Maybe there is no better novel in the world than Denton Welch’s In Youth Is Pleasure. Just holding it in my hands, so precious, so beyond gay, so deliciously subversive, is enough to make illiteracy a worse social crime than hunger.” -John Waters


"Maybe there is no better novel in the world than Denton Welch’s In Youth Is Pleasure. Just holding it in my hands, so precious, so beyond gay, so deliciously subversive, is enough to make illiteracy a worse social crime than hunger.” -John Waters


This has got to be the end. I’m sitting on Hungerford Bridge on an upturned plastic bread basket … begging. Well in my mind I’m not actually begging , as such, I’m only playing the part of a beggar. I’m wrapped in a sleeping bag with only my face partially visible. I have a cut above my eyebrow and a black eye but this is largely concealed by my sleeping bag hood.


Although the early morning commuters appear to be hardened to the plight of the homeless a few of them seem to have a sense of humour. I count up my change, I’ve made a fiver in under half an hour.

I intersperse the free beggar routine with attempts at selling the two copies of Passolini’s ” A Violent Life “  which I had discover shoved down the sleeves of my flight jacket upon waking up.

It’s obvious that I must have lifted them at some point in the last two days but I’m not able to recall any details.

I juxtapose snippets from the reviews from the back cover with an aggressive market traders’ patter.

" … LITERATURE OF ITS EXISTENCE …. COME ON Mrs. ( to an aging monochrome office gent ) £9.95 ? NO DON’T BE SO SILLY …. PUT YOUR MONEY AWAY … GIVE ME A FIVER FOR THE PAIR.

He marches passed.

" Public school faggot."

I select a page at random and quote after him …..


A much younger and more flamboyantly dressed arts and media type approaches looking amused.

" FREE BEGGAR etc…."

He comes to a halt wearing a smile, he’s one of the people, he can afford to be.

" No, I wouldn’t dream of troubling you for 20p for some soup."

He digs in his pocket and plants a twenty pence piece in my palm.

" What’s this ?" Examining the offending article, apparently preplexed.

" 20p for some soup."  He offers up helpfully.

" Did I say that? Did I really? I must have got confused, what I actually meant to say was " A pound for some Lemon Hooch".

He laughs and flicks me a quid as he strolls off.

The real beggar shows up. Cropped blond/red hair, pink skin, indigo tattoos on his neck and face.

"Who are you?" he demands.

I get up to leave. He’s trying to tell me that I’m in his spot but I’m already on my way. He seems unaware that I was only temporarily adopting the role of a beggar and had now grown bored of it.

I find a copy of “Tricks” stuffed into my back pocket … a book about furry people having sex with each other. I toss it over my shoulder. A backwards glance : it’s fluttering like a shot bird down towards the yellow/brown turgid, turbid Thames.

As I leave the scene the real beggar is remonstrating with a dreadlocked hippie juggler at the foot of the steps.

" Territorial as a robin." I inform a passing commuter. I like to impart such gems of local knowledge to passersby, in case they are visitors to our shores or just plain ignorant.

" We must all do our bit." To another, who nods in smiling approval.

I cross Waterloo’s shiny smooth concourse….

…feeling exposed.

Down some steps ….

…and wander aimlessly in severe need of alcohol.

The area is unfamiliar to me. So I’m amazed to find a parade of shops and a street market scene.

" Well they do have such things in London, I suppose." I mused to myself.

The Asian vendor in the news and booze shop isn’t in the least concerned that it’s too early to be serving alcohol. I buy five bottles of ” Cranberry Charge” . Alcopops being the only thing that I can stomach at such an early hour.

The drink revives me. I try to figure out at what time I had left the after hours drinking dive the in Gt. Windmill St. the previous night/morning but decide that it is a totally pointless task ….. no doubt it would have coincided with my running out of cash …. that being the only sensible or necessary conclusion. It is too painful and confusing to attempt to reconstruct the previous night.

My nervous system is starting to experience a series of sudden surges of energy which make my body jolt like somebody with a severe twitch. The drink eases this. I open the second bottle. My feet cease to be so heavy.

I try to work out how much sleep I’d managed to get the previous night. But this, like trying to calculate where my cash had gone was never going to be worth the effort. I could remember carrying the beggar’s bread basket and bedding down from the bridge to the bushes on the Southbank. It had been drizzling all night and the blanket was wet but the sleeping bag was comparatively dry. The upturned basket formed a pallet which had raised me off of the mud.

How drunk do you have to be to look upon such a bed with gratitude?  

I could only remember the coldness of the late January night having brought me out of my stupor a couple of times.

" It’s life that makes you weary …" I chuckle to myself.

This must surely be the end.

Fragments of the previous night drift into my mind.

Unwelcome guests.

The nervous jolts start again.

 I sit down on a low wall around what must have, at some time, been an ornamental raised flower bed. Now it functioned as a repository for rubbish and various species of weed.

" Just like the West End." I say sullenly to myself. A passing parking enforcement officer notices me talking to myself and keeps passing.

" Time for another fix of petty power trip." He crosses to the other side of the street without giving me a backwards look. I’m not really in the mood to discuss people’s life choices with them anyway.

There’s a teenage lad working on one of the fruit and veg stalls, he’s about eighteen with closely cropped dark brown hair. I reach into the rizla thin polythene carrier bag and fish out my third bottle of Shotts, open it and …. watch him. It’s obvious that he loves being a cheeky barrow boy. I savour his youthful laddishness and also the sweet fruity alcoholic liquid. His wearing one of those market trader’s aprons, which, although excellent for keeping loose change in, totally obscures his package. But even this doesn’t detract from my appreciation of the scene.

Sex is irrelevant, I just want to observe him in his totality.

" I’m getting spiritual." I observe to nobody in particular and swig down the remainder of my drink and discard the bottle amongst the rest of the detritus.

The usual feeling of frustration at such concealment …exclusion …  inaccessibility, fails to materialize…just a wave of melancholy at my inability to crystallize the image. ..to save him.So I clear.

On the way back to Waterloo, I pass a branch of my building society. I look upon its presence here in the midst of my London drunkenness with something bordering wonderment. It being so familiar to me yet, in my mind, associated entirely with my sober suburban life. Coming across it here and now, seems to me, incredibly fortuitous.  

My passbook is still in the inside pocket of my jacket from when I paid in my pay check on the Saturday morning…. it had been a long weekend. My account is in the hundreds as I had been working for the past three months, whilst on the wagon. The warm feeling that brought on by having access to such funds soon morphed into anxiety as the train of thought lead me to the realisation that I was already half an hour late for work….yet another job that I wouldn’t be returning to. This concern soon passes as I use my front door key to flip the cap of off the penultimate bottle.

As I make my way to the station I consider how odd it was that I had never come across that market street before, like a some kind of urban village … ” Passport to Pimlico” style. There had been several occasions in the past when I had gone in search of an offy, wanting a drink for the train home but not wanting to pay the exorbitant prices charged at the sorely misnamed ” Traveller’s Friend” on the concourse. I , for one, did not consider charging one pound eighty for a bottle of Australian alcoholic lemonade as being an act of friendship.

I pass the office types forming a long queue at the black cab rank. I wasn’t in the mood to share an early morning banter with them. They looked uptight and miserable. So I finished my drink and binned the bottle and bag, tucking the remaining bottle in the inside breast pocket of my flight jacket, this being noticed by a commuter.

" Well nobody wants to look like some sort of a drunk….especially when you are." I impart in a sing-song manner. He smiles.

Time for train and the last bottle.


I enter my parents’ house. It is empty and peaceful…..they are daytime people.

I go to the drinks cabinet, all mahogany and glass. Fill a nice heavy cut crystal tumbler a third of the way with Vodka. Detour to the kitchen for orange juice …apparently from Florida I notice, I go up to my room.

I scatter neatly typed sheaves of A4 on the floor, searching for “Hungerford Bridge”.

I find the poem, drink down the vodka and orange and …sleep.



Burroughs on the set of Naked Lunch, directed by David Cronenberg


Burroughs on the set of Naked Lunch, directed by David Cronenberg