The Swinging Detective

The Swinging Detective

by

Henry McDonald

Gibson Square

ISBN 97817833441177

This is a ’prentice effort for Henry McDonald ( The Swinging Detective), at least in writing a sustained, 330-odd pages, of a fairly complex novel.The Swinging Detective - Henry McDonald It is in the form of, essentially, a ‘thriller’ (fair enough ‘thriller’ is not up there with bildungsroman or novella as a literary form, but it has some formal attributes – bear with me). The biographical ‘blurb’ on the book’s back-cover claims McDonald “has a deep knowledge of Marxism” and “the German punk scene”. Which means Henry was once the rising star of the Workers’ Party of Ireland (formerly ‘Official’ Sinn Féin / the Republican Clubs) in its glazed-eyed Muscovite days. But the element of ‘inside knowledge’ is quite lightly handled, and while Martin Peters, the central figure of the tale is a useful ‘outsider’ he knows Berlin intimately.

That is because he was a British ‘spook’ in the days before the Wall came down – Belfast also comes into the matter. Peters (the similarity of the moniker to the England ‘World cup’ team member is acknowledged – so far as England soccer fans are concerned there is only one World Cup worth consideration – that of 1966). Peters is haunted by the killing of (an exotically-named, female Loyalist assassin) the description of the actual killing of this unlikely person fits that of an actual UVF operative, Brian Robinson. He was a pillion passenger on a motorbike, and was shot dead by Brit (or possibly RUC) spooks. He and his driver were on an Ardoyne (north Belfast) ‘Fenian’-killing expedition.

The Swinging Detective - Thailand and Sri LankaThe book itself is largely about the killing of ‘paedophiles’ – men convicted of sexually molesting children in Thailand and Sri Lanka. There are very good descriptions of the social reaction to this series of events. The police have the problem of having to offer some sort of protection to men who are at the bottom of just about anybody’s list of worthy citizens; complicated by the fact that these men are simultaneously in dire need of protection on a 24 / 7 basis – and don’t want to draw attention to themselves. The attention comes in the form of an ad-hoc Mothers Against Paedophiles group, led by a loud, publicity-grabbing ‘targe’ of a woman. And an assassin who specialises in killing these men in increasingly imaginative ways. The tabloid press joins in the whipping up of social hysteria about ‘paedophiles’ (the numbers of whom, in society are, as ever, hugely over-inflated).

The killing of these people – generally deemed to be socially worthless (human, if that, garbage), leads to all sorts of complications – the chief one being the bullying of entirely innocent elderly men, and the stretching of police resource, human and otherwise to breaking point. Peters eventually tracks down ‘St Christopher’, the executioner of the men who had gone abroad to molest, mostly elementary school age boys. We are spared descriptions of the ‘interaction’ with the children in the Third World, but the results of such things are obvious – destroyed socialisation and driving into drugs (including alcohol).

The killer of these men turns out not to be a ‘moralistic’ avenger. His motivation is anti-imperialist, this is just the dirtiest element in the over-all exploitation of these boys (it is implied very strongly, that girls and young women are victims too). This is a well-written and – arresting – is the only word, novel.

It is well worth some hours of your time.

External links for further information:

Queeriosity – An Exhibition for Pride 2017

Queeriosity is one of those little gems that somehow scrape under the radar, which is a pity because it is definitely worth going to see.  The exhibition runs in the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, from Thursday 3rd August – 2 September 2017.

The exhibition is over three inter-connecting rooms, with the lead in corridor showing both the introduction poster and also one exhibit, which consists of excerpts from what appears to be children’s notebooks – some very poignant writings.

The gallery items range from paintings, through ceramics, installations, photographs and cover a range of topics including:

  • marriage
  •  how we are labelled within society
  • body shape

There is a notice on the door into the exhibit which says:

“Please be aware that this exhibition contains adult content”

however, I would argue that you would see more in the Victoria and Albert, the Tate or the National Portrait Gallery, and they don’t feel that it is necessary to give a warning. But then this is Northern Ireland, and we have to err on the side of caution.

Queeriosity has works from 21 different artists, which are well presented and lit, with a piece written about the artist and the work beside each work. Again I would say that whether this information works for you or not I feel depends on whether or not you are an artist, have a good knowledge of art and (or) possibly a degree in psychology.

Most of the art works are available for sale, ranging in price from £20 for the wire work figures, up to £2300 for Maria Strzelecka’s ‘Oil on Canvas’. However, my favourites pieces were:

  • Marie Smith’s ‘Jean Jacques’, a bronze figure priced at £1250 Queeriosity

 

 

 

 

 

 

and

  • Caolum McCabe’s ‘Gay 100% HUMAN LABELS ARE FOR CLOTHES’ which is not for sale

 

 

 

 

 

Shauna McCann and Linda Smyth as curators have put together a thoughtful and welcomed addition to Pride Festival in Belfast 2017.

Well done the Crescent Arts Centre

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Links:

THE COLD COLD GROUND

 

THE COLD COLD GROUND

Adrian McKinty

Serpent’s Tail

ISBN978 1 84668 823 2

The Cold Cold Ground,  involves an RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary – now PSNI, the Police Service of Northern Ireland) criminal detective Sean (sic) Duffy. His position as a (Northern Ireland) Catholic in an overwhelmingly ‘Protestant’ environment is lightly handled. A colleague in an armoured personnel carrier apologises for using ‘sectarian’ language when patrolling a ‘Taig’ area of Carrickfergus, the south Antrim port of which Duffy is a native.

Adrian McKinty is a native of that place too, which makes the descriptions of the town and its layout ring true, though no doubt some things have been ‘moved around’ to keep the story uncluttered. The story involves a number of disparate killings that Duffy, an under-promoted Detective Sergeant (he has “solved six murders prior to this”) feels are connected. He dismisses involvement by the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) or the UDA (Ulster Defence Association – including its (‘killing wing’ covers most eventualities), the UFF (Ulster Freedom Fighters). A ‘drug scene’ was only a gleam in south Belfast Hoods’ eyes at this juncture (the UDA has probably ousted them, but the UVF, while tolerating low level drug taking takes a pretty hard line against the trade. The looser UDA is characteristically all over the place about ‘drugs’, especially as most working class areas in Northern Ireland function on a cocktail of cheap booze and prescription tranquilisers.

Duffy has all sorts of adventures in this narrative, he is part of a riot squad mobilised to police the Falls Road / Andersonstown areas of west Belfast the evening of the day of Bobby Sands’ death. That seems unlikely, as there were already hordes of police and army on standby. He does make the point that his team witnessed the clashes from Knockagh ‘mountain’. I wondered if this was a hint to some readers that some elements in this book were insisted on by the publishers. Knockagh was where various ‘Loyalist’ paramilitary’s dumped ‘enemies of Ulster’ they had killed. They were to a person (some women were killed too), entirely innocent Catholic shift workers, drunks, or those just on the streets at the ‘wrong’ time.

Back to the book; this is a well-written thriller with a number of sub-themes, the statutory ‘love interest’ (a sexy surgeon), the nosy ‘spook[s]’, military as well as police, even nosey neighbours (Duffy, perforce, lives in a heavy-duty Loyalist area – a divorcé, he can’t afford to live in a police ghetto in pricey north Down) which brings him into daily, unpleasant proximity with real, and would-be, Loyalist hard-boys. There are some oddities here Duffy joins the RUC as a result of an encounter with the nasty realities of life in 1970 Belfast. It would much more likely to have driven him into the IRA (the given reasons are off-hand and unlikely; nasty Catholics being beastly to police personnel). Given that the police were, in part anyway, a gendarmerie better-armed than the average Brit squaddie, and enthusiastically beating any sign of political dissent, much less violence, in Taig / Catholic areas, it is out of time – but then there would not have been a story.

Intertwined among the bodies and bullies is the killing of Gay men by a ‘moral’ avenger. This, like a number of other matters in this book, seems to be based on actuality. There were a (largish) number of killings of queer men in Belfast in the 1980s. Some, that of Anthony (Tony) McCleave, being particularly brutal (he was impaled by the throat from the spikes on the railings around the Albert Memorial (clock – Belfast’s ‘leaning tower’). The killer probably worked on the assumption that a mere queer’s family would be too embarrassed to push for a thorough police enquiry. He (it is extremely unlikely that it was a ‘she’) got the McCleave family wrong. They demanded and got a full inquiry, but it ran into the ground, there were no witnesses to the encounter between Tony and his killer, much less the actual killing.

Sinn Féin and the IRA appear here as groups without a history or ‘hinterland’, such an approach strained my credulity. It is possible the author, or his editors, thought the ‘RA was embedded in the reading public’s consciousness alongside the Nazis or Pol Pot. The attitude of the public in Great Britain to the “men [and women] of violence” is complex and changes over the years – and not always in ways the ‘political class’ and their media would approve.

This book is well worth reading; just remember it is a ‘police procedural’ cum thriller, not a documentary.

Seán McGouran

The Cold Cold Ground - Carrickfergus

Furthjer reading or viewing:

Butterflies and Bones: The Casement Project

Butterflies and Bones: The Casement Project

 

The ‘butterflies’ above refers to the fact that on his travels around the British and Belgian colonial empires, and his sojourn in parts of Latin America investigating the brutalities of various rubber companies, Casement collected local lepidoptera (butterflies) for the Natural History Museum. This is a London-based institution, he may have felt it another part of his imperial duty to do such. The London University School of Slavonic and East European and the School of African and Oriental Studies were both a focussing of relatively disorganised studies in wartime, for wartime. The persons who ran The Empire were, as Pádraig Pearse put it, strong and wise and wary. There was nothing about their ill-gotten booty they weren’t interested in – and hanging onto, thus the centralising of knowledge about the east European and Slav world, as well as The Empire.

The ‘bones’ refers to a number of things, including Casement’s own bones. An introductory voiceover (repeated twice during the performance), quotes notes made by a bureaucrat in the course of Casement’s remains being disinterred to be repatriated to Ireland fifty years after his execution. The anonymous, disinterested, civil servant notes that, despite being told by (Pentonville) Prison personnel that the use of quicklime had been abandoned some year’s prior to Casement’s execution, there was a layer of the substance in the grave. It had been poured over the body, which was in a winding sheet, and had destroyed the flesh, and, half a century on, most of Casement’s bones.

Dance is not a medium designed to convey specific messages – there are times in this show when it is difficult to work out where in Casement’s career we are. There are no obvious references to his long sojourn as a minor imperial Consular bureaucrat. There are to his encounter with King (’of the Belgians’) Leopold – pictured as an un-regal, almost gangsterish figure. (He spent most of his life in a Paris hotel, living with his ‘mistress’, his devout Spanish wife lied with their children in the draughty Laeken Palace in Brussels.

This ‘show’ is well worth seeing, despite some obvious problems – most dancers have fine ‘toned’ bodies – most monarchs and bureaucrats don’t. There are moments when the cast appear in ensemble, at one or two points not overdressed, when most of the audience’s attention inevitably wanders away from the grisly climax of this story.

Which is, of course, Casement’s brutal execution.

This Project is one of the better – and unusual – products of the centenary commemorations of 1916.

This show was part of Belfast International Arts Festival 2016. In 1916, British peer Roger Casement was hanged in Pentonville Prison and was shown in The MAC, Belfast on 13 October 2016

The Tearoom: the gay cruising 

The TearoomThe game is a foot, but that is probably in some peoples dream.  The Tearoom being referred to here is that of the men’s toilet, where before the law was changed, and indeed even afterwards, men who wanted ‘gay sex’ use to frequent and attempt to have sex or do a pick up without the police catching them.

Often the police use to have sting operations using ‘molly boys’ or ‘honey traps’ where they used young men (sometimes underage or new policemen) to frequent these areas, lead the man on, and then arrest him.

This practice is still being used today by ISIS, as can be seen the article ‘Islamic State’s secret flirting squads expose gay men for trial and execution’ published by the Daily Star Sunday, In may 2015

To add to this, Sean McGouran brought to my attention that there was a ballet / dance about such things Joseph Mercier’s Cruising, Clubbing Fucking: An Elegy – he mentioned that he had performed in Belfast a number of times (at the OutBurst festival).

He and dancer Sebastian Langueneur ended up in their birthday suits…

 

TRAILER Cruising, Clubbing, Fucking: an elegy from PanicLab on Vimeo.

Further reading:

 

Robert Yang has created a ‘dick pic simulator’ and a game about consent and BDSM. Now he’s tackling the risks surrounding gay sex in the 60s

Source: The Tearoom: the gay cruising game challenging industry norms | Technology | The Guardian

Forrest Reid – the magician

Forrest Reid - the magicianForrest Reid was born on (Saturday, as it happens) June 24, 1876, at 20 Mount Charles, Belfast it was (still is) a ‘private road’, a volume of Reid’s autobiography is entitled Private Road (the other being Apostate).  Reid’s father died when he was a child.  He had invested in foolish speculation, and his death left the family in dire straits.  His mother, an Englishwoman with exotic, aristocratic ancestors, including Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife, refused to ‘down-size’ and the family survived on a very basic diet – mostly rice pudding

   Reid attended Belfast’s ‘Inst’ (the Royal Belfast Academical Institute) and was a good student – particularly of English, but he went to work in Musgrave’stea firm – the Musgrave family were entrepreneurs – the greater part of their fortune being made in metal industrial and domestic heating devices.
   Reid’s frugality may be a reason why he was able to attend Christ’s Church College in Cambridge in 1905.  He was, at 29, a ‘mature student, of ancient (Greek) and modern languages.  He regarded his sojourn in Cambridge as a “rather blank” period – he had no friends from his sojourn there.
   He did meet EM Forster, who became a life-long friend, and whom Reid visited every year.  He travelled to England as an (apparently ferociously competitive) croquet player and stayed with Forster in his Cambridge rooms.  He must have made the acquaintance of Forster’s circle.  Benjamin Britten was part of that circle until his expulsion (BB had made it clear that the composer had the last word on texts to be set.  He had been given increasing complex texts by WH Auden in the 1930s and early ’40s.  Post Peter Grimes, his first major opera, he felt self confident dealing with authors.  Forster became the Great Old Man of English Letters and tried to brow-beat BB, who turned to more amenable librettists).
   Reid had a great love of Italian opera and a huge record collection – with which he ‘entertained’ his neighbours in Ormiston Avenue off Castlereagh Road (the Castlereagh Hills were not built over until the 1960s) often late in the evening.  Many of Reid’s books are set in the unnamed, but clearly obvious County Down – the county ‘proper’ begins with the Castlereagh Hills.  His other favoured landscape was that of Donegal.
   Reid produced a critical study of WB Yeats in 1915 (he did not note the Great War in progress at the time – WW2 was beneath his notice too), as was the decade of political violence in Ireland.  He produced a book about British book illustrators of the 1870s and a not-very-critical study of Walter de la Mare (now even more thoroughly forgotten than Reid himself).
   Reid’s novels have been reprinted by Valancourt Books of Richmond, Virginia over the past decade.

Valancourt Books

PO Box 17642
Richmond VA [Virginia]
USA
Forrest Reid - one story

Screening of ‘Against the Law’ in Downing Street

 

UK Government

The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP
Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities
requests the pleasure of the company of
Cllr Jeffrey Dudgeon MBE
at a screening of Against the Law
at 10 Downing Street
on Tuesday 11th July 2017 at 6.30 pm for 7.00 pm

Against the Law tells the story of Peter Wildeblood and one of the most explosive court cases of the 1950s – the infamous Montagu trial.
Along with the Conservative peer Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and their friend Michael Pitt-Rivers, Wildeblood was imprisoned for homosexual offences after his lover gave evidence against him under pressure from the authorities.
With his career in tatters and his private life painfully exposed, Wildeblood began his sentence a broken man, but he emerged from Wormwood Scrubs a year later determined to do all he could to change the laws against homosexuality.
His high-profile trial led the way to the creation of the Wolfenden Committee on sexual law reform which eventually resulted in the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 – changing the lives of thousands of gay men with its partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts.
This powerful new drama forms part of a season of BBC programmes marking the fiftieth anniversary of that landmark change in the law. Starring Daniel Mays and directed by Fergus O’Brien, it is interspersed with moving testimonies from a chorus of men whose love and lives were against the law.

 

Screening of 'Against the Law' in No 10 Downing Street

Against the Law

Comics and Harvey Milk

I thought I would pass along this news on the development of a Harvey Milk graphic  comic novel:

Reprinted from email sent by milehighcomics.comNew Harvey Milk Graphic Novel Art – More Scarce Comics ArriveHowdy!

It is already well known that our Jason St. Mega-Store is an amazing Mecca of comics. What is not common knowledge is that we also are offered an unbelievable number of collections at Jason St. on a daily basis. Never, in my entire 47 years of selling comics, have I seen a single location act as a magnet for so much great material! In great measure, that is why our New-In-Stock and Premium New-In-Stock links have been so diverse of late…

Comics in Stock - 1
Array #1 of Comics Instock Now!

I mention these collections for a couple of different reasons. First, I typically travel a great deal during this time of year, and had intended to spend a considerable amount of time this winter buying back issues at comics shops and smaller comics shows on the East Coast. We are receiving so much material at Jason St., however, that we are still trying to catch up on our processing of the semi-trailer filled with comics that I picked up in California and Las Vegas last November. Until we can sort through those 100,000 comics, it makes no sense for me to travel to purchase more.

Nicole the Great
Nicole the Great, Queen Mother of the Americas

The good news is that my not traveling eastward means that I can instead fly to San Diego this weekend, to present a business plan on my proposed Harvey Milk graphic novel to Nicole the Great, Queen Mother of the Americas. In case you missed it in my convention newsletter, as the titular head of our entire 68-chapter International Court System, Nicole met with me at last year’s San Diego Comic-Conabout issues that had arisen with my local organization, the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire. After spending a couple of hours chatting about ICRME issues, Nicole took a walk with me around the convention. She became very excited, and suggested that I try to put together a graphic novel about martyred LGBTQ activist, Harvey Milk. The sketches you see below by the incredibly talented Thomas Haller Buchanan, are the direct result of that conversation.

Harvey Milk Sketch by Thomas Haller Buchanan
Harvey Milk Sketch by Thomas Haller Buchanan

Harvey Milk Sketch - 2 by Thomas Haller Buchanan
Harvey Milk Sketch by Thomas Haller Buchanan

Harvey Milk Sketch - 3 - by Thomas Haller Buchanan
Harvey Milk Sketch by Thomas Haller Buchanan

Harvey Milk Sketch - 4 - by Thomas Haller Buchanan
Harvey Milk Sketch by Thomas Haller Buchanan


Harvey Milk Sketches by Thomas Haller Buchanan

So you know, I have already received about a dozen very encouraging responses to my request for feedback about my Harvey Milk project. I thank each and every one of you who sent me feedback at chuckrozanski@gmail.com. There are quite a few major obstacles that need to be overcome before this project can come to fruition, however, not the least of which is approval by the Harvey Milk Foundation. Before I can even reach that point, however, I first need to gain approval this weekend from Nicole, and the ICS Board of Directors. Wish me luck!


What Thomas Haller Buchanan finished work looks like

As an aside, I think it is time to bring some clarity to my efforts with the ICRME. As a quick glance at ICRME-Denver.org will easily reveal, theImperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire is primarily an LGBTQ organization. It was founded 44 years ago to help validate the benefit to our communities of those who choose to perform in public venues in outfits outside of their birth gender. Simply put, drag queens (men who perform as women) and drag kings (women who perform as men). Our umbrella organization, the International Court System, consists of 30,000 members in the United States, Canada, and MexicoICRME itself is now a registered 501-C3 charity, and contributes upwards of $100,000 per year from our performances to those in need in our Denver community.


Chuck with the officers of ICRME Reign 42

So you know, I am a bit of an odd duck in ICRME, as I am the only straight man in an otherwise primarily gay organization. That having been said, after six years of hard work I have been accepted by most of ICRME’s members, and was allowed to serve last year in the #2 leadership position, as Prince Royale. It was also through my ICRME position that I first became aware of the awesome work being done by Jim Scharper’s “Feeding Denver’s Hungry” charity. That awareness, in turn, has changed my entire life. I now spend a goodly portion if my time each week working with “Feeding Denver’s Hungry,” seeking to help the poor.


Chuck, Jim, and some of the volunteers of Feeding Denver’s Hungry

All of the above having been said, the core of my life remains Mile High Comics. Serving your needs by seeking out the very best comics that I can possibly find, and then offering them to you at the least cost, is still why I get up and go to the office each day. I will be turning 62 in a couple of weeks, however, and I am quite aware that the time is upon me when I need to give back to my community. While joining forces with an organization like ICRME may seem rather out of the ordinary, I can assure you that my friends in the drag community are among the nicest and most giving people that I have ever been blessed to meet. I am honored to work with them every day to try to make Denver a better place for us all.

Happy collecting!

Chuck Rozanski,
Prince Royale 42
Imperial Court the Rocky Mountain Empire
January 30, 2017

P.S. Below are some arrays of comics that we were blessed to be able to purchase last Friday. All can be purchased at a full 30% off when you utilize our NEWHOPE! Codeword. Only new issues, a few variants, and our CGC’s are excluded.

Comics in stock - 2
Array #2 of Comics Instock Now!


Array #3 of Comics Instock Now!


Array #4 of Comics Instock Now!


Array #5 of Comics Instock Now!


Array #6 of Comics Instock Now!


Array of some of the MAD Magazines that will be Instock Tomorrow!

http://www.milehighcomics.com

Young and Old – time does make a difference!

Young and OldOver the last 40+ years that I have been involved in the LGBTQ community, I have been privileged to witness the acceptance of gay people into the general community – young and old, we now have more freedoms; however this has only come about through the continued pressure from individuals, groups through lobbying and through legal cases.  We have in most parts of the UK an acceptance and understanding that being ‘gay’ is normal, that it does not require “treatment” to correct an illness!  Again I said in most parts, there are however still some groups and individuals who wish us to disappear or receive corrective treatment – in most companies LGBTQ rights are now accepted; but we cannot sit back on our backsides; if we do not keep monitoring and interacting with government (both local and national) then the rights that we have fought so hard to achieve will be taken away again.

What are your thoughts on this article; I would really like to hear what you think.  Comment now or email us.Young and Old

 

 

Source: Old and young see LGBT rights in contrast

 

 

 

 

Items for further reading:

365 Without 377 – Movie Review

365 without 377Name of movie: 365 Without 377

Date: 2011

Length (hrs): 53 mins

Film genre: Documentary

Characters: Beena, Pallav and Abhenna.

Director: Adele Tulli, who graduated in South Asian Studies and has worked on several activist projects in India and Europe

Setting: India

 

Plot information: A documentary following the decriminalizing of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalized any sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex.

When does the movie take place? July 2009

What happens in the movie? Imposed under the British colonial rule in 1860, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalize any sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex, stigmatizing them as ‘against the order of nature’. On 2ND July 2009 the Delhi High Court passed a landmark judgement scrapping this clause, thus fulfilling the most basic demand of the Indian LGBTQ community, which had been fighting this law for the past 10 years. Three characters, Beena, Pallav and Abheena travel through the city of Bombay heading to the celebrations for the first anniversary of the historic verdict. ‘365 without 377’ is the story of their journey towards freedom. (IMDB)

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What makes the movie interesting? The chance to see a different culture handling a British imposed culture, and how they developed as people and overcame the challenges of being ‘gay’ in India, where even though the law as been annulled by the Delhi High Court, for many they still believe it will take much more than this to change the mindset of the Indian community as a whole

What is the best part? The best parts for me was looking at the three main characters lives, and how just like ourselves they are ordinary, but have developed as people and are willing to stand up for their beliefs and rights.

How do you feel when the movie ended? Neither sad or happy, but I did feel that I wanted to learn more, and hope that another documentary will do a follow-up say in 5 years time.

Who will like this move? People with an interest in LGBT activism, people with an interest in humanity, people who like India

On a scale of 1 (don’t like) – 5 (like), how do you rate this movie? For me definitely a 4