Channel 4 commemorated (rather than celebrated) the enactment of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967) which only applied in
40 Years On ran (mostly) from Saturday to Saturday 21 to 26 July (2007) first out was A Very British Sex Scandal, about the Peter Wildeblood affair’ of 1954. In many ways this was the full stop at the end of a quite hysterical witch hunt’ (the clicheis very apt, for once) in the early fifties (mostly in England, and mostly in London I am more than prepared to be corrected on this matter). The Wildeblood affair was every New of the Screws-type sub-editor’s wet-dream. Wildeblood (Martin Hutson) was a very successful journalist on the Daily Mail (always good for a bitching from the less successful in the profession), several aristos were involved and a couple of National Servicemen. (The latter description means men conscripted into the Armed Forces for two years. National Service, for most (male) citizens ran from the eighteenth to the twentieth birthdays, so the two lads Edward McNally (Sam Heughan) and Johnny Reynolds (Karl Davies) would have been under age’ until quite recently.
Wildeblood meets McNally, like a fair number of other pick-ups’ at or about a railway station public convenience’ (little did the stuffed shirts naming these facilities know ”). They were standard meeting places prior to the down-grading of the railways, coach stations took over somewhat in
News of this gets to the police and McNally and Reynolds are arrested by the Military Police, an unpleasant, violent, experience for them. The civilian police offer them the usual inducements, if they tell on the others they will get off with a lighter sentence. Young Reynolds falls for it, but McNally’s attitude to Wildeblood is more honourable and is motivated by more than the prospect of sex and presents. (Reynolds tagged along to the house party as a mate, possibly a fuck-buddy’, of McNally’s, while doing National Service.) While it is clear that the police are after Wildeblood and Montagu, as the older men’ from superior’ social positions who corrupted the two young men they are treated, relatively speaking, with kid gloves the young soldiers just get thumped. (Their sentences at the end of the trial were just as long as the other three, middle and upper’ class defendants.)
This is a very good drama-doc’, though I did feel that the police and lawyers verged on caricature, but it was more than half a century ago in
The climax of this drama is when in answer to a direct question Wildeblood owns up, in a Crown Court, to being homosexual. He got a longish prison sentence, and when he came out of prison he campaigned against the law. He was also employed by the BBC as, apparently a very good, and creative, television Producer. McNally and Reynolds simply disappear. But a very good drama could be made out of their lives. McNally iSean Irish name, as is Reynolds (Mac Raghnail), they were Scottish, and probably RC, which three attributes apart from being working class nobodies would have been enough to unperson’ them in 1954. In fact, they would have been barely personned’. McNally and Reynolds might have first met as altar servers in the RC chapel in whatever cold, damp, dump of a garrison they were serving in.
This sort of class blindness iSean example of how people behaved in the 1950s. There were a number of similar situations in , (set in 2007), to be discussed after the actual drama. Kevin Elyot has been described as writing an anti-Gay’ play, but I wonder if he was writing any sort of Gay’ play. It is heavily populated, almost Jacobean in its large cast, including such persons as, Tough Man’, Man in Toilet 2′ and Man on Bench’, despite which it is not a standard realist’ telly-script. I feel this is what annoyed a great many people. We are so used to realism from Anglo-Saxon’ film makers that the utter unreality of what they make escapes us. How many times has Deirdre Barlow’ of Coronation Street been married? The central figure in Clapham Junction is (according to the press) Terry’, (Paul Nicholls). The latter appears not to have given any interviews about it. Most of what I read was nonsense, one magazine had Terry beating up the Alfie character (David Leon), which is inaccurate.
Terry, who hasn’t surname, is a conundrum, he may be a man struggling with his sexuality’. He may be a man who enjoys inflicting violence on others, and has discovered a sub-culture individual members of which are still (even in cosmopolitan
Terry encounters Alfie in a disco, complete with a pole dancer ignored by the clientele (just like in straight bars). Alfie (the lovely David Leon, whom any red-blooded poof would love to have as a Close Personal Friend) is not interested. Largely because he has had a heavy-duty encounter with a participant in a Civil Partnership celebration. It was one half of the Civil Partnership, a problematical situation for a skint waiter, dealing with the attentions of a very wealthy man. The latter could, and probably would, have complained to Alfie’s bosses if he had not been amenable to his attentions, jobs are not that easy to find. After evading Terry, Alfie chooses to walk round Clapham Common, and enters a public toilet. He encounters two heavies, who make it clear they think he’s a queer. He legs it, but is hunted down and beaten so badly that he does not last the night. Terry happens along and steals a ring on his finger, which he’d remarked on in the disco, but makes no effort to help or comfort Alfie, some passers by find him and send for an ambulance.
This is where the slightly redundant dinner party, in one of the big houses surrounding the Common touches on the main theme of the drama. One guest is a closeted lawyer who was in the same cottage an hour or two before Alfie’s killing, being fucked by a large brute of a man. (Incidentally his membrum virile, is like Terry’s (seen earlier in the proceedings) rather large. One did wonder about stunt doubles’. Far be it from me to give cognisance to the outrageous rumour labelled the Irish curse’, but they seemed bigger than they had a right to be). The lawyer is quietly irritated by a writer with whom he had had sex some time before. They are played by James Wilby and Rupert Graves respectively, who played the eponymous Maurice Hall in the 1987 film and Alec Scudder, his game keeper lover. The two women at the party are slightly anti-Gay, because of the behaviour’ on the Common. The third man is a sexual liberal, demonstrated later in the play, where he is prepared to accept a situation, which in all honesty would have most parents running to the police. (This iSean encounter between their early-teen son Theo and the twentysomething Tim).
The ring which Terry stole from Alfie is something of a leitmotif in the latter part of the drama. When Terry is taken to the A&E in a nearby hospital after he in turn is bashed, the person who deals with him is the other half of the Civil Partnership, who wonders how Terry acquired the gift he gave to his partner’. They had had an argument about what had happened to it. The drama stops at this bitter moment. It is not remotely up-beat, and the situation implies more drama and bitterness. Possibly this is what troubled many viewers, which is, again probably a consequence of the homogenisation of television drama. We are used to fifty minutes of bland drama interrupted by advertisements, which are often more creative than the actual drama which end in all the loose ends being tidied up, in a little apotheosis. A drama with raw edgeSeand unresolved sexual issues, like p?”dophilia, where the younger party Theo’ (Luke Treadaway) forces the issue with the sex criminal’ (whose flat has been petrol bombed) Tim’ (Joseph Mawle), is disconcerting. Presumably it is meant to be.
Another element linking the various disparate elements in the play is the case of young Danny’ (Jared Thomas), who is a violinist. He is also the only child of a single mother, and she has invested extremely high hopes in him. He is a talented musician, a violinist, and his playing of a Bach Gigue is heard over some quite shocking parts of the drama, (somewhat in the manner of the film Clockwork Orange). A number of people, described in the cast list as Black Youth’ there are a number of them hang around the house of his music teacher. I found this element in the drama difficult to relate to, I have a feeling that the music mad Black sub-culture of south
As noted above, I fund the treatment of (working class) Black’ youth in Clapham Junction somewhat disturbing. The treatment of white working class people wasn’t exactly heartening either. Terry works as (apparently) for the Council’ or binman’ if you like my former avocation. The bashers’ are all plebes, as is the p?”dophile [?] Tim tormented by his neighbours in the Council Estate opposite the bourgeois semi owned by Theo’s parents. Alfie is a mere waiter, and is something of a cipher he is pictured as, in essence, too stupid to protect himself. Two of the three prominent women in the play are middle class homophobes (possibly a rather subtle touch. Don Milligan, author of The Politics of Homosexuality [Pluto] wrote to the Guardian a decade ago, to point out that he had never been attacked by working class people. His two encounters with physical violence were in nice, middle class environs, in one case a university campus, and in another at the opening of an art exhibition[!].)
The Stonewall, Gay Times, New Labour nexus has been pushing this line for over a decade now, that working class people are (almost inherently) homophobic. This iSean extension of the attitude which led to the destruction of Gay News, and the setting up of the pseudo-libertarian Gay Reporter, which was a commercial failure. The reading Gay public did not especially like misogyny, metropolitan self-obsession, and whinging about politics’ (it was too early for political correctness’). People wanted sex and politics just as well, too Section 28 was in the future. The Gay community of communities mirrors society at large, most of us work for a living, and in the nature of things are found in every political formation (clearly we are, largely, in political formations attempting to extend the rights of the citizen).
Other aspects of the 40 Years On were a mixed bag, one was a studio debate 40 Years Out chaired by David Aaronovitch with a what am I doing here’ look in his eyes. This would have worked much better in an After Dark format. After Dark was screened by C4 in the late 1980Seand early ’90s, it was a spectacularly simple format. A group of people were sat around in a circle of comfortable seats, with some nibbles’ and a fair amount of drink’, then talked until they, became incomprehensible, walked out, or fell asleep. One programme lasted until seven the next morning, having started about 10.30 or 11 p). In 40 Years Out we got a different collection of talking heads every ten minutes, it was choppy and not very enlightening. The only person talking sense was the rapper QBoy, who presented a C4 show called Out in Class aimed at school students earlier in the year. He was fairly sanguine about the violence and against Gay school students, and their alienation from there peers being countered, but it was going to be a long haul. Mark Simpson (author of Anti-Gay) seemed to be objecting to Clapham Junction, he muttered about not wanting pro-Gay agitprop’ same as a number of bloggers what’s wrong with Gay agitprop? He said something sensible about homophobia’ to the effect that people ought to be allowed to express distaste for queer folk. The problem with such an attitude (I tend to agree with it), is that such matters cut both ways. Would we shirt-lifters be allowed to jeer publicly at the notion of Richard Littlejohn or Kelvin Mackenzie, having sweaty and un?”sthetic heterosex? The vocabulary of anti-Gay abuse is rather large. Simpson said that he now lives in
I didn’t really understand what Mathew Parris (A Castle in Spain, among many other publications) was talking about I assume he was edited to tatters. Simon Fanshawe (The Done Thing) was also a bit odd he wants us to behave ourselves but do the others’ behave in the done’ way. If he wants a return to elements of the sort of social co-operation that existed as late as the 1970s, one would agree with him. Most of our fellow-citizens (hetero-, homo-, and anarcho-sexual) want discipline and orderliness for other people. Young people and queers being at the top of the list, as for Gay youth, they should be neither seen nor heard, in fact they probably should not exist. Brian Paddick, the queer ex-cop, partly helped into early retirement by creeps like Littlejohn, might have had something interesting to say, but there was no time to say it. Other people involved were the comedian Paul Sinha, a doctor, and a Gay Asian, (and a Catholic? Sinha’ has a Goan ring to it) and Julie Bindel (co-editor, among other things, of The Map of my Life, The Story of Emma Humphreys) who was a pleasing presence, but they like Paddick, did not really get time to say anything of consequence
Queer As Old Folk (July, 26) was interesting, and I thought heartening, with two old dears having a Civil Partnership, after forty five years of living with each other. There was also a fascinating coupling of a man in his sixties with a male stripper less than half his age. There was, admittedly, a lot of attention paid to the chap in his late forties (how old is Old’?) who was living the adolescence he did not experience. A number of correspondents of C4’s various internet forums (fora?) were irked by this, but it has to be said people do that sort of thing. They did not want pro-Gay agitprop, but then some bloke turns up not behaving like St Francis of
There was also some griping about stereotypes’ effeminate old souls being, largely, the target. But as Jeff Dudgeon (Roger Casement: The Black Diaries With a Study of His Background and Irish Political Life) put it there are definite, and definable types in Gay and in general society live with it, this was in regard to the film The Boys in the Band (1970). This was also part of the response to How Gay Sex Changed the World, (July, 24) which consisted to talking heads’ mostly the usual metropolitan suspects. It was a gross misnomer Gay sexuality and the acceptance thereof, may have changed the Anglo-Saxon’ world, or even just
Times change, mainly because we trivial Gays made demands on the State and on society, the world’ outside of the
The films shown during the week (some shown on Film 4) are to be commented on in a different article. Here are the titles, Prick Up Your Ears, Un chant d’amour, Victim, Maurice, and on ITV 4, Midnight Express. Most of these films are worthwhile, though Maurice was described by one fan on the as a great film based on a great book’. The book is second-rate, especially in the context of EM Forster’s other works. It was Lady Chatterley’s Lover for