Of late, boozy gigs with ancient comrades from old London Town have been as rare as ginger imams. Somehow life just gets in the way. So, one evening I fired off a text.
“Boys. It’s high time we had a coven.”
After a flurry of replies, it was game on.
I always get down to the big city a tad early – to imbibe the vibe and cast my spell over the Soho boys. I know, hopelessly deluded. Gay scene wise, Soho isn’t quite what it was. Online ‘dating’ has seen to that. Nevertheless, a few old haunts stumble on, attracting the after-school crowd. I wandered into the Duke of Wellington (or the Welly as it’s affectionately known, my spiritual home back in the day). As I headed for the bar, I spied a former squeeze in the corner of my eye. By the time I’d been served, the hairy old crow had taken flight, leaving half his pint behind. Clearly, my magic wand has lost its vigour. I wouldn’t mind but it’s over twenty years since we stepped out.
After a sherry or two with my London witches, we pitched up at a local brasserie for a bite and a long natter. We wittered on for hours about everything and nothing and by the time we were hoarse, the staff were sweeping up and stacking chairs around us. It was time to mount our broomsticks, and as befits three old sorcerers whose powers to bewitch have all but withered, we were tucked up in our beds by the stroke of midnight.
This is what we looked like twenty years ago before our allure had faded. Obviously, that’s not yer actual Taj Mahal. We were in Blackpool for a dirty weekend. And where better?
And this is what we look like now. No wonder our wands have dropped off.
I have just reconnected with a long lost Blighty pal. His name is Andy and, nowadays, he’s someone awfully important in local government. We first became acquainted many moons ago at a drunken trivial pursuit work shindig. We were on opposing teams. I was the captain of my team which I called Kings and Queen. His team was called Gail Tisley’s Chin. The chin won by a nose. We got chatting afterwards over a tankard or two and thereafter became pals. Andy is a Barnsley lad with thick accent to match and a call a spade a spade Yorkshire charm. I was a cynical old pro and he was the new kid on the block at the tender of just 21.
Andy is irrepressibly heterosexual and so secure in his sexuality he isn’t fazed by mine in the slightest. I dragged him around the gay fleshpots of Soho. He didn’t flinch from the lecherous shenanigans. He assumed the role of my bodyguard protecting me from the wanted attentions of the dive bar boys, much to my distress. He used to drink in Earls Court, a gay mecca in those far off days. He isn’t bi-curious. It was the only place to get an after hours drink back then.
Andy decided to get hitched and held his stag do in Blackpool. A bit of a cliché but great fun nonetheless. It was thirty straight lads and me. I was the little gay mascot. I got chatting to one of his unsuspecting northern mates. ‘I hear a poof’s come along for the ride,’ he said. ‘That’ll be me,’ I replied. Despite the macho bravado from the boisterous boys I was the only one who actually got a ride that weekend.
Eventually Andy moved on to a better job and we lost touch. It’s an all too common problem for the transient workers of London. He’s still married to pretty little Jill and a proud father of two boys. They’ll grow up happy and well-balanced. Andy will make sure of it. I’m looking for a trip down memory lane when I’m next back in Blighty.