BY STEPHEN NICHOLSON
written January- February 2018
...each man kills the thing he loves. By each let this be heard....... Some kill their love when they are young, and some when they are old...
Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol
Stephen Nicholson (1957-2020) was an English music teacher whose account of his life, including his liaisons with boys, A Dangerous Love, was published in 2023.
He wrote the following as a sketch for a sequel to his friend Edmund Marlowe’s novel, Alexander’s Choice, a boy’s love story set at Eton College in 1983-4. Though primarily intended as an entertaining tribute to the latter novel, which means much of it will be barely intelligible to those who have not read it (or at least the synopsis offered as a substitute below), it also offers a vivid and realistic picture of the grim life of boysexuals in the third of a century following 1984. Nicholson was well-qualified to write this, being an active and well-travelled lover of boys with a circle of close and similar friends who trusted him with their stories, and he stressed that:
There is nothing purely made up in Julian's story. Each character is based on someone or a composite of people I have known. Likewise the events, allowing for a little tweaking and adaptation to Julian's circumstances.
Many of Nicholson’s abbreviations, specially of names, have been replaced with full entries to make the story understandable to those who, even if they remember Alexander’s Choice, may not do so vividly.
For those interested in reading Julian’s Destiny without reading Alexander’s Choice, the essential elements to know of the latter’s plot are as follows (but note that they are spoilers). Alexander Aylmer, a beautiful and sympathetic boy of thirteen went to Eton, England’s top boarding-school in 1983, where Julian Smith, a much more ordinary boy three years older fell in love with him. Julian hid as secrets from the other boys both this and his unusual background as the son of a half Jewish holocaust survivor, Alfred (originally surnamed Wertheimber), who had become a removals man (saving up all his earnings to send Julian to Eton), and his cockney wife Denise Smith, a feminist campaigner against child sex abuse. By luck, Julian won Alexander’s close friendship despite believing himself unworthy, but abandoned Alexander (already bereft by the death of his mother), when their friendship came under attack. Alexander was saved from desperation by the intervention of his young English teacher, Damian Cavendish, with whom he went on to have a passionate love affair. They were betrayed by a regretful and bitterly jealous Julian, leading, two days later, to Alexander’s suicide and Damian’s murder in prison. Sick of himself and Eton, Julian abandoned the school and went home to confess to Alfred, who despite being heartbroken by the shattering of his old dreams, was sympathetic.
Of the other characters mentioned in both Alexander’s Choice and Julian’s Destiny, Captain Holland was the young officer who had liberated Alfred from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and remained his friend, James Crichton was Julian’s closest friend in his year at Eton, Guy Cowburn was the house bully in their year, Peter Leigh was Guy’s crony, Rupert Drysdale and Simon Churchill were Alexander’s best friends in his year, and Geoffrey Hay was a self-important boy in the top year who had suppressed his own crush on Alexander.
Described by the author as “deliberately over-the-top”, this follows straight on from the last scene of Alexander’s Choice:
Scene: sitting room in the Smiths' Wandsworth home
Denise arrives home, full of her own self-importance. She sees Alfred in the sitting room. Julian is in the study next door.
Denise: ’Ello there Fred, you bin in all day then? I bet yer male ego is still suffering cos Oi was so good on the telly eh? Showed up them men, really told ’em didn’t Oi? (She chuckles in an ugly way).
Alfred: Denny dear I....
Denise: (interrupting). We’re finally getting the message through Fred. We’re gonna transform this country and make it a decent safe place for kids.
Alfred: I think you should know...
Denise: (interrupting) Don’t interrupt me Fred. Yer always interrupting me, never a let a woman speak do yer?! It’s yer patriarchal attitude, always ’aving to dominate everyfing init!? Anyways, Fred as Oi was sayin’..
Alfred: (raising voice to her - a sufficiently rare event to make her take notice) Vy don’t you listen, just for vunce voman!? Julian’s back early.
Denise: ’Eh wot? No need to shart. One of them exit fings is it? Anyway, as I was troiin’ to say...
Alfred: (shouting, unheard of) Scheiße!! Genug! No eez not exeat, Julian’s back because of zis boy and his teacher...
Denise: Yer wot? Oh no!
Alfred: Ja ja ja.
Denise: Yer mean to say that that filthy paedo ’as bin abusin’ our Julian too? Bloody ’ell it’s rife iinit! If Oi’d known them schools were all loike that Oi’d wouldener bin ’alf so ’appy bart ’im goin’ there. Fact is Fred Oi’d not ’ave let yer send ’im at all knowin’ wot Oi do nah. (Gradually becoming more hysterical). All boys ’n’ men innit? Completely unnatural. Makes ’em all ’omos, or worse.
Alfred: Nein nein nein.
Denise: No Fred, that’s for emergencies. We can just call the local police for nah. No wonder ’e’s devopin’ an abusive attitude to women. Oi didnt tell yer abart that filthy magazine Oi farnd did Oi? Disgustin’ ’Orrible! Objectification of women, and ere’s another fing Fred…
Alfred: Nein N…
Denise: (cutting him off) No. Oi said not that Fred. Anyways, we should phone the school first. Then get the police to interview every boy in the place to see just ’ow bad it’s got. Oi never loiked that ’ousemaster, Oi bet ’e’s bin at it an all.
Alfred: You don’t understand!
Denise: No, Yew don’t understand Fred! It’s all gone too far, it’s got to stop. When Oi get my way, it’ll soon be normal for every teacher to be police-checked before they get a chance to commit these offences. We must investigate every school and close darn them ones with paedos in ’em. That’s fer starters, then...
Alfred: (shouting loudly and cutting her off). Von’t you ever shut up you stupid stupid voman!
Denise: Don’t yew dare talk to me loike that Fred W O R T - H E I M - B U R R! Oi’m gonna be an MP, an important woman and change this country. Oi shoud’ve known better than to marry a bleeding Krart. Look at all them ’trocities your people dun in the war. Oi shoulda known, Moi muvver always said!
Alfred: (top of his voice) Gott in Himmel! I knew you vere doofy ven I married you, but I didn’t realise you were such a complete dummkopf!
Denise: Now yew listen ’ere!
Alfred: Nein, You listen! I’ve put up wiz your nagging whining for too long. It’s over Denise. Vorbei. Zu Ende. Futsch. Kaputt!! Go back to your old “muvver” in Southwark, and geev your poor sister some help looking after her - eez vomen’s work, no?
Denise: Yew isn’t telling me what to do! Oi live ’ere. Yew go, if yew can find anywhere!
Alfred: (now very calm). OK, OK. Come in Julian. I’m sorry you had to listen to all that. We will pack and stay in a hotel for the night. I will then phone Captain Holland... We are still in touch, and I’m sure he’ll be able to help us find a place to stay before we come back. This house is my name, Denise, and I paid for it, I’m sure Captain Holland can also advise me on the legal side of things. I will divorce you on grounds of withholding my marital rights...
Denise: (still shrieking) Gewd boiye! And good riddance to the both of yer!
Alfred: (almost friendly) Good bye Denise. Auf wiedersehen!
He leaves Denise and goes upstairs. She is finally sobbing uncontrollably.
I. July 1984 - October 1989
Alfred having thus really shown his teeth, Denise ends up storming out, never to return and taking up with a lesbian. Alfred and Julian are now very close.
Julian drifts for a bit. Eton is prepared to overlook his behaviour, but he won’t go back to complete his Trials, being too ashamed.
He winds up at a Sixth Form college. He tries to fuck a boyish-looking girl who (surprisingly) fancies him - but he can’t get it up, mainly through nerves. She is offended and puts it about that he’s a poof, the beginning of a deep lifelong misogyny for him.
He gets average A levels. His gap year - VSO in Africa – involves some intriguing encounters and chances, but he is too timid to explore them. He really wants to do good anyway - perhaps to atone? His conscience is still very troubled over Alexander and Mr. Cavendish.
He goes to a redbrick university, reading English Lit. He realises gay soc is not for him, and his boy attraction isolates him. He discovers the solitary comfort of booze. Lots of “alternative” reading: he stumbles on Davidson’s autobiography in a library and finds some comfort in realising he is not alone. He still has some sort of moral code, but this doesn’t stop him tearing certain pictures out of library books for self-gratification. Still rather confused, he dabbles in religions of all sorts - but they are not for him. On a day trip to Calais, he discovers Jeunes et Naturels. He makes as many day trips as he can over the next two years.
He visits “interesting” North African countries in long vacs, but again he is too callow to take full advantage of what is maybe available - terribly scared of making a mistake. Still worried if his desires are wholesome too, he holds some shred of hope that he can be “cured”.
During his third year, he confesses to a priest who tries to seduce him. Finally Julian accepts what he’s about, sexually-speaking, and, rejecting all conventional forms of religion, he is determined to find an attractive boy to have sex with, at whatever cost.
He scrapes a “respectable” 2:2 and lands a job in Wandsworth Town Library. He does more reading, discovers Casimir Dukahz and contemplates more adventurous travel... Maybe USA?
II. November 1989 - September 1996
He quite enjoys his work in the library, though it’s rather monotonous. It provides plenty of opportunity for wide reading.
He makes one trip to New York: quite exciting, but he is disappointed from a boy point of view. Too late.
There’s a regular young visitor to Wandsworth library, quite attractive, always alone. Very friendly, likes to chat to Julian and share his interests. He enjoys Roald Dahl and books on fantasy and science fiction - keen player of Dungeons and Dragons. Julian takes a sudden interest in Dungeons and Dragons...
All goes well for over three months. Julian often meets him after work in MacDonald’s etc. until he misinterprets the boy’s interest and makes a wrong move. The boy’s mother is involved (no father luckily). Julian escapes official investigation, but loses his job.
There follows a long period on the dole and depression. Julian discovers the extraordinary nudity to be found in swimming-pool changing rooms, and can’t keep away. There is a regular Saturday morning beauty who is aware of his interest and plays up to it. He reminds Julian of Alexander in the bathroom, though he’s not quite so stunning. Julian becomes too well known and narrowly escapes a second “row”.
He decides to obtain a TEFL certificate and travel. He has a succession of badly-paid jobs in Tunisia and Morocco, but finally has some boy action. All is well for a few months, until an older brother decides to sort Julian out with a gang of “heavies” in Marrakech. He is not badly injured, but it serves as a warning. He leaves the next day and is back on the dole in Wandsworth. His father is sympathetic, but wishes Julian would settle somewhere.
After another unproductive two months, he winds up in Bangkok, having heard the rumours, and has the luck to meet someone who shows him the ropes.
All goes well for two years. He can afford a modest apartment in Soi 101, with help from Alfred, but he is aware of clouds gathering even in this boy paradise. He has a regular boyfriend and plenty of short time sessions at such places as the Suriwong Hotel, and in Pattaya at weekends.
By an extraordinary coincidence, he meets Geoffrey Hay in a well-known bar in Pattaya. They acknowledge each other in a friendly enough way – Geoffrey has finally been reconciled to his true nature. They meet socially off and on (Julian still thrashes him at chess!), but Julian is rather disconcerted by Geoffrey’s overt and oafish behaviour. He tries to tell him he’s acting too obviously and that, as things are no longer so free and easy, he needs to be more discreet with his boys. He receives an earful of abuse by way of reply.
One Saturday evening Geoffrey’s arrested in flagrante at a short-time hotel - one of many long-planned arrests that day, with foreign journalists much in evidence. The Thai police play up to them - show they are tackling the “ploblem”.
Julian has seen writing on the wall for some time and no longer drags boys back, either to his flat or to friendly hotels. He still has his one boyfriend who is now just legal, and feels some relief at his good judgement.
Dilemma: should he try and help Geoffrey in his predicament and thus draw attention to himself? He was never that close a friend...
Indeed, can Geoffrey be helped?
III. October 1996 - July 1997
Geoffrey Hay has no Thai; at least Julian made some effort. He finds out that Geoffrey is in Chonburi jail, and makes a half-hearted attempt to visit, but is so shocked by the conditions that he cannot bring himself to go back after a brief meeting with him. Julian discovers that the British Consulate is not at all interested in this type of case and indeed wash their hands of “such people”.
He manages to organise an English-speaking lawyer, but at Geoffrey’s request does not tell his parents about the disaster.
Julian can only see things getting worse in Thailand, and decides to return home once again, relieved that he still has a clean record. He does make provision for his boyfriend via monthly deposit in a bank account, but is not rich enough to give him much.
Back in south London, he is once again at a loose end. His father’s health is failing, and Alfred is having more and more troubled dreams going back to his incarceration during the war.
Alfred dies of a massive heart attack in February 1997. Julian is heartbroken: heavy drinking, a feeling of loneliness etc. ensue. He inherits more than he expected from his father, who had continued to save carefully. He cannot bear to live in his father’s house and puts in on the market. It sells easily, and he is now is worth £200,000. He decides to live as a gentleman of leisure (read beach bum) in a cheap country. He figures he can eke money out for a good ten years.
He settles for Eastern Europe: Varna in Bulgaria, and moves there in June.
At first he is pleased by the easy-going feel of the city, and feels there are possibilities for contacts, especially with gypsy boys who quite happily strip off in secluded areas of the beach and make eye contact with anyone who might be interested.
Julian starts to get restless, and bored with his own company. He meets a pleasant American in a bar who tells him about the internet and offers to help set him up - for a small consideration. The American is gay and hopes to hit on him and therefore, as an IT geek, gives him excellent instruction. His interest wanes when he realises he’s not going to get anywhere.
Julian now spends much time online and has huge telephone bills, but makes some extraordinary discoveries in newsgroups and the like. Lots of downloading of pictures and stories - writes his own boy-love stories which he posts. This keeps him going through the winter.
With the return of the warm weather and a little knowledge of the local language, he makes a determined attempt the following spring to discover any scene there might be, or to create one.
He finally meets an obliging gypsy lad, but the whole things spirals out of control. His friends discover where Julian lives and often turn up in groups of four or five, and the neighbours complain. Inevitably the police are called. They are very threatening, but settle for quite a hefty bribe.
Unfortunately, having sought the wind and reaped the whirlwind, the situation with the gypsy boys gets more and more out of control, and Julian is out of his depth and resolves to move, but cannot bring himself to.
One evening he returns home to find the door broken open and much missing including all his loose money, but fortunately his computer is still there, as the young vagabonds had not fully understood its value.
Three weeks later a vision knocks on his door, alone, and makes his interest clear. Julian does not realise it is a sting – the boy planted by the police to get as much money out of the “tourist” as possible. The police arrive after one hour and catch Julian and the boy “at it”. They decide to do the thing properly, raid the flat, confiscate the computer and throw Julian into the clink.
Eventually they will question him.
* * *
I'm sadly leaving Julian in prison for now, and will refrain from describing the conditions.
I wonder if you knew that he kept a notebook when attempting to court Alexander and filled it with messages of love, including his own attempts at poems. In case the book was found by anyone, he used their secret language for this, and desperately tried to memorise them. What the author of Alexander’s Choice omitted during that final fatal meeting, when Julian gave Alexander the coin, was that Julian had worked very hard the previous day and was all ready to say this piece when they reached their secluded place:
“Emiyepfis. O muwi zua nusi vjep epzupi us epzvjomh op vji xjumi xusmf!”
And then, of course, everything had gone wrong.
The moment has stayed with Julian ever since and he has always kept this notebook close to him, often weeping privately over it. It never ever leaves his side: it’s the first thing he unpacks in a new place and the last item he checks he has before any departure. Of course the Bulgarian police found it and were baffled, wondering if he might be some sort of spy. How he hated seeing that precious book mishandled by such rough thuggish brutes.
IV. July 1997 - September 2002
Unfortunately for J, what was supposed to be merely a sting got out of hand when the pigs discovered that they might have something more serious on their hands than a tourist who liked to dabble with gypsy boys. Reasons for this: the mysterious notebook and the clear obsession with illegal porn to be found. Inevitably, some non-bent cops got in on the act (amazingly there are some, even in Bulgaria). Much interrogation of Julian, to which he wisely answers “no comment”. He is finally sentenced to four years for the sex and porn.
It doesn’t need much imagination to understand how Julian suffered inside - terrible food, crowded cells, poor treatment as a “nonce”, very little to keep his mind occupied, fucked by inmates on several occasions etc. For the first time ever, he decides that death would definitely be preferable to this. Part of him accepts it stoically as being no less than he deserves, as his actions destroyed the life of two thoroughly decent people.
Lawyers pretend they are helping him, but are more interested in their fat fees.
He falls very ill in October 1999: fevers, no appetite, urine black, continual vomiting... The authorities are worried he will die. He is finally released and deported in a great hurry as they don’t want the responsibility of his corpse.
Amazingly, they return all his possessions, including the notebook. His passport is stamped with “undesirable alien” and causes problems at Heathrow, with much questioning. This is suspended when they realise that he is too ill for interrogation and he is taken to a hospital where he is kept under observation by both doctors and police.
It turns out to be hepatitis B, and he soon recovers with the right treatment.
Now his problems begin in the UK. The pigs have contacted the Bulgarian pigs and now know why he was deported. Following Megan’s Law and the new sex offender’s act of 1997, he is put on the register even though his “crimes” were committed abroad. Being now officially homeless and living in a hostel, he is allocated a social worker to help find him accommodation and monitor his progress etc.
He has very little money left in the bank after the lawyers’ fees. On the dole again, what is he to do about a job?
The social worker is a young woman in her mid twenties, a pretty brunette. She takes pity on him, and his helplessness awakens loving feelings in her. Julian, surprisingly, is quite attracted by her boyish figure.
This helps to get him on his feet. He gets a menial job in a publishing warehouse, collecting books for distribution etc. There’s lots of smutty talk during breaks which he doesn’t participate in. The others find him a “weirdo” but leave him alone.
He finally gets a flat in Camden in August 2000 and enjoys the Bohemian feel of the place. He slowly begins to enjoy life again, even if it is completely devoid of sex apart from a twice-weekly wank.
The social worker, Pat, becomes a friend as well as continuing her role as monitor. She writes very good reports about him, so the authorities are happy to leave him alone.
One evening in autumn 2002 she decides to make a serious move on Julian. She decides that what he needs is experience with a woman to “sort him out.” She arrives for their usual Saturday evening supper armed with condoms and Viagra (just in case he needs it to start him off).
After a delicious special supper, which she cooked, the serious business of seduction begins...
V. September 2002 - January 2004
As usual, Julian drinks heavily both before and after the meal, doesn’t realise that Pat slipped a couple of Viagra pills into his wine and is having puzzling stirrings over coffee. It is then that Pat makes her move.
I have omitted my description of the fiasco which follows to spare your sensibilities, but needless to say Julian is not up to the job.
The friendship is damaged, but Pat is still professionally useful and supportive. Besides her own desires, she had hoped that, by finding out that Julian could respond to a woman, she could pronounce him “cured”, but she now has to make it clear in her next report that he may still be a “danger to children”.
Although tempted to get another computer of his own, he goes to the local library for internet use and discovers a site called Friends Reunited. He checks up on masters and old boys from Hodgson’s, and makes a few discoveries. Both Hodgson and Mr. Rideout (about whom he’d heard such nice things) have died, but Mr. Trotter and Mr. Griffith have both retired and welcome visits from old boys. Amongst other interesting facts, he discovers that Peter Leigh is in prison for recidivistic petty larceny, Cowburn is hoping to enter parliament as a Tory candidate for Milton Keynes and James Crichton is teaching history at a well known boys’ public school.
Julian decides to email Crichton, hoping to get an invitation to the school and find out more about other Old Etonians, particularly Geoffrey Hay. He gets a friendly response.
He meets James, who clearly loves his job and, to Julian’s surprise, even makes remarks about the prettiness of some of the boys. “Don’t worry Jules, I’ve always known what you were and that conversation in the library when you showed me those house books confirmed it. I would say half the staff here fancy boys but they’ll never do anything about it. What about you?” Julian blushes. “OK, OK, no need to say anything.”
He finds out from James that Geoffrey is out of Thai prison and living as a drunkard in Pattaya, sitting out at cafés at 10 in the morning with the cheap Mekhong on the table. James also knows why Geoffrey was arrested and that Julian had been there and didn’t do much to help, but he suspends judgement. What would he have done in a similar situation?
James suggests to Julian that he visit both Trotter and Griffiths who had both understood his love for Alexander. They might be able to help him sort his life out.
This he does over the next few months, and has a worthwhile afternoon with each of them.
VI. January 2004 - May 2006
Julian follows James’s advice about Griffith and Trotter. He has some amiable email exchanges with both and even a few telephone conversations.
He gets to meet Griffith first in late spring. He is rather gentle and laid back, a great listener. Julian pours his heart out and G nods sympathetically, makes all the right noises and pours out frequent cups of tea, but isn’t really able to offer anything practical beyond reassuring Julian what a fine fellow he is.
He meets Trotter two months later – a much longer journey, and he is invited to stay the night.
Trotter, kindly though he is, gives Julian a much harder time. “So where’s all this messing about with little boys got you? I know you’ve done no harm, but what good have you done? Are you just going to go on drifting, feeling sorry for yourself? Time you woke up, if I had a bomb I’d put it under you!” And much more of the same, but delivered in such a way as not to cause any offence.
Over the next few months Julian is very thoughtful. He finally gets his own computer again, convinced he can resist obvious temptations (he can’t; spirit willing flesh weak...). But he does discover much more about his area and tries such things as volunteering in charity shops, helping at homeless centres and doing voluntary work in local hospice. This all has to stop when he finds he needs to be CRB checked and the merest suspicion of what he is will disqualify him.
Pat is now much more sympathetic and rather ashamed of her own attempts at seduction. She too now accepts him for what he is and realises he’s not a danger to anyone. She is grateful to him for broadening her understanding of the subject and her reports on him become glowing. He is now under minimal supervision thanks to Pat’s offices.
Julian hits on the idea of becoming a Samaritan. As there is no direct contact with public, this is permitted. He is very good at this: he can listen for hours on the phone, and realises that some people’s lives are infinitely worse than his. He becomes excellent at empathising and has great patience, as well as the personal satisfaction of believing he may have saved some people from suicide. He always makes people promise to ring back, and most of them do.
One day there is a young voice on the phone, 13, and in despair, sexual problems and insecurity etc. Julian knows all about this and is able to befriend the lad easily. The boy is so pleased to have discovered him, wants to meet him and Julian has to say that it is not allowed.
At the boy’s insistence he breaks the rules by giving out his home phone number...
VII. June 2006 - November 2008
Julian is still agonising about whether he should have given out his numbers, as Justin now calls him every day. His life at school is hell with constant goading about his being gay, which he thinks he may be, and a pathetic drip, which he knows he is not. His father is an abusive lout who drinks and beats his mother, and is disappointed in his son who is not interested in football or boxing. He hates the way his son is reading all the time etc. The mother would be supportive if she were allowed to be.
Justin begs to be able to meet, and of course Julian is curious too. He feels the boy is intelligent and sensible enough to understand the risks involved and how interference from a third party could be ruinous for both of them. In short, with his own awful experiences behind him, Julian reads him the riot act more effectively than ever. Quite simply, if the boy cannot accept these terms, then they cannot meet.
Their first rendezvous is on Hampstead Heath on a Sunday afternoon and they go to a local MacDonald’s. Justin is not wildly attractive, but not ugly either: dark brown hair and eyes, which glitter with intelligence, but seem to carry pain and disillusionment in them. Julian can see instantly that the boy is hurting. He seems to take little pride in himself or his appearance, his hair is unkempt, his jeans ill-fitting and he has tatty sneakers and a large loose-hanging beige pullover with a couple of holes in it.
Julian’s heart goes out to the lad, and his being is flooded with a sense of protective tenderness. He has the rare feeling, as the boy is prattling on, that someone else’s life seems infinitely more precious and important than his own. He has only ever felt this once before...
It fills him with joy to see how animated and happy Justin seems when they are together, and when the inevitable moment of separation arrives, the pain and foreboding which again cloud the boy’s features is heart-wrenching for Julian. They arrange another meeting, but inevitably Justin wants to visit him somewhere less public. He wants to come to his flat. No, says Julian, impossible, far too risky, absolutely not, we shouldn’t have even met like this, someone might have seen already, what would my neighbours think? my social worker?...
Justin becomes a regular visitor to Julian’s flat on his way home from school. Julian decides to pre-empt discovery by telling Pat at the next opportunity that he is helping the boy, without revealing his feelings for him. As he is not a convicted felon in England and his problems in Bulgaria happened before the hideous Sexual Offences Act of 2003, he is not actually banned from having young visitors. Pat does warn him however to be extremely careful, as if he gives any cause for suspicion whatsoever, the nasties would have the right to examine his computer forensically.
This new relationship seems much more important than any porn that he might have used to give himself relief, so he decides to ditch his computer and buy another: soaking the old hard drive in bleach for a week before taking a drill to it...
On Friends Reunited he discovers that a boy called Churchill is living in Japan as a successful computer programmer, responsible for designing some extremely popular adult games, including the bestseller Up the Duff in the Desert. He vaguely remembers the name and then it clicks – Alexander’s close friend along with Drysdale. He decides on a whim to email him and a friendly correspondence develops - hints from Simon Churchill that he had worked out what made Julian tick even before he left Eton so suddenly, and also hints that his own life is not entirely conventional. An invitation is extended to visit and see for himself what he will not discuss in emails or even on the recently released Skype which Simon tells Julian about.
Julian discovers that Justin will be on a family holiday the following summer and decides to book his ticket to Kobe in good time.
Simon asks if he’d join in if he can get a young boy to participate - not difficult apparently. Julian is shocked at what Simon knows about him - much of which he’d worked out for himself and has had subsequently confirmed by Geoffrey Hay, with whom he has also been in recent contact. Geoffrey is doing much better, still in Thailand, but with a regular English teaching job, a basic grasp of the language and a “legal” boyfriend. He feels no antipathy towards Julian, who did as much as he could.
[It is fortunate that nobody ever discovered Julian’s betrayal of Alexander, or Simon would certainly not be offering such hospitality].
Simon shows Julian some of his original games involving S and M, and also rather explicit videos with youngsters.
Julian finally joins in the S and M activities when a lad of 12 is introduced, but only in a mild and playful way. The boy keeps saying “hurt me please”, but Julian cannot bring himself to do this.
His most pleasant memory from that trip is a day at the bathhouse. He had never seen so many slim beautiful graceful naked boy bodies together in one place, and was floating on air for days afterwards.
Back in Camden, Justin continues his weekly visits. Julian has firmly decided that he must never lay a finger on him, but this resolution is becoming ever more difficult to keep as the relationship becomes ever closer and they are so comfortable in each other’s company, with much easy physical contact.
One fateful afternoon Julian can ignore the pleading in Justin’s eyes no longer...
VIII. November 2008 - July 2009
Julian gives Justin a huge hug and Justin melts into him. He can feel the boy’s urgent need for comfort and love, and has to be certain that he wants more than this. After much gentle stroking petting and fondling, neither can ignore the other’s bulge any longer, clothes are abandoned and the inevitable follows.
The affair blossoms, as do the participants. Both gain a new self-confidence and Pat cannot fail to notice the change in Julian, but holds her tongue. Julian has a nagging worry about the possible danger he has put both himself and his lover in, but tells himself that Justin will be 16 on August 1st, and that he is sensible enough to keep quiet. They have even rehearsed scenarios with the police whereby they try and trick them both into confession by questioning them separately and lying to each one about what the other has said. For example to Justin: “your friend has already told us everything, so you might as well make a clean breast of it all.” In the past they would pretend that they were interrogating the boy mercilessly (and using physical violence to extract information) and would continue to do so until the man told all. Sadly for them, in 2008 they are no longer allowed to do this.
Julian feels he should at least acquaint himself with Justin's parents as a friend and mentor to their son, but Justin is so set against this idea, that he relents.
Justin is now able to stand up to his layabout father and gives back as good as he gets, often leading to furious rows. His mother is so submissive and fearful of her husband that she scarcely notices what is going on - and sits most of the day with a strong drink in one hand, fag in the other.
One evening, the father, curious about why his son is always late back from school, follows him when he leaves the buildings to discover where he goes before coming home and by careful stealth is able to catch him disappearing into a small block of flats. Later inquiries reveal that there is a single man living there and he is able to ascertain from a friendly neighbour that this is where Justin goes: “Oh yes, the nice man in number 6 often has his nephew round for tea...”
Meanwhile life is improving for Julian in other ways. He gets promoted to warehouse supervisor, with a marked increase in salary. He has also been following his mother’s career with some interest even though they never communicate. Following Diane Abbot’s illness and resignation in 1989, Denise won the safe Hackney North and Stoke Newington Labour seat in a by-election and has been vociferously exerting her evil influence ever since. Julian is ashamed of her and has reverted to using his father’s surname.
However, he is rather chuffed when she becomes the object of litigation after being accused of slandering prominent people, including the Roman Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury, Brian Noble (“all them bloody Catholics are at it”, she was once heard to remark). The case will be heard in late July, opening the week before Justin’s 16th birthday. Julian has all sorts of wonderful plans for that day, and is delighted that it falls on a Saturday. It is unlikely that he will be missed at home, as his parents rarely remember his birthday.
Justin’s father’s suspicions have been thoroughly roused, and he thinks the worst. One sunny July evening, just before the end of term he resolves to take the matter in his own hands.
He waits near Julian’s flat armed with a digital camera, intending to surprise them and gather evidence of this man’s crime. He has no thoughts about Justin’s well being, but once this affair has been exposed, he knows he’ll have plenty of ammunition to bully him further, and see his noncy friend in prison.
He forces himself to wait for a good hour before entering the building and beating furiously on Julian’s door with a heavy wooden mallet which he won’t hesitate to use if his suspicions are confirmed.
IX. July 2009 - September 2013
Luckily for the pair, this was their evening for viewing the box - Worst Friends, a very-long running TV soap which Julian only watches because of its associations with Alexander. Justin, as usual, puts up with this but is impatient to get down to the sex. Being far more imaginative than Julian, he has some new tricks he wants to try out.
When the furious knocking and shouting at the door began they were both horrified.
“Oh fuck, Julian, it’s me dad!”
A lifetime of would-be active pederasty has made (even) Julian a little more streetwise.
“Well, we’re not doing anything wrong are we? Quick, go to the table and get out your homework.”
When Julian opens the door suddenly, the mallet catches him on his chest and the pain is excruciating. He suddenly loses his temper the way he once did with Cowburn all those years ago, exploding with rage and rather taking the wind out of Justin’s father’s sails:
“What the hell do you think you’re doing banging on my door like that and disturbing the whole block? I’ll be suing you for assault.”
“Well wot yer doin’ interferin’ with my son?”
“And just what do you mean by that?”
“I know all about you paedo types. Wot yer keep seein’ ’im for if ’taint for sex an’ dirty stuff?”
“I’ll be suing you for slander too!”
“If you took a bit more interest in him as a parent, you could have asked him yourself who I am and why he comes here. Justin, kindly explain to your ‘father’ why you visit me.”
“Cos you listen to me, and help me with my homework and are the best friend I ever had.”
“As well as suing you for assault and slander I should be reporting you for child abuse and neglect. Justin tells me you hit him, as well as his mother. You’re not fit to be a father!”
“Do you even know when his birthday is?”
“Well, er, yeah, course. Anyway wot bizniz is it a yours?”
But the father is cowed and, like all bullies, backs off when confronted.
An agreement is reached whereby Julian will forget all charges if the boy is allowed to come and live with him. Justin will visit his home and check on his mum, and if he doesn’t treat her better too, Julian asserts that he will follow up on his threats (empty of course, as inside he is terrified).
Justin’s father swallows the bluff, and miraculously agrees to Julian’s terms.
Following the happiest birthday Justin can ever remember having, are three of the most settled and fulfilled years of Julian’s life. Denise loses her lawsuit, has to pay enormous costs and fails to regain her seat in the next election. Her pernicious career is in ruins and Julian is delighted.
His career is also moving upwards as the publishing house realise his potential and promote him to further managerial posts. He also does some reading of would-be authors’ work and proves surprisingly discerning at this, though when he asked in 2013 to consider a book about a young teacher having an affair with a 14-year-old at Shrewsbury, he feels he has to reject it. The ending is far too happy, and thus removed from reality for him. The author will not listen to Julian’s suggestions about changing the ending, and manages to find another publisher. The book enjoys a success almost comparable to Fifty Shades of Gray. It is the only mistake Julian has made, and he is forgiven - grudgingly.
As his friendship with Justin deepens, so does his physical interest wane. When the “boy” reaches 19, an agreement is reached that he can find other sexual partners, and Julian’s role takes on more that of a parent.
Justin is discovered to have great artistic skills and both are delighted when he wins a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art.
Julian is less happy when Justin starts bringing back all manner of men to the place for casual sex - he “likes ’em any age and the more the better”. They have their first serious row shortly before Justin’s 20th birthday in 2013.
However, things really come to head when Justin turns up with a boy who looks scarcely older than 14. Not only does Julian feel jealous again, for the first time since 1984, but he is seriously concerned about his and Justin’s safety.
[Comment here:] He has never told anyone what he did. Not even the priest in his youth, or Justin at the height of their affair, though he came close and still agonises over whether he should, as they’ve long agreed to have no secrets from each other. Julian has never loved anyone as much, except of course Alexander, who will always remain the biggest “if only” in his life - missed by a whisker.
X. September 2013 - April 2014
Whilst Julian is not at all bothered by all the men Justin drags back to his flat for sex, he is seriously disturbed by this new development. Illegal sex has become so much more dangerous in the past ten years for one thing, and for another he is bowled over by the boy Jasper's radiant beauty, and he has only just turned 14.
His mother is Italian and works in the college canteen, his father is Danish and lectures on Scandinavian art there. For Julian, Jasper is a tantalising mix of all his favourite Nordic and Mediterranean qualities: brown skin, fulsome lips and bushy eyebrows below his dark sandy golden unkempt blondish hair, the colour of raw mountain honey, the texture of rough silk.
His character seems as enticing as his looks, very relaxed and laid back, with a pleasant drawl to his voice and a hard to define accent. Imagine a cross between Zealand and Neapolitan dialects and you might be getting close. His nickname is IP, standing for “ikke problema”, his usual response to most of life’s situations, as nothing seems to worry him that much.
Julian is concerned that IP’s parents might not know what’s going on, but Justin reassures him on that point.
“I had his dad first, and IP found out. He agreed to keep quiet as long as he could have a slice of the action. His mum probably knows about it too, but as Lars turns a blind eye to her various dalliances with the students, she won’t cause any trouble. But he’s mine Julian. Hands off. OK.”
IP becomes a regular visitor, and seems entirely liberated. Happy to oblige most people sexually, regardless of gender, though he is not exactly what you’d call dynamic in bed, preferring gentle prolonged cuddly sex and nothing too violent. He enjoys fucking in a leisurely sort of way, but even more adores being penetrated himself. His common response when propositioned by someone he likes is “ikke problema”.
Julian has an enormous crush on IP, but Justin continues to make it very plain to him that he doesn’t want Julian involved here, saying in effect: “Find yer own!!”
Something easier said than done in the second decade of 21st century Britain.
Julian thinks this most unfair when Jasper is clearly amenable, and sexually active – shouldn’t it be IP’s choice, not Justin’s? It’s Julian’s flat after all too, and the boy is clearly experienced and aware enough to make his own decisions. But, with difficulty, he manages to avoid even hinting to Jasper his feelings for him. (Sound familiar?)
Julian’s self control is made all the more difficult by the fact that, like most Danes, IP is entirely relaxed about nudity. On arrival in the flat he often removes his clothes, leaving them in a big heap on the sitting room floor and pads off to bathroom to shower. If Justin is out, he will, teasingly, ask Julian to scrub his back and then emerge from the bathroom drying his hair with a small towel, which he then drops on top of his bundle of clothes: hair tousled, body still dripping and glowing with health and vitality.
Justin is always late back on Thursdays as he has an evening class. On one such Thursday IP turns up at 4.00 p.m. and immediately heads for the shower after a brief casual greeting to Julian, accompanied by his usual winning smile. As he’d hoped, IP soon calls out to him:
“Jules, could you please help me.”
Tucking his erection up so that the bulge doesn’t look too obvious, Julian, heart beating furiously, enters the bathroom. IP claims he is feeling stiff because of a heavy session of squash. Will Julian please join him in the cubicle and help him to clean himself thoroughly. J doesn’t need too much encouragement, and soon they are naked together and all over mutual washing soon develops into something else.
“Jules it is important that all my back is clean. Lower down please. Not just the buttocks Julian, Justin always manages to get me really clean inside the cleft too. The soap is a good shape for this, no?”
IP has studiously ignored Julian’s throbbing erection, but now abandons pretence.
“I think you like me a little Jules, no?”
“You are still quite a handsome man you know, and that is a rather awesome object you are pointing at me.”
“W-w-w-w would you really like to have sex with me? Aren’t I too big for you?”
At that point they hear the key turning in the front door. For some reason Justin is home early.
XII. April 2014 - March 2016
The first thing Justin notices is the pile of clothes on the sitting room floor. He assumes Julian is out and intends to surprise IP in the shower, quickly removing his own clothes.
Julian has nowhere to hide except behind the door (which is open). Justin skips into the bathroom:
“Hi there, lover boy! Big boy too I see, couldn’t you wait?”
He leaps into the shower and begins to minister to IP’s needy member, at which point Julian seizes his only chance of escape.
Not quick enough, and Justin just catches sight of Julian’s hairy bottom sneaking out of the room.
Justin: What the fuck?
IP: Is OK Justin. Jules was helping me, I was very stiff.
Justin: I can see that!
IP: Not like that. All my body, I had trouble with washing.
Justin: Yeah and I'm the Queen of Sheba.
IP: Really Justin. It’s true and not a problem!
Justin: Not for you perhaps.
Julian: (standing pathetically at the door, and now very limp) It really is true, Justin. IP asked me to wash the places he couldn’t manage himself.
Justin: Yeah, Right ...! And how long has this been going on behind my back? No don’t answer. I thought I could trust you Julian, you know IP would do it with the bleeding Pope if he got a chance...
Huge argument ensues resulting in Justin packing and leaving with IP for one of his recently divorced gay friends who has been pleading with Justin to live with him.
At the door IP gives Julian a wistful look and smiles:
It’s the last time Julian ever sees him.
Julian stays in contact with Justin who, remembering the special part he played in his life, remains on friendly terms; but he has clearly moved on. They meet occasionally for a meal out, and Julian is even introduced to Jason – Justin’s new cohabitee. The three have a rather awkward dinner together at Jason’s flat...
Julian feels he has messed up the most special relationship he ever had, and starts drifting again.
He is just about able to hold down his job, though he does reject a few more books which sell well when finally published elsewhere. However, he fritters away most of his time drinking and smoking heavily, watching inane TV shows and often falling asleep in front of the box and awakening at 3 a.m. to find he has burned a hole in his jersey. He even becomes interested in snooker, and joins a club in the hope of meeting youngsters with a view to friendship rather than sex.
There are quite a few tasty boys in the club, but Julian is unable to form any friendships as the climate in England now renders them far too suspicious and wary of friendly approaches from adults. They also despise him, as he is barely able to give any of them a decent game.
One day he is taken aside by the manager for a “friendly word to the wise”. He’s not kicking Julian out of the club, oh no, but suggests he make himself scarce from now on. There haven’t actually been formal complaints, but nasty rumours...”and none of us wants them, do we sunshine? On yer bike!”
This shakes Julian who hadn’t really been conscious of being anything other than friendly, with no hint of wanting sex. In fact his own self-assessment was correct: the poison was in the minds of others.
Increasingly depressed, and without a thought for personal safety any more, Julian starts visiting one of the very few pools left in London with a sex-separated open plan changing room. Compared with even a decade ago the pickings are poor and most boys employ an elaborate ritual with towels to protect their feeble modesty.
One memorable evening however, he gets lucky.
After standing naked in the shower for a good twenty minutes, and deciding it was time to go home as nothing exciting would happen that day, a boy of about 12 stands next to him and peels off his swimming shorts.
He proceeds to soap himself vigorously all over, including his privates, and is soon erect. There is no one else around and he looks up at Julian, who is having problems controlling his own rush of blood, and smiles invitingly.
Without really thinking what he’s doing, he takes the boy in hand. The orgasm follows fairly quickly, and there is a small spurt of colourless fluid.
Not a word is spoken, and both get changed. Julian leaves quickly, grateful that he has got away with it.
Over the next week he can’t take his mind off the event, and it provides the stimulus for many satisfying wanks. He knows he shouldn’t go back but is ineluctably drawn. A force greater than himself impels him there at exactly the same time a week later, desperately hoping for a repeat performance.
It is again quiet, and disappointingly no sign of the boy. Julian has a token swim and a short shower. When he is nearly dressed, the manager of the pool enters the changing room, accompanied by two unsavoury looking bulky men in dark suits, wearing size 14 shiny leather brogues.
“That’s the bloke, officers. We’ve identified him from last week’s CCTV footage.”
Julian heart sinks and an overwhelming fear grips his entire body.
XIII. March 2016 - present
The two policemen are icily polite, and introduce themselves as Detective Inspector Cleaver, and Sergeant Brownop.
DI Cleaver: We would be grateful if we could ask you a few questions, Sir, in connection with an incident which occurred here last week. I expect you know why we’re here and what we’re talking about.
Julian: I… Er...I... I...Um.
DI Cleaver: There’s no need to say anything now, Sir, in this rather public place. If you’d just care to accompany us down to the police station, I’m sure we can get this whole matter cleared up in no time.
Julian: Am I under arrest?
DI Cleaver: And why do you ask that, Sir? Do you think you should be? First we have to verify who you are, and then establish whether there is any truth at all in this complaint we’ve received.
Julian has been through enough to know that his best option is to say nothing, and he also knows how difficult this can be.
Back at the nick the cops soon discover, through a quick search on the police computer, that he has committed offences abroad, and that he is a suspected pedo. Any enhanced CRB check would disqualify him from working with young people.
They put him though the third degree, but Julian manages to hold himself together sufficiently to give a “no comment” interview. This despite the fact that Brownop, as the “bad” cop, reminds him that only guilty people refuse to exercise their supposed “right to silence” and that negative inferences may now be drawn from this – “especially from the likes of filthy perverts like you”.
On the strength of Julian’s “previous” and the crime of which he has been accused, they are able to obtain a search warrant quickly, and drive with him to ransack his flat, having organised three other constables to assist them.
During that ghastly ride in the back of the police car, fitted with child safety locks so that he cannot open the door at traffic lights and attempt escape, he searches his mind as to whether there is anything incriminating in his apartment.
He knows his computer is squeaky clean and that he has no other porn in the place. But he then remembers something which chills his blood, and causes a sudden involuntary bowel movement. For the first time his life he literally shits his pants.
In a locked drawer in his bedroom lies his precious notebook, and in that notebook are secreted some early photographs of Justin aged 14 - mostly in underwear. However, he now recalls that there were also some tasteful nude shots taken at Justin’s behest as “it would be nice when I’m older to look back see what I was like at that age”.
Julian foolishly agreed, regretting there were no naked pictures of himself as a young boy or adolescent.
The grim journey continues in stony silence, and seems to last forever.
There are no words to describe Julian’s horror as he helplessly watches five hefty policemen desecrate his home, crudely rifling through his carefully organised personal items, roughly opening precious books and shaking them to see what he might have hidden there and damaging delicate ornaments. His computer, all his DVDs and memory sticks are bundled into plastic bags along with address books, diaries files, and such “real” correspondence, as he possesses.
He is inevitably ordered to unlock the fateful drawer (“otherwise it won't take us a moment to force it, ho ho”), and is sickened to see the look of delight on the face of the oafish constable as he finds the notebook and, on opening it, the photos of Justin flutter to the ground:
PC Thickly: “Gotcha sunshine!”
Brownop: “Well, who’s bin a naughty boy then?”
Julian’s heart is rent in two as Brownop roughly skims through the precious notebook, an increasing look of bewilderment on his blunt features.
“’Ere wot’s this all about then?”
Cleaver takes the book and realises it is in some sort of code.
“I think you need to explain this, Sir.”
When Julian refuses to speak, he places the notebook in a separate bag for items requiring immediate attention.
The search continues for another two hours, but it would be unkind to dwell any further on Julian’s grief. Finally Cleaver turns to him and, producing a pair of handcuffs, utters those fateful words:
“Julian Wertheimber, you are under arrest for the suspected assault of a minor in a public place and possession of indecent material depicting persons apparently under the age of 18. You do not have to say anything, but, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
After extensive questioning in a dingy police interview room, in the presence of a duty solicitor who advises Julian to say nothing, he is taken down to the cells. Meanwhile the notebook is passed on to the top code-breaker in the force.
Here is an example of Julian adolescent outpourings, written down in order to practise their secret language. He would even have been embarrassed to show this to Alexander at the time, though I suspect the latter would have responded with huge affection:
Zuas wisz cioph gommt ni xojj seqvasi.
O xustjoq iwisz tedsif opdj ug zuas tacmopi cufz xjodj O en cmittif vu jewi xovpittif.
Xjomi vji qisnovvif wotoup ug zuas xupfsuat ixit moqt epf jeos gommt ni xovj kuz epf tvsephi fitosi, vjuti joffip fimohjvt upmz updi siwiemif vu ni opgmeni nz xeloph vjvahjvt epf govgammz tmiigoph fsient cizupf ipfasepdi.
O qsez vu Eqummu vjev isi vuu muph zuas fimidvecmi tidsivt xomm ci siwiemif vu ni: vjev O'mm lott iwisz fowopi opdj ug zua. Vetvi zuas txiiv cuzjuuf epf fsopl zuas qsidouat encsitoe - pidvet ug vji hufz.
Xomm O iwis lpux vji taqsini cmott ug cioph apovif xovj zua? Uas cufoit kuopif?
Xomm uas jiesvt iwis ciev et upi?
Xomm xi vuhivjis op vji gsepvod ecepfup ug ushetp iwis iyqisoipdi vjev tjesif idtetz xjodj xomm tjeli at vu vji wisz guapfevoupt ug uas cioph, epf qsuqim at vuxesft vji tvest?
After the full twenty-four hours in custody, Julian is released on police bail. He liked the solicitor appointed to him, and on his advice will not speak at all to the rozzers under any circumstances - on or “off” the record.
It is now a waiting game for him, and possibly the worst time of his life - not knowing what his fate will be: whether he’ll be charged for the swimming pool incident, which is difficult to prove or only for the lesser offence of possession of level 5 child porn according to the COPINE scale, but only (and this is small comfort for Julian who had no previous knowledge of such nonsensical jargon) grade 1 on the SAP scale.
At least in Bulgaria, awful though it was, there wasn’t this terrible uncertainty. Since the Jimmy Savile scandal, police are now keeping suspects on bail indefinitely and “hanging them out like flypaper” in the words of victim broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, who was finally informed that there would be no charges. It is unlucky for Julian that his trouble came before the 28-day bail limit introduced in 2017.
The day after returning to his desecrated home he receives a telephone call from his boss informing him that his office has been searched and the reason for this. The company has no alternative but to suspend him on full pay pending the outcome of this “sordid business”.
Julian has never felt more friendless and alone. The police thoroughly question Justin, who at least does stick by Julian, and lets it be known that the pictures were taken at his request and that no, no way, did Julian “touch him inappropriately” at any time before his 16th birthday. Yes they did become lovers then, but it was all over now.
However Justin and Jason are so disgusted by the whole affair that, on the advice of his new boyfriend, Justin breaks off all contact with his first love and rescuer. Yes, he really is a little shit.
As a condition of the bail, Julian had to surrender his passport, and cannot now even take a foreign holidays to take his mind off everything. He is drinking more heavily than ever, and is in danger of becoming a clinical alcoholic; he is also now on forty cigarettes a day and his finances are suffering in consequence.
Hardly aware of how he gets though each day, he wakes up late each morning with a splitting headache which only his first drink will dispel. Most of his time is spent watching mindless TV, but he can’t bring himself to follow Worst Friends any more.
After five months of this, he finally hears from the police who have successfully proceeded with their charges of assault, which has now been officially approved, as well as possession. They have gathered enough evidence to support the claims of his accuser, and the notebook apparently clinched it for the CPS, who read into it positive evidence of intent to abuse young boys. Julian is clearly a menace to society.
Julian later discovers that he had become far too well-known in the pool and that the young boy (who is ESN - a term one is no longer allowed to use) had been “set up” by his elder brother. There were also plenty of regular visitors to the pool who had noticed Julian’s behaviour over several weeks, and some complaints had already been lodged about his “lurking” in the changing rooms.
It had been intended that Julian should have been caught red-handed (or cock-handed), but the boy, not being of the brightest, had messed up the timing. There was more, but Julian didn’t wish to know.
After a preliminary hearing on 7th July, the trial dates are finally set for Friday 26th January 2018 for the possession charge, to which Julian has no alternative but to plead guilty. The main trial will begin a week later and may be a long drawn-out affair as, against the advice of his solicitor, Julian intends to proclaim his innocence as rigorously as he can, even if it means selling his apartment to obtain the best defence barrister possible.
One evening in November Julian can take the pressure no longer: his dark thoughts weigh him down into a sort of black despair he has never known before. Even if by a miracle he wins the big case, he could still receive a prison sentence for those silly photos, and his life thereafter would be even worse.
He fixes a large hook onto the ceiling and prepares a noose. When he certain that all is prepared he stands on a chair, fixes the rope round his neck...
* * *
J comes to. It is dark and cold, in the distance he hears the sound of ugly rock music, and wonders at first if this is what it is like to be dead - perhaps he’s gone to hell, perhaps he’ll meet Alexander again and attempt to beg forgiveness. But then he sees the mess of fallen plaster around him and slowly realises that the ceiling had not been strong enough to bear his weight - quite considerable now, given his lifestyle. It is his Destiny not to be permitted such an easy way out of his problems.
After several neat whiskies he collapses, still fully dressed, onto his bed and sleeps for ten hours.
There is still just over a year to go before his trials, how will he get through what will seem an eternity? Out of desperation he phones the Samaritans, the wheel has come full circle: he has helped others in the past and is lucky to hear a sympathetic male voice (he might have hung up had it been a woman). Everything pours out of him, and he sobs uncontrollably, the first time in years, for his pathetic excuse of a life, just as he did on that memorable evening with his father.
He is doubly fortunate in that the Samaritan he speaks to, Mark, has had much experience of Julian’s sort of case. It has become one of the main reasons that men contact them and he is able to offer the right sort of support. Mark does not make Julian’s mistake of giving out his own phone number, but there is a special extension and a list of times when he will be there. Julian has long conversations at least three times a week, and is slowly able to control his drinking.
To occupy his mind he makes a point of revisiting the sort of 20th-century French existentialist literature which used to inspire him at Eton. With the help of the internet and his local library, he embarks upon a massively detailed study of the whole area discovering fascinating new angles on writers such as Camus, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. This becomes the material for a book.
Mark’s encouragement is his inspiration to keep him going with this project. He evolves his own new philosophy which he provisionally calls optimistic nihilism.
By the time it comes to the two court cases, his new view of the world as a sort of meaningless absurd comedy has lent him a resigned confidence, along with a detached curiosity. He is almost able to remove his own “self” from his body and observe the proceedings as if it were another person undergoing them, and thinking, “How interesting. I wonder which way this is heading, and what points of law will be raised.”
The first hearing is swift, and Julian is fortunate. Because of his readiness to admit his foolishness in possessing such filthy degrading pictures, and Justin’s assertion that they were taken at his request, along with his hitherto clean record in England, Julian is let off with a hefty fine and a hundred hours community service.
The second trial is also curtailed. Refusing to be cross examined himself, Julian dispassionately attempts to enter the minds of the various people involved in the proceedings, from the judge right down to the dowdy mother wailing about how her son is now completely traumatised. Are their lives so much better than his that they can sit in judgment upon him?
Whether from trauma, stupidity or whatever, the boy eventually refuses to read his carefully prepared statement via a video link. This had been carefully rehearsed with him by the various child protection officers (whom he can’t stand), but at the last minute he flunks it. He is asked a crucial question: “Did this man touch your penis?” After a few moments of puzzled silence the boy shouts: “No way. I wouldn’t let anyone do that, my brother’d kill me,” and the case collapses.
The police are seething.
So now we leave Julian, almost penniless after paying all his various legal expenses, sitting in his heavily-mortgaged flat pondering his future.
He thinks again about Alexander and his dilemma following Hodgson’s letter to his father. Is he really such a cunt that he’d have found it easier to betray Alexander had he managed to have his way with him that final night? Yes, he finally decided dispassionately, he was that rotten. He’d never have it in him to defy the world; he was weak, selfish and fundamentally insecure.
His new self-knowledge allows him a bitter acceptance of his flaws, and his new philosophy allows him to laugh at it. “Screw the world!” he shouts loudly as he lights a cigarette and pours himself a generous measure of Bell’s.
 The author left this untranslated, but for the reader reluctant to work out its meaning, the present editor gives its meaning:
“Alexander, I love you more than anyone or anything in the whole world!”
 The author expected the reader to work out for himself the meaning of this, written in the secret language Alexander had invented for talking to Julian, but the editor is providing a translation here for those not inclined to make the effort:
Your very being fills me with rapture.
I worship every sacred inch of your sublime body which I am blessed to have witnessed.
While the permitted vision of your wondrous ewes lips and hair fills me with joy and strange desire, those hidden delights only once revealed to me inflame my waking thoughts and fitfully sleeping dreams beyond endurance.
I pray to Apollo that ere too long your delectable secrets will be revealed to me: that I’ll kiss every divine inch of you. Taste your sweet boyhood and drink your precious ambrosia – nectar of the gods.
Will I ever know the supreme bliss of being united with you? Our bodies joined?
Will our hearts ever beat as one?
Will we together in the frantic abandon of orgasm ever experience that shared ecstasy which will shake us to the very foundations of our being, and propel us towards the stars?
If you would like to leave a comment on this webpage, please e-mail it to email@example.com, mentioning in the subject line either the title or the url of the page so that the editor can add it.