We’ve all gathered in the old house in Edinburgh on the saddest of sad occasions. Dear Mrs Grantly has died and the funeral is on Friday. When I say we all have gathered I mean those who are left in the family and the ones who have arrived since I wrote that entry in my 2002 Journal which I have just read again. Grandfather Sinclair and Grandpa Drummond have passed away too, as has Great-Aunt Cassie. Grandfather Sinclair died two years ago at the age of eighty-six and left the house in trust for my mother and Auntie Vanessa and that’s how it remains. Mum and Dad still live in it and it still plays a vital part in the Defence of the Realm. However, although I left home all those years ago my bedroom still remains as it was as I requested. Mr Lion is in charge when I’m not here, but when I and my soulmate Pete are in residence he sits on the bedside table my side of the bed and keeps an eye on the pair of us! No Pinocchio to be with him in the basket. He, Tiger and Lily weren’t replaced as they all joined the starry constellation of Leo in the sky.
I had been looking through my old Journals still in a row on the bookshelf. I had turned to a particular page in the last one there and read back from the coded row of five-letter words: I love Pete and he loves me and off to London we will go. I had better explain that first before the whole tale of what has happened over the past fourteen years is unfolded. Peter Douglas and I had told of the love we felt for each other in the summer of 2000.
We had vowed to share a room for Highers and over those two years we also vowed to share our lives. They were the most happy two years. I had no worries now we had confessed our love for each other which meant I in particular, being a bit of a worry-guts, could concentrate on doing the best possible I could in my school work. Taking Pure and Applied Maths and Economics is not at easy task. Bighead me even took History as well as that was one of Pete’s chosen subjects. Even at seventeen Pete was an accomplished artist. He’d had a portfolio of his drawings looked at by Mr Adrian Ross who was a well-known Scottish artist and had painted the portrait of my Grandmother Sinclair which still hung on the dining-room wall of the Edinburgh house. Mr Ross had been most complimentary and said whatever he did he must never give up his drawing and painting. His other subjects were Art, of course, and Economics, another share for us.
All our roommates came back to do Highers. Even Freddy Arnold who had had such a bad start at Kinloch over his lack of a good grounding in essentials as a young lad. He had really made the best of his time in the place and was planning to do a degree in Sports Science. He, in fact, had been the first to openly ask us about our relationship. Underneath his rather formidable exterior he was kindness itself. He had recognised that Pete and I were gay even before we had come out to the rest of our roommates just before we said we would be sharing for our Senior Years. His father’s younger brother was gay and in a relationship and his Uncle Robert was a very favourite uncle. Even his rather blunt father had accepted the pair and they often visited the Highland estate to take part in shoots or fly-fishing. We had told him we were and he said there were other pairs he knew of in the school including one pair who were in the First XV at the time. Paget’s House had at least three couples and though ‘pouf’, queer’ and ‘fag’ had been heard in the land however, when confronted with the warning that their own peccadilloes might be bruited abroad, the name-callers were silenced. I think Pete and I were popular and we were accepted all round as the persons we were. It may have helped as I was now in the First XV and he was a triallist, then a player, in a Scottish Schoolboys’ Hockey team.
I came out to Mum before I went back to Kinloch for the first of my Senior Years and all she did was to hug me and say she and Dad had known for years and why hadn’t I said anything before? I said I had been confused, but didn’t explain that was because I didn’t get a hardon with girls, alive or in mags. Grandfather Sinclair just sniffed and said one just had to get on with life. We had a silent toast that evening as he told me to pour myself and him a dram of malt. As Dad and other males were out that evening we just raised our glasses to each other. Great-Aunt Cassie when told just laughed and said ‘join the club’. She and her companion, Dr Lamb, had retired from their Cambridge Fellowships and went to live just outside Athens. Unfortunately, after having smoked for goodness knows how many years, but never when staying in Edinburgh with us, Great-Aunt’s breathing got worse until finally she came back to England to a hospice in Cambridge and died just two years before her elder brother.
Of course, I’d told Jonathan, then David and Danny, and all they just said they weren’t surprised as my only topic of conversation about Kinloch was Pete, with Jonathan adding that most normal boys usually talked about rugger or shagging girls. I got back by asking what was normal about him?
They all said what clinched their opinion was me showing them the drawing Pete had done of me in the nude, and the smile I had whenever Pete was mentioned. Of course Jonathan said he’d seen the living subject many times and was quite sure Pete had exaggerated certain details. Bah! I then showed them four others of me in various poses showing my all and, lastly, the one which had both of us in it, arms round each other and smiling at each other. It was cleverly drawn as it didn’t show the hardons we were sporting when we had posed for it. That had been after-hours in the Storeroom with us in front of the long mirror on the wall - not used to see if squaddies had their pants on under their kilts as we only had combats or trews as uniform - but used to check whether jackets, trews, etc. fitted smartly. That night it was used so Pete could see us as we clutched each other while the image seen was imprinted on his memory. In the bedroom that evening he drew, what for me, was the best present he ever gave me.
That was a bit of an exaggeration. The best presents we gave each other were the first times we went the whole way in our love-making. It was on my birthday, the day I was eighteen and in my final year at Kinloch when he fucked me so gently and lovingly and two days later I gave him my fullest love when I did the same to him. Fergy had been consulted during the week before and we were given instruction on how to be as clean as possible. He gave us both a hug and wished us well. A good and still a great friend.
Off to London? Why was that? During our final Senior Year we all had to make decisions about our future. Jack Pringle was going to work for his father as a gofer and wasn’t bothered about qualifications. Oil rigs make money whether you have an MA or nowt. He might do something later. He never did and was in a fatal helicopter crash on a rig and that was that. Cheng Wu we see regularly in London. He and his elder brother also work for their father but in an import business. Both had taken degrees at London University and then joined his London office. Both have married and a couple of young Wus are at Kinloch, one from each. Fergy, of course, followed in his father’s footsteps and trained to be a physician. Guess who when qualified joined the local Health Centre here in Edinburgh some time after Dr Muirhead had retired? His great pal Gordy Brigstock became an accountant and must be doing well as, again, he’s married and his son is at Kinloch, too. So, what were Pete and my decisions?
He knew he wanted to be an artist. On Adrian Ross’s advice he applied to the Chelsea School of Art and Design in London and was accepted after interview and a scrutiny of his existing portfolio. I know the family expected me to take a degree at Edinburgh University but I needed to be with my Pete. As I was doing Economics for Highers I put in an application for a place at the London School of Economics. That made sense to the callow youth I was. All I knew from my reading was its high reputation for scholarship in that subject and the great list of well-known names amongst its staff and alumni. My choice did cause a bit of consternation. The LSE had always been known as a breeding-ground for left-wingers. In the student unrest in the late 1960's it was in the forefront of the protests and takeovers of University buildings. After a particularly nasty incident it was closed down for a few weeks. Even thirty or so years later it still resonated with the older generation - luckily all around me were amused and gave their blessing, Grandfather Sinclair and Great-Aunt Cassie leading the way. Although a most learned Judge and a pillar of the Scottish establishment, as it were, the more I discussed things with Grandfather I realised he might have mounted the barricades himself. A bit to my surprise, as I soon realised, from discussion with those more experienced than little me, that places would be at a premium, I was asked for interview. I flew down, the first time I’d been in an aeroplane, as had Pete on his separate trip to mine, had a very thorough interview, not only on my, to me, meagre knowledge of Economics, but on of all things, the present state of Scottish Rugby Football, especially in relation to the standing of the national team. I did know nationally we were not doing too well, but at least I was able to boast I was now in Kinloch’s First XV and was in the team both times when we won our last two inter-school matches. I was now a sturdy five feet ten inches of Scottish beef and played at lock. I received an offer of a place dependent on required results at Highers and no mention of rugger.
I succeeded with marks higher than I thought I could ever achieve in each of my subjects. Pete’s results matched mine and confirmed his place, but I was sure, as was Adrian Ross too, that his innate artistry assured his acceptance. The double acceptance raised a little problem. Where were we to live? In expensive London, or ten or more miles out in the suburbs where rents might be cheaper, but travel time and costs would have to be factored in?
Our problem was solved in a curious way. After an interview, in that office in Princes Street with a man in a dark suit, we were offered a rather nice top floor, two-bedroom flat somewhere in Bloomsbury on the condition that we looked after, cleaned and provisioned the flat below. We would be informed what provisions were needed, which laundry firm to use and to leave any bills or receipts in the mail-box on the ground floor which had that flat’s number on it. What could we do but accept? Pete smiled at me and he had to sign that Official Secrets Act form as well.
It couldn’t have been better though Pete would have to take the underground from Russell Square to South Kensington, or even make the journey on a couple of London red double-decker buses. He said he didn’t mind. He could study people on the tube trains and, if on a bus, he had views of London as well. The LSE was just a short walk for me.
We settled in a fortnight before our first terms started. The basement and first two floors of the building were occupied by a rather upmarket publishers. They came and went between nine and five, five days a week. There was a ‘concierge’ - it was that upmarket - in a cubby-hole on the ground floor. He clocked on at eight a.m. and clocked-off at six. He was universally known as Frank, we never established what his surname was. Each day his wife, known to all as Daisy, came in at twelve with his lunch and then appeared again at five to clean the offices. The flat itself was furnished adequately, enough of everything for two fairly undomesticated lads, including a cooker, microwave and an old-fashioned washing-machine which we used sparingly. Mum and Mrs Grantly had tried their best over the month before we left for London to give me a quick course of survival - one hoped of the fittest. Pete received the same at his home and I think we learned quickly enough and we survived with no major mishaps.
Looking after the other flat wasn’t a great problem and we did cheat a bit at times and our sheets and towels went into the laundry bag as well, though Daisy had taken pity on two students and took home a carrier bag of undies, shirts, polos, etc. on a regular basis. These were returned, washed and ironed, plus a few homemade buns, for the cost of a bottle of gin on the first of the month. We were grateful for this, especially as we were scared of the rumbles from the washing-machine on the couple of occasions we tried it out. We also felt very smart as neither of us had ever experienced ironed underpants before! After paying out for provisions, laundry, new bulbs and cleaning equipment for the flat below, and placing the required slips in the mailbox slot, sums of money appeared in my account at the bank quite promptly. It had to be my account because we couldn’t open a joint account as we were not conjoined in holy matrimony, as an amused cashier at the bank told me. Pete and I did get billed for our flat for what in England were called ‘rates’, a levy required by the local authority for all residences, but that was nothing compared with what the rent for such a flat would be otherwise.
Of course, though we knew the whole business of us and the flats was all through Dad’s connections, we were wary. Who would be using the other flat? For how long? What should we do if there were difficulties?
What happened over the three years and a bit we had the use of that most convenient dwelling is not for telling in detail, other than we had a special extra telephone and a panic button. A motley succession of males, females, generally single but sometimes in pairs either way, of various nationalities as far as we could gather, came and went on a sporadic basis. Entry to the flat for visitors was by means of a number pad. No key. We had keys for us to get in to do our duty but the device must have been reset somehow each time visitors used it. We knew this was so as one pair of males early on argued loudly over whether it was ‘Eine, drei, seiben, drei’ or ‘drei, eine, drei, seiben’. They managed to get in after several tries but we wondered how intelligent was their intelligence service, or themselves! Another pair the next weekend got it right first time and we heard ‘Seven, three, nine, five’ very clearly even up the stairs, but with our own front door ajar. Ears akimbo!
We coped well and though we wondered several times who were the people accommodated below we had only two real scares which I feel I can relate after all these years have passed. One was where a male had what can only be called ‘a lady of the night’ in situ for one weekend. We had seen the pair use the stairs rather than the creaky lift and they went in quickly once he’d punched in the code. It was curious. He had no luggage but she had a rather large holdall and she was rather large, too. Over the two nights, Friday and Saturday, Pete and I listened as scream after scream was heard. If the screams were of, query, ecstasy as intercourse, or whatever took place and it was obviously the male screaming, we were none the wiser as to what she was doing to him.
We made sure as soon as they vacated the flat on the Sunday afternoon, as our anonymously posted schedule told us they would, to see what clues Sherlock and Hercule could discern. All was tidy except for the rather grubby nature of the bed sheets, plus there was an object which looked like a butt plug, but with two short pieces of thin wire attached, discarded, or forgotten, under the bed. Yes, we did know what a butt plug was as one kid in another House at Kinloch had to wear one for two days for some misdemeanour deemed heinous by his fellows. Freddy Arnold had borrowed it, after it had been cleaned thoroughly, to show us but no one wanted such a thing up their bottom! Pete and I grinned at each other as we had plans for my eighteenth birthday and that six inch butt plug looked very much.... The object we found was nine inches of plastic with a generous girth and metal inserts along its length. We guessed he had been shocked in some way. Pete said he would be shocked just to have that thing pushed all the way in! We thought about keeping it on the mantelpiece above the imitation coal fire but thought too many questions might be asked by our own stream of visitors.
The second scare had us pressing the panic button as the male occupant that night was obviously blind drunk. For some reason known only to him he had tried to climb out of the window of the bedroom below ours at the back of the house but had misjudged how much the sash-type window would open and was stuck as it had crashed down and he had no leverage either way. We had heard a crash beforehand and guessed a mirror had got broken somehow. Then there was this noise when the sash fell and a grunt. It was a warm night so our own bedroom sash was open and held open with the normal catch. We looked out and down and saw this unclothed male top half in the process of depositing the contents of his stomach down the wall and windows of the offices below. He then slumped into unconsciousness.
He was carted off in a plain white van and we had to clear up quite a mess in the flat below the next day as he had been completely in the nude and had lost control of both bladder and bowels as well. The white-van men must have been used to such occurrences elsewhere as they left behind a holdall full of cloths, scrapers, disinfectants and suchlike. There were also two empty whisky bottles to dispose of as well as a rug which, luckily, had absorbed most of his lower body outpourings. We confiscated the third unopened bottle which he’d left conveniently for us in the carrier bag from which the other two had been removed and consumed completely. He’d smashed a mirror in the bathroom and while we were clearing up the shards Pete found an empty pill bottle under the bath with no label on it. We wondered if it had been a suicide attempt.
Luckily, the slot in the mailbox was big enough to take the bottle and I wrote a note to go with it saying where we had found it and that a new rug and mirror were needed, plus we weren’t sure all the glass fragments had been cleared up. We hoped the window smears below were attributed to over-active pigeons and their deposits and Frank didn’t mention them. Pigeons are dirty, shitty creatures, ask Lord Nelson on his column in Trafalgar Square!
A day later another white van appeared and a new mirror was installed and a thorough clean-up had been done. We had to wait a fortnight before a rolled-up rug was deposited by courier outside the front-door of our flat. My bank balance rose quite substantially after that little incident and Pete and I had a rather lavish dinner in a smart restaurant in Holborn to help erase memories of that event.
Of course, our own visitors included friends and relatives. Having the second bedroom appealed to the out-of-towners. No questions were ever asked about our tenancy. It was well-known that Pete, even early on, was selling paintings and drawings and they were good enough to command a reasonable price. I had applied to Edinburgh City Council for a bursary to pay college fees and somehow they paid up with a bit extra. I will admit, as my brother and sisters were no longer a burden on the family exchequer, I received a little to help expenses from Mum and Dad, but more from Grandfather. Our living was not lavish and we didn’t starve.
Of course, Cousin Alistair was the first to be employed and to marry. He confessed he had to and that quickish marriage was a happy one. He and Elspeth had twins just eight months after they wed: Rory Nicholas and Phillipa Anne. Rory did not go to Kinloch as the twins were very close and suitable schools were found for the pair in Perth. Alistair was our main visitor as he made certain anything which needed to be done ‘down South’ was his right and privilege, being the son of the main partner in the firm! Of course, twins were in the family both with my sisters and Mum and Auntie Vanessa. I was told by Jonathan that if I ever had kids they would be quadruplets given the amount of spunk I shot. He knew that as we did have a couple of brotherly wank sessions. I corrected his biological misunderstanding by pointing out it wasn’t the amount of sperm provided but whether there were two eggs, or one which would divide, in the recipient. “Bollocks” was his response to that and I said at least he knew where the sperm cells were manufactured and it was a wonder his didn’t have sergeant’s stripes on them and come out yelling ‘Get yer ‘air cut!’. A friendly wrestle ensued.
Jonathan got his degree and was accepted for Sandhurst and on passing out was commissioned, as he so wished, in the Royal Marines. He had to do some arduous training courses and at the end of the main one the squad he was in, some twenty or so, had to let their hair down though the ‘short back and sides’ they all sported in the photo I treasure didn’t allow much for the phrase. They had to have a celebration so, wherever they were, perhaps near Salisbury Plain, or some other military stronghold in that direction, we never found out, they took over a local hotel for the evening and night. For female company they had access to others in training, or in post, in the various barracks around. Jonathan was a magnet for the opposite sex, and same sex as well, so he proudly told us, but wouldn’t say if he was ever tempted either way. That weekend he was more than tempted female-wise. Probably both slightly the worse for wear after imbibing alcoholic potions he and his female partner for the evening went to bed together and the deed was done. More than once so he smugly maintained.
Unfortunately no protection was in place and Lieutenant Patricia Ina Pumphrey, Royal Signals, outranking Second Lieutenant Jonathan Arthur Sinclair Drummond, Royal Marines, were married in August 2001 just four months before Ross Alexander Arthur Drummond was born. He, a veritable clone of his father, was sent to Kinloch in due course, and has now entered the Senior School. The family moved into married quarters near the barracks where Lt. Patricia Pumphrey, she kept her maiden name, was a Signals trainer. She was three years older than Jonathan and, because her father and grandfather had been officers in the Engineers had taken a physics degree and signed on immediately. She had both brains and beauty and a slight reputation for liking young Norse Gods! Jonathan knew she, like him, wasn’t a virgin.
My sisters were predictable. David Prothero and Marty MacFarlane were captured, not tortured, but submitted willingly to a double wedding ceremony the Easter after they all graduated. No, neither of my sisters was pregnant at the time! That was a nasty thought, which did rear its ugly head amongst friends, fellow graduates, acquaintances and even relatives. After I had raised an eyebrow when David told me the date of the wedding and would I, a mere stripling, be his best man, he asserted, with a grin, that he was still dead scared of my brother and that threat he had made if Caroline received more than a kiss and a cuddle. No, he averred as an expert fencer, his epée, though ready to parry and thrust, was permanently en garde until he had a legal salute announced.
Sprogs appeared in due time, two boys for each pair. Jacky followed her degree with some course on fashion design so the sequence was David Matthew Prothero first in 2003, then a year later Matthew Andrew MacFarlane. Thirdly, Francis Alistair Prothero popped out within another year and Bruce Robert MacFarlane, the last, but not least, in line, a full year after FAP. All are at Kinloch! Of course, we can’t wait to hear what his mates at Kinloch make of those initials of number three. Pete found out somehow it was the word, obviously onomatopoeic, in Japanese naughty comics for what the lad will be doing regularly in a couple of years or so! We will have to wait and see.
David Prothero II made a great impression with his degree dissertation, a close examination and analysis of some obscure statement by a famous 1930s philosopher. He was snapped up by one of the younger Scottish Universities founded since Edinburgh University was in 1583. Dr Prothero is always blethering at conferences in London and elsewhere in the vicinity so had a permanent toothbrush in the bathroom of the flat and still makes use of that, or a replacement, in our present abode. Caroline teaches History at a prominent Girls’ Independent School and revels in it. Revels in History? Whatever floats your boat!
Marty MacFarlane and brother Graham were well into body-building so, after Graham had taken voluntary redundancy from the bank, and both did some course on press-ups for the portly and weight-training for weaklings - amended to ‘wankers’ by you-know-who - they opened a gym in the town where their father had his building business. It must have been good as they soon opened two others and have a thriving business themselves. Jacky also flourished as her flair for fashion design, in collaboration with the friend from university days, has meant commissions coming in from all around. Jacky dragoons Marty to come down to London whenever she needs to attend a fashion show to gauge the trends as she puts it.
Both Pete and I realised that being cooped up in classes again meant we needed exercise. I had taken advantage of a primitive gym at the LSE. I often exercised with a lad who was taking several of the same courses as I was. For example we both had opted for the same required Foreign Language which could be learned without previous knowledge. I did have a little previous knowledge as it was that help I’d had from Sgt Wilton and Danny Jacobson. It was Russian and caused more amusement at home with me being asked if I was changing my name to Jimmy Lenin. In fact, Jeremy and I helped each other a good number of times by not only going over notes and essays together, or practising our Russian phrases and sentences, but also in getting rid of excess spermatozoa which accumulates very fast even in the few hours after expending a good load in companionship with one’s true partner. I had better explain. Pete and I had a very, very firm love. However, we realised we might be tempted and as long as the release, or exchange, of certain bodily fluids did not involve a lower hole, and we confessed to each other, we were not constrained. In fact, although both of us were propositioned many times, we both only strayed about five times each in our student years.
Jeremy was also gay but his school boyfriend had broken off their relationship by going off to Birmingham University with a new mate who was also an avid soccer fan. Jeremy said he wasn’t surprised at the break-up as he realised it was no more than an adolescent infatuation on both their parts. His only feeling of loss was of the rather impressive part his friend possessed. Though the same height as me, and well-built otherwise, Jeremy’s endowment was certainly less than the average Fergie told us about. Not to worry, it all worked perfectly and we had several close encounters of the kind where hands only are used.
Jeremy had a part-time job to make ends meet so he said. His much elder brother was a fitness trainer in a very swish gymnasium near Covent Garden. The clientele there were young City types, up-and-coming solicitors, accountants and the like. Many gay, and regularly up-and-coming, too. Glynn, the brother, as far as I could make out, was not gay, but after having been sacked for no apparent cause by the firm he had worked for in the City had taken the firm to tribunal where he had been awarded a quite considerable sum for unfair dismissal. The firm paid up promptly realising they would liable for even more if he took them further to court. Glynn took the money and invested it in a partnership with the owners of the gym of which he had been a member. Jeremy’s job at the gym was to see that the equipment was clean and the various machines were working properly. If he had to help a client with a problem with his own equipment that was his business. Again, only hands and a mouth, but as Jeremy said, City blokes can be generous and some of the tips were large...
Pete’s first could have been with a rather randy member of staff who was well-known for giving extra credit to those students willing to have their pricks sucked after he’d taken his false teeth out. Pete acted dim, knowing full-well that an invitation, more or less to view the tutor’s etchings, would be the precursor to his jeans and briefs being down around his ankles. He put on an atrocious Scottish accent and said something like ‘Ae dinna ken the noo an’ ae’m awfy busy wi’ ma work an’ all’. Luckily he had no college contact with that particular tutor over his student years. I think Pete was singled out as he was a bonny lad, with that tantalising patch of chest hair showing when wearing an open-necked shirt.
That chest hair had been a source of wonderment and great envy at Kinloch. Pete was just on sixteen when the first evidence of future pectoral hirsuteness appeared. Over six months later he had a considerable display of black hair which had spread not only from nipple to nipple but his substantial pubic bush was also creeping steadily to his navel. By seventeen, when some boys see the first appearance of hair above the waist, Pete was covered from neckline down to his navel with a mat of sleek black hair. At eighteen, as he was now at College, the hair was still sleek but denser and we did trim it a bit to keep it tidy. Freddy Arnold was the next in our group at Kinloch to discern the beginnings of growth and that happened when he was seventeen. A few stray hairs around nipples seemed to be the most our confederates could muster. I, being blond, though possessing quite an abundance of fair hair on my thighs and lower legs, had nothing to show between navel and neck. There was one fetish I did possess. I loved to stroke that furry pelt and rub my cheeks and forehead over its silkiness. Yes, Pete’s hair reminded me of another love, my dear departed Pinocchio whose coat I stroked to make him purr. My Pete more than purred when I stroked him as that was most often the prelude to a sensuous bout of joint love-making.
Pete’s first extra experience in London took place on a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum where he wanted to sketch exhibits in the glass cases such as Greek vases, or small copies of mostly male statues, such as Hercules. While trying to get into a comfortable position, as the particular object he was intent on drawing was rather small, he accidentally bumped into another student from a different college. This lad was sketching figures displayed on a large Roman sarcophagus and almost fell into it. After apologising, and the pair having a laugh about it, they ended up having a coffee together in the snack-bar. They compared their work and Pete said they matched in ability. Half an hour later in a basement store cupboard they managed, in that cramped area, to wank each other and, after exchanging life histories, had a satisfying blow-job apiece. Denzil was quite openly gay and had three more-or-less permanent boyfriends but was always up for extras. Pete had a couple or more other sessions with him and I met him as I wished to see a particular recommended exhibition at the V & A and Pete introduced us to each other as Denzil was also there that day. I judged him to be a comely lad, if rather too camp and, no, I did not have any wish to handle the sizeable cock which he had told Pete attracted so many who wished for a deeper friendship. As he was a definite bottom, as the gay jargon goes, his boyfriends had to match his own dimensions and had to be tops. I think the pair of us would have done him with pride. We both liked both ways. As Pete said, it makes for variety!
The second excursion for both of us turned out in the end to be shared and quite long-term. It started at the beginning of our second student year with Pete wanting a close-up view of the hideous seated statue of Prince Albert in Hyde Park opposite the Albert Hall. After making a few desultory sketches of bits of the surrounding sculptures he needed sustenance. He wandered down Exhibition Road and went into the Students’ Union snack-bar in Imperial College. He took his coffee and a sandwich on a tray and looked for place to sit. It was fairly busy but he noted a table with only one other person sitting at it. He asked if the chap minded him taking a seat. A rather glum-looking lad of Indian extraction, as he turned out to be, nodded and Pete sat down. Pete is fairly gregarious and so asked the lad if he was a student at the college. He found that the young man was beginning his final year for his Engineering degree and Pete explained he was an Art student and was now starting his second year. As it so happened Pete, of course, had his sketchbook with him and as he put it on the table it had opened at a drawing he had done of me, only the top half, as practice for his life-drawing classes. The young man must have seen it and looked intently at it. Pete then said quite nonchalantly it was of his boyfriend and we lived together.
A sad story then poured out. The lad hoped to get a reasonable degree but, and it was a big but, his father wanted him to get married as soon as he graduated. Although father had lived in England for many years, in fact owning a restaurant near South Kensington with interests in others, this was to be an arranged marriage with someone of the father’s family’s choosing. Adil, which he told Pete was his name, would never see the girl until the day of the wedding. He didn’t want to get married and it became clear by the vehemence of the telling there was a good reason why he didn’t want to get married. As Pete had been intrigued with various statues and gates in Hyde Park he wanted to go back the next day to do more sketching. He told Adil what he would be doing and they arranged to meet in the Students’ Union for lunch. Over that meal they had a real heart-to-heart talk and Adil said he knew he was gay but had never acted on it, other than copying his elder brothers’ habits in bed with mutual wanks on numerous occasions, plus a few jerk-offs together with school pals.
When Adil mentioned the name of the restaurant at South Ken Pete said we had already visited it as it was close to the tube station he used. In fact, it had been our introduction to Indian food. Though I’d had ersatz curries concocted by Mrs Grantly, under Mum’s instruction from memories she had from her time in India where I had been born, until being in London I had never been to an Indian restaurant. As it happened nor had Pete. Of course, we had sampled other ethnic-style eateries from the myriad of different choices around the Bloomsbury area, Chinese, Thai, Italian, French, Japanese and so on. All supposedly authentic but we did learn that chop suey, Cantonese for ‘mixed bits’, was invented in America. Indian food was quite a revelation. A very attentive waiter had advised us, when we said it was our first visit, to start with a mild curry as our main course. Over a few weeks we had graduated even to a vindaloo which required at least two bottles of beer each to counteract the extreme hotness of the chillies and other spices in it. This did cause Adil to smile when Pete related that experience. He said he was required to help in the restaurant most weekends, either in the kitchen, or as a waiter, and Pete said we would visit when we knew he was on waiter duty.
To cut a long story short, some hope, we not only got to know Adil extremely well, we also met his father who was a very nice man and wanted the best for his son. In fact, sons. Three of Adil’s elder brothers were all in the Indian restaurant business around London with father as the principal owner. With three sons in the family business father was resigned to the desire of Adil to be an engineer. We engineered a solution for Adil. One of the other restaurants was on the outskirts of Bloomsbury. We visited it and Pete said to Adil the next day that the waiter service was a bit lacking. Adil contacted his brother, Rama, told him his friends were disappointed and offered to sort things out without father being too involved. That meant Adil had to be at the restaurant for a whole weekend. Luckily his course work and project were up to date. He trained the two waiters, young, third-generation in England, Indian lads, who improved immensely and he stayed with us at the flat for each of those three nights.
We thought he might be exhausted having spent hours dealing with the training and also being a waiter himself. Over those three nights we gave him the benefit of our version of a male Kama Sutra. He wasn’t shy. He’d shared tiny bedrooms above the restaurant in Kensington with his elder brothers and played hockey at his prestigious London secondary school so was used to being unclothed in male company. After a stint in the restaurant he needed a shower so stripped off completely the first evening, quite nonchalantly, displaying to our amusement a hairy chest at twenty-two quite as luxuriant as Pete’s, though his prick seemed only to peep from his bush. While he was showering we also stripped to just boxers and sat sipping a nice Scotch whisky we’d discovered in one of the many specialist shops around.
He raised his hands in mock horror when he came into the living-room with just a towel around his waist and saw us sitting there almost naked. As the loosely tied towel dropped he then pointed at Pete’s hairy chest and said he would make a good Indian who, invariably, were rather hairy. I pouted and said I was the one born in India, which of course trumped him, as he was born in Queen Charlotte’s Maternity Hospital in London. Over another dram for us and one for him my tale was told and he said he couldn’t wait to tell his father. He certainly didn’t tell Dada how we spent those three nights, the first of quite a few before he announced, with our approval, that he had found a boyfriend.
He learned quickly as we demonstrated on him and he repeated on us, the use of hands, tongues, mouths and finally, during the Sunday night, performing the last and most supreme act of love-making. That with full protection though we knew that none of us was at any risk. One thing which did impress us was that prick of his. Not more than a couple of inches in its quiescent state but it grew to hardness most impressively to almost match us. We didn’t quiz him on this but Pete, with his superior IT capabilities, Googled and found that Indian, and generally, other Asiatic penises were, on average, smaller than those attached to Europeans and Africans. Adil was a ‘grower’ not a ‘shower’ as another site informed us.
The boyfriend, Prasad, turned out to be a fellow Engineering student, another of Indian descent, but out to his family. In the end Adil told Rama of his predicament. Rama told him quite bluntly that his older brothers knew he was gay from when he was a teenager as he was the one whose hand wandered first in bed and he would stand by him if he wanted support when he told Dada. We were present at the denouement. We went to the Kensington restaurant with Prasad on a Thursday evening. We had a meal and at an arranged time Adil and Rama appeared and sat with us. Our usual attentive waiter must have wondered what was happening and, as we hoped, went to tell Dada two of his sons were in the restaurant. Dada came out and saw us all chatting with Pete and I holding hands and Adil and Prasad doing the same. We were all invited into a backroom where Adil had to say nothing as before he opened his mouth Dada had enveloped him in a great hug. All plans for a wedding were scrapped. Adil and Prasad graduated well and were immediately employed on some great scheme for digging more holes under London for another railway. We still see them regularly as after we left the flat in Bloomsbury we moved to Chelsea and it’s somewhere near there further holes are being bored. Not saying that other holes aren’t either! And we go to Dada’s restaurant often to be met by smiles and a discount!
Our own lives went on smoothly especially with our studies. In our second year Pete had a stroke of good luck. He was outside our building where our flat was one morning and was busy sketching the rather fine architectural details of the windows and doors. The man who ran the publishing business, a Mr Barnes, saw him and looked at the drawing he was doing on the easel. He asked if he was one of the lads in residence above ‘the shop’, as he called it. Pete said he was and told him he was studying at the Chelsea School of Art. Mr Barnes asked if he could see more of his work and Pete wondered why. He went up to the flat and took down about twenty or so finished drawings which had been assessed by tutors and had pencilled comments on the back, or on clipped-on pieces of paper, plus an almost filled sketchbook.
Mr Barnes came out again while Pete was still sketching and asked him to come inside to his office when he was ready. Over a cup of coffee Mr Barnes asked Pete if he was willing to read part of a manuscript in which the author had suggested drawings for the page beside the heading of each chapter. He could take either the hints, or provide examples from his own interpretation of the text of the chapter. He showed Pete a previous volume in the series which dealt with old British country customs and this new one was to be on dialect words and sayings from all over the UK. The reason was that the artist they had in mind had gone off to America, more or less leaving them in the lurch, and publication day was approaching fast. Pete said he’d have a go and, after further discussion, said he couldn’t really say how long a drawing would take. So, while he sat there with Mr Barnes watching, he drew a detailed rendering of the rather ornate small clock which Mr Barnes took off the mantelpiece and placed on the desk.
In just about fifteen minutes a perfect image on a piece of A4 paper was ready. Mr Barnes shook his head and asked what his price would be if he let him have the drawing. I knew Pete had done a few sketches in Kensington Gardens and sold a few for five or ten pounds each, unsigned, to people who had watched him drawing. Pete was canny. He said he was still a student and had no idea of prices though he’d seen students’ work on sale, such as this drawing, for twenty-five pounds. Mr Barnes laughed and said he was sure that Pete could get more than that. “Thirty pounds for that one signed by you and the same for each of the ten illustrations we need, plus a percentage if the book makes a profit. Size is important, so about eight inches by eight inches so they can be prepared and reduced for the printers. Are you willing to try?”
That was the first commission which Pete got and completed. We had a few laughs over the sayings and Pete managed to convey humour into the drawings for each chapter drawing. What was also humourous was what appeared on the standard contract to be signed. The solicitor’s clerk who filled in Pete’s name misread and misspelled what had been sent by the publisher’s secretary so Douglas Petre was born and became Pete’s nom d’artiste for any extra work he did.
I did a little extra work as well, other than writing interminable essays on economic matters. Artists in training have life classes. That is, male or female nudes are on display so the aspiring Michaelangelos or da Vincis, and the female equivalents, can learn to render anatomical details with some accuracy, supposedly so they can then draw or paint clothed figures with a knowledge of how the body underneath is articulated. Sculptors, too, need models for their nudes though one wonders if at least a couple of renowned carvers with their ‘Reclining Nudes’ had seen anyone with their clothes off. I was volunteered by Pete for a life class during the first term of his first year when the wizened elderly model had to have time off for an urgent operation and never returned. I was cast as a Brit captured by the Romans to be trained and sacrificed in the arena as a gladiator. I had to pose on a low dais standing holding a long spear. The tutor had been kind as she said standing still for nearly an hour needed support. I was used to being nude in the company of others at school so that didn’t worry me. Nor did it worry me that more than half the class were female and they would be learning that Jamie’s eighteen-year-old dick was five and half inches when flaccid with good-sized balls dangling below.
There was a slight flurry of, I hoped, excitement and not annoyance when I appeared instead of the elderly man and the tutor explained why I was there and they would have to start again with clean sheets of paper on their easels. She then made the statement about me being a potential gladiator and I should have a trident and net, but there was only the spear in the stock cupboard. There was a guffaw from the males when a wag at the back called out ‘or a Roman lady’s toy boy’. Not my scene, I thought. After the first half hour a break was called and I could relax for a minute or so. I then had to resume the selfsame pose which wasn’t too difficult to hold given the number of parades I had been on in the CCF and having to stand at attention while being ranted at by squad corporals like Angus bloody Reid.
After that break I think there was quite a concerted effort on the part of a group of the young lady artists to get me aroused. There were grins as skirts were hoiked above knees and two with rather large upper storeys bent across their easels and displayed an amount of cleavage for my delectation. It didn’t work, my cock remained quiescent throughout. I did have a look at some of the unfinished drawings when I made a quick exit that morning and noted that I was not wanting in the genital department where ones in the front row had attempted to get a quick sketch of the whole of me.
Their efforts were redoubled next day - I had two mornings free of lectures or seminars so could be there - but still no reaction from my nether regions. Two of the young ladies turned up in what could only be described as pussy pelmets. There was even a flash of knickers. I thought of the times when Tuppy Montgomery in our First XV was lifted up in the lineout to catch the incoming ball. Like me, an elder brother, or uncle in his case, had passed down a jockstrap when a younger lad’s balls began to plump up and dangle. His jockstrap was truly ancient and the pouch well-worn and almost threadbare. Thus, when Tuppy was hoisted up there was a very good chance of a wardrobe malfunction and his bits would be on full display. He said he wasn’t worried as it helped our side because the other side’s forwards in the lineout would be staring at his well-formed parts - true, they were - and our side would then have the advantage as all had ogled his thick salami many times in the showers so knew what to expect. Oh, and I, like most of the rest of the XV, had by then opted for compression pants, so if my shorts got ripped or raised I was safely encased at all times and not on show. I had to stop thinking of these things before my own bratwurst hardened, so stared into space and gripped my spear more firmly.
All was revealed to my would-be tormentors at lunch that second day, not my compression pants as I had been nude in the life-class, but something much more noteworthy. On the previous day I had got dressed quickly and scooted off at midday as I had a lecture at two o’clock followed by a group seminar. Today just a tutorial with three other students at four o’clock so I could have lunch, which, as the model, I wouldn’t have to pay for. I went with Pete as my guide to the refectory and we were joined by most of the class of a dozen or so. There was much amusement as the girls realised we were together. It turned out that two of the ladies were also an item and two of the lads had boyfriends doing other parts of the course. All out in the open and we had plenty of invites after that to parties and celebrations which we almost always declined as we had heard of a couple of bitchy breakups through inadvisable extra couplings - and that was the lads.
I must have been a reasonable model as I appeared on the dais a good number of times during Pete’s three years there, sometimes standing, other times seated like ‘The Thinker’ or lying down as the ‘Dying Gaul’. Having a reasonable torso with definition was my major asset as one tutor said archly while looking intently at my lower regions as he went round checking on his group of students’ progress when I was posed as the David. Another instance when I was commented on having what Michelangelo had hoped his model possessed was when I had to pose as Adam as depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I was given a reproduction of the bit where Adam has his finger out to be touched to get my posture correct. The pose on a pile of cushions wasn’t too bad except holding one’s arm out for an hour at a time is most muscle-aching. The tutor did come up with a solution. She found a type of crutch on a short pole - the pose had been a favourite in the past she said. Again I was proud that what lay across my thigh was a good deal more than depicted on that ceiling. I was just settled on the second day after the usual break when some wag from the back came up and stuck a doughnut on my outstretched finger. Much laughter, even more at lunchtime when he said he had though of putting it somewhere else but didn’t think the hole in the doughnut was big enough! Anyway, at least my finger was sticking out, he added. I enjoyed doing this as the pay came in useful and the free lunches were a boon. I did collect more than a dozen of the better students’ efforts as many discarded the first draft, so I have an artist’s portfolio recording my late teenage body in various poses and, though I say it myself, I pride myself on being a handsome creature.
Three years goes quickly. Both of us did well. We both got Firsts with Pete’s portfolio being marked ‘Outstanding’ and several of his drawings and paintings were in the graduation display. Two of the water-colours were bought for two hundred pounds each by a well-known socialite. With the recommendation of his tutors he signed up for a post-graduate degree, an MA in Fine Art, at the Royal College of Art in Kensington Gore, almost opposite that statue of Prince Albert. His parents stumped up for his fees again and a bit extra for sustenance. Thank goodness we had use of the flat.
I was quite prepared to sign up for a post-graduate degree at the LSE but finance would be a problem. I had quite a surprise. When our degree results were announced David Prothero had told his mother of his friends’ great success. Of course, we had kept up with Lanky Cocker and Mary his wife. We had ventured to two of his other gigs in Hammersmith, armed with earplugs. The ‘Four Spins’ had been replaced by a younger trio who back-flipped, break-danced and leapt around, but wore long trousers rather than the ballet tights of the quartet. Still it was entertainment. A couple of days after David had told his mother about us I had a phone-call from her with the instruction to attend a meeting with her old boss, the financial wizard, if I had nothing better to do.
I went to the address she gave me at ten in the morning on the Tuesday. It was in a seemingly rather rundown-looking office block on the outskirts of the City of London. I was expected and was ushered into a small office where I was interviewed by a very dapper middle-aged man. “Call me Josef,” he said as we shook hands, “Everyone here is on first-name terms.” At twelve noon I had been offered a job and I had accepted it.
Again I can’t reveal too much. I learned fast about money, not the theoretical stuff from academia, but what one can do with it, and that in large quantities. I learned that Josef had come to England with his parents as a teenager escaping from the then Czechoslovakia at the time of the Prague uprising in 1968. They had been on holiday in the old Yugoslavia when the news broke. His father had a car which got them to Austria and freedom. With help the family of parents and two boys had ended up in London. Father had been a university lecturer in pharmacy, mother a medical doctor. Both found almost immediate employment as both had a good knowledge of English and the boys flourished at school learning English very quickly. The younger boy followed in father’s footsteps and was now the owner of several chemist’s shops and Josef had taken an Economics degree at the LSE. He was first employed by the man who had founded the finance business I would now be in. Obviously, someone very astute who knew not to take unnecessary risks and always to do more than what might be considered a thorough analysis of a financial situation. Always that final critical appraisal before the eventual decision. Josef had inherited the business when the old man died as he was then a widower with no children or other dependents.
Even within the first three months I learned so much. The staff was small, just a dozen of us dealing with the transactions and decisions with four computer whizz-kids who provided the information from banks, stock exchanges and bourses we needed. That rundown-looking office handles vast sums from some very rich people and organisations indeed. In my years there I have risen to dealing with my own group of clients, but big decisions are made collectively, and I have had some rather nice bonuses. Enough said!
Pete did exceedingly well on his Post-grad course garnering, on the way, a number of commissions mainly for painted portraits of so-called celebrities and others buying, but not necessarily moving into, the super-elegant houses and mansions in, to them, the desirable parts of London. He is making a name for himself and ‘PDouglas’, as he signs himself on those, is a name to conjure with in the future. His graduation exhibition brought even more commissions though there were a few sneers from the ‘conceptual’ gang whose constructions may have taken up more room but his ‘old-fashioned tat’ - paintings, water-colours, drawings, gouaches, - found ready buyers and an offer from a West End gallery owner for some space.
Two things happened almost together however to upset things in a number of ways for us and our families soon after we graduated. In our case, just two months after we set out on our next step in our lives with Pete at the Royal College and me at Josef’s, we had received notification that our tenancy in Bloomsbury would be terminated in a month’s time ‘due to governmental reconstruction and departmental reorganisation’. Dad’s response, when we told him, was succinct ‘Bloody cuts as usual!’. They, the anonymous part of government we had benefited from and, in some unknown capacity, worked for, could do it as we had never signed a tenancy agreement, nor any other documents than those Official Secrets Act forms. Dad said we would just have to grin and bear it. OK, we had been in almost clover but it posed a major problem. Where could we live? I had blinked at the very generous salary I was offered, to be reviewed at the end of three months. Pete had no regular income as he was on the Post-grad course with generous help from the bank of Mum and Dad. We might manage a shared bed-sit in leafy Penge but would have to manage very carefully.
I mentioned our predicament, without going into details, to one of the staff I was learning the ropes from. She had noticed my rather doleful countenance when I arrived in her office that morning. She had been with the firm for at least thirty years from her own graduation. In fact, her husband was a well-known economist and I had gratefully read one of his books which I plagiarised for an essay and did get an alpha for it. She said she had a solution. With her bonuses and salary, which totalled much more than her husband’s own income, she and hubby had invested in real estate, before prices went through the roof, by buying amongst other much cheaper properties, a three-storey house almost on the banks of the Thames in Chelsea. This had been converted into three huge flats, plus a garden flat with mews behind. She said the house had originally been owned by an artist who had made a large room attached as an extension above the top floor flat into his studio. The previous tenant had left that particular flat in a really mucky state and they hadn’t got round to doing cleaning and repairs. If we took a tenancy, with the proviso we would bring it up to a habitable state, we could have it, in the first instance at a peppercorn rent. I thought, if Pete could wield a paint brush as an artist, and I had repaired damage to the flat below when tenants had rid themselves of their frustrations by throwing things at walls or even punching out a panel in a door, then we might manage. If things got too complicated we could possibly afford to employ the bodger who was always repairing things in the Chelsea College. What was also good about the place was that the flat had four bedrooms - all needing tarting up more than a bit - and with the increasing numbers of family members as potential visitors it was more than ideal.
We had the first of many companionable evenings at their house in Hampstead before and after signing the tenancy agreement. Becky, as I was told to call her, and her husband had no children as he had spent years travelling the world sorting out economic problems in various countries and she had a burgeoning career in finance. What I hadn’t realised was that both were Jewish and their’s was also an arranged marriage and though fond of each other there had been no desire for children. I thought of Danny who was Jewish and still single. We moved into that flat on a corner of Cheyne Walk and Pete has enthused over the North light ever since. Repairs and redecoration took almost a year for the parts we needed but the rent has remained the same. Aren’t we just lucky!
The second thing affected our whole family. My brother Jonathan had quickly risen in the ranks and was a Captain already. He had achieved this through his bravery and his attention to detail on any of his deployments. We knew that like my father he had had to deal with some very hair-raising situations. Most of the deployments were in those Middle Eastern regions destabilised by the stupidities of certain politicians. In a couple of discussions with him when he was home and staying with us in London he did say politicians were the worst enemy. They took no notice of the situation at ground level. He said one situation he had managed to defuse was because the powers-that-be hadn’t recognised the strong tribal loyalties involved in the locality.
It was as he was returning to England in the Summer of 2006 after three months of being in intense action he heard from a fellow officer that a certain Captain Pat Pumphrey Royal Signals was well-known as Pants-down Patsy, or Pip the Pump, and he was sure he might be in line for a good shag as he was more than ready for one. This was said in ignorance over who Jonathan was and that Patricia Pumphrey was his lawful wedded wife. Jonathan kept his cool and didn’t even contact Patricia when he landed. He had a week’s immediate leave and set out for the Married Quarters after spending a night at our flat dumping most of his luggage and going off in the morning in civvies. Rather odd we thought because Jonno didn’t seem at all relaxed at being out of a danger zone and had said little over the nice selection of Marks and Spencer delicacies I had bought for the three of us for supper.
What we heard next from him was that he had hired a nondescript car and stayed in a B&B near the Married Quarters a further night. He found a very convenient reconnaissance spot in a nearby empty house and on the Friday evening saw not one, but two, well-built squaddies enter their house in turn at half-past nine and eleven o’clock. His son, Ross, must have been in bed as he’d seen him brought back from play-school that afternoon by another of the wives in the Quarters with her own son. He’d heard the woman say she would collect him in the morning as usual. Jonathan had a small special digital camera with an infra-red gismo on a lanyard round his neck so took a couple of shots of each hunk as they entered and again when they left. He took up his position again on Saturday afternoon and at precisely two o’clock a young man, dressed in the usual sporty outfit of joggers and hoodie, went to the front door and was admitted immediately.
At two-twenty, Jonathan, using his own his key, let himself in and surprised Patricia in flagrante delicto with almost a replica of himself, a blond young Norse God. The camera was set to movie-mode so a running record of the rutting pair was made before Captain Drummond knocked the lad out with a single blow. He tumbled off Patricia onto the floor and Jonathan told us later that the lad’s previously inserted seven inch erection wilted immediately in its rubber johnnie.
It could have been immediate Courts Martial for the trio: the pair on the bed, a married officer and a Private caught in a compromising position: an officer assaulting a lower ranker with intent to injure. As soon as he came round the hunky nineteen-year-old was told to make himself scarce, which he did groggily. Jonathan told us later that if the lad had been Thor before, he was certainly sore now and, no doubt, thankful he wasn’t in further deep shit with a dishonourable discharge. He grinned as he said the poor fucker hadn’t discharged himself either.
Jonathan and Patricia then had a shouting match, mostly on her part. After cooling down a bit she said their six-year marriage was a sham. She regretted having had that fuck those years ago. Yes, she did like the praise she got in the wake of news of Jonathan’s successes in the field. But, she ranted, he was away often for six or eight months at a time and she never knew where he was. Yes, she was fond of their son, but would willingly give him up to attain her freedom. What freedom we wondered when Jonathan returned to us to finish his leave and gave us a full run-down of that encounter? Freedom to savour the insertion of one after the other of almost anonymous pricks? Pantsdown Patsy was the ideal name for her.
The divorce went through without a hitch. Alistair knew how to prepare a good case and a first-class barrister was engaged to present it. Too much separation was the theme. We were sure the judge and Patricia’s barrister had been shown a couple of clipped photos from the record of the adulterous tryst beforehand so there were no lengthy speeches in mitigation and the judge gave an immediate decision. Some members of our immediate family, who shall remain nameless, were shown the complete movie and, from the views of the finally recumbent lad, those persons could see why Patricia had chosen him. Custody of Ross Alexander Drummond was granted without any quibble to Jonathan, however, with his absences on duty my sister Caroline and her husband David readily took over the care of him. David Matthew Prothero (bn 2003) and Francis Alistair Prothero (bn 2005) had a ready-made elder brother (bn 2002) to keep them in order and in due time to explain those initials. Patricia was heard of no more.
So, time went on with plenty of good times and happenings, but also the sadnesses of those departing this life or suffering within it.