Losing Tim

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 2

London 1965

I had moved to London eight months after being thrown out of college. Given the dissolute lifestyle that I lived it might seem strange that I would take a stand on a matter of principle, but I did. After school, I had moved on to the local Commercial College to do GCEs so I could go onto A levels and hopefully university. The first week of the first term I was appointed to the Students' Council. Soon after I became aware that a number of students who had problems with the fact that all full-time students had to take the reading from the Bible during morning religious assembly. This resulted in me leading the campaign to get the practice stopped. Eventually, I stood at the lectern in morning assembly, after the principle had announced the reading, and read the relevant Article from the Convention on Human Rights, the Principal was not pleased so I was out of the college. Fortunately, I quickly found a job.

A couple of months later the press found out about what had gone on. It got international publicity. The Principal found himself in a somewhat difficult situation as apparently; he had not followed correct procedure and shortly after took early retirement. Unfortunately, a side effect of the publicity was that I was out of a job as well. The firm I was working for did not want troublemakers on the staff.

I managed to get a couple of other jobs but somehow the fact that I had been thrown out of college caught up with me. The excuse given each time was different; the message was basically the same; we don't want troublemakers here.

John, an old client of mine, fixed me up in London with a job at a small art house publisher. Let's be honest and admit it was mostly German 'Art' photos that passed for soft gay porn in those days. It was also John who had arranged for me to join the scene as one of the club boys. Not that I objected, it was not like I was not used to selling my body, I had been doing that in one way or another since just before my thirteenth birthday. If anything, this was a damned sight better than what I had been up to around Birmingham.

There I had been one of Jock's boys, pimped out to men for sex and hired out with other boys for sex shows. At least I had been till shortly after my fifteenth birthday, when Jock disappeared. That though is another story which will have to wait to be told.

As it was by the time, I got onto the club scene in London I was well experienced in taking care of men. Now I must state that the club scene of the early sixties was very different from the gay club scene which was to blossom forth in the seventies. Here in London, it consisted of a number of small private drinking clubs, some of which were not even licensed, scattered around Soho and the West End. Some were very small, Sheba's, for instance, could sit six people at the bar and about the same number at a couple of tables. The drinks were overpriced and the décor and food in most cases rather bad, though there were exceptions. Though if you went there for the drinks or food, you were making a mistake, you went to see and to be seen, to listen and to be heard.

The first time John had taken me to Molly's he had told me that I was certain to find somebody who would like my company for the evening and probably for the night. He also emphasised that I must never ask for money. He was right, that night I met the Honourable ..., well let's just call him James, he never did me any harm, far from it, so there is no point in embarrassing him in his distinguished old age.

At the time James had recently finished is residencies having graduated from University College London with degrees in medicine and chemistry and was starting and on what promised to be a successful career in medical research. He was also regarded as one of the most eligible bachelors in London, given the wealth of his Grandfather. Although his brother would eventually get the title, it was generally understood that James was in for a very substantial settlement when the time came. In fact, as things turned out he did eventually get the title as well but that would be some years in the future.

James did want my company for the evening and indeed the night, rewarding me with a gift of a silver-gilt cigarette case. At that time, I had not learned about Henry's, anyway there was something about James I liked, so I kept that case for a number of years, as I also kept James as a friend.

James became a regular with me and I would see him most Fridays before he went up to the family seat for the weekend. Sometimes I would go back with him to his flat on the Edgeware Road, though more often than not I wouldn't. He wanted company and somebody he could talk to. Most Fridays we would go for a meal and then go onto Ronnie Scott's and listen to jazz till early hours of Saturday, when he would go to Euston to get his train and I would get the Tube back to Islington.

It was through James that I got introduced to the more select clubs in London, places like the Londoner and Sheba's. These were locations that had strict door codes, basically unless you were vouched for you could not get in. James could vouch for me, so I got in and once in found myself in a new scene. It was here that the theatrical crowd settled after their shows or a hard day out at Pinewood or Shepperton, safe in the knowledge that they would not be troubled by fans or the press. By an unspoken rule, it was understood that one just ignored who they were, they were just people like anyone else.

Unlike Molly's or the Apollo, these clubs were not specifically queer. It was just that queers were tolerated, as were any other types. To belong here you just needed to be one of the in crowd, and to keep your mouth shut. Even if they were not specifically queer, there were enough queers around in that crowd to make it worthwhile for a boy like me. In fact, things were better for me as the normal rent boys never got a look in on this scene.

So it was that I settled into life in London and enjoyed it, even if I was away from Tim.

Black Country 1962

After that first Saturday when Timmy came over to my house to help me process the photos, he became a regular visitor, often coming down after school or at the weekend. It turned out that my father knew Timmy's parents, his father having been one of my dad's patients a few years ago.

It was a half term, a few weeks after our first meeting, that I started to realise just how difficult things must have been for Timmy and his family. The half term break was essentially two days either side of the weekend, giving us a long weekend. Tim had come home with me after school as we had arranged to go to the Scouts' swimming session at the local baths. We were both in the Scouts, though in different troops. I had arranged for Timmy to have tea with us rather than have to dash home, grab something to eat and then dash down to meet me. Over tea, mother said she wanted me to wash out and paint the coal shed tomorrow so I could use it as a darkroom. We had converted totally to gas heating a couple of years before and the coal shed had not been used since, except to dump junk into. Timmy asked if he could help, to which I said yes, anything for an extra pair of hands. At that, my mother said he needed to bring some old clothes to change into as it was going to be mucky work. Timmy looked very depressed. When I asked what was wrong, he told me he had no old clothes, the only stuff he had was what he was wearing and what was in the wash.

Mother immediately took the matter in hand and told me to take Timmy up to the spare room and sort Timmy out something from my old clothes. I was an only child and the previous couple of years had experienced my adolescent growth spurt. It was quite a spurt. As a result, I had piles of clothes that had hardly been worn but were now too small for me. I suppose in most families they would have been thrown away or passed onto relatives or friends who had a use for them. We were hoarders, to be precise my mother was, she would never discard anything which might be useful someday. As a result, there were clothes, washed and neatly folded, stored away in the built-in cupboard in the spare room.

Timmy and I made our way up to the spare room. As we ascended the stairs mother called after us telling me to make sure Timmy tried the things on to make sure they fitted, not just to grab something. Timmy looked at me awkwardly, I sensed something was wrong.

Going into the spare room I opened the cupboard and looked at the pile of clothing accumulated inside. I was rather surprised to see how much of it there was, though I knew it only represented just over two years' accumulation as we had massive clear-out when we moved to our current house just over two years ago. However, thinking about it I realised that I did get through some clothes. There were two sets of school uniform each year with the trousers and shirts being replaced each term. Then there was the casual wear I needed not to mention clothing for best, like attending my cousin's weddings, one seemed to be getting married nearly every month and mother always insisted I needed something new for each one.

I remembered that I had a pair of black jeans a couple of years ago to wear for some event or other. My mother had got them for me without checking my measurements and they had been tight on me when I got them. Within a few weeks, I was in one of my growth spurts at the time, they were way too small. I looked down the pile of trousers and spotted the folded black material, pulled them out from the pile with the comment to Timmy as I turned and handed them to him, "try these on."

He looked at me aghast, tears started to form in his eyes. His body was trembling as if in fright.

"Timmy for God's sake what's wrong?" I sat on the edge of the bed so I could look him straight in the eye, reached out and put my hand on his shoulder. He sort of slumped into me and started to sob. I put my arms around him and held him, after a few moments he managed to pull himself together.

"I've …", his face went very red, and he took a took a gulp of air, then in a single splurge of words spewed forth "gotnopantson." It took me a moment or two to decipher the statement as 'got no pants on'.


"I put my dirty ones in the wash yesterday and when I came to get some clean this morning, they were all too small. All the ones that fit are in the wash."

"But why were you worried; I've seen you naked when we get changed at the baths?" That was true, the baths where the Scouts' Swimming Club met was quite old-fashioned and had a series of changing cubicles around the pool. As a result, their number was limited and there were always far more Scouts than cubicles, therefore, it was common practice to share. For the last few weeks, Timmy and I had shared and as a result, had seen each other naked on a number of occasions.

"That's different, I had my pants on and took them off, if I took my trousers off now you would see that I had no pants, I thought you would think I was dirty."

"Timmy, I would never think that. Now let's sort out this problem." I reached into the cupboard and pulled out a handful of white Y fronts from the bottom of the underwear pile.

"Look, go into the bathroom and try some of these on and see if you can find a pair that will fit you." Timmy nodded, took the handful of pants and proceeded to the bathroom. I was only after he had gone, and I was sitting there thinking about what he had said that it occurred to me that his use of the word dirty could have two meanings and I was not sure which one he had meant.

We spent the next half hour or so with Timmy trying on a pile of my old clothes, mother came up and asked if we should not be on our way to go swimming, so I asked her if it was OK for Timmy to have more of my old things than just the old clothes for tomorrow. She said it was probably a good way to get rid of some rubbish and that Timmy could have anything he wanted from the cupboard. Then suggested he would need to bring a case with him tomorrow to carry it home. I looked at Timmy and saw how excited he was with being able to choose from the cupboard and suggested we skipped swimming and sort him out some clothes, which he agreed to.

Eventually, after about an hour and a half of Timmy scrupulously trying everything on as my mother had directed, we had a whole pile of clothes that fitted him. There was a second pile which was things that were just too big for him, but I was sure he would grow into over the next year and a half. Timmy put an old rugby shirt and some shorts into his bag to take home with him, so he could wear them in the morning to clean out the coal shed. When I asked him what he would wear when they were dirty, he looked at the pile on the bed and commented that he would find something.

Thursday morning started with me getting up to find Timmy on the doorstep. He was standing there in my old rugby shirt and shorts clearly cold; it was damp with the type of drizzle the never really gets you wet but always makes you feel uncomfortable. I asked him how long he had been there?

"About half an hour, your dad was just pulling off as I walked up, he said you were still in bed."

"Why didn't you knock on the door?"

"Didn't want to wake you, thought it would make you angry."

"Timmy," I exclaimed, "putting my arms round him and giving him a hug, you'll never make me angry, though if you carry on doing stupid things like standing outside in the rain when you could just as easily be inside, I am likely to get very annoyed." Sitting him down by the fire I started to sort out something for my breakfast, then it occurred to me if he was here this early, he probably had not eaten.

"I'm having some bacon and eggs, you want some?"

"Yhea please," he replied.

It took me about half an hour to put together a decent breakfast for the two of us and Timmy about ten minutes to scoff his and most of mine. To be honest, my usual breakfast was a couple of slices of toast but somehow, I knew Timmy needed more. When I commented on it, he looked a bit upset then told me that he had not had anything to eat since tea with us the previous day and that had been the first meal; he had had for two days. He said it was always like that at the end of the fortnight; they ran out of money and had to go a few days with nothing more than bread and that was if they were lucky.

The rest of the morning was taken up cleaning out the coal shed. It was not a hard job, but it was sure messy. First, after we had removed all the junk in there, we had to brush down the walls and sweep the floor to get all the loose coal dust out. Then we used a hose to hose down the wall. Fortunately, we were in a high water-pressure area so the hose was pretty effective, especially with me using a hard yard brush to scrub the walls and floor. Unfortunately, that left the hose in Timmy's hands and I suspect at times more of the water went on me than on the walls or floor. Anyway, by noon we were soaked, very dirty from the coal dust and somewhat cold.

We went back into the kitchen and I started to strip off my outer garments. Timmy looked at me questioningly, so I pointed out to him that we both needed a good warm wash, but that mother would kill us if we traipsed coal dust through the house and up to the bathroom. Timmy nodded then kicked off his shoes, pulled off his rugby shirt and dropped his shorts, stepping out of them wearing only his Y-fronts and socks. The socks, which had been white ankle socks, were now white with black tops. I looked at him, even in the short time I had known him he had started to put on weight and seemed to be growing.

"All right, let's go and get a shower, you can get some clean clothes for the painting." I turned and led the way up to the bathroom, Timmy followed. As we passed the airing cupboard, I grabbed a couple of towels. Inside the bathroom, I pulled off my socks and pulled down my pants. Timmy looked at me for a moment and then did the same. I looked at him, then slipped my hands under his armpits, picked him up and swung him over into the bath, stepping in beside him before I pulled the shower curtain across the bath. Then I switched on the shower, a mistake. The over bath shower always took about ninety seconds to get warm. Not normally a problem as I would stand at the end of the bath, switch on the shower and step into the water when it was warm. However, Timmy was at the end of the bath and I got doused in a shower of cold water, my reaction showed it. Timmy laughed, so I grabbed him and pulled him in under the cold water as well. For a moment he struggled, then the water started to warm up, and he just stood there with my arms around him holding him. We stayed like that until the water started to get too warm and I had to let go of him to turn the temperature down. After that we both helped each other get the coal dust out of our hair and off our bodies.

Once we had got clean and dried, I sent Timmy into the spare room to get some clean clothes, including socks, and I went to my room to sort some painting clothes out for myself. I had a coverall from when I had painted my room a few months before, so I pulled on some pants and a tee-shirt and then put the coverall on. Timmy had found another rugby shirt and some old slacks of mine that had a tear in the leg, I remembered I had caught them on some barbed wire while I had been trying to photograph a foxglove.

We went back down to the kitchen, and I sorted us some lunch. Then back to the shed and painting it. That did not take long; it's not as if it had to be a high-class finish. All we really needed to do was slap on enough emulsion to seal the walls. If I was going to use the place for a darkroom, they would need to be painted matt black but for now, we were using a couple of tins of old cream paint that had been used for the ceilings last time we had the house done.

As we were cleaning off the brushes mother arrived home. She asked Timmy if he wanted to stay for tea, an offer he readily accepted. We went upstairs to clean up and change, Timmy putting on more of his 'new' clothes. Then played a game of chess, I was surprised to find that Timmy was an exceptional player. I had thought of myself as a good player and had played in some county level games for the local chess club, but Timmy beat me easily in all three games we had. To an extent, I was glad when mother called us down for tea.

Over tea, Dad informed me that my Grandmother was unwell, and they were going up to Hull at the weekend. This was a fairly frequent occurrence and one I did rely upon to an extent, it meant that I had a weekend without supervision. Mother asked me if I wanted anybody to stay, sometimes when they were away my friend Karl had come to stay overnight. Timmy looked at me expectantly, but I told them no as I already had plans for the weekend and would be meeting with Raj and Chris on Saturday and was planning to go to Sutton Park on Sunday. Timmy looked a bit down.

After tea, Dad said he had to cover for Richard, the other male district nurse for the area, so would going to Moxley on his evening rounds. That was close to where Timmy lived so Dad offered him a lift. We quickly went up to the spare room and packed the case that Timmy had hunkered down with him in the morning. I was glad Dad was giving him a lift, doubt if he could have managed it by himself once it was full.

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