Sunday, 11 December 2011

Brian Sewell on sex

Arch art critic and much imitated archetypal "posh" person, the waspishly camp Brian Sewell is remarkably candid in this extract from his forthcoming memoir...
"To these gatherings we were expected to take a bottle of wine for immediate consumption and a friend to exchange for the night. Much the same entry fee was charged at not quite so frequent orgies in Emperor's Gate and Little Venice. At these the sexual activity was immediate, common, multiple and public, and beginning at once, might last till morning; at one of them, in Little Venice, there was a posse of London Transport staff and for weeks after I had assignations with a bus driver on the 46 route that meant my waiting at a particular bus stop for him to whisk me off to the terminus in Wembley; at another there was a policeman based in Hyde Park who, infatuated, entertained me throughout the summer with theatre tickets given gratis to his station - never opera, always musicals or Saturday Night at the Palladium - until, with relief, I broke the contact.

In all this there was always considerable risk and yet not once was there a betrayal of which I am aware - though betrayals there must have been, for these circles reached across London and beyond (as any casual visitor to the old Turkish baths of Greenwich and Bermondsey must have known). There were too the contacts made in the open, effected with nothing more than a glance, a turn of the head and a pause in the stride - all so easy once one had the knack. The easiest place for this was the street, any street a happy hunting-ground, but it worked in a bus queue too, scanning the oncoming walkers, and in the Underground or walking the aisle to descend from the top deck of a bus. At weekends museums and galleries were the encountering points, none better, even on a fine Sunday afternoon, than the free-standing glass cases of the V&A. One exhibition there, of Italian Bronze Statuettes in 1961, produced a particularly rich crop of casual lovers, and I realise now that the exhibition catalogues that crowd my bookshelves are as much reminders of such episodes as records useful for the jobbing art historian."
Remarkable. But is anyone really surprised Mr Sewell is gay?

Read more in The Evening Standard (of all places!).

Outsider: Always Almost: Never Quite by Brian Sewell is available from Foyles

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