Mayflower, London, 1969
The blurb on the back:
Scandal in high places.
Written at a time when homosexuality and politics were bedfellows (the legalization campaign was just reaching fruition), this is a curious and quite charming little piece. The story’s told by an art student, who’s precocious and pretentious in equal measure, and it’s slight enough – cabinet minister finds his career killed by his brother getting nicked – but charmingly told. In particular, the fact that it’s told retrospectively (the student of the tale is now married with children), and is supposedly about a public figure, allows some games to be played, as in this footnote to a comment in the text:
Readers of AJP Taylor’s brilliant book on the crisis of that time will know how misguided this was; but at the time it seemed likely enough. (p.149)
There’s also an odd twist that the central character is not simply gay, but a pederast, an element that is flagged up early with a quotation from Lolita prefacing the book. This is either playing to the prejudices of those who regard all gay men as child molesters, or is a plea for tolerance of those with different tastes – i.e. it’s an easy way out, or a courageous step forward. I don’t know which, but it’s interesting nonetheless:
My guess is that you couldn’t publish this quite so easily these days. My, how we’ve progressed.
It's a nice book, actually. Worth getting hold of, I reckon. The British Library catalogue tells me that Mr Goff had earlier written A Short Guide to Long Play: How To Enjoy Music On and Off the Record (1958) and LP Collecting (1960), wich sound very fine indeed.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 4/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 2/5
Maurice Capitanchik, Friends and Lovers