Episode 1 – Colin and the Number 37
In this episode we talk to Colin about coming out in the 70’s and 80’s we will have stories of Moss Side Riots, ITV World in Action and Queer as Folk. The How I Got My Lottery Numbers game is the number 37.
Colin also mentions Heroes nightclub – just off deansgate, and here is a flyer for it that i found on the website g7uk.com which also has some excellent articles on Manchester gay life in the 80’s and 90’s including the Liberation March in 1991 with an excellent video and photos of the first event on August Bank Holiday in 1990 that went on to become Manchester Pride many years later.
Transcript of Episode 1 – this is auto generated
Good morning, Murry. Good to see you.
And you love how you getting on?
I’m alright today. It’s been a busy week but that’s great.
And it’s been a busy day. You’ve already telling me? I Can’t do this. I can’t do that. You need to move this.
i now, yeah.
You know, kind of that’s the thing about being, you know, such a person who’s around at the weekend for all these people who say it now we just need your help with this, that and the other at the moment just so that, you know, I’m going to be the bad dad who goes along to the car dealership that says you don’t want this deeper muck.
Yeah, you want this one instead, so that they’ll knock money off and give her a better a better deal.
And don’t buy all that add on stuff like what? Well warranty, I’d get a warranty, but not like kind of the we used to sell as a new car.
Shouldn’t we tell you this as a new car? We used to sell like a high shine thing. Diamond bright.
Cool. Yeah, yeah.
And they go, oh, you put this on £500.
It used to cost us £50 that so.
It’s that easy.
Know and the worst thing is like, you know you. Used to do The same when you were in the Rembrandt. It’s like come back with you, put for £50 I could put the high shine.
So did you get down the Rembrandt quite a lot then in your in your day.
It was. You have to remember I moved to Manchester probably. I think it was about 1980-1981 something.
Like that so You know that gives you a a length Of time that I’ve seen.
And can we ask how old we were at that point? Is that appropriate 00:02:18 Colin
I would have been 22 – 23.
OK, we’re about 10 years ahead. I did it in the early 90s, nineteen, 91 at 2122. So we’re we’re ten years apart. OK, fab.
So and at that time, there weren’t that many places to be able to go. So you had the Thompsons arms. Yeah. Next to the bus station.
Yeah. And for those that don’t, we are talking about Manchester actually now.
Yeah, Sackville St.
Yeah, down old Canal street. But it didn’t really exist as a gay village then at all. Did it? Yeah.
No, no, it wasn’t even a hamlet.
No, it wasn’t. Was it, you know.
It was, it was grim. But it was grim in 1990.
We loved it. We absolutely loved it, so there was the Thompsons, arms and on on to the end of the strip Was the Rembrandt and in between was Paddys Goose, which is where all the lesbians went. And then..
Yeah, there the new Union was there as Well down the end
Yeah. And then across the across the road was Napoleons, or NAPS for short.
Now wow, that’s been around a long Time, ain’t it?
You know, and that was it. And then you had to kind of troop all the way down To Deansgate, if you wanted to go because it was heroes, was the nightclub.
Oh wow. On deansgate? Yeah. Whereabouts on Deansgate was that?
It was where Waterstones is now in Deansgate that little back Road. There you have the entrance to heroes, which was in the basement, and you also had slingbys, which then became Bernard’s bar. So you know, those were the choices that were available to you so.
Because of that, everything was that much more intense and Everybody knew each other, even though there were special nights that things happened on so in Napoleons, you know you had the leather bar night and the bikers night.
Because I thought that was Just drag but.
They varied their nights in order to be able to up their income, so you know, if you could put on a specialist night for something. Then you put on a special night. For things you know so.
Because the the gay scene is not just one type of thing is it.
That’s right. That’s right. And so when I arrived in the 80s, there wasn’t, there weren’t many options and and so that’s why people would go for someone who’s come from the northeast of England, which is where I’m from. Just having these three or four places on your doorstep was such a step up. To other things that you had, because in most of of my teenage years when I was Out and about.
You would get one place, maybe up in Newcastle, which on Sunderland meant like had to get the bus or the train and you had to get get back early and it tended to be a one night in the week option where half a bar was put aside for the gays. Usually the back room.
Right. Oh, really? Yeah, yeah.
And you know, so you’d be there on the Sunday evening between 7:00 and 10:00, and that was your lot. So the idea of actually having dedicated full-time LGBT space Was an absolute revelation. You know, you were delighted to have.
So how did?
So if you’re living up in the North East. And you’re a young lad. 17- 18 but how did you know these places existed? Because of course you know, these days smartphone, Google it. We all know where everything is. But how did you find out about? There were somewhere in Sunderland to go.
I had Some friends that were already established on the gay scene And so they’re the ones who really put the word about, like, you learned about where you could go and when they were open, when was safe and when wasn’t safe and. And so you know, that’s when your heart was in your throat. And it’s like, oh, my God, I’m off for the first time Type thing and you’re walking in.
But how did you meet those people? Because you’ve gone “. You’ve you know, I had some friends that were gay” – I mean, to me, that’s like, oh, we didn’t have any gay friends kind of thing. I was the only person in the world kind of thing at that age.
How did you know?
Well, I used to attend my local church and the curate that had a copy of gay times on the coffee table So that was that was the clue. And he used to talk about his wife’s brother, who actually was one of the first people in the country to be diagnosed with HIV and die from AIDS. So he and his wife already had a very strong Social circle of particular gay men. Some of whom worked for Newcastle Friend, which was a support agency that was around for people. That was a telephone helpline, an introductory service and and so.
But that was the invitation to say if you’re gonna share something.
Wow. And that’s.
It’s a safe space.
Well, 86- 87 or something, sorry, 76 because you’re 10 years ahead of me. Sorry, 76-77.
Ish. Yeah, well, it would have been 78.
79 Yeah, it was when that was going on.
Wow. And in the church? That’s. Yeah, that’s quite a. I never thought you were gonna say something like that.
That’s you know that there must have been some raised eyebrows at that magazine being there generally. Or do you think it was put out especially for you?
When you went in They get the gay times out.
No, no, no, no, no, it was and And the nice thing is that Jonathan, who was who was secure, it would talk about other people in the estates that were in the patch for the church.
You know who were similar to myself, young people feeling that they were their only one and not knowing who to speak to. Not knowing that if he did it Will be safe and respected And so, you know, kind of basically, he was sending the Message of I know.
I’m absolutely, yeah Which is amazing. That’s.
They’ll feel afraid, yeah.
You know, that’s really good. So then you’d you’d find out that these club nights existed.
I was in Hull in my university years coming out. Yeah, so we’d have Monday night in some old disco that it was so old It even had an underlit dance floor, so we had a Monday and we got a Wednesday somewhere else.
The Silhouette Club or some flight that was all we had.
Wednesday evening or a Sunday evening.
Yeah, the quiet nights of the Week, basically, and that was it. That was your lot. So by the early 80s, a lot of my friends had their air levels and were off to university. I had before GCSE’s.
Well, they were. They were at O levels then were GCSE’s then were they?
There were G there were GCSE’s.
No, they were the the GCSE didn’t come in till 1988.
There were the CSE things I.
GCSE’s. Do you think it’s CSE 4?
Think the CSE? Yeah.
Did you get really grade A to C?
No, I got. I got four grade ones, which was.
Yes. So that’s the O level equivalent, isn’t it?
Of of a of a C grid GCSE, you know.
I was not what?
So you were. You were at university fodder.
Yeah, I was not university fodder, but at the time it was clear to me that in my household, my community You either emigrated, which a couple of my brothers had done to Australia. Yeah, or you got a job somewhere else, which was very rare.Or you got married and there were the only ways that you had to leave the Family home. I Had got involved in a lot of youth and community work with the church.
There was a project that was called root groups. Where people could come together to do community work in different parts of the country, but also for households together, that’s all that is my pathway to be able to move on without needing to kind of explain I’m A gay boy And I want to go and live The gay life.
So could you tell your parents at this point you’ve done the, you know, the cure they’ve?
Yeah. Well, I I put out the hints and things, but there was not. Yeah, there was There was nothing There was nothing formal.
Done that Wearing a frock To breakfast, as that was up here.
At that point And so I packed my things, got on the bus to Birmingham because that was where the headquarters were, but we, me and someone called Elaine had formed a bond. We were supposed to be a group of about six or eight people, but We formed a couple.
Where was the head headquarters of who?
Of the Root group organisation.
They had a Big house, that They operated out of in Birmingham in Tipton and so they used to have what effectively were encounter group meetings. Yeah. So the deconstruct your personality, you cry your eyes out and then you know from that very weak and vulnerable place. Shove you in the room full of other people And that was supposed to form the bonds That were unbreakable, you know? And me. Very wide eyed and innocent. Not kind of saw this coming.
Well, what I used to do cause the idea that what they used to do was say, right, we’ll have this circle.Someone will sit in the middle and then he’ll tell your story and then the people who were sitting on the outside would ask deep and penetrating questions, not unlike yourself. And then you’d cry and then it’d be like But we love you anyway and then move on to the next person. I had learned. Having seen these things many years previously – be the first one, cry quickly and then you don’t And then everyone gets.
Well, I thought you were gonna say I you could see this coming. I just lied all the way through mine at the end. But you went through.
I went first and also because Then everyone has to top where you come from. You know, it’s like, oh, he’s done this, you know, and wept. What am I going to say? I’ve got to come up with something better, you know? You know, 18 to 20 Year Old year olds.
What? What kind of things would People say have you any idea? You know.
Yeah, but you know, kind of it’s the things that You know, ohh I had my first drink When I was 13.
How could the Lord protect me Type of stuff. Yeah. You know, I once looked at a man’s bum, you know?
Do whatever and you were both of those, and that was the 1st 30 seconds. So you know.
Wept a bit people went oh that’s terrible. We love you Really. It’s like great back out the circle.
And and like the what the next one fell in is you kind of, you know, grit your teeth. But it was actually over the washing up that this, this person, Elaine Graham, and I got talking. She was at University of Bristol at the time and we just clicked so all this formal stuff of sit in the circle cry your eyes out that we didn’t need to do that.
We found that politically, socially, we were on the same dynamic, and so by the end of the washing up, we both said. Do you want To go on and do something, yeah. And she said, you know, I’m looking at being located in Manchester because there’s other things happening in Manchester I want to be a Part of. And I wasn’t thinking so much about where I wanted to be as knowing I couldn’t be where I was, yeah, so We went along for a visit. I kind of scoured the old, Let’s look at the newspaper. Yeah, the, the old gay times or gay news as it was then. And it’s like, oh, Manchester’s got things three, three or four things and it has a gay centre, a gay centre, yeah, imagine.
Yeah, two things. Three things we had here.
That track thousands of them.
That full of gays.
So so from that we decided that’s a good thing To do. And and there was a A church in Fallowfield that we’re looking for our group to come in and and work with them And that seemed like a really good fit for us. And so that began my Manchester Adventure.
So you know, we were found a house we settled in and then I went down to the gay centre, joined Friend, which is the support organisation. And so I would be on the telephone And so you do some of the, you know, kind of life awful for people. Yeah. And then you’d be there. You’re the first person I’ve told this and it’s like, welcome to the world of gays. Yeah.
Or yeah, imagine how how long it, how much it took to make that phone call.
Oh. OK. Yeah. Yeah. And you get a lot of them where It was silent call. So I developed the old banter so I’d be there saying, You know, tap the phone once for Yes, twice for no. So how are things with you? Oh, yes. I’ve been activated. Manchester. You’d love the place. Oh, my God.
Streets are a bit gritty, but once you. Get into the Rembrandt. I mean, I know that Place, you have to say that the JE Lees beer tastes a bit like candy floss, but you’ll Get past that And so is that something that you’d be interested in and you get the one tap and eventually people would start to to open up and talk to you. But the main job really was to be that gateway for people To come down and meet you, you’d introduce them to a few other people and then start to develop the whole networks and friendships.
So would you go and do the befriending bit first? We call it befriending. Don’t we go and meet someone else and then bring them into the scene? Would you do that with them as well?
Yeah. And then you’d launch them on the merry way. And the thing was, even though you’d say you’d launched them Onto the their merry way Because it was such a Small social setup. You always were meeting the same people. Yeah. And you know, so some of them would let on to you. Some of them became friends.
Others were happy to go their own way and make their own ways, and you know, and that was great. The fact was that people had had that opportunity to be welcomed in. Had someone who could stand with them at the bar for the first time. And be the person that said, Oh my God, I actually said hi to someone that said hi back.
I’ve got to. That means I’ve got to Sleep with them now that’s look across the thing.
Absolutely. Well, I’m not certain. That’s the right order, but you know, yeah.
That’s what I felt I was like, I’m not going to speak to Anyone here? I’m still here. No, I’ve got. To sleep with you, it’s just like. Never have, but you know.
So Whereabouts in the world was the gay center at That point then?
It was on Bloom Street.
Opposite what we now know is in new York, and it was in the basement. And shortly after that, the City Council employed a women’s worker and the gay men’s worker. And so Paul Fairweather was the first person. Paul Fairweather and so he was the person who helped Develop the services And administered the plans on on a daily basis for the different support groups that were in.
So you know and.It was a An amazing opportunity. The city councils themselves. It was part of their politics. There was a lot of opposition, as you can imagine, that led to a a TV appearance.
I think it was world in action. I can’t remember. It was one of them and they came to do an interview down at the gay centre, talking about the funding of the centre And so I was one of the people who was who was there being interviewed. And you had local councillors saying It’s not right We’re using rate payers money and there’s money for these deviants. Deviants, when really we should be focusing on.
On Manchester, in Bloom and and and What have you? And and so I’m there saying I pay rent.
So why am I not entitled to have services also as part of my contribution to this community? I’m not just someone who takes out I’m someone Who puts in And the amount of money that is spent at that time on the gay centre was less than 1/10 of 1% of what they spend on knocking down the building and making a car park.
Yeah. And what year are we still early 80s?
Now have we moved?
Early 80s, early 80s. So I rang our mum and Dad and said I’m on telly Can you believe?
I’m actually rang, actually, rang and Told them. Yeah.
I suppose world in action. There are only three Channels at the Time so people would have seen it anyway, wouldn’t they?
So they’re I am watching this behind the sofa as if it’s like Doctor Who. You know, it’s got to something like 8.23 and it’s like he’s not on. Good, he’s not being on And then suddenly I’m there. Yeah. So they’re like, oh, my God, the phone rings Like, it’s our Colin on the telly. So they were just In a state of Shock about it.
And there was talking to be done afterwards and he said your mum was just Devastated because it’s like at that point to be out and going was was shameful and you know, they had no other reference points.
There were all the people that they knew, so it was it was very difficult For them. And then he said We’ve been to the market.We’re coming home on. The bus and she’s sitting there with a face on her and he said. Smile though your heart is aching. Smile though your heart is breaking. Keep smiling through As the world there for you.
And I’m the one that’s done that to them.
So it’s like. So you’re saying a broken heart?
But shortly after that, they had a phone call from the auntie Ethel,
Not Auntie Ethel.
Aunti Ethel, who said I’ve seen our Colin On the on the. On the telly and you must be so proud of him because he’s standing up and being his real self. And he spoke really well And you know, that’s something that we really need to learn from, and you’ve brought them up to be this strong independent Person so you should be very proud Of him, yeah.By the way I’ve ever. Told you about our Barry.
Yeah, and that was it. To their utter amazement All they got were people saying you must be so proud. You know, must be so wonderful to know. And so that was their transformative Point. Brilliant Really.
And then they said, Oh my God Our Collins been on on the TV. This was to me brothers and My sister And he’s gay – we Know he told us weeks ago, years ago like.
So we were asked to know. It’s like, yes, but why were we asked to know? Like, just think what you have just said. Ohh so.
Yeah, and imagine what they’ve said. Yeah. Without that, without the people I’ve seen you on the TV supporting them first, they would have been devastated had they only them know, wouldn’t they, actually? And they had gone through all kinds of trauma.
So it was transformative for them.
You know, because you know you’re still living in.
The time when.
If you were going to grow up gay, what would the reference points?
Yeah, but even even people like John Lennon and and Larry Grayson aren’t aren’t sexualised. No, they’re not real. They’re men.
But that’s all.
It would be nice to be real gay.
We had, wasn’t it?
There. Yeah. You know, the things that we could look forward to is, you know, you’ll get your complimentary raincoat and you don’t wear anything underneath it.
You go out into the parks at three in the morning and open it up and schedule.
We’ve taken a turn. Where did this come from?
And when you wanna, yeah.
You got you. You’re going to die a sad and lonely death. Be bitter and twisted. And if you work for the government, you’ll betray them and run off to Russia.
Yeah. And then be concentrated.
And that’s that’s the only reference point. Yeah, they were the only reference points that they had to go on. So the idea that.
You could be out and proud.
And live a good life with something that was.
Something that they had to learn on their.
Journey. But these were the only reference points you had as.
Well, yeah. So you know, how did, how did that translate into life?
Yeah, but I I was lucky.
Yeah, but I was lucky because I met the curate. Who then?
Gave me a a different.
Tag on what it meant to be your authentic self.
Yeah, and that was.
OK, to be and and also to realise it’s a part of who I am, but it’s not the only part of who I am.
Well, I’m not sure.
I am and and so you know, I’d I’d.
I’ve been given that possibility.
To know that things could be different.
And you know, you’re talking about when did you know? I’ve.
Never, not not.
00:24:47 Speaker 3
I’ve never got long and you know.
Barry, Ethel’s son. He only lived at the end of the road. He was six weeks.
Younger than me, so he and I used to have a lot of fun growing up together.
We’ve we always knew that there was something unique to us, that there didn’t seem to be amongst the rest of the family that we had.
Now that’s nice.
We were able to confide in each other as youngsters, but knew you just kept this away from everybody else because there wasn’t.
It wasn’t something that you could talk about.
And do we?
Because yeah, it wasn’t 10 years later for me a lot. But how did we know it wasn’t something we talked about, you know, was the general homophobia around, do you think? Was it you’d seen and heard saying?
There’s all sorts.
Well, not just that because you know, Stranger Danger was still around in the bank.
And it’s always the man you know, in the raincoat who preys on little children, you know.
In the ranking, yeah, which equals gay, doesn’t it? Paedophilia equals gay. Yeah, for a.
Long time and.
If there were any stories in the in the newspapers, it was about stars who’d been caught cottaging. So I remember, you know, when Peter Wyngarde, who played Jason.
The king was done for Cottaging was like Jason King. Jason king? Yeah, he was in department desk and then he was in his own spin-off show called Jason King. Yeah. So he was this, you know, super suave, sophisticated.
What programmes that is that like the persuaders of?
Is that actually the name of?
And he took one look at him in his 70s outfits.
Yeah, with his.
Bouffant hair and his **** star moustache and now you’d be looking at it and going ohh.
Please, why didn’t anyone guess?
So, but those were the the only reference points again that we had were the the either the kiss and tell or something selected, as has happened, which is beyond the pale and just goes to show that these people can’t be trusted.
They’re not normal.
Not normal. And they and they’re and they’re living in men’s toilets and you.
Not like me, you.
Know and so.
That’s where things that’s where things happened.
Because it was considered an aberration.
For me, and I think also for Barry, he kind of told there is a point when.
You’ll get a girlfriend. You’ll get married, you’ll have kids. And that’s your future. And that’s how it was for everyone around us.
So thank you. Waiting for those things to kick in. But in the meantime, I’m going to go off and play doctors and doctors or nurses and nurses with so.
And so, you know, it’s like people would say to me, you’re really hard to find you. And so and so in hide and seek. And it’s like, yeah, because we weren’t playing hide and seek we.
Were seeking what?
We were seeking what other people were hiding so.
And and that’s how it was, you know. So when it finally becomes crystal clear that this phase is permanent.
Yeah, it’s not going away is.
It ain’t going away.
I was in that lucky place.
To know that there was someone.
Who was straight?
But had understanding and compassion, who was willing to listen and then be that gateway to me that I then became for.
Other people to me.
So in that sense, I’m I was immensely lucky.
But the other thing that used to happen is as a as a youngster.
And at school, you know, you could see people forming these relationships in your school and that.
I couldn’t share.
What was happening to me because the risks for any child at school, you know, it’s like.
It’s an incredibly cruel place.
And those who say, you know, these are the.
Best years of your life it’s it’s.
It’s like you selling a car.
You know with with a.
£500 shine on.
It’s like, don’t you believe it? Yeah.
But they they were good years though, but there was the potential for bullying, wasn’t there? And I got a little.
Bit bullied but.
And so there were difficult teenage years for me, but the earlier years I had a ball. I think overall my school years were great, but.
Yeah, you couldn’t come out. There was no support for that kind of thing.
Small I was scientific. I was a nerd. I wore glasses. You know, I was Walter in the Dennis the Menace. Comics, you know.
Like I was done.
For and then to be gay on.
Top of it.
I mean, you know, you got all the slurs anyway.
You you had every single point to be bullied by the four, didn’t you?
I was and I don’t know how it would have been for you. But when we lined up for sports, I was the one, you know, they would have picked.
Yeah. Yeah. It’s like, you know, if there was a cockroach, I would have picked the cockroach ahead.
You know, I was always.
In playing football, I was always in defence.
In the team. But you know the best team because the ball was always at the other end.
Of the pitch.
Yeah. And so I’d be standing there trying to pull me shirt over my knees cause it was bloody freezing.
And you know, that was it as it was. I did develop some really good friendships in my latter years at school.
With people who were of a a like mind, not not a like experience. I don’t think any.
Of them would care.
But you know, so I went through those, those years of puberty, falling in love about four.
Times a day.
And and you just could never. I could. There was not an opportunity to speak to.
Anyone about it?
I did fancy the games teacher though.
Yeah, he was a rugby player. I’ve always had to.
Think about rugby players ever since.
Well, yeah, but also Mary, this was my first time, you know, going to senior school and being shown the showers.
Yeah. Like what? Yeah, like, yeah. You go in there, you take all your clothes off with other people as if it’s completely normal.
And it’s like what eh?
Sorry, you know.
It’s like I.
I came from a home where, you know, no.
One saw anything? Yeah.
And and you know, so it was just taken as red. Like you will be naked in the shower with other people. It’s.
Like, yeah, so you know.
And try and then trying not to look.
Try not to look. Everyone’s trying not to look because then of course you’ve got.
The have envelope.
The boys who are going.
I’ve got a.
Big one now? Yeah, and.
I remember one of them turning round to me and saying how come the gay boys got a moustache and cubes? It’s just, you know, it’s not fair and it’s like, I don’t know.
Can’t it just happens.
So I’m fairly certain that there were, you know, there was probably a lot of testosterone and opportunity, but you know, it was. It was too scary, the risks.
And it, yeah, it took you either found out or you or you took some great big personal steps to come out in an environment like that.
And you just. Yeah, I people people thought I was gay at school and there was a lad who I was.
I was having kind of a relationship with kind of relationship with outside of school and then he wrote a letter to me, everlasting love for all this kind of thing. As a teenager, it was in my back pocket and someone stole it in my back pocket and it was around the school.
About 10 minutes. So yeah, so I was outed as cool. But I I was able to deny because it was written to me. I deny.
Because I wasn’t in that position.
No, but then he failed all his own levels because of the the bullying and the stress that he got from him.
Absolutely, absolutely. You know. And so as I said here, when people say it’s the greatest days of your life, it it for, for people, for me, I’ll own it. For me it was.
Potentially death. Yeah, in a sense, socially.
Everything else because you know if it if it.
Was now then it would have got.
Back to the parents and the school.
And you still have to go to school, so it would just stay with you. And you knew other people in the school.
Who got a?
Name or a reputation for something that’s.
And there wasn’t anything you could do about that. You know it. It stayed with you and.
No, it was every man for himself, wasn’t it?
Just too close to me.
You’re listening to the ROMP podcast if you’d like to get involved and have a story to tell, you can e-mail me at podcast at romp Dot Media.
So we’ve so that we’ve finished.
School we’ve moved to Manchester and you’re in Manchester in the in the early 80s.
We’re not far from actually aids hitting us, really, are we? And that’s and that hit, particularly the Rembrandt that hit the Rembrandt.
Quite hard, didn’t it? Into the in the early 80s and into the.
It was devastating and you know, if you’re anything like me, I was on Manchester, friend, that he’d start to get phone calls from people saying I’ve heard about this disease.
It’s over in America, but it’s known as a gay play, a gay play. And so by that point I already knew someone who died.
Which was my curate’s brother-in-law.
So it was his wife’s brother, who was one of.
The first ones to die and then.
THT was set up. Yeah. Terrence Higgins. Trust. And. And so you had people from Terrence against just coming out to brief all the different national care helplines with what we then knew, which was very little. Yeah, very little.
Yeah, there was a death sentence when there was no.
Treatments was there so.
And at that point, there were no.
Real tests, we just knew.
You have people who are becoming ill.
And and when they became ill, they didn’t have long to.
Live after that.
Yeah, it was too late by.
Then wasn’t it?
Because there was no cure, there was no treatments for anything.
And and so healthy game Manchester was set up, which then became Manchester AIDS line and ultimately now is George House Trust.
And they were recruiting volunteers, but at the time I was very much involved in the gay centre.
Eventually I I joined George Hess trust. Eventually I became chair of George Change Trust, but at the time it was still the case of trying to introduce new people.
Well, everyone was terrified. Absolutely, you know.
You. Yeah, I remember.
It was the gap flag.
We assumed it was some kind of sexual transmission, and of course the powers that be the James Andertons and the.
Others you know.
Where we were swirling around in this aspect of our own creation.
Indeed, that that was.
8687 or something? Was it that?
Yeah, you know, and, you know, people were talking about us being sent off to an island so we could get on with it.
You know, but at least we protect everybody else. I’m thinking, what’s this fantasy?
Island, you know.
00:36:51 Speaker 3
It’s the plane. It’s the plane, yeah.
Do you remember that? Yeah.
Jumbo jets with the people kind of coming in, you know.
1,000,000 but then you then you’d have to around. Then everybody would have to have been out and and been rounded up. So it’s like not as if everyone was out at that point. You couldn’t identify us, could you?
Well, most of us.
And you and you all you always knew.
That the island.
Was at the end of a railway line which had really nice showers for.
You. Yes, indeed.
That’s what they were saying. Yeah, is, you know, let’s find a place where these people can either die or we can look after them in the beds until they’re dead.
And by look after them, me lock them up and forget about them.
Yeah, and. And so sax equal death.
And just watching how this disease devastated, what was a happy, thriving population of people who were just busy celebrating, being their unique and authentic selves.
And yet we’re getting all this stuff about. You know, you can’t reach from the same cope. You can’t reach the same towel.
Does it sound familiar?
Hmm, does it sound like anything we’ve been through in?
Couple of years, you know? Yeah.
This idea that, oh, it’s your job to protect everybody else. And if you don’t follow the rules, you’ll kill people. Very familiar.
Very familiar. So for anyone who kind of wonders what it was like to go through that at the time you’ve been through it. Yeah, you were told it.
But it was.
Yeah, but but didn’t just relate to everybody. So we’re all in the same boat it.
Was one specific group.
So, you know. Yeah. God, yeah, it was. They were horrible to. So how did you do dating in a with that hanging over you cause even in the 90s when I came out.
It was still there. We still had it massively because we had to, because it was still big. But how did you do it in the 80s?
Well, different people did it in different ways, because by 1983 I’d met my partner.
Oh, so this this podcast over there, love.
Yeah, and initially he was someone who I introduced as part of friend into the gay scene. He developed his own social circle.
So as I said.
He’s still encountering people because it’s a small scene.
Yeah, but he decided he then told me later that I was going.
To be the.
One for him forever. Ohh.
So he then put a plan of action into play to kind of come and get me, but that’s.
Because you couldn’t. You couldn’t phone up, you couldn’t e-mail and text. It was, uh, it was a kind of you had to bump into someone or have their landline to phone them.
On, didn’t you?
I’ll try and put you know.
Kind of. You didn’t have to hunt very far to find people.
Because they were all in one place.
I’ll try and.
If they went every weekend, though, you had to be out every weekend or.
Well, you know, but also.
All the risks, the risks of you’re never meeting. It’s like sliding doors this.
Oh, no, no.
He was cunning because what he would do is ring up the gas centre and find out. When I was on duty.
Oh oh, I see.
So he knew when I would be going out to the pubs and clubs to bring in new people.
Is a name for people like that.
People get dumb. She’s like that now.
So yeah, you have the plum, you have the plums.
But in terms of where I met people.
You see, I’m.
A firm believer I don’t know about you.
I’m a firm believer.
That we’ve all got a gift.
A. A gift about how you can connect with other people. Yeah, a.
The two things that I’ve developed, one is I can be a listener.
And I learned how to listen because as a teenager, if you listened to other people.
It meant that they could share stuff with you that they didn’t feel safe sharing with other people, but it also means that you didn’t.
Have to talk.
I couldn’t possibly comment on that myself.
Yeah. And I learned that.
Chat and and either a bit of a sense of humour. So those were the things that worked in my favour.
And and I used to go on a load of conferences, so I’d be there on a weekend conference and you know, kind of the bionic I would be going round just to see and you that’s how I was making Connexions. And because you were away from home when you were in dorms or whatever, then hookups became possible.
Oh, God, don’t you dare. The risk of getting beaten up for me was too much to.
Say anything like that?
Ohh, you know, by the time by the time it was like kind of.
I’ll be sharing the sleeping bag tonight.
You know you’ve already done the.
The what you needed to know.
We stood in the corner, bent over, going, looking backwards, going hi, boys like that or something.
Ohh you know and also because I was I was by that point going on these conferences as the OK man for the people choosing.
Right. Oh, so you your reputation preceded you?
But tracked you know, so anyone kind of catching the eye, they knew what they were in for.
But I would just sit and chat to.
Them, you know, and I remember being on one conference.
And there was a a guy there. I was in the conference and he stood up to speak as Scott from Glasgow.
And it was like sweet mystery of life. At last I found you. He looked like Trevor Reeve, a young Trevor Reeve in his shoestring, does, and it’s like.
You know, and so and he was in the boys brigade.
So we’re all sitting around the table and so I’m about half a mile away from them. At least that’s how it.
Felt and people knew I fancied them.
So the next thing you know, there’s do you know those little games that I used?
To play where?
It’s a a box with all these different pieces in that are out of order and you.
Have to slide them.
Ohh, just like a flat a flat.
In order to.
Make the picture, yeah.
Thing up, down, left, right kind of thing. Just love them with one missing in the corner. So you.
Can move them all back, yeah.
My friends did that. They all start.
The kids, the kids won’t know what they’re.
Now they all started swapping places and saying, oh, Colin, would you mind just sitting here because I wanna choke us all. And then suddenly the only space available was someone next to him.
And so we got chatting and he said Ohh, I’ll come and see you later for a chat. And I said OK, rush back to the room I was in.
You know, so, uh.
What? It’s drunk. Rude, drab room. Have this piece of fabric. I think it was a handkerchief or something that I draped over the over the table lamp just to kind of create some ambiance, then realised actually, it’s starting to smell that off.
By a risk.
So he arrived at the room and we’re going chit, chat, chit chat. And I’m thinking this is going in the right direction. Then there was a.
Knock on the door.
And it was one of his.
Men saying, oh, I didn’t know.
Where you were.
And I understood, but this was the place to be tonight. So his mate came in, he said. I’ll see you later.
Like, OK, so I’m there with the maid to thinking.
I’m looking at him and thinking.
Things are happening here, so do I, don’t I? Anyway, the next thing you know, it’s about half an hour later.
There’s a knock on the.
Door again and it’s the original guy saying it’s a bit boring out there.
Is the first bloke still here?
No, no. The first, this was the first bloke coming back.
Ohh cause I’m confused now. I thought this was the I thought the the new bloke could come in was the one who stayed and the.
Other bloke left the original alright, OK.
Yes, I’ve tried.
The original 1, the one I fancied, had.
Left, his mate was still in the room.
Yes. So what happened there?
For him, for chat, for chat.
Nothing. Nothing. I’m just, like, kind of full of all this kind of lust and love thinking.
And and then there’s another.
Knock on the door and it’s.
And it’s it’s a.
Trevor Reeve, guy back.
So. So there’s three of.
You. Yeah. And at which point it’s like, so the other one, I think so also was asking for you. Right. Sorry. But I’ll see you later. So the one who, the cockblocker.
The door closed and we’re sitting next to each other and I said, you know, you’re almost close enough to kiss.
And he said, how close is that? I said this close. So the next morning we go down to breakfast together. All my friends like.
I walked to Glasgow to see him thinking this is going to be, you know, sweet mystery of life. Meet his mother, who says? Yeah. And he’s gonna be a dad in 2 weeks.
So he was he was the one.
That got away.
Wow, that’s amazing.
And they, you know, the sad thing is now.
I know but.
You know, it was me that then put the.
Block on that.
Because I was still of the mind of.
Well, you know, you’re gonna be a dad. You’ve got a family. I can’t be the other.
Person in this relationship.
But who knows? Wow.
And do we know any idea where he is today or what happened beyond that?
Oh, I do. I do.
But that’s for me to know.
But as I said, it was mainly through conferences and that because, as I said, I think everyone’s got.
Everyone has a way to make that connexion with someone and my.
Was about getting to know people having a chat, listening to the stories and building that rapport, that relationship.
And you know, that never worked in the nightclub, you know, by this time, places like high society had opened up.
So if you went in there, it’s like the chances of you actually listening to a conversation.
Were next to nothing.
Yeah, it wasn’t about that was.
It, and if you ever turn to someone and said so, do you want to tell me your life story? It’s like you just want to get in.
Knickers, don’t you?
Now it was the nightclub scene was never gonna work for me. It it’s all the relationships that I entered into were because I got to know people. Yeah, really.
I’m not saying that there weren’t.
You know, brief encounters. You know you can get to know someone in an hour or so, but it still required me to kind of do that little chat.
You know, have a bit of fun. Tell a few funny stories or whatever. That’s the way that I made my connexion with people. The idea of, yeah, the idea of just you.
Or bitter charm.
Know kind of.
What you’re doing later, and you know all those.
All those things that you could, you know, those really awful chat up lines that are supposed to work so well, you know, watch your temperature.
Cause I think you’re a bit.
Of hot stuff or whatever.
And you know.
It’s like they’re never gonna work for me. No.
Your your your knickers would look great on my floor or.
Something but I.
That’s right, you know.
See, they don’t work for me either.
You know things like, you know, do you fancy a meal? How about breakfast?
Kind of long your ten piece so you can ring mum and so.
You’re not coming.
Home tonight or whatever. It’s like, you know.
No, but they’ve lost. I think they’re lost now, aren’t they? Cause no one goes. Does that kind of thing anymore?
It’s so you look at the ****, you go. That’s decent ****, I’ll.
To your house, love, I think.
But the one the the one story that I think you’ll love. This is before I met my partner. And by that point I was living just.
Near main Rd.
By what was then Manchester City football ground. So I was with someone who again was interested in me and I’m like, kind of, oh, sorry. Come round for something to eat. And it was during the Moss Side riots.
Yeah, but you forget about those early 80s.
So there I am and thinking it’s time for him to go because he needs to get his bus.
Well, so I’m doing the wind up and you know, kind of he’s wanting to stay. I’m thinking no, thank you.
So I opened the front door and the car explodes in front of these rioters run past there’s there’s a police van with coppers hanging at the back with the buttons, so he comes back into me.
House rings his mum and says I won’t be home tonight because there’s a riot outside and his mum’s going any excuse.
00:49:52 Speaker 3
I know what you mean in kind.
Tell you later.
And so that’s another ex. Yeah. So, you know, kind of that’s the one who stayed.
You were stuck with him.
That’s the one.
Who? That’s the one who got where?
Oh, God. So you’ve basically you’ve been together for 40 odd 40 years, then about now.
It’s it’s 40 years next year.
Oh, oh, well done.
That’s an unusual thing on the gay scene as.
Well, isn’t it? Did you ever watch?
Oh no, I’ve forgotten this.
Title queer as folk. Yeah. Did you ever watch?
Queers folk because in there there was a line waiting for the next one.
The next one might be the one, so I’ll go for another one kind of.
Right, but yeah.
Thing I’m not doing that very well.
I have a story for you. So Russell T.
To actually live next door to a really good.
Friend of mine.
And so this friend has.
Saying to me, yeah, Russell would would come round for dinner in Whalley range with them. And now as he watches Russell T shows, he says I told him that.
Brilliant. But I digress. They’re recording the canal street scenes for queer as folk. Yeah. So everyone’s been invited down.
You know you’re there on central three in the morning or whatever. And so various of my friends were there. I was, I was on a conference in London so I couldn’t attend.
I have a a a crew alarm that I say to some people, which is no, you never made it into queries fault, but they did kind of cut you into walking with dinosaurs.
And things like that.
But there was a friend of mine who, you know, thought he was going to be in it. So he tells everyone.
You have to watch because we were all there. There’ll be a canal street scene and I shall be there in this brand new gay programme.
So I worked at the bank, he told everyone at the bank. All the managers TuneIn. We’re all sitting there with our cup of.
Coffee or our?
Breaker, because that’s what we used to do.
When watching first, yeah, first episode of Queer as folk. So there’s the 15 year old being rimmed by.
Yeah, colour breaker.
00:52:05 Speaker 3
On national telly.
But I can’t.
I mean like.
00:52:12 Speaker 3
I’ve told everyone in the pouch. What’s this?
He was off work.
For a week, he couldn’t look at his phone.
And did he actually appear at the?
No, all he wanted us.
Was in it and that was, you know, kind of bumming a cigarette off someone else.
And it was like you.
Know A 5 second clip.
I need to talk to you about a section called how I got my lottery numbers.
Very sadly, in the early 90s, I recorded every single one of.
Wrote wrote the ball down. This is, you know, there was no Internet, there was no telly, but there was a telly. That’s not that bad.
The colour of the book is black, which I’m.
It it it is, but it’s not quite a little black book, but they’re all in here. So it’s a diary of.
Glad to see.
The Diaries, 94. But then I’ve gone back. Oh, it started August 93, and then I’ve gone back and I’ve I’ve annotated them.
So it’s the 1st 49 by chance and when when lottery numbers when the lottery first came out in 9394.
I was like, how am I going to?
Choose my 6.
Lottery numbers. So I went back to my what we know as a ****** fax and chose the six.
Of it. Yeah. So. And they became an autonomous. But in this game, I’m going to ask you to to give me a number between one and 49.
And then I will tell you if it’s a lottery number and if not, but then I will also tell you who it was and see.
If I can remember what the story was.
OK, 30 seconds.
37 isn’t isn’t a lottery number that I chose, but 37 begins with J. So now I have to go back.
Do you know how?
This system worked for me in 1990.
4 Where where is jade now? Do I have to go back to the oh, so I’ve gone back to the beginning section now. So in the article section at the front KLJ.
Oh uh, 37 oh was a.
Bloke called John.
This was in 19 September 1994 in the gay sauna in in Bury.
Ohh, he didn’t score very well. He’s got 3 fives now. I can’t remember. He used to get 3 marks. I don’t know what they all were. So got 3 fives and.
And a mate went all the way to Nero’s sauna. Up in in Bury on a Saturday night.
Oh my God.
We had in my little two CV and we’re sitting around in the in the Jacuzzi and we were just like, oh, every man looking at.
Us and then we.
Had a whale of a time, cause and saunas.
There a a bit quite a big thing back then there.
Was nowhere else to go, was there?
Yeah, I remember I went with.
A friend who was solma in Manchester.
And I’m sitting in the Jacuzzi and my friend says to me that guy was giving you the eye, you know, he was really up for it and thinking.
I didn’t have my glasses on.
Couldn’t see you couldn’t see.
You know, he could have it. Could have been something that in his raincoat, wearing his cheaper Smarties now, still going well, yeah, so.
It didn’t work for me things.
Like that? What?
No. Well, I didn’t need glasses back then. So it was. Yeah, but so we met in a pool in a Jacuzzi.
Then you go into the private restrooms, don’t you? Which is just basically a rubber covered sheet, a mattress in a in a darkened room. Yes. Yeah. Got to know John quite well.
Well, I know, I know.
Do outreach at Northwoods or and and.
You know it’s.
One of the biggest venues in the country now.
So, but I’m there, fully clothed, sitting in the foyer and, you know, people will be sitting with you having this little chat about their health and you’re asking them, you know, is something that you need to tell me about and meantime.
Floors. You can hear this.
00:55:56 Speaker 3
Oh yeah. OK. Oh.
That didn’t happen in Neros.
None of that. Thank you very much.
You went on the wrong back.
I did. I did. I went on a.
In in in September, I have very strange September 19th.
I I will share with you another tale that I’ve got permission.
To tell which is.
About now we’ve we’ve mentioned before about toilets.
And there was a friend of mine who was getting a few phone calls. So again, this is before.
Or the Internet. OK, just got into.
The the era of the mobile phone.
OK, the Vodafone you have dialled has not responded. It may respond if you try again.
OK, so he was getting calls and saying. I’ve seen you. I’ve seen your advert.
And it’s like what it’s like I’ve seen it advert, so he rings another friend of him and says have you written my number on the toilet wall? And I think it was at the CALHERN in London. Wow.
It was like, yes, I did. Yeah. Yes, I did. It’s a lot of fun.
A busy old cottet.
Isn’t it? It’s?
Like how dare you?
How dare you? So you rushed down to the call?
Home looked and there’s his number saying, you know, for a.
Good time you.
Know with your legs at the ceiling? Contact.
And there’s this number.
And he said I couldn’t believe it. He’d actually written my number onto the Charlotte Wall in the cold hand without my permission. I was so shocked that I only answered three of the people who got in touch. Well.
So I guess things that people will get up to now remember, you know as a as a kid, you know you’re going to these loos and it was.
Either kind of.
Death to whoever. Because you weren’t in the right football.
Team or sometimes you would.
See these little stories with, you know, kind of.
With comments and all the.
Rest of it. So it was.
You know it, it was.
Our version of of you know.
Kind of tweets and replies. Yeah. You know, for a good time, but underneath would be. Don’t think of it as that much of a good time or or what’s your number then and there.
Be a thread.
A thread in the toilet.
God, I never really went in in toilets and did that. I never and I’ve never found a number on the back.
Of the wall.
I thought it could be, you know, leading down the wrong path and it ended up being beaten up.
Yeah, well, I think my one experience and this wasn’t a sexual experience. I was in London and I needed to to do a #2.
I was desperate, but you know, and I can’t see classic guy. So I went to the the National Portrait Gallery.
Thinking they’re going to have nice sleeves in there, so we handed through, got to the toilets and the National Portrait Gallery.
Could you get into a cubicle now? There are people on the floor looking underneath the doors. There are banging and and I’m like, I’m desperate. I need a poo.
By the time I finally got got in there to put everything on the floor to make certain that.
No one interrupted.
Me and you know you got your finger in the.
Hole in the wall. Just been fast.
My toilet roll.
I need I need to use this for the purpose to which it was intended there.
I was telling another.
Friend, who lived in London said Ohh yes.
It’s notorious that the the National Portrait Gallery, you know, you should know better than to try and use a men’s loo in London for for it’s genuine purposes intended.
And then three.
Yeah, that’s why metal plates exist now on these walls between cubicles. And then you see all kinds of things appear.
Yeah. Good Lord. Things things push through because that takes a lot of drilling. That hole though, to make that that happen, God.
Absolutely all things pushed through. Like what?
Those and if ever, if ever you get.
Then you know there’s a piece of nostalgia you can go for a book called the Glory Hole Murders.
That’s a nice ending. In all good booksellers.
Yeah, I don’t think it’s like it’s.
Christie, but it’s there.
That no does. It doesn’t involve any garden shears, does it?
I don’t think so, no.
I don’t think so. Not really.
Thank you for listening to today’s podcast. If you’d like to get involved or have any comments to make, e-mail me at podcast at romp Dot Media.