Tale of a Petty Thief

My step-father was a bizarre person. He was a conman and a heavy drinke, a compulsive gambler and an ex-boxing champ. When I was 6 he left my mother for the arms of a man we only ever knew as 'The Ball Squeezer' and earned his money doing just that: dressing up as a school headmaster and squeezing the balls of his companion for £12 a session. During the remainder of my formative years he was in and out of police cells and courts, charged with everything from robbery to tax evasion, GBH and breach of the peace. Still, this was the man I called “Dad” and even with all his eccentricities and faults he was the most stable thing within miles.

With a nose that had been flattened and busted twelve times, a six inch chib mark running down the left side of his face, and both hands and arms daubed in prison tattoos, he was a young family’s hope... he was all we had. When my mother attempted suicide, or worse survived, it was him that would feed, clothe, and bathe us. But my stepfather was no ordinary man, he was a true eccentric. It was only as I grew older and looked back that I realised something crazy had blown through and coloured my life, and in turn, affected me in many subtle ways. Here is the story of The Man who gave me Wilde.

“God isn’t he ugly!” were my stepfather's words when he saw me for the first time raw and premature in the Royal Free Hospital. “He looks like a little old man!” Of course, I don’t remember him mouthing those words, but that story was repeated to me so often that it stands as my first false memory.

The next memory I have is of him holding me by the ankles and lowering me down into a tomb. “Thats death!” he’d say, peering in over my feet, “Can you see anything?” If he wasn’t holding me down graves or telling me hideous bedtime stories about ghouls, perverts, decapitations or diseases, he’d be inside doing the ironing in a dress. In summer he would spend his days sitting out on the dustbin in the front yard reading Orwell or Darwin and slurping away at huge cups of sugary tea. Every Sunday at 3 pm he would set a table up on the pavement and sit there alone wolfing down a full Sunday roast. More than once he was accused of indecent exposure. He was such a spectacle that the Estate Agents paid him to stay inside whilst they were around taking photo’s. It was the 1980’s and property prices in Fulham had shot through the roof. The last thing Foxtons wanted was a bald, semi-dressed gay man,  with an exposed ballbag being the backdrop to 'an exquisite victorian maisonette.'

Besides many other things my step-father was also a fitness fanatic. More than any other man I have ever known he took an obsessive interest in his body, and the shape and contours of his muscles. Standing in front of the curtainless front windows he’d be lifting weights, squeezing his Bull Worker or doing star jumps. Whilst walking us to school he’d often drop to the floor and begin doing pressups. “One... Two... THREE..” we’d hear him blow. Passing under scaffold he’d invariably leap up and do 10 or 15 lift-ups, the veins in his neck pulsating and his face looking like it was about to explode. “I just love exercise,” he’d declare, “nothing feels better than the pain of a good work-out!”

My stepfather was also a ‘gleamer’. That meant he gleamed from the streets, picking up and dragging home anything which could be used. Many an evening and weekend he’d drag me along to help haul an old carpet or mattress back home. As he rummaged through skips I would constantly wander off, petrified that a school friend may pass and see me. But it was not just furnitures that he gleamed, it was gold and money too. Convinced he was in possession of magical powers he would dowse city maps with a ring on the end of a string, believing it would guide him to the city’s treasures. “Gold... gollld.. golllllld” he would repeat spookily with his eyes half closed as if in some kind of weird trance. Walking down the street he would suddenly do a U-turn and without a word and march derangedly back the direction we had just come from: “I’ve got that feeling!” he’d say “my toes are all tingling... I'm gonna find something!” And he did, he found a lot of stuff, but not because he was gifted or had any magical powers, but because he walked with his nose in the gutter seven hours a day, everyday. If a wallet or a note was dropped in West London, the chances are it would be him that would find it. He never saw the days he returned home empty-handed. But we did, and what's more, we felt them.

When my mother finally disappeared from the house for good we were left to his sole trust. Working nights in Soho he had no option but to lock us in the house from school and then go out and pray we’d still be there when he returned. Mostly we were, but on odd occasions he’d have to come and collect my brother, sister and I from the police cells. Finding a note stuck on the door he’d turn up at the station at 1am steaming drunk. Swaying and incoherent they’d chuck him in the cell too and then we’d all wait until he sobered up or until a neighbour arrived and acted as guardian. It was here that the Social Services were first introduced to the family. Initially my step-father despised them, but when he realised he was stable enough to keep us, yet unstable enough to receive their free Christmas and Easter hampers, he used them as he used everyone: to procure benefits or money to fund his gambling, social and drinking habits.

Though a heavy drinker (11 pints a night) my step-father was not an alcoholic. Ok, medically, statistically and practically he was, but in the sense that he had to drink, needed to to exist, no... he was not of that ilk. And unlike my mothers drinking his did not darken a generation or lead to multiple forms of abuse. My Stepfather was a happy drunk and more than anything he drunk to work.... he drunk 'Dutch courage”. And God, doing what he did he needed courage - anyone would. He was a con working the streets of Central London. That's how he put the bread on the table. These cons would involve multiple schemes and ploys, all designed to turn a tenner into a fifty or a pint into a wallet full of US dollars. And for every hustle there was a name:

The Trust Game: this involved working in pairs to befriend a tourist, get him drunk, and finally walk out the bar with his wallet full of cash. After a few drinks, one of the two men would demand the tourist’s wallet in a test of his “trust”. Taking the wallet he would leave the bar only to return seconds later celebrating the fact that he could have disappeared but didn’t. He would then have the punter count his cash and testify that it was all still there. Having had the wallet and now sure the client was worth the drinks they were supplying him they’d repeat the “trust” process a couple of times. Finally whoever was acting as ‘the runner’ would disappear with the wallet and not return. The other (the sitter) would wait with the punter until the police came and give a statement of what happened,  claiming that he too had only just met the thief.

Swicking: Pschological trick to get change of a larger note when paying with a smaller one. This would involve buying a round of drinks and offering up a £50 in payment. Every time the barman goes to fetch the order my stepfather would suddenly ask for something else, ALWAYS with the £50 held up like a name card. When convinced the barman has registered the fifty note, it would then be swapped (swicked) for a tenner. More often than not change would be given for the fifty. My stepfather was infamous for this little scam and known and barred from all but three West End bars for it.

Tipping: Loitering around betting shops pretending to have insider knowledge on a trainer/horse. My step father would choose the horse most likely to lose, but convince a punter that he had inside info and the horse had been trained up for the race. He would find someone willing to wager £20 on it and would take their money but only wager a bet for £2. On the carbon copy receipt he'd add a nought and  give it to the punter. As the race started he would then sneak out the betting shop just in case the horse romped home... which happened many times.

Pressure Dealing: Selling bum gear to drug users. Either hash that was made from ingredients at home or amphetamine that was baking powder, my father would set up a small drug deal. Supplying a little genuine stuff as a taster he’d conclude the deal with his home made recipes. On the point of handover he’d suddenly scream “Fuck, there’s the police!!! Stash that and get away!!” By the time the buyer had a chance to eye his wrap it was too late. Unfortunately my stepfather came unstuck twice with this hustle. The first time it nearly cost him his life and the second time his freedom.

Rolling: Posing as a homosexual, and then robbing the client either before or during the act. (Sometimes it was old-fashioned Sex for Money with no ‘rolling’ involved.)

Picking: Classic game of trying to remove jewelery or wallets without being detected.

Collecting: Travelling the subway and unblocking the ‘returned coins’ slot of vending machines which had been blocked days in advance.

These cons would start off at 3pm and go on until last orders were called. There was a little team of seven or eight and they all worked together. At the end of the night they’d meet up and pool, then divide the earnings. My real father was also a part of this little crowd, but because of his heroin problem he was not much liked and even less trusted. In absence of being arrested my step dad would fall in the front door and crawl the stairs between midnight and 1am. Reeking of beer and with sweet and sour sauce dripping from his chin he’d wake us up relating the stories of how he had got the money and/or jewellery that was sprawled out on the floor. I enjoyed these tales and literally hung off his every word and description. But mostly I enjoyed hearing about the fights... how my stepfather had fought himself free or knocked justice into one of the crooked crooks. He once told me that he had lifted a man off his feet with an uppercut and then hit him 21 times before he came back down!

But although often involved in altercations he was not domestically violent and only beat me on a handful of occasions and my mother a little more. More than his “love” & “hate” tattooed fists, it was his voice that instilled fear into us. It was the same voice I had heard when he screamed at Mr Evans and then threatened to pull away the jack from under the car if he didn’t remove himself and take the punches that were banked for him. He had a very definite way to let people know that anger had curled his hand into a fist and if they didn’t relent would soon be involuntarily punching away at their face. In every way my stepfather was full of confidence and very often this manifested itself in very weird ways.

With 40 odd years of unquestioned authority behind him he seemed to have acquired a very peculiar and particular notion of self image. He was extremely vain, but not the type of vanity where he was in the least concerned with public opinion. His was a different kind of self-consciousness, a perverse vanity that played to his fantasy of who and what he was. With absolutely no fashion conscience and solely interested in a garments comfort or practicality he would adapt and wear them to his own needs and desires. But not in any sane way. Rather he would tear the arms of his shirt as he queued to buy it, or roll up his trouser legs to the knee. He’d pull the silk lining out of expensive jackets because it made them “too small and constrictive”. In summer he’d cut the toes out his shoes and walk about with his thick yellow feet poking out the top. And it wasn’t just his clothes he’d do that to. I remember being sent to school in a pair of football boots with the plastic studs sawn off: “They’ll do...” he said “No-one will ever know”. Of course the world knew. We were eight year old kids with heads full of football results and the latest trainers. These weren’t even Adidas football boots, but some dodgy German rip-off with about eighteen stripes! And my excuse: “Oh there just to play football in!” didn’t cut the ice, because with no grip I could barely walk without falling, skidding or sliding like a new born deer. That they were also 3 sizes too big and shaped like pre-EU banana’s just added to the misery. I think it was the only day of my youth that I actually sat still.

But my stepfather was not a mean man, and though on multiple occasions I died with embarrassment in his presence, I would in time learn to respect him and even admire him for the way he was and what he indirectly passed on to me. He was crazy, but he was not insane and his eccentricities were not unhealthy ones. He just did not come from a normal mould and had survived, formed and shaped himself.

At the same time he was the hardest, cleverest most stupid man I had ever known. He read Darwin but got it all wrong.... attributed quotes to Conan Doyle when they were from Lewis Carrol. He would surmise and give political solutions to problems after reading just half a paragraph on a subject, and in his life he would pass himself off as a gangster, writer, poet, artist, sociologist, anthropologist, antique dealer, chef, lawyer and professor. In truth he was a little of all those things without ever genuinely being either one. He was a composite of many great parts, but he was not a great man. He was a petty thief and called upon certain characteristics or knowledge in an attempt to wheedle a few quid out of someone’s pocket. He learnt that a literary bore will be more likely to buy you a drink if you can at least listen to his ramblings and stay awake... that another criminal will help you out a tight spot if you show you “know the game.” Instead all these great parts merged and resulted in a man walking around the streets pushing a shopping trolley full of scrap metal. In the summer he done this in his pants, in winter donning a womans fur coat. But it was all those parts that were to fire me into action.... that would push me on the hunt for knowledge myself.

My natural reverence and competition to my father (step), my desire/need to better him, prove his arguments wrong, would lead me into libraries, bookshops and places of learning. In that sense he has only ever had an influence on my intellectual life, and is the only person from my upbringing without the slightest connection to my drug life.

If I started reading Oscar Wilde at 13 it was to understand what it was he was chortling away to. If I then moved on to Orwell and then Dostoevsky it was to argue these books out with him. When I got into politics it was just to outsmart him, to have him back down in the face of real knowledge... to collapse at the realisation of his own shortcomings. Of course he never did... he never felt inferior to anyone. In 1997 he defended himself in West London’s Magistrates Court against attempted robbery charges and stood rattling in front of the judge as though he were a top flight lawyer. He pranced and strutted around the courtroom with all the gestes, pauses and smiles... pulling up thousands of contradictions in the prosecutors claims. And he’d probably have gotten off with it, had he not done it all bare chested and with a neck strung with thick gold chains. But that was him. He felt superior inside... and not just superior, more clever... smarter. He could not be taught, he could not be lectured. He knew it all and more and in no way could he be drank under the table.

With this realisation I no longer tried to bring him down. Instead I sat in silence as he unleashed mouthfuls of ignorance, admiring his prose yet inwardly snorting and smirking at the ludicrous things he was saying. And it was there that I realised he did have one great ability and one that I would never have: he had the ability to sound like he knew what he was talking about... to have you believe that he was a true authority on his subject. In that sense he was a genius and it is probably the reason he was such a successful conman: As for impressing him I never did. The closest I got was when I returned from a weeks school holiday and told him I had fallen in love with another boy. And for 5 minutes he was impressed and for a little less he even believed that maybe, after all, I really was his son.

Now, 2010, he is in his 67th year. He’s stopped hustling the streets and now does it on ebay with first edition books and antiques. But these days I have very little to do with him. Since my best friend Ewan died in his house 10 years ago we lost contact and never really regained it. Soon after he moved out as he felt ‘The Spirit of Death’ was somehow then a part of the place. He also threw me out as a possible prevention against having to find me like that next. He is completely aware of and comfortable with my heroin addiction yet he is very distanced from it. He sees that as too much a reminder of my mother and more, my real father and his one time friend. In a sense I am his living nightmare, a constant reminder of his impotence where women are concerned, a definite confirmation of his lack of real masculinity.

Of the three kids my mother doesn’t attribute any 100% to him. She says my sister probably is his (or Scotch Peter’s) and my brother, well... he’s just a mystery. It was reported that at his birth she asked “What colour is he?” But my stepfather can play blind to these queries and if he doesn't look too deeply he has two certain offspring's. But with me it’s different. Since the age of 8 it was out and in the open that I was not “his” and so looking at me he sees all that I am not. But the truth is I am more him than any of my siblings... I have more of him in me than he’ll ever know. His influence has been great and positive and pushing, but it has never been daunting or dark. I only ever celebrate him and take pride in those traits that he has passed onto me. He’s another hero, and along with two dead drunks is the third poet in my life. Without him I would have no Wilde, no Orwell, Steinbeck or Dostoevsky. Without his stories and descriptions I would surely never have taken a love for words and literature or celebrated all the things that were not worth celebrating. And without that, and without the words I use to recall them, I’d have only heroin and an early death to keep me amused. And if that were the future then it would be so very dismally bleak. No, he may not be my biological father but the fact remains and is indisputable: without him I’d never have been born.

My Love, Thoughts & Wishes to All

Shane. X


Sherry said...

Shane -

Why don't you write a book? You could have a very comfortable life style. I would buy it!

Quicksilver said...

hey shane...nice to be back here. been so self-obsessed lately that i havent updated myself with the blogs that i read. amazed as always with the way you write. :)

'Stoopid Slapped Puppies' said...

It's always great to attribute the things we value and love in life to people in it.
My love of reading comes from Grandfather (now dead) but when ever he saw me he would say ,what are you reading now'. His great love was Dicken's 'all life now is still in there' he would tell me and you what he was right.
Great writting, Great detail.
Thanks as always
Love as Ever

Wildernesschic said...

Hi Shane
It is great that you have these memories, I can just picture him sat on the step in Fulham, being a lover of people with their own style I was cracking up at his practical attitude to his attire LOL.
All these influences make you the interesting person that you are, I am happy you are writing again.
Have you ever thought of trying to sell your memoires as a book? So many of your followers think you should, it maybe your NYC ticket ...Love the Brooklyn dog photo.
Pop by my blog if you get a chance, have a couple of photos up of my pooch who at ten months has a mast cell tumour, but last night was told it was not as bad as first thought
Love Ruth xx

Bigg said...

What an amazing story. Loved reading it.

Cathleen said...

Hi Shane,

Just to let you know I love your writing! I used to live in London (I am Norwegian) and a lot of things come back to me when reading your stuff, even though my life has been completely different. I hope that you will be able to make a living from writing one day, maybe you already are? Keep it up. I wish you all the best.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Sherry & thanks so much for your comment. There is a book (2 or 3) in the pipeline and hopefully by mid-summer I'll have something publishable ready. But it's not easy and involves huge amounts of time, effort and emotions. But hopefully this will be the year that The Heroinhead finally comes good... that I can pay off my debts and then start borrowing again...

All My Thoughts, Shane. x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Quicksilver...

I think you have to be a little self-obsessed to blog properly. It's very time consuming and thats just keeping your own blog going. If we were to visit frequently all the blogs we enjoyed and comment we'd never get anything else done. I try to do the rounds gradually each month and at least send my wishes... but I don't often succeed, lol.

Anyway, I hope you're well and thanks as ever for all you say.

Thoughts & Wishes, Shane. x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Oh Nick! Dickens! My stepfather also loved Dickens and I didn"'t even givehim a mention. I'll edit this post and put him in there.

Yeah, I knew it was your Granddad who got you into reading and writing. I think you mentionned it in your wrestling post at DC's. As you say, it's nice to attribute things to people and a wonderful way to say "thanks". I was just lucky that admidst all the carnage of my youth that there were books. No matter what happens, because of that I will alway have hope... they were my Pandora's Box.

Love back, my friend...

Shane. xxx

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Ruth...

I think I covered most in our mails, but as for the NYC dream, err,if I'm truthful it's probably a junkie dream. I tell everyone it's not, but all my thoughts around that city are of the late '70's heroin culture that sprang up. But it's adfferent city now... I'd only get in trouble if I went there.

Love as ever, Shane. x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hi Bigg,

Thanks so much for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the tale. Hope to see you again, Shane.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


There's a wonderful Tinderstick's song called 'Cathleen' and you reminded me of that when I saw your name. Also, I think you're the first Norwegian to contribute here on Memoires, so THANK YOU!!!

No, unfortunately I do not make a living from writing but maybe soon. This blog is getting around and some very interesting people are watching it and contacting me. I think it will be matter of time before something good happens.

Hope to see you back here again...

All My Thoughts, Shane. x

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I'm very glad you had your stepdad. He sounds like such a colourful, interesting man.

Love you very much. Hope all is as well as it can be.


Malcolm said...

Hi Shane
An amazing post about someone who sounds like pretty amazing man. Funny where we find our influences isn't it? Not knowing my father past 4 and being seperated from Granddad by a lot of geography I pretty much had to find my own literary way which was an interesting journey in itself.

You really should think about putting your life to date in a book I'm pretty sure it would sell and I'd definitely buy a copy

Mac (Old Midhurstian)

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Mac,

Oh thanks for coming across and passing your time here... thats very kind.

Yes, it's really surprising sometimes where these things come from. By looking at my stepfather you'd find it hard to believe he could read anything more complicated than The Sun... but like many of us he also has a love of words and literature. It was one of the few fortunate things in my early years.

Yes he was a bizarre/amazing man, and past anything else he was generous and even kind. He was not loving but he cared... and very often that is a mans way of showing love without having to say it.

Love sent back, Shane.

Cathleen said...

Haven't heard of the Tindersticks, but Phil Lynott has a song called the same too : ) You have a great gift for capturing an atmosphere/ mood with your writing. Look forward to following your blog! Take good care.

Lori said...


What a wonderful, honest tribute to a man who infuenced you and took care of you to the best of his ability. A true grifter/gleamer is one of a kind. He did the best he could by you and I hope he knows how you feel.

JoeM said...

Well of course it's only a matter of time before you've got a book out. The only question is, who's doing the film? After reading today's I'd say John Waters without a doubt! - The horror transmuted to hysterically funny. The (never completely blameless)underclass - The junkie tranny queer fat criminal whatever - winning the day over the squares. I seriously suggest if you get a book deal, you ask DC to show this blog to Mr. Waters, who is his friend. Why even wait for a deal. As I said last time, any one of these vignettes would make a great tragi/comic film.

Strange that your mother got involved with two such guys. Stranger still that your straight father was the one that Nilsen got. And the gay step father lives on.

As far as I'm aware I've only been conned once. When I think of all the drunken one night stands that's a miracle. Jesus looks after his own (I did not take on my thief as a lover like Francis Bacon did. He went on to became a cop...)

Yes the details - the sometimes absurd details - are what make it all so true and, well, realistic.

Love the structure: the way it starts off as mostly comic description then gets deeper and more poetic, ending with the most important sentence:

No, he may not be my biological father but the fact remains and is indisputable: without him I’d never have been born.


Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya SB,

Yes, but sometimes he was a little too colourful and interesting... especially whenwe were young children and wanting to fit in and be normal. But they were just a few years and from the ageof 16 on I actually got a thrill walking down the street with him. God, the looks he got! lol

Not too bad this end SB... hope it's the same over there.

All My Love as Ever, Shane. x

Anonymous said...

hi shane

just wanted to let you know that i love your stories and your writing style. i am currently doing my rattle off the gear and for some reason your words calm my twitchy muscles :) so thanks! i think i will sleep tomorrow night, but for the last few nights your blogs have kept me from going insane! lol

hope you are well
leanne x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Leanne,

I'm with you and rattling a little myself. I'm no ill but am trying to stick to methadone but have constant and huge cravings for H.

I've 5 completely free monts and I really want to stick with my mediacation and at last finih one of the books I'm working on. I really think it' time I done something.

Anyhow, thanks so much for reading and commenting an glad I could help you even in such a small way.

Al my thoughts & hopes, Shane. x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Joe,

Oh yeah, John Waters... he'd be perfect. I enjoy his later films, but I really love his early trash films! As for asking DC??? I find such things so difficult. I'm actually writing a post around this (shyness.) It will start with the opening lines of The Smiths song 'ASK':

Shyness is nice
and shyness can stop you
From doing all the things in life
You'd like to

It's something I've suffered from all my life and though it is much better nowadays, it still persists. That may seem hard to believe given the nature of my blog and it's openess, but that's the thing with writing it allows me to fully express myself and at a distance. In person I am very, very quiet (until i'm familiar with someone). I think if people met me it would be very difficult for them to believe my written words actually came from me.

Shynesss also has a huge tie in with drugs, because it was due to being so timid that I first started using substances and alcohol. They freed my tongue and inhibitions and allowed me to function socially. In many ways I think most of my wilder acts were a direct consequence of my timidity. I got the eyes from being wreckless rather than loud.

Yes, it's strange my mother giot involved wttwo such men, but all her lovers were bizarre types She ws really attracted to hard, often violent, but liberal people. And don't forget, my mother also had many female lovers. She was in a three year relationship with one woman. The whole crowd that surrounded my mother and father* were either gay or bi. 95% of my father's* friends were exclusively queer. It's surely where my own homosexual tendencies come from, as that was my first introduction to sex. My stepfather sharing his bed with the men he brought home each night. Since my earliest memory my mother and stepfather NEVER shared the smae bed. That had all finished 1 year before I was born. So it was not until I was 6 that I finally saw a man and woman sharing the same bed.

Yes, the last line of my post says it all. It's one of those contradictions which make absolute sense.

Anyway, Thanks so much for your words again and all you say... I hope alls well for you over there. All My Best, Shane.

PS: have tried putting a link to your writing in my sidebar but there are some problems with Blogger at the moment and it won' allow me to add any content. As soon as I can, I will.


Dan said...

Ok I'm doing my rounds and as you said, if you read every blog you enjoy, you would be caught up in a trap. But yours is not a trap, it's a delight to read and yes I concur with others that a book or five is in the making here. Terrifically written.
That reminds me, I have a biggie coming up.
Promise to read more as you stuff does wonders for me x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Joe M,

I finally managed to add your work to the sidebar and if you click on the photo there's an extra little surprise...

JoeM said...

I feel exactly the same about shyness as you and Moz do - it can stop you from doing all the things in life you'd like to...
As well as leading to drink and drugs.

But I'm not shy about promoting others. I would find it impossible to go up to John Waters and say 'I'm a great fan of yours. I love the way you make films which are simultaneously commercial AND subversive.' But, strangely I could ask him to look at a book which I think he could make a great film of. So when the book is done I could easily ask DC to point him at it.As you know DC's a great fan of here. I think John Waters mostly writes his own stuff, but it's so worth a shot.

Although I can sell other writers really easily (if I believe in them) I hate more than anything trying to sell myself. The sort of self-aggrandising hoops you have to go through to get a book published these days are so dispiriting:

'What three books currently on the market most resemble yours'.


I was just about to post this when I saw your last response!

Thanks very much for the side bar ad,with the little taster - you're obviously not shy about promoting others either...

My mother read Blue Snow and said (not in my presence)

'He's writing about me'.

I'm not sure about the nature/nurture reasons for being gay or bi (you could just as easily have had serial killer of females tendencies!) but I know
so many gay/bi males who had, let's say, difficult relationships with their mothers.

I love the romantic stuff you write about the females in your life. (It's strange to me that some heterosexuals can't get into a romance story because it's gay. I have no problem with the reverse. I mean I think Woody Allen and Diane Keaton are the greatest love duo in film history and Manhattan the most romantic film ever - with Annie Hall and Blade Runner - Roy and Priss - a close second and third).

But of course I also look forward to the 'gay side of me' post, whenever. That'll seal the deal with Waters!

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


When the books done i'll let you know... out of pure excitement I'll probably mail it to you before it's even finished! You've given me another great incentive to actually get it done

No, I don't mind promoting others... I enjoy it if I like what they do. The things we enjoy also say much about us... probably more than our own words. But publicisig myself... oh, it feels so wrong and I'm so uncomfortable selling myself. I mean, regardless of what I say or think, whether I'm good or not, thats outside of my control or opinion. So I prefer someone reads and makes their own conclusion. Yeah, I also had an agent asking me all these weird questions. Here's what he wanted:

1 page mini-synopsis highlighting with bullet points what makes the book new
and special
1 page cv
1 page with a few lines on the five most recent competing and comparable
books giving author, title, publisher and date of publication together with
a note on how the books relate to the author's own book
1 page on sources used
1 page on any specialist marketing outlets such as websites, organisations
or magazines
1 page synopsis per chapter
A sample chapter and, if appropriate, some photographs

I didn't have the heart to tell him "But all I've got is a mini synopsis!"

You mentioned your mother and her reaction to Blue Snow... God, if my mother ever found and read some of the things I've posted here... well, you can imagine.

I'm not sure the nature/nurture of sexuality either. But some sexual fantasies one can trace back to a very definite point or event. Something that gradually built over the years until blossoming as a sexual want/need on becoming active. But I never think of sexuality in terms of bi, gay, straight... for me people are 'sexual' and only the fantasies are different. Someone thats gets off on having a woman take a crap on them is as far from straight heterosexual sex as a man who enoys giving oral sex to another man. They're fantasies that have arisen to fulfil certain needs and wants. It's all very complicated... so I just enjoy it!

The reason there's never been a 'gay' post is because it is one of those things in my life that is absolutely removed from heroin and in that sense the blog. Memoires is restricting in that sense as I've many other things I'd like to write about. I've thought of setting up a new blog for all that, but it's hard enough keeping one going. I'm sure when I get a bit stuck for a post I'll panic and whip out the Queen of Hearts (the gay card!) At some point it will make a proper appearance...

JoeM said...

Oh that list of demands from the agent is truly awful. Just because you have a certain story to tell why should it follow that you're aware of other books in the same 'field'? I can't think of ONE book about a heroin-addicted child of serial killer victim. And shouldn't the fact it's unique and NOT like five other books be a selling point?

I think all those questions should actually be the job of the agent. It's up to him to synopsize and highlight and show saleability.It's their job to 'know the market'.

I had no idea my mother would see anything I wrote, thank God - it made it so much easier to tell 'the truth'.

Yes, the idea that we are definable by a few sexual labels is weird. As Gore Vidal says, the 'gay' tag extends along a vast spectrum from the guy who's convinced he's Bette Davis to the married man who stops off at the toilets on the way home from work every now and then.

Laura said...

"The last thing Foxtons wanted was a bald semi-dressed gay man with an exposed ballbag being the backdrop to “an exquisite victorian maisonette.”

Fucking brilliant,I have'nt laughed so hard in weeks. You are also a comedy genious, as well as a poet.
Love ya Shane xxx

robert said...

very nicely rendered...You have a sublime pen style and erudite connective complexion. I,too, lived in London off Earl's Court road and could easily visualize the sets and scenes. Well done.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Laura,

Excuse the delay in response... Normally I reply to such compliments immediately!!! lol

But really, thank you so much or what you say and I'm just glad that you enjoyed so much...

My Love & thanks back, Shane. x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hi Robert,

Thanks for coming across and reading and commenting. That what you tell me is so nice is just a bonus!

Earls Court... Yeah I've memories from there. It was actually one of my stepfathers 'closer to home' haunts. The Bolton Arms was the famous gay hangout at the time (not sure if it still exists???) and he'd ply his trade around there. The Brompton cemetary also had quite a reputation back then! ;)

All My Best, Shane.

Syd said...

Thanks for sharing this story about a man who spurred on your literary interests.

Anonymous said...

There is many a man who would hope his son could write like this about him.

Flip said...

We are similar but not.
This made me cry.
I am not sure if it is because of the shit you dealt with or my own.
My life has been extreme and truly seems like it could not get any...

I do not want to finish that line because I don't think I want to find out it can get harder crazier or more insane.I know it can. After a lifetime trying to kill myself with drugs I had a daughter at 40, got stage four cancer, got sued, busted and much more I won't bother with.
I feel as if I am at the final commercial and within minutes of the end.I hope not
take care

Monica said...

Shane, your amazing!
I started reading only a few days ago and im bound by your words... Xx
I only hope your still well! Xx

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