Group Blog March 2017


One group’s discussion of Quentin Crisp’s The Naked Civil Servant began with one reader declaring that when he’d first read it back in the 80s, growing up in suburbia, it had changed his life, by showing that somewhere like Soho at least it was possible to lead an out gay life without any bullying or persecution. Another member of the group had met the author and was also able to reminisce fondly. However, at least one felt that, for all Crisp’s remarkable courage, wit and absence of self-pity, the memoir would have been well-served by Crisp allowing “a chink in his armour” to reveal itself. Another reader was able to use this comment as a jumping-off point fr some self-evaluation: he’d realised as we were talking that this was exactly how he used humour – to deflect attention from himself and any weakness.


Another session on Patricia Highsmith’s Carol attracted a large turnout, and the general feeling in the room was that it wasn’t a ‘campaigning’ gay work. The men’s discussion explored the differences they perceived between their own experiences of same-sex relationships, and those portrayed in the book (and film). Everyone thought it was an extremely well written and sensitive piece of work.

wb yeats

Before reviewing Carol, we looked at a selection of Yeats poems. One member did feel the poet was “a bit of a miserable git”, but everyone enjoyed deconstructing poems like ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ and even ‘The Second Coming’, not least because at first glance they felt them to be impenetrable. One member arrived declaring that he was quite happy to listen to poetry, but wouldn’t read it because he “didn’t understand” it. But, as he was leaving, he confided to our volunteer that he thought ‘An Irish Airman Foresees his Death’ an excellent poem…