Narvel Annable 








Below, click on the screenshots for  each of my videos.

Additionally, below the last video you can read the transcripts




Click below to meet a selection of some outrageous characters in my novels



Horsley Woodhouse

Click below to meet georgeous Gary & my relatives in Horsley Woodhouse Derbyshire




Snobs video link

Click below to meet the snobs

from Scruffy Chicken




Toad video link

Click below to meet Mister TOAD, Dolly & Becksitch Betty

also from Scruffy Chicken




Big Bill Bullman video

From Scruffy Chicken


Video transcripts



In my last effort, you met, gorgeous Gary - who had a horror of effeminate men.  They were not so easily tolerated in Detroit as in Derbyshire.  Highly visible outrageous homosexuals seemed to dominate the English scene in the 1960s. 

Chicago had an active gay resort called Saugatuck, on the east side of Lake Michigan.  Gary and I were there often. 

Somewhere in the dunes, I fished out, as he would say -

‘One of your freaks.’      

It was a screaming black queen known as 'Bun Bun'.  He referred to himself as 'This Lady'.   

Bun Bun assumed that Gary, a tempting blond bombshell, would be as accommodating as I had been. 

There was poor Gary, of stony countenance, sitting on his towel on the beach, helplessly watching an 'attention grabbing' hullabaloo - a one queen mini circus. 

Bun Bun danced and pranced around him, wriggling her back side, thrusting out already prominent begging buttocks, yelling out in a thick black accent -  

‘Yea Babe!  You is some sweet meat!  Ooo oo oo!  Hunky honky.  Tasty honky.  Ooo, This Lady - she hungry - yeah.   

‘This Lady is one hot slut!  Bun Bun ready for action.  She want fillin' - yeah!  Ooo oo oo!!’ 

This outrageous trollop continued to caper and orbited Gary's towel about three more times in her bizarre - war-dance-come-love-dance, pre-sex ritual. 

I’ll never forget the retreating figure of a disappointed Bun Bun -  moving just ahead of her eye-catching, rhythmic rump, mincing across the sand.  She disappeared into deep shadows of shrubbery - ever onwards - ever hunting - ever hopeful to find Prince Charming.   

And then the volcano erupted. 

‘How dare you!’ said Gary.  ‘How dare you bring that vile excrescence near my person?  Look at that butch number over there.’ 

I took note of a desirable sculpture of deeply tanned muscles languidly soaking up the sun, looking out over the water posing on his towel. 

‘He was looking in my direction,’ continued Gary.  ‘I was in with a chance.  He’s seen that grotesque spectacle.  Now he looks at the lake - no chance, kaput!’ 

I reminded Gary that Detroit has a few weird and wacky queens of its own in the Woodward Bar. 

‘What about that bitchy queen Marie?’ I said.  ‘Pure acid!’  I was referring to an incident which had recently taken place. 

There were four of us.  Gary - Hubert - Bill Scruggs and myself enjoying a quite drink minding our own business.  Marie spotted us and screamed out for the whole bar to hear -  

‘Miss Scruggs!  There ya are!  Honey am a comin' over.  Here comes my BODY.’      

We nearly died of embarrassment!  Especially poor Bill who'd just had a toupee fitted. 

‘Why, Miss Scruggs,’ quipped the queen.  ‘WHAT IS THAT!  A rug on ya head arr perceive.  Honey - you aint a foolin' nobody - an arr LOVE to pull hair.’  

She noticed Hubert.  To his horror, gave him a big hug like he was a long lost friend - 

‘Ooo so cuddly, nice-big-fat-belly!  Look everybody - it's Hubert.  Poor Hubert, those evil queens should not be referrin' to you as 'The Lady of the Vapours'.  Why that’s just not true.  You don't go to the sauna seven days a week - no - you take Mondays off don't you?   

‘But be careful baby, you've had three re-treads on ya tongue this year to date.  Yeah, an those teeth 'll need scrapin' again soon.  That cum just builds up and up. 

‘Well it's true!  It is.  When I go to the sauna - they hand me a towel.  When you go, Hubert, they hand you knee pads!’    

Gary hated such tittle-tattle from the low life of my quirky collection of friends.  He had no time for any of this nonsense.  He viewed old fashioned Hubert as one of the dregs of Detroit, a shabbily dressed overweight beer belly who broke wind too often. 

‘For God's sake don't suggest another meeting,’ said Gary.  ‘I can't take the body odour.  He doesn't like me and I don't like him.   

‘Have a good look at him.  Hubert is 'The Depression'.  He gets his clothes from the Good Will.  He belongs to the 1930's.  He should have stayed there. 

‘And PLEASE don't keep talking about Marie.  She may be funny to you but, anybody who is anybody avoids her like the plague.  A vicious mixture of show-off, spite, chiffon and cheap make-up.  ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME! 

‘As for Scruggs, well, he's just a complete waste of space.’    

Gary was utterly frustrated by the social gay scene.  His reasoning was simple.  If a man wants to attract another man then - 

‘Why in hell's name do they behave like a woman?  Why turn themselves into freaks.  For God's sake - that's just what they are - FREAKS!  I'd like to punch their stupid faces!  I really would ... ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?   

‘I'm at my wits end just trying to find one - SINGLE-REAL-MACHO-MAN!’ 

Many gay men are naturally effeminate.  Marie wasn’t so bad.  He was revenging himself on men who’d shunned him, on the streets, out of fear of being labelled a homosexual themselves.  I was always friendly with Marie.   He was a sensitive and, essentially, a kind man. 

Hubert was nothing to look at.  But - he was a friend and I enjoyed his company.  Like many repressed gay men, estranged from a disapproving family, sometimes depressed, eventually, he fell into the clutches of religious bigotry.  

Untold numbers of homosexuals have had their lives warped, effectively destroyed by active evangelism and rabid homophobia.  

After years of unceasing brainwashing from Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hubert became celibate.  He cut himself off from gay friends and gay support.  He died - a lonely, sad, broken man. 

Back in England - on holiday, I introduced Mr Toad to an attractive but affected effeminate youth called Julian.  

Consumed with lust, Toad invited us to stay with him one weekend.  All went well - until bedtime - when Toad said - 

‘Should you require an aspirin or any assistance in the night, Julian, don’t hesitate to cum into my boudoir.’ 

Always waggled his fingers when excited. 

Julian, however, thrust his snooty nose in the air -  

‘Most unlikely,’ said Julian, who sounded just like a girl.   ‘You, Mr Toad are GROTESQUE.  It would be scraping the bottom of the barrel.’      

During that night, I was awakened by whoops and screams.   

‘Oooh!  Oooh!  Oooh!’ 

A camp queen with - HIGH VOICE - was in rapture - impaled on a stiff stake of impressive proportions. 

Toad - proud of his inflated weapon - was well practiced in the art of inflicting supreme ecstasy upon a willing victim. 

The climax came.  Toad’s deep guttural groan signalled a milky gush, concluding high delight. 

Alas - a reaction set in.  The rapturous rider denounced his delirious gallop to that final moment of PURE JOY.  He lectured the ugly loathsome lecher. 

‘Mr Toad!  We have SINNED!  We must pray for forgiveness.’   

Hours later - breakfast was difficult.  Julian, in foul mood, hardly spoke to his host.  But the gloating toad was triumphant nudging his guest with a wicked elbow. 

‘Ay ay.  Last night ay.  HOW WAS THAT FOR THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL?  You enjoyed that ride on my stallion last night - didn’t you!  He he he.’ 

‘As Anne Boleyn said to Henry the 8th,’ responded Julian, ‘last night was a sample of what you won’t get.’ 

‘Well - I’m not going to give you the pleasure of refusing me, Julian,’ retorted Mr Toad. 

‘It would not be a pleasure, Mr Toad,’ responded Julian, ‘it would be - a necessity.  For you see, I shall journey afar, to join a monastery, never to have sex again.’ 

He packed his bags and stormed out of the house.  We never saw him again. 

Some days later, at the Derby Turkish Bath, I found myself sitting next to Clarence Soames - a desiccated toff.   

His naked body seemed to be as white as his very white face - contrasting sharply with short, neat, raven black hair.  A delicate gentleman. 

He seemed supremely indifferent to everybody, showing no interest at all.  Clarence was senior figure from the ranks of the Nottingham Camp - a social climbing snob.  I attempted conversation. 

‘I like ya car.’ 

After quite a long pause, the deathly-white face slowly turned to assess the young speaker.  With legal precision, one sharp word was delivered in cut-glarrss quality - 


"Ooo arr,’ I continued.  ‘Neat, really neat.  Looovely posh leather - nice wooden finish inside - all good taste.  I were admiring it when a tied me bicycle oop tat lamp post outside.’ 

"Bicycle.  How quaint," came the concise reply, pregnant with derision. 

I continued with enthusiasm, trying to ignore the put-down,  

"Switches and boottons everywhere ... an automatic transmission!  Very few English cars as got automatic transmission." 

"We have everything .... except money." 

Condescending words, carefully enunciated with subtle sarcasm, was offensive to me.  And yet, for 51 years, I’ve remembered and admired those words as much as I had genuinely admired the posh car.   

Clarence was heading off a request for money.  He needn’t have worried, I have never asked for money - before or since. 

However - I was enormously impressed with the way this gentleman had pronounced that one word - 'money'.  

It sounded like 'manaaaieryyy' - in stark contrast to my working class - 'm-oo-ny'. 

The character attracting most comment in my books is The Belper Crone.  I call him Jasper.  He dwelled in a primitive isolated cottage practising legendary talents of body massage - very keen to offer the 'extras'. 

He was gnarled and craggy.  At first sight, I beheld a large hawk nose, far forward of deep set grizzled leering eyes.  This hideous hunchback looked positively Jurassic.  I though it wise not to introduce him to Gary.

Nobody knew Jasper’s age, but he used an earth closet lavatory.  The family were nightsoil men.  Back in the 1880's, young Jasper assisted his father and brothers who were called 'honey dumpers'. 

He was the 'limey-lad' - a boy with a naked flame torch who walked after the cart spreading lime over any spillages of excrement to 'get shut at stink'. 

After years of emptying buckets of 'jollop', Jasper was totally immune to all known germs! 

Sadly, he was the butt of lavatory jokes.  I heard about the time when he was ordered to retrieve his father's false teeth from the bottom of a tank of human excrement!      

Decades later, Jasper spent many hours in a notorious Belper lavatory.  He used a little hammer and chisel to make a hole at crotch level.  It was as big as a dinner plate. 

A camp rotundity called Dolly, occupying the next WC cubicle, amused us with the following anecdote - 

‘I recognised the spread!’ said Dolly.  ‘A sort of picnic - cracker biscuits, butter, cheese and a flask of tea.  Sustenance you understand.   

‘Well it’s important because he’s there all day long.  That’s how he got that hump you know.  A lifetime of bending down giving pleasure to those naughty rough workmen. 

I said “Hello” and he replied  

“Ello.”  We’re old friends of course.  “Have you been busy?” I asked. 

“Very busy!  Ave ad me teeth out all day.  Meh.  One were as big as a cucumber.  Meh”   

Jasper often ended a sentence with ‘Meh’ - a sort of an expletive - possibly indicating ‘so there’ - or - perhaps - expressing irritation. 

Stories about Jasper and his false teeth were rooted in gay folklore.  I’ll never forget my first encounter.  A damp foggy night, Dolly guided me past a decrepit Victorian latrine to a dark cubicle apparently empty.   

I hear a sound, a sort of 'click'. 

‘Did you hear it?’ whispered Dolly.  ‘Lucky boy!  The Click of a Crone.  It's the prelude to pleasure,’ sighed this little fat man in soft, round vowels. ‘Advance!  Yield!  Offer yourself to this master of the extended orgasm, give yourself - and know true bliss.’ 

On dark winter evenings, Jasper would creep into a public toilet to service and drain the desperate, but he’d forget where he’d put down his teeth.  

‘Where’s me choppers?  Meh.  A put em somewhere.  Ave ya seen em?  Ooo sorry!  Well move out at way.  Shift!  Where are thee.  Meh!’

Bye for now ...


Horsley Woodhouse 


Here is the fourth YouTube, bringing to life characters from my autobiographic novels.  This time, I’ll take you to Bog Hole or Bog 'ole, as it was called in Horsley Woodhouse - locally known as ‘osly woodas. 

If you’ve read Lost Lad you’ll have met gorgeous Gary.  In 1960s Michigan, we were teenagers together - but had different friends. 

I liked the unusual.  Gary despised the effeminate - the fat - the ugly - the sick - the old - the poor - the narrow - the parochial - the ignorant - the untraveled - the uncultured - the unsuccessful and the stupid. 

Which meant he was none too keen to meet my 1960s relatives who - in many ways - were stuck in a time warp decades before the 1960s.    

Gary revered the young, the butch, the beautiful, the intelligent, the rich and the sophisticated.  He hated my -  

"Weird and wacky menagerie of creeps.  What's wrong with normal people?  How could you possibly have become bored with a gorgeous guy like Earl Vandenburg?  He looks like Rambo for Christ's sake!  And lives at the top of The Jeffersonian Building: a view to die for!" 

He was saddened by my ongoing homesickness to get back to the beautiful hills and dales of Derbyshire and visit my aunts and uncles in Horsley Woodhouse.  Due to homosexuality, relations with my immediate family in Detroit had completely broken down leaving irreparable estrangement.  

But we were good friends and he agreed to join me on a holiday in England. 

Bog Hole sounded like a slum - but it wasn’t a slum.  It was a row of six terraced houses occupied by Annables.  The accommodation was simple - Victorian - 'two up, two down', built for coal miners. 

Walking down the cobbles, we met Uncle Wilfred.  He stared very hard at us.  It was like - we’d just landed and emerged from a flying saucer!  This familiar and rude ogling had never failed to annoy me.  Big round rheumy eyes, a pouting lower lip, and an annoying silence seemed to shoot out a reproach from the cantankerous old man who eventually gave voice to his grievance - 

Yown com then! 

I translated - You have arrived at last - I'm being rebuked.  I addressed Wilfred directly, in a sharp manner, to head off a further reprimand.   

‘Hello, Uncle Wilfred.  How are you?"      

"Huh!  Our am a?  Are think our am a.  If a were an os they'd av shot me." 

Sorry to hear that, Uncle Wilfred.  You look fit enough to me. 

Know what day it id? 

It's Sunday, isn’t it? 

Huh.  Arr think Soondy.  It me bothdy.  Am 84 tady. 

Congratulations, Uncle Wilfred.  Oh!  By the way, this is ... err - Gary. 

Hi!  Happy birthday. 


Now if you’ll excuse us, we really must visit all the other Annables before it gets too late. 

Ya nedna goo fa may. 

Gary looked puzzled.  I translated - He said, 'You need not go for me' or, 'Please don't leave on my account'.  It's pit talk from his coal-mining days.  I'm not quite sure about 'Huh!'  Some sort of expletive, no doubt a censure expressing dissatisfaction ...       

Yo what?" 

I was just telling Gary we'll have to be going, Uncle Wilfred. 


For a moment the sun went out!  It was the shadow of a low flying aeroplane.   

"Ooo a should loove ta be in that," wished Aunty Joyce who had just joined us.  

Huh.  Ad sooner cape me fate on t' ground! demeaned Uncle Wilfred. 

Moving on, we were arrested by the sight of a toothless old woman sitting on a chair in front of number three.  On nice days, relatives often sat outside their front doors. 

She stared up at us - stared hard through crumpled, screwed up piercing bullet eyes.  We were held by this silent leer which was both inquisitive and interrogating.  I mustered a cheerful -  

Good morning, Aunty Nelly.  How are you today?"  No answer.  I soldiered on - "Meet my friend Gary.  He lives in America." 

A slight sardonic nod and contemptuous grimace spread over her wrinkled face.  Gary was repelled by this old hag and couldn’t even bring himself to utter his usual - 'Hi!' 

Nelly solved the embarrassing impasse by suddenly shooting out a spray of verbal bullets as if from a machine gun: a cascade of irrelevant speech without benefit of punctuation - 

Our Vivienne were on t' rec an the were this lad oo were goin' t 'it our Vivienne - but our Vivienne sez - 'I've got a stick and I shall 'it YOU!" 

As this brief narrative came to an abrupt halt.  We took a few seconds to absorb and decode such staccato intelligence.  Gary was particularly fascinated by her mouth on the word 'you' which became a perfect circle.  I muttered polite apologies and moved on to the house of Aunty Joyce who had invited us - ‘Shall ya cum in an ave a bita tea?’ 

Joyce, a lifelong spinster, had always been very nervous of strange men.  The physical nearness of a tall unknown handsome blond was a challenge. Each time Gary addressed her directly, in her primitive kitchen, she averted eye contact.   Downcast, Joyce examined a filthy old peg rug made years ago from bits of coloured rag.       

Three tiny cakes and three cups of lukewarm stewed tea concluded the sparse meal - for which she was thanked.  Small talk had run its course.  The conversation gradually dried up leaving long and slightly embarrassing pauses - causing a small amount of tension.  

During one silence, Joyce looked up through the window and eased the tension with a slow and easy - " ... mmmmmmm."  The bird moved.

       "Nice parakeet," said Gary.

       "We call it a budgerigar," I said.

       "Mmmmmm," said Aunty Joyce. 

Suddenly - the tinkle of a bell!  To the rescue came - Joey.  All eyes turned upon the little budgie who had cleverly rang his bell and provided a delightful distraction.

       "Elo, Joey!  Are ya showin' off.  Joey Joey Joey!"  repeated a delighted Aunty Joyce.  She pushed her face up close to the cage and pursed her lips to make a kissing sound - which both revolted and annoyed Gary.  For the benefit of his hostess, he tried hard to maintain a half smile to suggest his pleasure at such charming behaviour, but was further aggravated when his mischievous friend said -

       "Joey Joey Joey!  Look at Joey, Gary!"

       "I can see Joey," responded the other, through his teeth. 

We were all rewarded by a single chirp, a cocked head on one side and a second peck of the bell.  At that moment the show became really interesting when Joey did his party trick.  

He put his little head under the bell giving the amusing appearance of wearing a hat.  Aunty Joyce twittered and chuckled. 

"Put ya 'at on, Joey.  Joey Joey Joey.  Look, Narvel, Joey's got 'is 'at on!  Joey Joey Joey ... " and so on. 

Back on the cobbles I said - You must meet favourite Aunty Gertie at number two ... 

‘Spare me!  Spare me!’ interrupted Gary.  ‘I can’t take anymore Annables’ 

‘I think you’ll like her’ I said - ‘a highly entertaining harridan - the sharp tongued matriarch of the Annable clan.’   

Entering number two (nobody knocked - you just walked in) we carefully trod around several little kids crawling along Aunty Gertie's spotless floor.   

As long as I could remember, Gertie's living room was full to overflowing with a humanity of Annables - fussing doting and cooing at their little ones. 

Gertie was generous.  The kettle was always on the boil supplying an endless supply of tea for the multitude.

       "Mash 'em some tea, Arr Fred."    

Two mugs arrived and Gary tried to look grateful for the tea he didn’t want - but the home-made fruit-cake was delicious. 

"Ear - Get thee chops round that!" ordered Aunty Gertie thrusting a tea plate at her grinning nephew.  "Thas like a bloody Cheshire cat!  

I liked Aunty Gertie.  Her entertaining banter was a treat.  She sounded and looked like a typical battle-axe.  At 81, with robust health she was still going strong, criticising, bossing, dominating and intimidating.   

The show went on and on, and it went better when I had an opportunity to direct.  I knew which mischievous buttons to press to get Gertie going.  

"We've been talking to Joey.  He put his hat on for us!" 

Bloody 'ell!  An t' bod on t' middle at table.  What must ya friend think?      

"Oh, it was different," said Gary, cautiously.  Slightly intimidated by the crowd in that small room.  Aunty Gertie continued her assault on Aunty Joyce - 

Nowt else ta do but talk tat bod all day.  Bloody pathetic.  Silly owd bogga!  Owd fashioned as Methuselah.  What must ya think, Gary?  An you from America where it's all posh. 

Crowded the room may have been - but there was plenty of room for the elephant in the room - the dread of homosexuality.  Nothing was ever said, but they all knew that nephew Narvel - couldn’t kick a football, couldn’t knock down a pint of beer, couldn’t defend himself with bare knuckles and worse - much worse - couldn’t fancy a lass. 

And Gary felt this too.  He had issues with his own family.  Accordingly, like me, he needed a change - a bit of gay company perhaps - and expressed a desire to meet the washed up drag act, Becksitch Betty who lived in Belper. 

Betty’s small room had a comfortable, quaint simplicity.  Darkened by heavily-curtained windows, a blazing fire shot out a cheerful warm orange glow. 

"Nice fire," complimented Gary. 

"Could be better," replied their host.  "Woodside 'ards!" (a cheap type of local coal)  "Like tryin' ta burn bloody slate!  Grey as me granny's 'air.’ 

Once more, I was mesmerised by a mouth which seemed to - move all round his face. 

‘That loose bitch next door - she gets Derby Brights  (the best local coal)  for nowt.  ‘She’s filthy!  A sat beind er at bingo.  Ya could grow bloody taters in her neck.’ 

This last precipitated a tirade against Betty's neighbours and his personal assessment of the social scene of lower Becksitch Lane. 

She stands need ta go on about my morals.  She's 'ad bloody coalman, dustman ... nowt but a tart - dirty cow!  She's 'ad more prick than a second 'and dart-board.  Criticisin' me!   

A cut off all 'eads of 'ere daffodils.  That's what a bloody did.  That'll learn 'er .. callin' me ta that dotty bugga other side, ya know, 'im as keeps piddlin' 'is bloody dotty toes.  An 'er filthy kids!  Thee stink!  Thee run round with their knickers droppin' down.  And that fat lass, one tooth black, one wobblin'.  What's up we 'im? 

Once again, I was breathless with laughter.  It was a splendid performance - however - we took note.  Becksitch Betty, when crossed, was capable of a spiteful act; vandalising the garden of a neighbour.  The old queen ranted on - 

"Can't keep 'er bloody legs closed."  Gary looked suitably shocked.  "Big family .. yes.  All ignorant as pigs. 

She feeds 'em boiled bones ya know .. oo are, an little 'n in t' chair, like a bloody monkey.  'Eee is enjoyin' them bones,' she sez.  

An grandma sitin' there, all bloody day, daft old bogga, three sheets ta wind, red face, piddlin' scabs on 'er legs, veins stickin' out, six bloody chins ... 

Gary had had enough of my weird and wacky friends and relatives.   

At the end of our UK holiday he’d met sneering snobs, Dolly, Nobby the Gnome, the Belper Crone, the Toad, Guzzley Granddad, Gutter Gobler etc etc ... 

Bog ole!  Belper!  No. Not for Gary. He yearned for the fleshpots of London, Paris, New York or San Francisco.  

To conclude - a tribute to Joyce.  Why did we get on so well?  Because we had a lot in common.  We were the butt of family jokes - the unmarried - the odd - the childless.  We shared this indignity.  It brought us together.  She liked me.  She respected me and when I became a teacher - she was proud of me.   

Know what - that meant everything.



Snobs Transcript


In 1965, I lived in Detroit but enjoyed an extended cycling holiday in Britain.  I was taken to the Friary Hotel in Derby, in those days an exclusive meeting place for upper class homosexuals - the elite Derby Camp as it was known.  David, my guide, affected a cut-glarrss accent.  During one picnic, he remonstrated with a group of curious cows - 

‘No.  No.  Go away, go away.’    

On another occasion, a man alighted from a Rolls Royce and said to his wife - ‘Come on dook, urry oop’ 

‘Oh dear!’ commented David, ‘It would have to be the self-made type’ 

On entry to The Friary, there seemed - soft silence and darkness.  Eventually, the eyes adjusted to dim lighting revealing a large Georgian emptiness - empty, except for a group of shadowy be-suited gentlemen standing near the bar.  Gradually, I discerned ... a low murmur of ornate voices in conversation.  ‘Oh yes, indeed, quite ... hear hear’ 

David and I approached the gathering.  All eyes were inclined to a big man, slightly stocky wearing a sneer on his aquiline profile.  It was a classic face, yet, I was utterly repelled by an artificial slimy drawl.  Words were exhaled in a breathy whisper.  The sibilance of voice was matched by a sickening softness of body. 

"Hilary Raymond Hawley," whispered David - sardonically - in the style of a grand announcement.  "He's HRH to the bitchy Nottingham Camp.  He has an extensive knowledge of royal families, parrst and present.  He knows all the royal highnesses and all the serene highnesses.  It fascinates him."      

Addressing the gathering, he was holding court with a narrative interrupted by a frequent, forced laugh - ha ha ha - a nauseating wheeze which accentuated his aristocratic sneer. 

"He's the number two," added David.  "Watch out!  He's powerful.  Not one to be crossed or it could mean social death.

Have you ... identified the boss?" 

At the moment of entry I had indeed identified the Top Man.  About a dozen pairs of eyes were on him ever looking for approval.   

The most striking aspect of Claud Hoadley - the First Homosexual of Derbyshire - was his posture.  Possibly this gave him that ... indefinable air of authority.  Hoadley was BOLT upright, straight as a pole - always.  

To this stern schoolmarrster, slouching was a sin and, in that room, every person appeared to be affected, appeared to be standing at attention, in dread of imminent reprimand which might shoot out like a whiplash. 

"Straighten up there boy!  How dare you loll in front of me!  Such disrespectful drooping is indicative of an indolent and disorderly mind." 

He had sharp clear-cut features with shrewd, cold, grey eyes and cruel lips.  

Hoadley's suit was distinguished by its superb cut.  He was the very quintessence of good taste and excellent grooming, from the top of his perfectly combed hair down to his highly polished, expensive shoes.   

Everything about Claud Hoadley was correct.  Those around him seemed to be anxious to approach his high standards. 

I was very impressed when this paragon broke into speech - I - a lowly Derbyshire teenager, in awe of an extraordinary accent.  If David's 'cut-glass' diction had been impressive, this Hoadley orgy of enunciation, such high art of lavish articulation - was more impressive. 

Do you know, it hit my Derbyshire ear like a thunderbolt.  One word in particular was drawn out with striking embellishment: 'after' became very southern, sounding like arrrfter. 

I noticed that on a walking holiday.  Very often, some peasant would say - 

‘Owe do’ - to which Hoadley would respond - ‘Good arrfternoon.’ 

In a Youth Hostel, he was holding court, mesmerising his admiring listeners with impressive vowels.  One woman said - 

       ‘Ooo - a say Gertie.  Dunt ‘e talk nice.  Ooo a could listen to im all day.’ 

Following a long hard walk, cold and starving, I was desperate for sustenance -  

‘Surely it’s near dinner time,’ I said, ‘Won’t the warden bang that gong?’   

‘No need to strike the gong, Narvel.  No.  We’re all so hungry - we’re HERE.’  All heads nodded. 

Friday Night at the Friary was a ritual for Claud’s retinue of elite homosexuals.  Class conscious values were communicated - subtly.  Members of the club were encouraged to appear to be, at all times, inwardly assured, stable, smug - even arrogant.  I was experiencing a culture shock.  Unlike in Detroit, in Derby discussion of money was considered vulgar, unearned privilege was admired and American pushiness deplored.   

Steered by Hoadley and Hawley, the conversation meandered around various subjects but the correct code of conduct came out loud and clear;  

manual work, technical skills, people in trade, self-made types and all manner of 'doers' - were to be despised by this entourage of nodding heads. 

I often reflect on that 'elite' of Derby queers - as they called themselves before the word gay came into general use - you were either queer or normal.  Oppressed people who - to make their own position safer - felt the need to denigrate other human beings regarded as inferior in the British class structure. 

These were the sad folk I described in Scruffy Chicken - affected professionals, fearful timid men trying to survive in the homophobic 'dark ages' of Derby in 1965.  A time when gay people tried to be invisible, a time when desires were repressed, were illegal, were a deep, dark dangerous secret. 

Claud Hoadley was now in full flow, holding full attention, denouncing The Beatles.  They’d just been awarded the MBE. 

‘It was an honour we should all aspire to.  But I arrsk you, what can we expect from a Labour Prime Minister?  Outrageous!  atterly, atterly outrageous.  That Canadian Member of Parliament ... Hilary - what was his name?" 

‘Ha ha, Hector Dupuis,’ replied the effeminate and effete Hilary Raymond Hawley. 

"Oh yes.  That man is quite right.  They are vulgar nincompoops.  Mr Dupuis has been cheapened, a gentleman of his position!"  He spat out the next sentence with gathering fury.   

"He’s been debased to the level of common working-clarrs ruffians.  I applaud his action in returning his insignia to the Palace.  I would have done the same.’ 

All heads nodded with approval - Hear! Hear!  Nobody dared to mention that Claud had never received an honour of any kind. 

Even David enunciated more carefully, more formally, in the regal presence of Claud Hoadley. 

The lofty shrewd eyes came to rest upon the scruffy youth who stood at the side of David.  The tone was sharp, clearly cool and censorial. 

"Good evening, David.  A soupcon late - perhaps - this evening.  I see you appear to have acquired ... a yang person.  May we know the name of this ... new acquisition?" 

"Good evening, Claud.  Well now, this is Narvel.  He lives in Detroit but he’s as English as the rest of us." 

"Indeed," replied the pedant.  "What part of England, may one arrsk?" 

"Horsley Woodhouse," I said.  I’d carefully and slowly pronounced both H's in Horsley Woodhouse, so carefully and so slowly - that it sounded like a foreign place in my own ears. 

That smug gathering knew, only too well, that the rough lad before them was much more accustomed to saying 'Ossly Wuddus'.  I winced under the slimy sneer of Hilary Raymond Hawley, who emitted one of his numerous breathy 'ha ha ha ha's'.        

Back in 1963 when I’d just arrived in the US, as a novel curiosity, I was invited to address a class at the local high school.    

Clean-cut, all-American hunky boys yelled out -

       "Greetings England!"  "Welcome to the US of A."  "Hi, buddy."  "Hi ya, Englishman." 

My former Heanor mates would have said - ‘Thee teckin t’ piss Dobba!’         

Questions were asked.  All went well until I started to describe my house..   

"We don't 'av asses like yours.  Arr ass's touchin' t' next ass.  Ya know, like ... sort a - all asses in a row, like.  Nar me mate orris - he’s got a nice ass ... 

This produced a sea of shocked faces.  Half a second later, there was an explosion of loud guffaws from raucous males.         

Teacher came to the rescue.  An important clarification.

       "Err, Narvel!  Perhaps you'll run that past us again.  I think you're referring to the building in which you live, if I'm not mistaken.  

No sweat.  Nothing wrong with the way you speak.  If these kids were bedder educated they’d know the French don't sound the H either.  I think you were referring to Horace’s HOUSE.’ 

Back to the Friary - something was said against a new progressive Canon at Derby Cathedral attempting to modernise the service.  I couldn’t believe it! 

"They go to church?"  I whispered to David.  I was shocked!  Homosexuals going to church! 

‘My dear boy!’ said David, ‘You have so much to learn - they practically own Derby Cathedral!  Smells and bells; they invented it.  I'm surprised the whole congregation don't rise when Hoadley and Hawley make the grand entrance.   

It's the same every Sunday, the great and good of Derby sit near the front, always in the same order.  First Miss Bulstrode, the headmistress of the prestigious Derby High School for Girls.  She chats with Hoadley in Latin and Greek.   

Then we have Hawley, who sits next to the tweedy Miss Penelope DeHaviland, the editor of Derbyshire Life and Countryside Magazine.  They exchange bits of gossip about the Lord High Sheriff and the Lord Lef - tenant.’       

Well so much for snobs.  People ask me - why did call it Scruffy Chicken?  The title is more a comment on the snooty snobs who made me feel scruffy.  Scruffy accent, scruffy clothes, scruffy education, scruffy friends, scruffy table manners etc. 

Looking back half a century, it seems to me that the ultra polished diction of nodding heads was an attempt to compensate for the low status of gays in general society. 

I’d guess that most of Hoadley’s devotees came from humble origins like me in Stanley Common existing in a primitive terrace cottage.  There was precious little difference between an £8 a week coal miner and a cotton picking slave.   

Yet, to uplift their lowly status, black homosexuals in Detroit drove around in huge beautiful automobiles with awe inspiring fins! 

At the same time most of my relatives with coal black faces after a day labouring in the bowels of the earth - well they went home on pushbikes. 

So there you have it - my African American friends asserting their status swanking at the wheel of a Lincoln Continental or a Cadillac  

and Claud Hoadley’s gang in Derby, asserting their superiority with affected vowels trying to sound like royalty! 

I really do think there is a strong link between them. 



Toad Transcript

This video features Mr TOAD - so called because he actually resembled a toad.  It also includes an obnoxious queen known as Betty and a nice little fat man called Dolly.

On the front cover of Scruffy Chicken you see a cyclist [that’s me] dwarfed by two craggy moss covered rocks each profiling - ugly faces.

Look carefully - and you’ll see a toad looking at an old hag.  The hag was Becksitch Betty.

Toad was the very essence of old-fashioned Englishness in its purest form.  He was as salty and as vulgar as a seaside postcard.


The best times of my life were not in the company of intolerant chickens.  They despised him.  No.  The best times were when we were together like two naughty little boys being tossed and blown about on the North Sea - on board the Bridlington Belle - under a perfect blue sky.

I didn’t know it at the time, but those precious moments back in 1965 were the beginning of a lifelong friendship, nay, a love affair; a love affair which would last into the 21st century.

Toad was quaint.  Toad was funny - a bundle of fun - a barrel of laughs.  He represented an amusing character in caricature - perhaps one of the last of the type.

I first heard about him in the company of a little camp queen called Dolly - the famous Dolly of Derby, an obese rotundity.  He looked like tea cosy on top of a ball.

Dolly!  It was the perfect name for this dolly tub creature who,

 With full, fat lips spoke nicely with beautiful round vowels.  Nice soft voice. 

I liked Dolly.  He was nice.  He took me to the little terraced cottage of another strange man, a nasty man, a washed-up drag act, actually, the infamous Becksitch Betty - so called because he lived on Becksitch Lane in Belper.

He was the ugliest man I’d ever seen.

‘Allo, Dolly!’ he said in effeminate tone, ‘Ooo's this then? (pointing to me) Ooo a say, Dolly, yav bin robbin' t' cradle!’  I was still a teenager.

His features and colouring had me utterly transfixed.  Discoloured skin was tightly pulled across a hideously sharp bone structure.  It was difficult to describe such a repulsive facial tint.  At times, it seemed to be livid, at other times - pallid - most unhealthy.

In full spate of chatter, that horrible face was mesmerizing. In a common accent, the mouth contorted and distorted as it painfully - heaved - forth its words.

It was like his mouth went all over his face.  Sort a talked like that.  Possibly from a broken jaw which deformed from side to side causing the full countenance to twist and writhe.

I was amused and yet repelled.  In that mobile face, mark you, I detected viciousness in the moving flesh, its kinks and its warps. 

He steered the subject to a certain Mr Toad.

       Ya know, Dolly, 'e never talks ta me.  'e looks grotesque.  'e does! 

The hideous continued to pass judgment on the hideous.

It's right!  'e looks just like a toad: oogly as sin.  'av ya seen 'im in that 'orrible car?

‘Oh yes,’ said Dolly, ‘I've told him to get a different car, if only to change the number plate - for cottaging you understand." 

Cottaging means going from toilet to toilet

Lives in them smelly lavatories, said Betty, addressing me.

"That ugly little car - it doesn't help," continued Dolly.  "It's the pugnacious way he's huddled over the wheel.  It rather suits him actually.  That car looks like a slug.

Toot toot!  Toot toot!  added Betty by way of sound effects.  Ya've ta ger out t' way before 'e knocks ya over.

 "Oh yes, he does like his tooter.  All part of his pushy personality you know."

Eventually, I gathered that it was the pupils of the Herbert Strutt Grammar School in Belper who, many years before, christened their odd little Music Master 'Mr Toad'.  According to Dolly, he was not only a very talented musician - but - he had … other … delightful talents to offer.

‘You should let me introduce you to him."   

Dolly's voice dropped.

He became conspiratorial.   

‘It's not what he looks like.  It's what he can do for you, Betty.  Now then!" 

This was uttered in a deep purr of strong significance as the fat man, with wide, orbicular eyes, head cocked to one side, advised his friend after the style of a parent giving sage advice to a child.  To emphasise, Dolly raised his finger.

"How many times have I've told you?  What do they say about Mr Toad?  You were on the front row when they were given out.  He’s a big lad.  He's especially good at what you like, Betty."

Becksitch Betty was getting interested.  His body writhed in anticipation.  His face twisted.  His crooked mouth became gymnastic.

Ooo a say!  A sometimes think, Dolly, eee - if somebody'd just give me one, just do it to me. 

Ooo it'd be grand it would.



Big Bill Bulman




 “Big Bill Bulman” who was an obese American gentleman I first met in 1966. 

Please note - I quote him directly using the offensive racist language of that period. 

At that time, Bill was resident in the Old Swan Hotel.  He was also resident, on a daily basis, in the Harrogate Royal Baths.  Exquisite services to fellow bathers are described in some erotic detail.  They queued up for it!  Masked behind a hot hissing haze of gurgling steam, a muscular tongue conscientiously satisfied a whole line of horny hunks. 

Big Bill, a cultured anglophile with a love of Harrogate’s beauty and charm, often expressed his feelings with a roaring Deep South accent. 

He wrote me letters raving about the crocuses which were - ‘as big as tulips!’ and bellowed self-promotion with - ‘I’m a landmark in these parts.’  

Some time towards the late 1980s, I was surprised to hear that he still lived in Harrogate.  The sad news of his death came shortly afterwards.  I wanted to honour his memory with a cameo - but also needed to inject honesty by exploring the paradox of his racial bigotry contrasted with an assertion of gay rights and the need for homosexual self-respect.   

Many former friends who share same-sex attraction have proved to be racially prejudiced and quick to discriminate.  Sadly, Big Bill, an amusing character recalled with affection, is a good example of that illogical ignorance.  

The big man’s throaty conversation was informative, thoughtful and cultured.  And yet, curiously at odds with his gruff manner.  In thick and crusty tones, Bill Bulman was able to deliver intelligent comment on a range of diverse subjects.   

He was a regular visitor to a rough and rowdy pub called The Junction in Bradford.  Intolerant of effeminate men, he was appalled by an outrageous and garrulous queen known as Hetty Howitt, who regularly held court.  This flamboyant flame admitted to 45, but a scruffy urchin called Fluff had been complimentary, suggesting that Hetty, well preserved, could get away with late thirties.  My private estimate was middle fifties.  Bill, however, was more experienced and less kind - with a sharp eye.  He let rip an explosive guffaw. 

That ol’ queen?  Forty five!  Why, that mendacious bitch!  Why, he’s a painted hag.  He done put the clock back some 20 years.  Next time – look again.  You’ll see more art than nature.  Check out the little haggard lines at the corners of his eyes.  And those eyebrows!  Why, they’re more black than a nigger’s ass; more black than nature ever intended.  Huh!” 

This fat old American from the Mississippi Delta possessed a curious mixture of innate racism and [for 1966] a progressive attitude to homosexuals.   

He passed judgement on the actor Alan Bates who had twice stayed at the Old Swan Hotel. 

Didn’t ya know?  Why, sure.  It’s true.  He’s as queer as a three dollar bill but he don’t like it.  No, sir.  He’s paranoid about his lover Peter Wyngarde.  Peter told me so himself.  

‘I have to walk two paces behind Alan.  If we go to a party, we can never arrive together.  I have to go earlier – or later.’ 

Shit!  I wouldn’t stand for that!  No way.  I’ve been in this hotel for years an I seen it all.  It is so sad.  

Dirk Bogarde.  He’s been here with his boys but … shit … creepin’ around the corridors ... obsessed with secrecy, caution an God knows what!   

I don’t say to shout it from the rooftops but if folks like us could just find the courage to acknowledge friendships …  Shit!   

We should face the world as we are.




Future videos will feature Mr Toad, Dolly, Becksitch Betty, Jasper the Belper Crone, Nobby the Gnome, Guzzly Granddad, Simon Tonks, Shaun Stokes, Monks and Muckles.   

These quirky curiosities were seen as the ‘lower orders’ by my collection of sneering snobs forming the Derby and Nottingham elites headed by Claud Hoadley and his ‘nodding heads’.  They include David Bond, Hilary Raymond Hawley (HRH) and the appalling Clarence Soames.        



Hello Readers, 

On February 29th 2016, Ian Skye of BBC Radio Derby interviewed me about my part in the Channel 4 film Secrets of the Sauna which premiered in the UK on March 2nd.  I found Ian and his roving reporter Alex Howick friendly and keenly interested in all aspects of the documentary.  Still a little under the weather recovering from a cold, our conversation was quite a tonic and perked me up no end.


Click here to hear the broadcast -




The titles below are available on kindle at

  £2.11  each

 Sea Change and

Death on the Derwent "Second Edition"

Are newly available in paperback

Click on titles below to look inside



Sea Change is Narvel's ninth title

For more information click on the NEWS page or here


Death on the Derwent was first published in 1999 in paperback and was sold out for many years, so we have re issued it by popular demand



To view Narvel's YouTube clips

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To see Narvel's Information Sheets

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Central Television and BBC Radio

Hello Readers,

The Central TV News item is available. Click on to the following

Central TV News video



Extract from Lost Lad and Heanor Schooldays 

Billy Fury, an icon of popular culture for Heanor youth in 1959 was the subject of discussion between Narvel Annable and John Holmes on BBC Radio Derby in 1998. John surprised the author by playing the original 1959 recording of Maybe Tomorrow at the start of the interview. Having not heard that particular version for some years, you can hear the emotion in Narvel’s voice.

The Heanor Market Café of 1959 had two halves. To the right of the central corridor, the snack bar, to the left a quieter dining room for meals. Above the clatter of pots, cutlery, comings and goings and the continuous hum of conversation, the young diner could hear melodic strains which travelled across the two rooms and passageway. Music came from something very un-Heanor, something new and different, rather like Simeon's American dream car. It was a space-aged, push buttoned chrome and gaudily illuminated cabinet called a 'jukebox' which needed to be fed a three-penny bit for one play, a silver sixpence for two plays, or five plays for a silver shilling. Fascinated eyes watched a mechanical arm lift selected popular 7" 45 rpm records and place them precisely on an automatic deck. As the needle fell into the lead groove, an anticipatory delicious electronic 'thud' would precede the ecstatic sounds to follow.

For the teenager in the next room munching through his beans on toast (or whatever) - this was the birth of real music. The charts of 1959 and 1960 were the very epicentre of his musical experience. Simeon Hogg would spend the rest of his life worshipping at that shrine of talented excellence. He will, forever more, listen with nostalgic reverence to the lush orchestrations and sexy boyish voices which sang out through that small window of creativity. Marty Wilde, Bobby Vee and Adam Faith crystallised and defined his fresh green hopes, inspired his dreams and fuelled his fantasies.

One day he was entranced by what seemed like a sweet sounding choir of angels ascending and descending the scale, complemented by a resonant twangy bass guitar. Into this euphonious mix came, exactly at the right time, a deep masculine voice with just a hint of the sexy adolescent croak so typical of this new young genre. He could easily have been mistaken for Elvis, but, these dulcet tones were a touch lighter and, for Simeon's taste, with great respect to The King - better. This sensuous singer had composed both the music and lyrics for this beautiful work which lasted barely more than a precious two minutes. After such an orgasmic audible experience, in complete contrast to the hateful pious dirges of just a stone's throw away at the bleak Dickensian Mundy Street Boys School, this new music now became an important part of his life at William Howitt Secondary Modern School – a culture of kindness.

During the following weeks, the same record was played every day. Simeon struggled to hang on to those illusive, hypnotic notes, above the ambient din of the busy Market Cafe. A few occasional words were discerned -
" ... and in the evening, by the moonlight ... "

He knew not the name of the singer or the song title to be able to ask for it in a record shop. A pointless exercise not possessing a record player, let alone the expensive seven shillings needed to purchase. Eventually the time came when, nervously, this scruffy youth entered a shop and held the precious vinyl disc with its grooved integral encoded magical music, bearing the legend - Maybe Tomorrow.

Later, in that same store, examining the sleeve of a prized long playing record; he stood very still and looked … and looked. He peered long and hard into the stunningly handsome features of his teenage idol - Billy Fury: an image of Heanor popular culture in 1959.

Since 1998, I've been interviewed on BBC Radio Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham, Manchester and Leicester.

To hear some of those conversations, click on the following

Archive radio interviews

The following link will take you to the BBC Radio Derby interview of January 14th 2013. All extraneous items have been edited out to leave about 20 minutes of my conversation with Andy Potter.

Andy Potter interview

Best wishes,






Narvel Annable's Biography has been posted on the Writing East Midlands website. He is available for Community Group Work / Lectures / Talks / Panels / Live Performances and Workshops.


Narvel & Terry at the  Belper Literary Festival

on May 18th. 2013



About Narvel Annable

My life has been a series of re-inventions. In September 2010, a sudden promotion catapulted me from local to global author. The Nazca Plains Corporation in Las Vegas published my fourth novel Secret Summer which is now available all over the world. This boosted the sales of previous efforts including Lost Lad set in Heanor, Derbyshire; a rugged, macho, homophobic, hill top colliery town. Lost Lad follows the transformation of a miserable prepubescent into the confident and happy adolescent who was re-invented and rechristened Dobba by his mates. This move from a grim, gas lit, Dickensian Church of England all boys junior school in 1958 to Howitt Secondary School, a culture of kindness, was a dramatic improvement.

The first part of Lost Lad documents growing suspicion brewing in Heanor at Mundy Street Boys School, 1955 to 1957, where I was subjected to a daily routine of physical and psychological torture. My day started with prayers and hymns and ended with a desire to be dead. Every day, one damaged boy endured humiliating experiences affording no mercy. A sadistic schoolmaster encouraged aggressive taunts, brutal insults, screaming jeers reducing an already wretched boy to a very low level of self esteem. And all that was dismissed as 'part of growing up'.

It's cultural. The Annable's had been lumbered with a lad who was 'not a proper lad'. A son who showed no interest in football and could not defend himself with bare knuckles in the playground brought dishonour upon his working class family.




A further re-invention is described in my second autobiographic novel Scruffy Chicken. It took place in 1963 when I immigrated into the United States and arrived in Detroit on the day before the assassination of President Kennedy. It was a steep learning curve. The repressed Derbyshire teenager of thick accent, deeply locked inside his shameful homosexual closet, had to fit in as a clean cut American, to be comfortable with his all-white racist buddies and appear hot to trot for the chicks.

The following years in Motown involved several jobs before graduating from Eastern Michigan University (magna cum laude) in 1975 followed by a year teaching African-American history at St Bridget High School. Adapting to this strict Catholic environment, behind respectable spectacles, Narvel imitated his former teachers and transformed himself into a strict schoolmaster with traditional views. This was a far cry from his parallel existence, the promiscuous, secretive chicken who consorted with Negroes and haunted the notorious bath houses of Detroit, Chicago and New York from 1964 to 1976.

People have asked me, 'why did you describe yourself as a scruffy chicken during your 1965 six month vacation in Britain?' Scruffy in the title of Scruffy Chicken is not so much a comment on me; it is more a criticism of the Derby and Nottingham snobs who made me feel scruffy, scruffy accent, scruffy clothes, scruffy manners, scruffy education etc.


Narvel Annable, Peter Tatchell & Terry Durand




       Terry       Julie       Peter         Sonya     Narvel


The secretive world of same-sex attraction in the East Midlands of the mid 1960s was very different from the gay scene in America where, for the most part, men behaved like men. By British standards Detroit was classless, a doctor sounded the same as a dustman. Immaculately dressed effeminate English homosexuals used their refined affected accents to demean and exclude roughly spoken homosexuals classed as 'the lower orders'. These were the invisible people who inhabited an underworld of seedy public houses and back street lavatories. Scruffy Chicken uncovers this twilight world of curious characters - queens, crones, gnomes, toads, goblins, feral boys - who were warped by vicious homophobic cruelty and bigotry of mid 20th century Britain.

The following year, a rollercoaster of passion and pain, magic and menace, is celebrated in my latest novel Secret Summer. In 1966 I fell in love with a mysterious tough guy who held me in the grip of agony and ecstasy. The title - a comment on the necessity for gay teenage boys to lust in secret, hunt in secret and love in secret, is, sadly, still true here in the 21st century.

After several annual holidays in the UK in the late 1960s and early 1970s, chronic homesickness fuelled my departure from Detroit, in 1976, to resettle in Derbyshire. In the September of that year, I met my future long term partner Terry Durand who was married with children. The trauma and shock of coming to terms with his life-long repressed same sex attraction triggered a breakdown and several weeks in a psychiatric hospital. Electric shock aversion therapy was suggested as a 'cure' for his homosexuality. This low point was followed by a painful and slow journey to eventual contentment and happiness.

  Narvel & Terry on Honeymoon in Matlock Bath in 1976


On September 3rd 2013, we celebrated our 37 years together.

From 1978 to 1995, I was a history master at the Valley Comprehensive School in Worksop, North Nottinghamshire, quietly doing my job, keeping my head down, keeping my private life very private and contributing nothing to the gay cause. Like many other homosexual teachers, I was isolated, terrified of being exposed as 'a queer'. I was frightened of being humiliated by ignorant pupils and colleagues in a deeply conservative homophobic colliery community.

During this same period, 'out and proud' brave people were giving an enormous boost to the fledgling Campaign for Homosexual Equality. A good example was Richard McCance who was elected to Nottingham City Council in 1983. He went on to publish a gay and lesbian free sheet which eventually expanded to 16 pages with a circulation of 5000 which must have given succour and hope to untold numbers in the LGBT community. Well done! He did all this. I did nothing.

Gay sex was decriminalised in 1967. However, people like me, hiding in my small bungalow in the pit village of Clowne, in the 1980's, effectively existed as outlaws dodging disapproval, violent thugs and the dreaded plain-clothes police who haunted gay venues as agents provocateurs.

To support this assessment of a bleak decade, a disturbing incident seared into my memory. I was sussed out and approached by a distressed teenage boy,  a grim picture of self-hate - tormented by a strong sexual attraction for other boys. He needed to know that there were others like himself. He needed a sympathetic ear and practical advice. In fear of losing my job and the good opinion of my colleagues, I gave him neither. I played safe. To my eternal shame, I turned my back on this cry for help.

The second incident, a few months later, was horrific. He turned up at my door! He was a shadow of his former self, appearing pale, drained and defeated, accompanied by a woman and a child. This unfortunate young man, like two former friends in Detroit, had been brain-washed, bible-bashed into a heterosexual zombie. He spoke a few well rehearsed words about sin and redemption before, for the second time, out of fear, I made polite apologies and closed my door on this victim of active evangelism and rabid homophobia.

Cue a further re-invention: in 1995 I seized an opportunity to escape from the restricting bonds of being a bogus heterosexual schoolmaster to become a writer. I wrote as I taught, with caution, hiding my true face from those who would condemn me as immoral, wicked and sinful at worst, sick, abnormal and disordered at best.



Several local newspapers and gay magazines have supported me in printing letters which challenge medieval religious attitudes. See LETTERS in this website and read about my confrontations with Catholics, Pentecostals, Mormons, the Salvation Army and Jehovah's Witnesses. I am grateful to The Independent for allowing my voice to travel far and wide on the subject of Christian and Muslim fundamentalism. Especially pleasing was the letter printed in The Independent on August 23rd 2011 in which I criticise the damaging 'deep and sincere views' held by Lillian Ladele and also the homophobic foster parents in Derby, Eunice and Owen Johns.

After two efforts dealing with my early schooldays, Death on the Derwent, published in 1999, was received with polite encouraging comments in the local press. This first novel, like the author, was peopled by frustrated and inhibited gay characters. It was followed by the biography of a former teacher, A Judge Too Far in 2001. However, His Honour Keith Matthewman QC is not the judge I best remember. That honour goes to a High Court Judge of the Old Bailey' Sir Brian Smedley 1934-2007 who was partly the inspiration for Martin Harcourt QC in Scruffy Chicken and Secret Summer.


Click on above to enlarge

In mid 1960s gay circles, it was common knowledge that Brian was a Barrister. I met him frequently in several venues and drooled over his beautiful white Jaguar. He was a regular at our 'gentleman's club, the Derby Turkish Bath and was a prestigious dinner guest in the homes of senior members of the Derby and Nottingham LGBT community.



Richard Narvel & Terry at the  Belper Literary Festival

on May 18th. 2013

In researching A Judge Too Far, it was a coincidence to discover that Keith and Brian shared a close friendship which went back to their early barrister days in Chambers at The Ropewalk in Nottingham. In a formal letter, a blast from the past, I politely asked Sir Brian if he would care to contribute to the biography by sharing any interesting or entertaining anecdotes about his one time colleague Keith Matthewman. It seemed foolish to pretend that we were strangers, so, in the last paragraph, I touched on the fact that we had met and mentioned memorable dinner parties and the names of a few old friends from our past.

His reply was hurtful. It included a few useful references to his teaching days in Long Eaton and recollections of his association with Keith and Jane Matthewman. Notwithstanding, at the end, his tone became stern and rather grand. Sir Brian Smedley, the High Court Judge of the Old Bailey informed me that I was mistaken. He had no memory of a teenager called Annable, no memory of dinner parties or any of the people cited.

For some minutes I stared into that letter from a man who once, after dinner, counselled good advice to an anxious boy trying to navigate through a frequently unreliable world of secretive gay men riddled with all their own personal problems, repressions and hang-ups. It felt like a slap in the face. And yet - this lordly figure on high - resplendent in his judicial robes had set off a process which released me from my own repressions and hang-ups.

Another re-invention? I think so. The writer of mediocre and safe subjects would transform into a writer of important issues, essentially, he would battle with the bigotry and ignorance which had blighted his life, homophobia. After an escape from teaching, the fire in my belly became a positive force for good. It burnt bright and hot, fuelled by a deeper understanding of gay history and the injustice which spanned centuries of human existence. The discovery of writing and fighting for the LGBT cause gave my life a new shape and real purpose.


Click on above to enlarge


On June 1st 2010, The Independent printed my letter responding to a personal and political tragedy which had come as a great blow to the new coalition government. It could have been about Brian Smedley. It was, in fact, about the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Laws, who had just resigned after the exposure of his secret lover, James Lundie, a relationship unknown even to family and friends.

Drawing on personal experience, I argued that continuing to be defensive and closeted about his sexuality, David Laws allowed homophobic elements in the heterosexual majority to portray being gay as a personality flaw, or worse. Over the previous ten years, his conduct has contributed to undermine and undervalue the lives of millions of people like me, making it more difficult to fight bigotry, discrimination and ignorance.

To support this position, I referred to Alan Bates and his secret lover Peter Wyngarde who complained, 'I'm told to walk two paces behind Alan. If we go to a party, we can never arrive together. I have to arrive earlier, or later'.

Alan and Peter make a brief appearance in Secret Summer.


Picture by David Hemm taken at Nottingham Pride


When Lost Lad was published in 2003, sales slumped when local readers uncovered a gay theme. A local councillor told me, 'After page 45, I didn't want to read any more'. A few others had misunderstood the homoerotic adolescent incident, graphically described in the Belper Baths locker room, which actually happened in the summer of 1959. It was as much about boasting and boyhood power as experimental sex.

This dip in sales was dramatically reversed after strong support from an unexpected quarter in September 2005. On the strength of previous titles, the Belper Women's Institute asked me to talk to them about my work. I accepted and sent them a selection of press cuttings and comments about Lost Lad to assist the members in framing questions. Within a few days, a curt letter arrived withdrawing the invitation stating that 'It would not be suitable for our ladies.' As I pondered this missive through doleful eyes, the phone rang. The caller, from Torquay, described herself as a 66 year old grandmother who attends church regularly.

'I've just finished your novel. I'm deeply moved by the sorrow and hurt suffered because of your sexual orientation. Thank you so much for that window into an interesting life and the guided tour of hills and dales of Derbyshire: so picturesque.'

Appreciation for these comments was expressed. However, she heard the melancholy in my voice and asked why her enthusiasm was received in such gloomy tones. I explained.

'What are you going to do about it?'

'People like me are used to this sort of attitude. There's not much I can do'

'Well! I know what I can do about it, and will do!'

She wrote a lengthy letter of outrage to the Derby Telegraph and Belper News. The latter sported a front page headline screaming   'NO GAY SEX PLEASE, WE'RE THE BELPER WI'  followed by text sympathetic to the rejected guest speaker.



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The Derby Telegraph COMMENT of September 21st 2005, under the headline  'A STANCE ROOTED IN THE PAST' - fully supported my position. That, in turn, was buttressed by a full page under a banner headline  'Gay author's talk is scrapped by WI ' and sub headline    'Blatant discrimination shocks retired teacher'.  Both papers displayed a large photograph of the author holding up the front cover of his latest effort Lost Lad. The result: hundreds of copies were sold!

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Sales were further buttressed by coverage on Central News, the local East Midlands TV.

Narvel Annable would like extend a big 'thank you' to the Belper WI and the kind reader from Torquay.

This event boosted my name and fame [or infamy] from local to national level. Many UK libraries stocked Lost Lad and Scruffy Chicken which followed in 2006. I can even credit these good ladies for ensuring that The Nazca Plains Corporation in Las Vegas had become aware of me when they received the Secret Summer manuscript in the August of 2010. 


Terry Durand and Ian Campbell

An invitation from Local Authorities and libraries to talk about my work has been especially helpful in educating and challenging homophobic ignorance. Support from the Nottingham Evening Post, Derby Telegraph and the Belper News to publicise these events, has been both generous and essential to achieve a healthy turn-out, and quite often a full house.



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In February 2007, via the Derby Telegraph, Derby City Council invited the public to hear readings from Scruffy Chicken at the Central Library and engage the author in conversation. In the audience, I was delighted to see the former Mayor of the City of Derby, Robin Wood, whose contribution in questions and comment was much appreciated.

Also in that gathering was an unknown Canadian who took a special interest in the proceedings which would give Scruffy Chicken international promotion. On May 10th 2007, Vancouver's Lesbian and Gay Biweekly newspaper XTRA! West,  ran a generous half page feature under the headline  'Ugly Old Trolls' and sub headline  'Gay life through the eyes of a scruffy chicken 'OLD VS YOUNG'  by Brad Teeter. Thank you, Brad.


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All these events are well documented with press cuttings which appear on my regular A4 hard copy News Sheets which started with Sheet 1 in 2003. The XTRA! West feature dominated Sheet 77 and, at the time of writing, the most recent Sheet 130, dated June 2011, is typical. Three letters about a courageous gay prison inmate called Richard appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post and Derby Telegraph. To give depth, my original letter is placed next to a letter of support and a critical letter. Next to a photograph of the Nottingham Council House, there is an item from Nottinghamshire?s Queer Bulletin about the Nottinghamshire's Rainbow Heritage Celebration Evening in the Council House Ballroom in February 2011. Two further pictures show a display board highlighting my campaigning and letters over the last three years. A caption gives thanks to Roger Hollier for his skill, time and trouble in producing this effective exhibit.

If readers are interested in seeing any of these 130 sheets, free of charge, I can post via 'large letter' up to 12 sheets at a time. Please send a postal address to  or write to me at 44 Dovedale Crescent, Belper, Derby DE56 1HJ,  or phone 01 773 82 44 83.


On Sheet 83 - the Heanor Library event of February 2008 was also memorable. The two back rows where full of women - so enthusiastic, so supportive in body language, so helpful in eye contact - they deserve special mention. Throughout my gay life, I have seen a continuing social apartheid between gay men and lesbians. How very sad ? one half of homosexual humanity ignoring the other half. If we take that attitude, we are all diminished and socially impoverished.

The success of Lost Lad gave me the opportunity to be interviewed on Central Television, BBC Radio Derby and BBC Radio Nottingham. Scruffy Chicken took me further afield. BBC Radio Manchester [GMR] invited me to discuss the novel twice during March 2006. In 'Gay Talk'  Nigel Soni said ,

'Scruffy Chicken was a great read. I know it's the old clich' but,  really; I just couldn't put it down!'

In the following edition of 'Gay Talk', I was in conversation with its producer, Ashley Byrne who took a special interest in my next project Secret Summer.

On April 3rd 2006, I was the guest of Rony Robinson of BBC Radio Sheffield. Several phone calls from interested listeners extended the interview up to one hour. It was good to be invited back in March 2010 to discuss issues raised in Secret Summer. I had the opportunity to be a part of the BBC Radio Sheffield discussion on homophobia ahead of Sheffield Pride on July 16th 2011. Giving air time to these important matters was appreciated. It was kind of Toby Foster to invite my comments on the gay marriage controversy on August 20th 2011.

I'd like to thank the Sheffield Star. Over the years, it has printed my letters, articles and one full page feature [Sheet 52] on Scruffy Chicken by Martin Dawes - 18.04.06. It highlighted trials suffered during a lifetime trying to hide from the ignorance, prejudice, discrimination and bigotry from some of the heterosexual majority.

On April 24th 2006, Julie Mayer of BBC Radio Leicester asked questions about Scruffy Chicken. She focused on my life and encounters with homophobia.

As part of Gay History Month, February 2009, Nottinghamshire's Rainbow Heritage invited me as Guest of Honour to the launch of 'View from the Top' the biggest LGBT exhibition in the UK at Waterston's in Nottingham. It is a valuable collection of photographs, books, pictures, diagrams, newspaper cuttings and a wide range of LGBT memorabilia going back many years. Had it not been for the brave efforts of Nottinghamshire's Rainbow Heritage, Scruffy Chicken would never have seen the light of day.

In March 2009, Derby City Council held a Tri-Network Event in which I was invited to address the gathering about my life and work.

In January 2010, the Derbys Rainbow Fringe Festival asked me to speak at Derby Central Library and also at a number of other venues for Gay History Month, February 2010. After putting sparkle and hope into a usually drab month, they organised, managed, promoted and hosted several LGBT events in the autumn of that year and the following Gay History Month of February 2011. I am grateful to have been associated with the Derbys Rainbow Fringe Festival. They gave me the opportunity to speak at Chesterfield Library, Derby University and to have the honour of introducing Peter Tatchell on his first visit to Derby.

Other invitations as a guest speaker came from Nottinghamshire's Rainbow Heritage. In February 2010; I gave readings from Secret Summer to a full house at the Voluntary Action Centre. I'm indebted to the Editor of Queer Bulletin for providing necessary publicity for my books, several Nottinghamshire engagements and some campaigning letters, not least the sudden disappearance of Jack Carrier in QB January 2011.

It happened in our colliery village of Stanley Common in 1959 when I was a frustrated, deeply repressed 14 year old scruffy chicken. We had a shy and gentle postmaster called Jack Carrier. One day he was there - the next day he was gone!

'What's happened to him?' I asked mother.

'That one! Huh! Good riddance,' she snapped. 'E were one of them funny sorts. No good to any woman,' she growled.

The effect on me? Well, it was the same as the effect on hundreds of thousands like me. I hid inside of myself. I became withdrawn and tried to pretend to desire girls. I drifted into a secret world of fear and insecurity.

Clearly Jack had been discovered in some way, denounced and driven out of Stanley Common by ignorant homophobic outrage. In those dark days of rabid gay hate, it was considered quite natural for a heterosexual to 'chat up' a woman. However, if a homosexual engaged another man in conversation, that was seen as 'soliciting for an immoral purpose'. Many victims were entrapped by the CID in plainclothes and humiliated in the local press. Did this happen to Jack?.

The above formed the main theme of my visit to North Nottinghamshire College in Worksop, when I addressed students and staff on the subject of homophobic ignorance in March 2009. On the strength of that occasion, in the following July, I delivered a similar talk to an audience of Nottinghamshire teachers in Mansfield at the West Nottinghamshire College. Following an imaginative presentation about homophobic bullying by Councillor Ian Campbell - (future Mayor of Retford)  to make my point, I revisited the pain and suffering of a famous actor called Wilfrid Brambell who was entrapped by agents provocateurs in 1962.

Cruel and humiliating tabloid headlines screamed out 'Old Man Steptoe caught importuning to commit a lewd act' .  'Albert Steptoe arrested by police' and 'TV Junk Man charged with gross indecency'.

Splashed over the pages of the popular press, this reinforced the generally held prejudice that a homosexual looked and acted just like the shambling, dirty decrepit, toothless, unshaven old man better known to the nation as Albert Steptoe. I'm grateful to Gay Times [Sheet 102] for printing my letter about this event in October 2009.

In May 2010 [Sheet 111] in recognition of valuable contributions to the LGBT Community of Derby, along with several others, Derby Pride nominated me for the Jeffery Tillett Award. Quite an honour. However, many of us concurred with the choice of the eventual winner who has done so much to improve the quality of life for local gay people. His insistence that the award be presented to the whole Derbyshire Friend team of conscientious workers / volunteers will add even more respect and prestige to the good name of Toni Montinaro MBE.

Derbyshire Friend ,  01 332 20 77 04

In February 2010, I was also nominated for an Equity Partnership Award for Best Individual Contribution to LGB Communities in Bradford at a prestigious ceremony in the French Ballroom of the Midland Hotel. Once again, a better man won. Mark Michalowski, for many years the editor of Shout! Magazine has made an invaluable contribution to the West Yorkshire gay community.

It is always heartening to have a campaigning voice travel far and wide. I would like to thank the Bradford Telegraph & Argus for printing a number of my letters on gay issues ? not least the generous full page 'Book of the Week' feature by Emma Clayton praising Secret Summer on April 15th 2011. The last nine chapters are set in Yorkshire. See Sheet 124.

Whilst not hailing from Bradford, I had been invited as guest speaker at several Bradford Pride events and also at the first ever Civic Reception for the LGB communities in the city to mark the International Day Against Homophobia in May 2009.

Paul Hunt, leading light of West Yorkshire, Chief Features Writer of SHOUT! Magazine and chairman of Bradford?s LGB focus group told the Derby Telegraph ?

'All Narvel's books are successful in Yorkshire. We felt he would give an excellent speech and connect strongly with the hundreds of people who will be there on this IDAHO Day.'

Dating from his review of Scruffy Chicken in 2007, Paul Hunt has been a stalwart source of encouragement and support for my activism and writing. Thank you, Paul.

In some of my letters to the press, in an assessment of gay progress, you will see the occasional use of the clich' 'We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go'. How true. There is plenty of evidence to support both cases. For example, 21 year old gay man, Oliver Hemsley might well take a pessimistic view of LGBT progress. During a homophobic attack in October 2008, he was battered over the head with a glass bottle and stabbed seven times, leaving him permanently paralysed and disabled. This, one of many 'queer bashings', was near the George and Dragon, Oliver?s local gay pub.

There had been warnings, and those warnings continue! In early 2011, stickers were plastered around East London declaring it to be a 'Gay Free Zone,' threatening that Allah's punishment for homosexuality was severe.

Graeme Taylor who attends high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA might well take an optimistic view of LGBT progress. At the age of 14, he is an excellent, confident speaker. In August 2011, he was a guest on an American national TV programme,  the 'Ellen De Generes Show'  courageously explaining how and why he came out of his closet, telling his friends he was gay.

Martin Luther King told us that 'people shouldn't be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character. I want to be treated in the same way. I should not be judged by who I love.'

A New Novel from Narvel

Sea Change

A Mystery set in Derbyshire 1958

Here is a controversial story of transformation: a journey from despair to delight. Adolescence is the change from boy to man. In a sequel to Lost Lad, Simeon Hogg escapes from a living hell into an enchanted world of fairytale people inhabiting the hidden nooks and crannies of deepest Derbyshire. Follow him as he transforms from a rough and miserable urchin who - 'suffers a sea-change into something rich and strange'  as sung by Ariel, the airy spirit from The Tempest.

In previous titles, Narvel Annable has disclosed a promiscuous life style. He includes confidential erotic and embarrassing details which many gay boys and men of the 1950s have taken to their graves. In this brutally honest autobiographic novel, he goes further. He revisits his Dickensian Mundy Street Boys School ordeal of sex slavery and cruel bullying in Heanor. He reveals more youthful adventures set in the shadowy world of homosexuality. With the help of legislation and enlightened education, the gay community of the 21st century hopes these horrors, which have damaged so many, have gone forever.

This novel explodes myths and challenges conventional thinking. Whilst not condoning, it does not condemn. At the brink of self destruction, Simeon's sexual abuser becomes his saviour, persuading him, giving him courage to escape and live,  rather than to stay and die.

Hopefully to be published before Christmas 2014

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Narvel’s links with Matlock Bath

The Grand Pavilion Project

Last October 2012, Terry and I were pleased to become Friends of the Grand Pavilion and take an interest in the regular emails sent to us by Gregor Macgregor.

I’m grateful to Trina for time and trouble invested in visiting Terry and myself on the Monday morning of March 11th. She told me it was a preliminary interview in advance of a more formal recording for the Oral History part of the Grand Pavilion Project. An hour with Trina was quite an experience! An entertaining whirlwind of enthusiasm and energy, she must be a powerful asset for the Grand Pavilion Project.

To slay the dragon of prejudice and discrimination, I was delighted the project wanted to hear from people like me and my partner of 37 years, Terry Durand. Most of us meet gay people every day – but don’t know it. LGBTs can make themselves invisible! Being open about our sexuality is the best way to cut through decades of fear and mythology. To be closeted and secretive, simply hands ammunition to the hostile.

Terry and I spent our ‘honeymoon’ in our favourite resort of Matlock Bath at the Temple Hotel in the first week of September 1976. In the following week, after the stress of coming to terms with his sexuality, Terry suffered a breakdown, was removed to a psychiatric hospital [Mickleover] and offered Electric Aversion Therapy to ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality.

Homophobia is unacceptable. I hope the Oral History will address this particular ignorance and turn it around in a positive way to promote that positivity. In this way, people who hear our voice might be educated on an issue which, especially in rural England, only a few years ago, was considered taboo.

Around Matlock Bath and The Grand Pavilion there is a whole untold secret history – now told in two novels Scruffy Chicken and Secret Summer - copies of which I have donated to The Grand Pavilion together with several sheets of cuttings for background information. Extracts from the Matlock Mercury and Derby Telegraph highlight my long-term connection with Matlock Bath.

A former friend, Matlock man and popular drag act Herbert Siddons [1924-2003] was famous for his Old Mother Riley impersonations at the Matlock Lido in the 1950s and 1960s. The Matlock Mercury feature Popular Drag Artiste Remembered was printed on March 16th 2006. It explains how Herbert inspired the character of Becksitch Betty inScruffy Chicken. An odd effeminate man, he had a strangely mobile writhing mouth: it seemed to move all over his face, possibly the result of a broken jaw.

I have a faint memory of Herbert reminiscing about his appearances at the Matlock Picture Palace and the Matlock Bath Grand Pavilion. He also performed as Carmen Miranda and Gracie Fields.

The principal character of Secret Summer, a gorgeous butch-as-a-brick hunk I call Ahmed, detested all effeminate men and especially Matlock Bath! During his first visit to the UK in 1967, at his expense, we travelled around in an impressive flashy Ford Zodiac staying at top hotels. He loved London and was keen to visit the Derbyshire his ‘Booby’ [pet name for Narvel] had always raved about. I thought Matlock Bath was the most beautiful place in the world. My lover had hardly ventured out of hideous-flat-tar-and-cement Detroit. Therefore, I was so sure - once he had explored the mossy nooks and crannies of this idyllic Derbyshire Shangri-La – Ahmed would never want to leave it. To my horror, he wanted to leave it, as soon as he set eyes on it!

As a contrast to the posh hotels, I booked us into a quaint friendly B&B called The Laurels at the foot of Holmes Road where it meets Brunswood Road. It was a favourite.

The Christmas before, I infuriated one of Derby’s snooty set by leaving the party with a fellow teenager, a stunning stud with golden hair. Our host, Claud Hoadley, as I call him in Scruffy Chicken, the First Homosexual of Derbyshire, ranted about this ‘unacceptable elopement’ in which two chickens, perfect strangers, presented themselves at the door of The Laurels asking for accommodation under heavy snow fall in the bleak midwinter. The kind lady showed us a double bed – no questions asked. An excellent breakfast complete with a pretty yuletide view over the magnificent panorama of High Tor was just as romantic.

Six months later, Detroit met Derbyshire – it was hate at first sight. In sulky silence Ahmed and his Booby strolled along North and South Parade. Nothing pleased the American; nothing charmed him. Deeply in love, I’d dreamed of the day when we’d steal a kiss on Lovers Walk - but he refused even to cross the River Derwent via Jubilee Bridge. He found the whole thing primitive (I think he said ‘medieval’) nasty, common, parochial and horribly cheap. The disaster came to an abrupt end after a miserable night on a lumpy bed in The Laurels. He would not eat breakfast and even declined a cup of tea practically throwing two pound notes at the bemused lady – ten shillings more than she needed. We were back in London before noon. I was utterly miserable - but we refused to give up - desperately trying to bridge the unbridgeable, attempting to make our fragile relationship work against a backdrop of hostile homophobia.




Sea Change

Secret Summer

Scruffy Chicken

Lost Lad

A Judge Too Far

Death on the Derwent


Heanor Schooldays

Copyright 2006 Narvel Annable. All Rights Reserved.