Narvel Annable 




Photo Album



Guest Speaker Grace Moronfolu MBE


On November 20th 2019, Grace Moronfolu MBE was our guest speaker at Belper Golden Rainbows.  She gave a clear informative presentation.  We all came away with a much better understanding of her excellent work in the Crown Prosecution Service.  As expected, her good name attracted a generous turnout of 14 interested listeners. 

Grace has every reason to be proud of her brilliant original initiatives in the National Black Crown Prosecution Association and the CPS LGBT Network.  She has done so much to tackle the appalling bigotry, ignorance and suffering which are rooted in religious dogma.  Her two booklets of 2017 and 2018 are valuable references.  It was most helpful for the group to have Grace talk us through the text. 

Malcolm proved to be much more than the handsome son of the beautiful mother.  His charm, sensitivity and courteous social skills were enjoyed and well received by other members of our group who engaged with him.  Mother and son made an effective team. 

Malcolm took a brilliant photograph of the group in our Belper Cottage Project meeting room.  This was posted on FaceBook by Project Officer John Yates-Harold on behalf of Derbyshire LGBT +. 

From left to right – Terry, Fred, John, Michael, Georgia, Beth, Grace holding Double Life and Narvel.



Below are three photos taken at Belpers North Mill prior to Golden Rainbows club.




Strutt’s North Mill Museum 


Regarding the visit from Belper Golden Rainbows LGBT group last October 16th - I’d like to thank the Museum team who kindly made us very welcome on our first visit to the North Mill. 

Mill Guide, Stella Howitt [in blue] conducted a most interesting and entertaining tour.  Although the group was eight strong, Stella had the knack of making the individual visitor feel she was speaking just to YOU. 

We were eight - civilian volunteer assisting the police, Beth joined PC Fred Bray and myself on one of our monthly outings.  PC Garry was there with his assisting officer and Emma, a Police Photographer, recorded the event with her camera.  Other regular attendees of the Cottage Project were Ken and Michael who kindly took further pictures for Facebook and Twitter. 

I hope Belper Golden Rainbows can build on this memorable and enjoyable visit to Strutt’s North Mill Museum.  Perhaps we can do it again next year?



Project Officer, John Yates-Harold launched Golden Rainbows Same Sex Hand Holding Event at Number 28 in Belper on October 12th. 

Here are the hand holding photographs of Terry, Fred and Narvel taken to promote this initiative. 





Derby Pride September 7th 2019

The Derby Telegraph has provided pictures of the Derby Pride March including two excellent photographs of the Belper Golden Rainbows banner.


The first one - left to right - Terry, Bill, Kevin and Narvel.

The second one - Bill, Kevin, Narvel and Michael.


I’m most grateful to Michael for supporting us on the September 7th Pride March which will now be coined Michael’s March.  His company is enjoyable.  I was touched by his concern and kindness to a friend in need of support.  Michael’s compassion exemplifies what PRIDE is all about – we look after each other.   

We were all part of a massive colourful concentration of humanity, a long line of festivity which, on that day, had crowded into the City of Derby.  

The multitude moved on to create a good natured legion of LGBTs celebrating in a massive party in the Bramble Street area - the home of Derbyshire LGBT +.


Belper's First Pride Aug 3rd. 2019

Narvel & Allan



Taken at the top of King Street by Allan Morton


Terry (Narvel's husband) & Greg (archivist)

I visited the impressive Victorian Derbyshire County Council HQ building in Matlock, standing proudly on top of the steep hillside, in late March 2017.  Belper Golden Rainbows regular Iain Greenwood was also with me.  

We went to see the new LGBT History Exhibition produced by imaginative Derbyshire LGBT+ project leader, Greg Pickup. He had recently been awarded £86,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to organize two years of activities, displays and events across the county and beyond.  I’m delighted to have been asked to give talks and record video interviews about Other Stories.

Iain and I passed through the great hall and eventually came to a grand edifice proclaiming RECEPTION.  I spoke to the receptionist.

       ‘Hello.  Could you please point me to the Other Stories Exhibition?’

       ‘What is that?’ said the lady who was clearly puzzled.’

       ‘It’s the new gay display of old photographs, documents, letters and miscellaneous memorabilia.  That kind of thing.’

       ‘GAY?’ replied the woman in a disapproving tone, her thin lips now pressed tightly together.

       ‘Somewhere in this vast building,’ I asserted, ‘is a well advertised county wide LGBT small museum which we would like to see.  Surely you must know about it!’

       ‘We have nothing like that HERE.’ replied the homophobe behind her invisible wall of outraged rectitude.’


I steeled myself for the next salvo.

       ‘We’ve come a long way!  I insist that you direct me to a person in authority who is willing to be more helpful.’ 

She stomped away and returned with a man.  He looked more friendly and remained so whilst, yet again, keeping my temper in check, I tried to explained the problem.  He assured me that there was no exhibition in County Hall - but there was such a display in the Matlock Records Office which was located a separate building not far away. 

In a later conversation with Greg Pickup, he told me that it was decided to assemble the Other Stories Exhibition in a more discreet place so as not to upset too many people!  I understood the need for diplomacy, but, notwithstanding, was irritated by this surrender to general bigotry.  

Ten minutes later, on arrival at the correct smaller building, we were welcomed by smiling faces and guided through Greg’s excellent display. 

They were not allowed to show me the infamous Derbyshire Police secret list of ‘known homosexuals’, who were ‘active’. 

It was explained to me that the Freedom of Information Act makes it possible to request if your own name is on the list, but you can’t see the other names. 

Newspaper extracts and yellowing old documents revealed tragic stories of men who were convicted and punished for committing crimes labelled ‘gross indecency’ and ‘buggery’.  There were old photographs and information about Derbyshire resident and Victorian gay-rights pioneer Edward Carpenter together with accounts of runaway teenagers who escaped life in Peak District villages more than 100 years ago ‘masquerading as a boy’. 

There is a sad picture of a fire gutted building which once held happy memories in the 1970s for those of us who share same-sex attraction.  Formally a cricket pavilion in Shardlow, it was known affectionately as ‘the handbag club’ run by a committee of gay men.  I was a regular visitor.  

For those of us of a certain age, this nostalgic exhibition will conjure mixed memories - our joys and sorrows. 

Narvel Annable


Featuring nine Belper Golden Rainbows walkers in the Belper River Gardens standing in front of the East Mill.  They are – 

PC Fred, PC Garry, Laura E, Laura R, Simon (BBC TV), Georgia, just above Narvel’s head – Dan the BBC sound man and on the extreme right Michael. 

We were all on the July 17th morning walk. 


Nottingham Pride

July 27th.2019 




Bill, Ken, Narvel & Terry


This photograph was taken by Michael Kestas at the Belper Golden Rainbows meeting on Wednesday, June 19th.

The Belper Golden Rainbows banner was kindly purchased by my friend Bill Smith who is a film director and producer.  It was Bill’s generous donation for use at the Pride in Belper event on August 3rd 2019.

Left to right - Derbyshire LGBT + Project Officer Hate Crime Advocate John Yates-Harold, PC Fred Bray, Narvel Annable, Ken Hopkins and Teresa who is visitor from our Chesterfield Golden Rainbows group.




In the morning of June 19th 2019 before our formal meeting time of 1pm, Michael Kestas and I embarked on one of our historic walks around Belper.  We left the Cottage Project car park on Bridge Street at 11am.  

This outing took us to a picturesque viewing area overlooking the River Derwent at Bridgefoot.  Michael kindly took a photograph of this small public garden which was officially opened in October 2001 by a group of former pupils who attended Bridge House School in the early 1950s.   

Having written my first book, Miss Calder’s Children; to honour the memory of headmistress Florence Calder (1876-1970) I was asked to unveil Calder’s Corner.  On a previous walk in 2018, the Belper Golden Rainbows walkers were delighted to see that Calder’s Corner has been rejuvenated by Belper Garden Club and sponsored by Amerol Aggregates.   

Narvel Annable




Derbyshire Times

1950s suicide 

April 2019 

Dear Editor,

As an LGBT activist and author of five gay autobiographic novels, I receive letters and emails from people of same-sex attraction.

Since the first monthly Belper Golden Rainbows meeting at the Cottage Project opposite Belper Bus Station in September 2017, two gay men have been at every meeting in spirit - but never in the flesh.  I don’t know what they look like or know exactly where they live.  However, via email, they follow our monthly newsletter and my various letters to the press.  Their responses come regularly - with some animation and no small amount of passion. 

I have their permission to put this special appeal into the public domain.


Hello Narvel, 

We have met a gentleman (now well into his 70's) who has firsthand knowledge of the gay scene, very limited as it was, in the 1950's in the Bakewell area.   

This man definitely doesn't want any of his personal details revealed.  You see, Narvel, although its 2019, the same culture of fear still grips the local gay men we know.  They have never been 'exposed' as gay.  In fact, some of the younger ones have wives and children - and it’s still somewhat of a secret society. 

The Ashford Club is a distressing story.  Evidently there was a 'club' for homosexual men centred in the Bull's Head pub in Ashford-in-the-Water which is a small village a couple of miles from Bakewell. 

The landlord of the pub was either gay or sympathetic to those local homosexual men needing a safe meeting place in the area.  

Tragically, the existence of the club and those attending it were exposed during the 1950's - resulting in three local men committing suicide!  

As you know, it was totally illegal in those days.  There was no way to avoid the public shame and police action other than to commit suicide. 

I’d be grateful if your readers, having any information, would contact me using the above details. 

Narvel Annable.  


Hello Readers, 

This Christmas photograph was taken by Terry during Allan Morton’s festive visit to our home.  The occasion was mainly social but also useful for a constructive conference about my new book Double Life to be published in 2019.   

Allan’s assistance played a part in the production of my last 2014 title Sea Change. Allan, a fellow writer himself, will be busy as a publicist / publisher promoting a ghost story carrying an important LGBT message.  

My husband Terry Durand will be designing the front cover.  

Allan has already introduced a newsletter to generate interest in Double Life.  If you’d like to subscribe to exclusive extracts and have a sneak preview of the new book, please click on - 

Allan, Terry and Narvel wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy healthy 2019.





Cue Quirky Odd Bods Play!


Hello Readers,

The photograph above was taken by my friend and fellow writer Allan Morton. You, Reader, are in my website which is the creation of my husband Terry Durand.  If it were not for Terry, there would be no website.  I am dependent upon the technical skills of Allan and Terry to convey my work to the world at large.

As in many previous YouTubes, Allan was filming a performance.  It was an LGB-QUERTY event at the Derby Guildhall Theatre (Club Rooms) from May 2017.  He thought it would be appropriate with the LGBT+ flag in the background.  What Allan thinks is always spot on. 

As always, he posted the photograph to Twitter and Facebook together with an account of the conference Terry and I had with Darren of Derbyshire LGBT + on November 3rd 2018.  See below.

For this technical wizardry, I give full credit to Allan who, for the last ten years, has generously given his time and effort to make my work more effective - indeed possible.

I gave him creative freedom with the title -

Cue Quirky Odd Bods Play! 

November 3rd 2018 in Wirksworth’s Sour Cow cafe, Terry and I met Darren of Derbyshire LGBT + to explore the possibility of writing a play about the quirky characters that inhabit my autobiographic novels.

It had been a cold cloudy day so we abandoned our plan to cycle to Wirksworth.  Darren, a young energetic cyclist, parked his impressive light weight in the yard behind Emma’s busy cafe.

Derby Theatre in the Eagle Centre used to be called the Playhouse. 

Last year on Saturday November 11th, I booked two seats for Terry and myself to attend the afternoon performance of Two Loves Lost.

I was grateful that Darren, the playwright, took time and trouble to alert me to this very important achievement on his part – such a boost for Derbyshire LGBT + and LGBT in general.  Well done!  It was a sell out! 

It was the first time I’ve ever been to a live stage play, having been acquainted with the author.  I do hope that impressive start was just a beginning and Darren’s heartrending play will travel and achieve great success for his talent.

Fred Bray, a specialist Police Officer in hate crime issues, suggested to me that my various YouTubes on could be subsumed into some sort of montage to follow up Darren’s success in Two Loves Lost.

       ‘Why should it be just a one-man-show?  Why not a team effort in which we all have a go in a live stage play to follow up the splendid performance of almost exactly one year back in Derby?’

Hence today’s conference in which we referenced the YouTubes - Quirky Characters, Queens, Snobs, Froggy, Toad, Big Bill and all the rest of the odd bods I have come across in my very curious life.

The interview was thorough and thoroughly enjoyable taking twists and turns down the road of my occasionally colourful controversial and sometimes naughty life.  It gave an opportunity to do funny voices reliving amusing moments imitating several examples of the weird and wacky.  These are real people who inhabit my autobiographic novels based on real events.

Fortunately, Darren is familiar with my books and will give serious consideration to writing a stage play around the issues and landscape of my literary efforts.  He is a busy man, but might be able make a start in the spring of 2019.  I’m encouraged by his comments.

Narvel Annable.





Dear Editor,

Take note of these photographs.  The first one, affectionately with heads together in 1964, is Brian Hardesty on the left and me on the right.  We were teenagers.

The second 1964 photograph is of an older friend, Walter Kurrlie.  Walter and Brian died because, in my view, they no longer wanted to live.  Together with untold numbers of other LGBTs, their lives were warped, effectively destroyed by the active evangelism and rabid homophobia of an evil sect.  Jehovah's Witnesses are poison to gay people. 

I met Walter and Brian in Detroit.  We enjoyed friendship and fun.  However, they were uncomfortable with their sexuality and their bigoted Jehovah's Witness family had described all three of us as ‘degenerate’.  After years of unceasing brainwashing they became celibate and cut themselves off from all gay friends.

In common purpose, both families joined forces.  Primitive, prejudiced and cruel to the last, they refused all access to homosexual contacts.  Eventually, both friends died lonely, sad, sick, broken men – an unnatural wasted mangled life.

Decades later in a Derbyshire mining village, I came to know a young gay man who was Bible bashed, poisoned - another victim of the insidious indoctrination of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Another man, a damaged man with a long history of mental illness resulting from physical and mental abuse is now a regular attendee of our Belper Golden Rainbows LGBT group.  I’ll call him Froggy.

I had come to believe that any son of Jehovah's Witnesses was under sentence of death.  Froggy has proved that it is possible to resist and escape their murderous activity.

The sexual scandals of Jehovah's Witnesses first appeared in the public domain in 2014.  Most notable being the serial child abuser Jonathan Rose an elder of the Jehovah's Witnesses who was convicted and jailed.  Full information is on the internet. 

On several occasions, Froggy’s mother punished her son for not concentrating properly on the Jehovah's Witnesses children’s bible at the local Kingdom Hall.  He was taken to the lavatory and beaten with a large metal spoon.

Between age six and eleven, periodically, he was sent to a ‘home’ [clinic / assessment centre] to correct / deal with his bad behaviour.  Transport to and from these ‘homes’ was provided by a Jehovah's Witnesses taxi driver who frequently stopped the car in a secluded spot and ordered Froggy to pleasure him.


The taxi radio was on all the time.  The 1981 hit record Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads was played over and over again.  Lyrics resonated taking Froggy back to one momentous event back at school when he was seen kissing another boy - his first meaningful kiss.  Froggy said -

       ‘The memory of this song has never gone away.  The more I listen to it, the more I think of what happened to me.’

I dedicate this letter as a memorial to Walter and Brian.  It is also a commendation to Froggy and a message of hope for all who suffer from religious intolerance and bigotry.


Narvel Annable


  Brian & Narvel in1964





September 28th 2018 

Derby Telegraph

Dear Editor

It was a heartbreaking irony!  It happened ten years ago.  At the same moment when hundreds of people were happily celebrating the culture of gay life, on Saturday, September 27th 2008 on the Bass Recreation Ground in Derby, one vulnerable openly gay teenager, not far away, was suicidal.  Far above a jeering crowd, baying for blood, he was standing on the roof of Westfield Centre car park, threatening to kill himself.  Seventeen year old Shaun Dykes did just that; he plunged to his death at 5.30pm.  Two well trained police officers had tried to help Shaun, but they were outnumbered by despicable, taunting ghouls who had flocked to see death, after the style of a public execution.

Shaun and I have much in common.  We are both gay, have both attended school in Heanor, have both been very unhappy to the brink of jumping from a high place.  Tragically, Shaun jumped.  I did not.  I went on to write four autobiographic books which explain the problems of being homosexual in a society which is often very homophobic.

I did not know Shaun.  I am not familiar with the circumstances which drove him to commit suicide.  I hope the students at Heanor Gate treated him more kindly than some of the more savage pupils of Mundy Street Boys School who subjected me to a routine of physical and psychological torture.  In 1957, my typical day started with prayers and hymns and ended with a desire to be dead.  In the autumn of that year, with the assistance of a sadistic schoolmaster, head bowed and eyes downcast, I had reached an advanced stage of humility and obedience to the bullies who had broken me.  It was the end.  On one particular day, 61 years ago – I had become Shaun Dykes.

Like Shaun, I was looking down to a pavement below.  Not Derby, this was a Heanor pavement, at Red Lion Square, beneath our top bedroom window.  Unlike Shaun, nobody was there to help, neither was there anybody to taunt or humiliate.  That was an everyday occurrence at my Church of England school.  However, on this day, my pain felt like the wording of a medieval ordeal – ‘As much as you can bear, and greater’.

Sleep well, Shaun.  You died on the day of a good Derby Pride – Derby Goes Pink 2008.  You can be sure that people like me will keep using their skills to attack homophobia.  You can be sure that the Derbyshire LGBT + charity, indeed, all other gay organisations will continue to keep working, to support young gay people like you.


Narvel Annable  





Worksop Pride 2018 


Worksop Guardian 

Dear Editor, 

Worksop Pride Retrospective - July 16th 2018 

I’m pleased the WORKSOP GUARDIAN printed my letter about the Worksop Pride on June 15th 2018  

The Pride March, my first ever, was a daunting prospect for me personally albeit overdue. 

Claire Bradley of LGBT + Service Nottinghamshire in Worksop invited me to join that gay Equality Parade on July 7th following a request for my attendance from some of the youngsters who gathered at Worksop Train Station at 11am.   A large crowd proudly strode out at 11.30 and arrived at the Old Market Square at noon, where a festive family atmosphere prevailed including stalls, entertainers and bands.  For small prides like Worksop this generous support from hordes of the general public was especially important.    

PC Fred Bray, very keen to support the LGBT cause, attends all Belper Golden Rainbows meetings and has been a tower of strength for our group.  He wanted to march at my side on that important day saying - 

‘I have the green light for Worksop Pride but will not be on uniformed duty.  I intend to join you in the march in order to enjoy the experience as an off duty bobby and will only make my presence felt formally if called upon.’ 

Nothing of the kind was needed.  The nearly one mile walk from the train station to the Old Market Square, under clear blue skies, went like a dream.  Being no stranger to rabid homophobia during the period 1978 to 1995 when I was a history master at the Valley Comprehensive School in Worksop, I feared verbal abuse - or worse.   

Instead we were welcomed by a sea of smiling faces and dozens of rainbow flags festooned from buildings along the route.  My anxieties melted when the march started.  Former pupils in the crowd did not shout nasty comments.  As it turned out, two friendly fellow marchers who I had taught in the 1980s approached me and identified themselves.  That made my day! 

Many on that march shared my doubts, worries and concerns.  Many would be scared of being seen at a gay event, but, taking strength from big numbers we all made a tremendous effort to celebrate our diversity and enjoy a fantastic party. 

My generation proceeded with pride and purpose.  The youngsters made more noise.  Clad in rainbow colour, feather boas and glitter, they blew their whistles, chanted their chants and were proud to be who they were.  It was an uplifting experience.  

Narvel Annable





Andy Brown


July 20th 2018 

The Derby Telegraph  

Dear Editor, 

Andy Brown of Derbyshire LGBT + was the guest speaker at Belper Golden Rainbows on July 18th.  We are a social support group for people who identify as gay.   

His informal chat about homophobic injustice made for painful listening as clearly indicated by the facial reactions.  Such a moving speech deserved a larger audience than was able to fit into our designated room at Belper Cottage Project (opposite the Bus Station) where we meet on the first Wednesday of the month. 

We are grateful for all his hard work campaigning over many years.  In the 70s, 80s and 90s when I was playing safe keeping my head down, Andy was taking the flack fighting for my rights and the rights of all who share same sex attraction. 

I’m just too sensitive for my own good.  For many years I would never go near anything with a gay theme.  It was avoided like the plague.  When Morris was first shown in Derby [Green Lane] – I couldn’t cope – walked out half way through.  Perhaps I’m better at describing my own pain than watching and reading about the sufferings of others. 

Andy has taken a leading role in running Reach Out, the Thursday evening men’s group on Bramble Street and was also one of the founding members of Derbyshire Friend in 1983.  He is a conscientious volunteer who has given compassionate support to many of us - not least me and my husband Terry. 

Appearing on TV, he gave an articulate and thoughtful assessment of the value of gay prides to gay people.  I’m grateful to Andy for taking the time and trouble to be with us in Belper setting out what Derbyshire LGBT + is all about, its ethos, plans for the future, aims and objectives and how those might be achieved. 

Narvel Annable  


Hello Readers, 

Andy Brown will be the guest speaker at Belper Golden Rainbows on July 18th 2018 - NEXT WEDNESDAY

I remember his 60th Birthday Bash last year - even though I wasn’t actually there!  Iain Greenwood posted a festive photograph on Facebook of himself and a few others - all big smiles in full swing having a fantastic time at the Crown.  I responded with - ‘Thank you, it’s the next-best-thing to being there.’ 

Over the last 35 years, Andy has been an active part of the Derbyshire LGBT community doing excellent work supporting Derbyshire LGBT +.  Amongst other things, he has taken a leading role in running Reach Out, the Thursday evening men’s group on Bramble Street.  He was also one of the founding members of Derbyshire Friend in 1983. 

Derbyshire LGBT + is fortunate to have Andy, a conscientious volunteer who has given compassionate support to many of us - not least Terry and myself. 

He was interviewed in Something About Us filmed by the EDEN project at Nottingham Pride.  He gave an articulate and thoughtful assessment of the value of gay prides to gay people.  A similar interview was aired in Central TV News.  

I’m grateful to Andy for taking the time and trouble to be with us on the 18th setting out what Derbyshire LGBT + is all about, its ethos, plans for the future, aims and objectives and how those might be achieved. 

JOHN YATES-HAROLD – the new Derbyshire LGBT + Hate Crime Advocate will also be at The Cottage Project at 1pm to introduce himself.  

Derbyshire LGBT + launched ‘Golden Rainbows’ last September.  It is a social support group for people who identify as gay.  We meet on the third Wednesday of each month between 1 and 3pm at The Cottage Project, 16 Chapel Street [the A6] in Belper just opposite the bus station.  A free car park is available behind the cottage.  Free admission and free refreshments are available at all meetings. 

We hope to see you there on the 18th.


Click on above to enlarge

Printed in the Belper News – July 5th 2018


Belper Golden Rainbows has formed a walking group.  In the morning before our formal meeting time of 1pm, we’ve started a series of informative historic walks around Belper.  July 18th will be our third morning outing, leaving the Cottage Project car park on Bridge Street at 11am, when we’ll walk up the hill to visit the Belper Unitarian Chapel for a free guided tour by Frances St Lawrence.  Donations will be welcome.

The last outing on June 20th took us to a picturesque viewing area overlooking the River Derwent at Bridgefoot.  This small public garden was officially opened in October 2001 by a group of former pupils who attended Bridge House School in the early 1950s.

Having written my first book, Miss Calder’s Children; to honour the memory of headmistress Florence Calder (1876-1970) I was asked to unveil Calder’s Corner.  Belper Golden Rainbows walkers were delighted to see that Calder’s Corner has been rejuvenated by Belper Garden Club and sponsored by Amerol Aggregates.  

See above one of my early information sheets, a copy of the front page of the Belper News dated October 17th 2001 which gives details of the opening ceremony.




Adapted from a part of Secret Summer; here is an account of a recent walk with my friend Iain Greenwood  

In the ‘Switzerland of England’, a giant crag called High Tor crowns dark woods to the east of the River Derwent at Matlock Bath.  Beware of dangerous, seemingly bottomless holes half hidden by centuries of accumulated foliage.  Watch out for traitorous chasms and sudden sheer drops hundreds of feet down to the river below.        

On a sunny but cool April 6th 2018, Iain Greenwood and I braved these dangers in our trek to the summit of High Tor.  

We found the entrance to the woodland grounds, a rough path which zigzagged all the way up to the very top of High Tor crag.  Immediately the trail became very steep and quite difficult. 

We made hard and painful progress into a darkness which was rather like a cave.  On both sides we were enclosed by impenetrable stands of oak, maple, beech and bits of holly which brought a coolness to match the dimness.  On top, leafy canopies interlocked to form a roof producing the effect of an arboreal cathedral. 

Eventually we collapsed onto the prostrate trunk of a fallen tree taking a few minutes to catch our breath, albeit enjoying such majestic woods - a magical place.  I put my nose into a sweet white blossom - rowan, reputed to be used by witches. 

       ‘There!  Look, over there.’  Iain was pointing into the shadows under bramble.  ‘Did you see that?’      

They are seldom seen.  It was a jenny wren, quick as lightening with its cute cocked tail.  We listened to its shrill call and breathed deeply.  The wood was full of birdsong and the dank scent of wild garlic.   

Suddenly, we noticed the log upon which we were sitting.  It was remarkably comfortable, smooth, and in good condition for a fallen limb.  I stood up and looked at it.  It was not a fallen tree at all!  We’d been sitting on a fat, healthy, living root - the lower part of a massive beech tree, towering above, exploding in all directions in mammoth branches and lesser sub-branches - a vast expanse of foliage.  Iain craned his neck and gazed up into a luxuriant world illuminated in lime green.  The sky could not be seen – however - it was replaced by a lovely verdant glow. 

We studied the giant root which had provided a seat.  It was part of a considerable root system uncovered and cleaned by years of erosion.  For decades, enormous tentacles had dug in with determination in a continual effort to keep ahead of a natural process of undermining.  We admired these immense legs.  They extended along a bank, grasping at rocks, searching out deep cracks, exploring long fissures to firmly anchor the colossal living beech above.  In so doing, they had produced mysterious cavities into the hillside.  Gloomy hollows were begging to be explored.  Enchanted places had always fascinated me and I was now mesmerised into an idle and pleasant contemplation.  The reverie was broken a need to press on.      

We came to a dark ground-cover of creeping ivy.  Pushing through a curtain of scraggy yew, a flapping blackbird SCREAMED out his complaint and terrified us just before we emerged into brilliant light and the gentle spring warmth of English sunshine.

       ‘Careful!’ shouted Iain.  ‘It seems like we’re a mile up in the sky.’ 

In sudden horror, I stepped back - well back.  Somewhere between heaven and earth, we were standing on a high rocky ledge and were only inches from a sheer drop into the canopies of distant trees and the River Derwent far below.  Gingerly, for a view to die for, I steadied myself by grasping the slim trunk of a young ash tree.  Somehow it had rooted itself into a crack in the vertical limestone cliff.  Ignoring urgent protestations from Iain, I trusted to the strength of that baby ash and leaned out to take in the full view of that famous High Tor rock face - now looking like the north face of the Eiger.  We estimated that we were still only about half way up. 

‘Look at those cars down on the road!’ I said.  ‘They’re like Dinky Toys.  We might be in an aeroplane.’  Iain turned his head from left to right beholding a magnificent panorama of a lovely valley edged by wood and moors.  Looking southwards, the Lovers’ Walks followed the shimmering river.  Tiny visitors enjoying this pretty resort moved around riverside gardens and paraded along dignified Georgian and Victorian facades.   

The road and river curved westwards until they were out of sight, blending into the deep, green gorge.  High to the east, above the dense woodland, there was an expanse of open fields.  Higher still and further distant, emerging from very dark woods were the dramatic crags of Black Rocks. 

With the support of the young ash, I had given myself a birds-eye view looking directly down a sheer rocky drop on to the tops of a few terraced, three-storey, stone cottages, far below.  Other scattered dwellings, humble old cottages, half hidden in foliage, were climbing up the opposite side of the valley; so far away, so small, they seemed like models.  Eventually, the slope levelled slightly to support a saddle of meadow before, again, steepening into a further sylvan delight.  

We plunged back into a verdant murk of tangle to continue our difficult ascent.  After a while, things got better.  The thickets gave way to more agreeable glades, allowing for an explosion of colour.  Bluebells, anemone and celandine were highlighted by mottled sunshine.  The walking became easier over a natural paving of smoothed stone and worn spreading tree roots. 

I was activated!  I had seen something and ran ahead to inspect, what appeared to be, a solid rock wall partly obscured by falling ivy.  This obstacle threatened to block all further progress.

       ‘This is it!’ I called in excitement.  ‘This is the beginning of Giddy Edge.  To get to the crag top, we need to follow this rocky lip, to the right, around the cliff face … if we can ever find it … here!  Here it is.’ 

We pushed through bushes, shrubs and squeezed behind the ivy curtain hard up against the rock to emerge onto a narrow verge which, after a few cautious steps, afforded intermittent views of the world far below.

       ‘All this adventure!’  I felt like a character in King Solomon’s Mines

Giddy Edge lived up to its name.  The narrow cliff edge rendered the explorers inches away from a sheer fall of hundreds of feet.  This induced in us some unsteadiness and inflicted a distinct dizziness.  Most of the time, any fall could have been stopped by a frantic grasp at several stunted hawthorn bushes - small comfort for us adventurers.   

Iain took a photograph which can be seen above. 

Eventually, the path appeared to come to an abrupt halt, suggesting that the walker would soon be walking on thin air.  To the rescue came a welcome rail firmly anchored into the dark grey rock face.  It protected against a dangerous narrowing foot-hold which took climbers to the brink of a sheer drop to oblivion.   

Against a cool biting wind at that altitude, we intrepid mountaineers made slow and careful progress.  The appearance of a brave weather-beaten ash tree, half strangled by creeping ivy, indicated the end of this frightening ordeal. 

Suddenly, it was all brilliant sunshine!  An unexpected emergence into an open, sloping space, carpeted by moss, interspersed with a natural paving of sparkling grit stone, was familiar to me.  I had seen these special effects before from gemstones admired in countless Peak District nick-knack shops.  The sun picked out specks of translucent rocks.  There were fluorspars, calcites, barites - the ground was all a glitter.   

In triumph, we made a dash over this cheerful adornment to the peak of this famous tor.  It raised its naked head straight from the valley floor, a sheer height of 350ft from river to summit.  With elation, we were standing over the giant ‘face in the rock’ which had always intrigued.  Carefully, we approached that famous edge to take in that famous view.   

To the north, Matlock town spread up the hillside.  Many miles beyond those hills, the dim outline of Kinder Scout – the roof of Derbyshire – was just visible.  The walls of Riber Castle crowned the hill to the east.  To the west, Victoria Tower poked out of the aerial woodlands of the Heights of Abraham.  Directly below, the River Derwent sparkled through gaps in the foliage as it meandered southwards through the ravine. 




We are approaching the 13th anniversary of the death of Narvel’s friend Derek Goostrey. 

Click on photo above to listen to an edited version of the eulogy Narvel read out at Derek’s funeral at Heanor Church on Monday, March 7th, 2005 

It was a privilege to have composed this tribute to Derek Goostrey, who was better known to readers of Lost Lad as Danny Forrester.  I would like to thank Kali and Ross for asking me to read it in front of the largest congregation Heanor Church has seen in 20 years. 

On Monday, July 16th in 1945, the first ever atomic bomb was exploded by the Americans in New Mexico.  The flash, which was seen 250 miles away, cast a shadow over the lives of us all. 

On that same day, nearer to home, at number one Preston Street, Broken Cross in Macclesfield, a less flashy event took place; the birth of Derek and his twin brother Barry Goostrey - half an hour apart.  Less flashy, perhaps, but it certainly had an impact on my life and, I suspect, greatly improved the lives of many people here today.  A few years later, the Goostrey family moved to 32 Nelson Street in Heanor.  In Heanor Schooldays, I wrote - 

"If you seek the source of the magic which made the days of Howitt Secondary Modern School so special, I suggest you go to 32 Nelson Street.  That Spartan dwelling, the modest home of Derek and Barry, was diffused throughout with a quality of consideration, camaraderie, caring and kindness.  A cheerful atmosphere was presided over by mum, Nora and stepfather, Christopher Dodsley.  They had almost nothing, but they were prepared to share what little they had." 

I give thanks today for the friendship they shared, the happiness they gave, at a time when I needed it most.  For almost the half century which followed, Derek, that surviving brother, a character of buoyant and uplifting personality, right up to the end, could still work his magic on me.  The Goostrey charm defied analysis, that same charm inspired me to write two books about them forty years later. 

Derek Goostrey was, quite simply, the best example of all the finest qualities of Heanorian youth, as we were during that wonderful period of 1958 to 1960.  He was open, honest, sincere, good-natured, easy-going and totally free from any of the artificial affectation which has so often infested the world in which I live - and we did live in different worlds.  Perhaps he is now reunited with his twin brother Barry who, tragically, died young in 1964.  Barry inspired the original 'lost lad' in my book.  I invested our collective grief into shaping his character - Brian Forrester.  Heanor Schooldays, an earlier effort, was actually dedicated to Barry Goostrey - 'One of our mates who was taken early'. 

As school pals, Derek and I were close.  As adults, we were separated for many years by the Atlantic Ocean.  In those years, he married Karen and leaves behind one much-loved daughter Kali, who gave him two beautiful granddaughters, Gaia and Kristie.  He also leaves behind many special friends such as Julie, who tells me that she'll always treasure some fantastic memories.  His best friend was Mick Hancock. 

Friendship!  Derek had friends in abundance.  It won't be the same in the Derby County Supporters bus when it makes its next journey to Pride Park, will it?  There'll be a yawning gap there which won't easily be filled.  And, of course, we've all heard wild accounts of much rejoicing and great jollity in the public houses of Heanor.  He often told me about the fun he had with his mates, his adventures, the quiz nights and the competitions.  Perhaps this is not quite the time or place to relate such riotous details. 

Derek was well supported by his employer, Robert Pretties, and will be greatly missed by colleagues at work.  He was a principal personality at our William Howitt Secondary Modern School annual reunion each October.  The organiser, Kathy Syson, and many former pupils, too numerous to mention, will certainly feel his absence when we next meet.


Ten years ago, Derek and I were reunited.  A reunion which gave birth to this extract from Lost Lad.  It's a fictitious BBC Radio Derby interview in which Derek makes an appearance as Danny Forrester.  [Here I read a short extract from page 216 in Lost Lad] 

In recent years, as adults, Derek's cheerful support and loyalty never once wavered.  He enthusiastically encouraged my work by attending every launch, every talk and buying all five titles, all of them signed - 'Dobba'.  When together, we regressed.  We enjoyed being trapped in a time warp somewhere in the summer of 1960 at Howitt School, always in role of two mischievous fifteen-year-olds, always recycling funny stories about grumpy old Mrs Buxcey. 

Yesterday, Derek Goostrey, one of Heanor's most popular, one of Heanor's best, made our lives a little richer.  Today, Heanor is a little poorer.  Good night, dear friend ... a bit of young Dobba died with you on February 23rd ... he'll miss you.





LGBT History Exhibition in Chesterfield Museum on Saturday, February 3rd 2018


Above photograph taken by Allan Morton of -  

Terry Durand, Ryan Whittington (Manager of Derbyshire LGBT +) Narvel Annable and Greg Pickup.  

Greg has organised and produced this splendid Derbyshire LGBT + History Exhibition at Chesterfield Museum during the launch and private view on February 3rd 2018.  It was very well attended. 

Greg’s work includes LGBT History research and oral history interviews to take place this year.  

The Chesterfield Museum Exhibition will continue until April 8th    


Fred & Narvel


Iain, Peter & Narvel









Following the publication of my last title SEA CHANGE in 2014, Allan Morton and I embarked on a daring safari through an enchanted wood to discover the remains of a famous gigantic old tree.   

It once housed a family of charcoal burners in the dark depths of Shining Cliff Woods in Ambergate.  Difficult to find, but we finally located it with Allan’s technology.  The attached photographs he took are proof that we were successful. 

The following extract from SEA CHANGE throws light on this little known and fascinating chapter of Derbyshire history. 

The winter sun struggled up over the horizon, partially blocked by trees casting long dark shadows over a landscape of sparkling white snow.  Presently, they came on a weird circle of jet-black sculptures erupting from ice.  Almost immediately, Simeon deciphered these strange shapes as the remains of an ancient tree in the last stages of decay.  

And what a tree!  Its diameter must have been in excess of two or three prostrate men end to end, and a girth of a dozen children, arms outstretched, hand to hand.  He looked up to gauge the probable height of this once living entity when Mab’s smile caught his eye. 

‘Wow!’ he said.  ‘Think of all the creatures which must have lived in that massive tree.’ 

‘Generations of them,’ she breathed in awed whisper.  ‘A living entity; a verdant myriad of limbs forming the leafy world of an ancient yew.’ 

‘Older than the Old Manor House?’ 

‘Much older.  This venerable yew was reputed to be 2000 years old 200 years ago when it housed a family of charcoal burners.’ 

Mab spent the next ten minutes explaining how the aged and hollowed gigantic tree trunk accommodated Luke and Betty Kenny.  Their eight children where somehow sheltered in turf-roofed sheds wedged into the vast system of branches, main branches and sub branches of that colossal tree.  The author admitted an element of legend to this extraordinary history, the subject of Mab’s current book. 

‘Charcoal!  But what good is burnt wood?’ 

‘I draw with it.  And a blacksmith needs a fire of intense heat in his forge … and it’s necessary to make gunpowder.’ 

Mab was more interested in the social history associated with this improbable Kenny domicile.  Had Simeon heard of the nursery rhyme Rock-a-bye Baby?  Yes - and he recited –

       Rock-a-bye baby

       In the tree top

       When the wind blows

       The cradle will rock

       When the bough breaks

       The cradle will fall

       And down will come baby

       Cradle and all


She said these lyrics were composed, as it were, on the hoof.  Softly, Betty crooned to her baby which reposed in a cradle fashioned from a hollowed-out branch.  Presumably, ‘cradle and all’ was suspended by ropes attached to one of the yew tree boughs.



Allan and Narvel


Nottingham Pride 2017




Andy Brown’s 60th Birthday Bash on April 20th 2017 

From left to right - Chris, Andrew and Iain


I’m grateful to Iain for posting a festive photograph on Facebook of himself, Andrew and Chris - all big smiles in full swing having a fantastic time at the Crown.  I responded with - ‘Thank you, it’s the next-best-thing to being there.’  

As suggested, I sent Andy a cheque payable to Derbyshire LGBT and thanked him for his continuing excellent work supporting Derbyshire LGBT



FEB 29th 2016




Narvel & Terry at Lea



At home in Belper 1978


Narvel in back garden Michigan 1960's


Outside my home in Michigan


Happy days on hols Cliff House Hotel Torquay


Outside Cliff House



Xmas fancy dress "Victorian Sailors"

Perin Court Hotel 1979 Bournemouth



Narvel at nine months


Hello Readers, 

As a child I had an Aunty Fran and Uncle Bill.  Their two boys, Don and Malcolm were my cousins – or so I always thought.  This familiar family with their familiar friendly faces were part of daily life in Stanley Common, Heanor and Derby in the 1940s and 1950s.  Unconscientiously, it was assumed they were relatives.  In fact they were not.  It all started when Frances King met her colleague Connie Annable in a Derby hospital sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s and became close life-long friends. 

Decades passed.  I emigrated to the USA, returned some 13 years later and eventually became an author / campaigner for gay rights in the 21st century appearing frequently in the Derby Telegraph.  In recent years this caught the attention of my King Cousins who have kindly made several visits with interesting information, exciting revelations, entertaining conversation supported by old family photographs I never knew existed. 

On the last visit, Don and Malcolm invited me to study and identify the following old baby photo of a ‘very close relative’.  I had no idea who it was.  On the back, it was dated April 1946.  Inscribed in the neat hand of Aunty Fran was the child’s name – Narvel Annable. 

The little nine-month-old, chubby, cute, cosy and cuddly is a picture of pure happiness.  I was seized to go back 67 years and say to this child –

          ‘Hey, kid!  Smile while you can.  When they find out you can’t kick a football, can’t fancy a lass, can’t knock down a pint of beer and can’t defend yourself with bare knuckles – life will become grim indeed.’  


Hello Readers, 

Inspired by frequent references to the 1960s pop idol Billy Fury, a friend has used his considerable talent and creativity to produce this original video.

 To see this short video click here  

By way of support, I offer these two extracts.  The first is from Lost Lad and the second from Secret Summer. 

Simeon held a precious vinyl disc.  This magical music bore the legend - Maybe Tomorrow.  Later, in that same store, examining the sleeve of a prized long playing record, he stood very still and looked.  He peered long and hard into the stunningly handsome features of his teenage idol - Billy Fury: an image of popular culture in 1959. 

Ahmed found a small photograph in Simeon’s wallet.

‘He’s nice.  I'd sure like to swing on that.  But it's in the rule book - no competition.  No sir!  Time to say goodbye to your boyfriend.’ 

He crushed it in his fist, at the same time, looking directly into Simeon's eyes to savour the hurt.  It was hurt which gave no voice.  The English boy was struck dumb, unable to explain himself, unable to defend himself.  He was bewitched, infatuated; he was in love with this beautiful but cruel American. With no voice to put him straight, Ahmed never did discover the identity of the 'competition' who, incidentally, was not Simeon's boyfriend.  If only!  In England in 1966, there was a certain face, a certain voice and name which was familiar in almost every household: a name which was totally unknown to the American public.  No Detroiter had ever seen, or had ever heard of the British pop legend - Billy Fury. 



Hello Readers, 

These photographs include several of me standing by a Ford Granada in different Derbyshire locations.  From a Derby Telegraph letter printed October 9th 2013, due to homophobic incidents, you’ll know my teaching career came to an abrupt end in April 1995. 

Early retirement on a tiny pension meant I had to find an alternative income.  I conceived an idea of using my car to offer tours around Derbyshire under a heading - Curiosities of Derbyshire.  It might appeal to foreign visitors as well as the domestic market.  The photographs were to become a part of a promotional brochure. 

In different locations I’d tell appropriate stories 

In Matlock Bath and Castleton I’d speak of Rowan being tied to mine engines to guard against breakdowns.  I’d entertain my guests with romantic mysteries, lore and occult associations in the wilds of Derbyshire, giving examples which were not far away from where the car stood.  Visitors would hear about about the elusive fairies of Caldon Low, the cunning goblin called Hob who dwells in a round-barrow near Chatsworth, pagan deities, stone circles, sacred groves, human sacrifices, subterranean dwellings of elementals and flying saucers seen over Kinder Scout.  They would be told of a mermaid who swims atmidnight on the eve of Easter Sunday, the bottomless pit of Eldon Hole, the Eagle Stone near Curbar which is said to turn as the cock crows.  

I think people enjoy curious and uncanny tales.  At Stanton Moor I’d seize the opportunity to speak of the erotic legend of nine young girls and just one boy who had angered God by committing an obscene act on the Sabbath day!  Nine pretty maidens long ago illicitly stole off onto the moor with a naughty lad who was also a fiddler – and boy did he fiddle!  He fiddled so much; God turned them all to stone.  The ‘obscene act’ was no more than a dance vilified by puritanical superstition and ignorance.  It was a 17th century explanation of the Nine Ladies Stone Circle. 

From all this, it can be seen that, as a repressed gay man in 1995, I was already nursing a horror of religious ignorance and bigotry later to be expressed in my vociferous campaigning against homophobia.



Taken at Ripley Town Hall July 14th. 2006



To see more Civil Wedding pictures click on photo above



September 3rd 2013


Hello Readers, 


Today marks the 37th anniversary of meeting my partner Terry Durand.  It is also the G20 Day of Action against Putin’s despicable homophobic law. Protestors will meet outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Downing Street in London to speak out for LGBT Russians who are persecuted every day.  David Cameron will be urged to raise the issue with President Vladimir Putin at the forthcoming G20.

 Terry and I first met in the ancient stone cottage of Victor Bamford [1914-2005] in Becksitch Lane, Belper on September 3rd 1976.  He was popular and quaint.  He appeared in Lost Lad and Scruffy Chicken as Jasper the Belper Goblin.  Gnarled and humped sitting beneath a brass plate – Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver the other gold – Victor with deep set leering eyes was an interesting old character and a mine of clandestine information.  He entertained his secretive gentleman callers with a nice cup of tea, perhaps a few cakes, pleasant conversation and plenty of gossip within the hidden circles of Belper’s gay community.   Long before gay venues became available; many repressed Beaurepeirians will have come together in Victor’s old fashioned comfortable sitting room - just as Terry and I did.

 This item with photographs was printed in the Belper News on August 23rd 2006 – Gay author ties the knot.

 Old friends and neighbours flocked to Ripley Town Hall to witness the civil partnership of local author, Narvel Annable to his partner Terry Durand.  Mr Annable mentioned in an article in the Belper News – Gay author to enjoy a very civil wedding – July 5th 2006 – that anyone wishing to turn up on the day was more than welcome.

 The happy couple said they are surprised at the number of friends who went to watch them tie the knot –

          ‘We only expected our witnesses to turn up.  About 15 people came into the chamber.  When we came out, there were more people waiting for us outside.  Those people came to make a statement!  It was heartening.  You must remember that, for decades, gay men like us amongst heterosexual neighbours have lived under the shadow of social disapproval.  Our good neighbours made the day an occasion.’ 

  Noah Huntley           Narvel Annable              Terry Durand


Narvel landed a speaking part in London Weekend Television’s Real Crime series which helped promote his book A Judge Too Far.  This episode, Love You To Death, was filmed at Nottingham’s Galleries of Justice and screened on January 26th 2004.  The photograph shows an actor, Noah Huntley, in the role of John Tanner who was convicted of murdering Rachel McLean.  Terry played himself as a member of the jury.  Keith Matthewman QC took the part of the judge.  Derby Telegraph printed a feature about the forthcoming event, June 27th 2003.






Still A teenager - Just - The scruffy chicken of 1965


People ask, why call yourself a scruffy chicken?  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. 


I have often reflected on that sad 'elite' of 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.  It was group based - a culture of cruelty.  It included well rehearsed techniques and comments which gave some of them a sadistic thrill.  They enjoyed seeing the ‘lower orders’ quail and flinch.



Simeon and Gary in Lost Lad

Narvel & Terry on Honeymoon at Matlock Bath in 1976

Ian Campbell recieving an award at County Hall Nottingham 2009

Narvel Peter & Terry at Derby University (Peter's first ever visit to Derby)

Terry   Ian   Narvel   Gerald &  Alex

Celebrating at Derby Friend's 30th. Birthday Party

Narvel & Terry at the Cliff House Hotel in 1979

Gay History Month 2008 at Heanor Library

This event was promoted by Derbyshire County Council –
‘Join Narvel Annable for an evening of tea and cakes and ramble through Derbyshire in the 1960s at Heanor Library on Wednesday, February 27th 7 to 9pm.’

It was better than that! A responsive full house with a reasonable age spread included a few gay-friendly heterosexuals. All were supportive in body language and eye-contact. Their kindness was encouraging and meant so much.

The audience was invited back to the house of a Heanor friend, David, who generously put on a magnificent spread.

Bess West, Narvel and Sarah at the launch of Miss Calder’s Children 1997




Double Life

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.