La Línea and carnal relief

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-19-38-20La Línea de la Concepción ‘was full of mantillaed prostitutes. I carried an urgency over the border to discharge in a wretched room smelling of garlic and cheap scent. I have learnt to associate garlic with the erotic and to feel excited at the sound of Andalusian Spanish in the mouth of a girl’.

Plastic plaque


‘This was not quite the honour I wanted.’

Hotel Velázquez Palace, Tangiers

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-20-53-26The Hotel Velázquez Palace is where Burgess and his wife Lynne stayed on their second trip to Tangiers. They were on a Mediterranean air tour (Burwash-Gatwick-Jersey-Seville-Marrakesh-Tangiers-Tenerife-Gatwick-Etchingham).

Whereas the Hotel Miramar, where they had stayed on their first visit, is on the Tangiers seafront, the Velázquez Palace is up the hill, round the corner from the Gran Teatro Cervantes, and much nearer the casbah.

Lynne had suffered a collapse and appears to have been confined to bed at their room at the hotel, suffering from exhaustion and food poisoning. Tangiers was — possibly still is — known as Sodom-on-Sea, and in You’ve Had Your Time, Being the Second Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess, Burgess explains that at the Velázquez Palace, ’despite her sickness, Lynne’s sharp eyes (sa-rupa pisau*) searched for signs of pederastic inclinations in myself’.

William Burroughs appeared at the hotel and read Jane Austen to Lynne (just as he had done at the Miramar).

* Malay, lit. ‘knife-like’


screen-shot-2016-12-26-at-17-42-12Burgess on A Little Learning (1964), the first volume of the autobiography of Evelyn Waugh. Waugh died before he could publish a second volume.


La Línea de la Concepción

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-18-44-23Political prisoner

On Victory in Europe Day (8th May 1945), Burgess found himself in jail in La Línea de la Concepción, in the province of Cádiz. His offence, he explains in his autobiography, had been to ‘uphold the democratic philosophy’ in a bar-brothel.

What happened is that he delivered a lengthy speech inside the establishment, and continued it, even more eloquently, outside in the street. (A certain quantity of alcoholic beverages had been consumed.) During the course of his address to the people — of La Línea in particular and of Spain in general — he described the Caudillo and President of the Government of Spain, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, as, among other things, a dirty great cabrón (lit. billy-goat).


screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-18-39-08Burgess on free will, inhibitions, Dickens, religion, silent cinema, Bacchus, shortages, art, filiality, being a novelist, Hell, growing up in Manchester, the god of the groin, Dionysus, the Catholic sensibility, the films of Charlie Chaplin, pubs in the old days, the piano, prophecy, the demonic, exile, confession, the films of Stanley Kubrick, unbelief, drunkenness, England, fornication, the Jesuits, Fritz Lang, words, death, the future, the miniskirt, God, rain, the Alps, music, the Rabelaisian world.

St Margarets

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-15-05St Margarets is a suburban settlement nine miles outside London in the county of Middlesex, England.

Here Anthony Burgess composed his Essay on Censorship in 1989, having decided to take a stand against intolerance and hypocrisy amid the Rushdie Satanic Verses affair.

The Burgess house is at 8 King’s Road, within a very short walk of the railway station (Burgess never learned to drive a car).

Destination Tangiers

Although not himself a member of what he called ‘the tribe of the Prophet Lot’, Burgess was drawn to Morocco’s Sodom-on-Sea and travelled there in the early ‘60s. Much of the novel Enderby Outside is set in North Africa.


Borneo breakdown

In 1959, Anthony Burgess was teaching a class at Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien College in Brunei Town when he suddenly appeared to undergo some sort of personal crisis. He lay down on the floor and ‘let other agencies take over’, refusing to speak.

Burgess writes in his autobiography:

I was teaching one morning when the end of my colonial career was signalled. The class was Form Four, the subject the Boston Tea Party; the fans were not working and it was rumoured that a female cobra was looking for her young in the corridor outside. At the end of the lesson I felt I had also come to the end of my tether. A great deal of tension had been building up — a dissatisfied wife, a libel action, Australians who called me a pommy bastard, a disordered liver, dyspepsia and dyspnoea which morning droplets of Axe oil did nothing to alleviate, a very large measure of simple frustration. I had done my best; I could do no more: let other agencies take over. I lay on the classroom floor and closed my eyes.

There was prompt action. The principal, Bradshaw, appeared, and he summoned strong Malays. I was taken to the local hospital.

I felt well enough now but maintained my passivity: passivity from now on would be the answer to everything. Lying down on the classroom floor had been an act of purgation or reconciliation or something.



Lilian View, early childhood home of Anthony Burgess. About five kilometres north of downtown Manchester, it is at 91 Delaunays Road, Higher Crumpsall, opposite Crumpsall Infirmary.