Category Archives: Gibraltar


Burgess wrote in a 1967 article:

A rock of preposterous size with a town crowded around it. A bit of geographical Spain — sun and balconies and yellow stucco — but with British-looking bobbies in the streets, and pounds, shillings and pence in the emporia. The claustrophobic atmosphere of a besieged garrison, but also a sense of immense width: on a fine day from the top of the Rock you can see the time on the town clock in African Ceuta; from Moorish Castle you can find — like a lost coin — the bullring in Spanish Algeciras. The biscuit-coloured beauty of the girls, an Anglican cathedral in the form of a mosque, baroque processions on Corpus Christi, Sherry from Jerez, tepid bitter from Burton-on-Trent.


Gibraltar: the Rock Hotel

Burgess had been barred from the Rock Hotel in the forties. He behaved badly there when he returned in the sixties.

Burgess speaks out for Catholic Europe

Burgess writes (in Little Wilson and Big God, Being the First Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess) that he had thought he had freed himself from ‘the nets of Catholicism’. However, provoked by Major Meldrum, he found himself speaking out for Catholic Europe.

I was in Catholic Europe, despite the insistence of the Gibraltarians that they were, though mostly Genoese, really a kind of brown Englishmen. They were Catholic, when they were not Jews, and held baroque processions on feast days. The women went to Mass in mantillas. They were a kind of Iberians who feared Iberia. They preferred brown bobbies to Franco’s policía. But they were of my own kind. They made the sign of the cross and heard the bell of the Angelus. I was drawn to the women with crosses hanging from their delectable necks. The Protestant Lynne was sick and far. I was in warm garlicky unreformed Christendom. As for God, there was God towering high overhead, the mists of the Levant on his brow.

Damned apes of Gib

Burgess points out in his autobiography that the Nazis implanted in the Spaniards the superstition that when the apes left Gibraltar, the British would leave too.

Therefore, he writes, ‘on Winston Churchill’s insistence, the Rock apes had to be encouraged to flourish. They had to be fed and their breeding blessed, and there was even a Sergeant i/c Rock Apes’.

Gibraltar: sex frustration

screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-22-08-30The priapic novelist confesses in the first volume of his autobiography (Little Wilson and Big God, Being the First Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess) to having attempted on the Rock to ravish a heavily scented, brown-bosomed Gibraltarian belle. She yielded at first, then loudly screamed, and fought him off with the help of her girlfriends. ‘I drooped, I nearly wept, I was ashamed. I was also resentful,’ Burgess writes.

Gibraltar: Burgess’s vain search for sex

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-19-04-53On the rock, writes Burgess in Little Wilson and Big God,

there were to be no women. All had been evacuated to zones of safety like Belfast and Greater London. There had once been regulated brothels in Gibraltar, but a pious Lieutenant-Governor’s wife had had these abolished. ‘You’ll have to wank, lads,’ said a sergeant sadly.

Carnal relief could be found across the frontier in La Línea de la Concepción, where ladies of the night abounded, though Burgess felt it

shameful to engage in a simulacrum of love for money, and I still feel shame at having carried an urgency over the border to discharge in a wretched room smelling of garlic and cheap scent.

He attempted to find female companionship in Gibraltar, without apparent success. He pursued Gibraltarian women, visiting them in their homes, but once it was discovered that he was married,

I was kicked out at once as a philanderer, and there was no more tea in tiny flats on Castle Steps or Hampton Ramp.

Venerean bus shelter

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-18-16-48Burgess, who served in Gibraltar during part of the Second World War and for some time after VE Day, like all the other British soldiers did his whoring in the frontier town of La Línea de la Concepción.

He writes in Little Wilson and Big God that the army had built ‘a kind of venerean bus shelter with running water for the laving of the penis, midway between the Spanish frontier and the North Shore airfield’.

He continues: ‘I still feel shame at having carried an urgency over the border to discharge in a wretched room smelling of garlic and cheap scent. And yet I have learned to associate garlic with the erotic.’