Morocco: Burgess and the pederasts

Burgess writes in the novel Enderby Outside:

Pashas and the Beni-Ouarain and camels. Mulai Hafid and Abd-el-Kadir. The light-coloured Sherifians, who claim descent from the Prophet. Palmetto and sandarach and argan and tizra. Leopards here, bears, hyenas and wild pigs. Bustard, partridge and waterfowl. Dromedaries and dashing Barbary horses.

Tangiers, Burgess points out,

once belonged to the British — part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza, Portuguese queen of a merry monarch. A pleasant enough town, no longer very distinguished, with some deplorable specimens of architecture. The beach is deserted. This is not the tourist season and, besides, it is the hour of the siesta. The beach cafés are garish, the paint peeling on many, but some of their names are rather charming. The Winston Churchill, the Sun Trap, the Cuppa, the Well Come.

Those Hebrew letters

mean kosher. It is three consonants, the Semitic languages not greatly favouring the alphabetisation of vowels. Arabic too is a Semitic language and is similarly vowel-shy. Why then do not the Jews and Arabs, aware of a common origin in speech and alphabetic method as well as genes, taboos and mythology, get on better together? There you have the eternal mystery of brotherhood. As Blake might have said, Let me hate him, or let me be his brother.

In Tangiers, Burgess explains,

you have expatriates of Northern stock, water to the oil of the Moors and Berbers and Spaniards. Many of them have fled their native lands to escape the rigour of the law. Yes, alas, crimes. Expropriation of funds, common theft, sexual inversion. The term means nothing more than philoprogenitive urges deflected into channels that possess no generative significance.

And among the exiles from the North

are artists, musicians, writers. They have sinned, but they have talent. Desperately they exercise their talent here, dreaming of bitter ale and meadowsweet but cut off for ever, yes for ever, from the Piccadilly flyover and the Hyde Park State Museum and the Communal Beerhall on Hammersmith Broadway. Those are the British. The Americans weep too nightly into their highballs for the happy shopping evenings in the Dupermarket, the drive-in colour stereovideo, the nuclear throb of the fully automated roadglobe. But they practise their arts. It is writers mostly. Up that hill lives a man who has already produced 25 volumes of autobiography: he tears at each instant of his pre-exilic past as though it were a prawn. Another man, on the Calle Larache, eats into his unconscious heart and mounts the regurgitated fragments on fragments of old newspaper. Another man again writes sneering satire, in sub-Popean couplets, on an England already dead. They are small artists, all.

There is in the town

a rue Beethoven, also an avenida Leonardo da Vinci, a plaza de Sade. But no artist here will have a square or thoroughfare named for him. They are nothing. And yet think what, on three sides, surrounds them, though the fierce Atlantic will give a right orchestration to the muscularity of what, to the sun’s own surprise, has sprung out of sunbaked Africa and Iberia. The glory of the Lusiads and the stoic bravery and heartbreak of the Cid, and the myth of Juan and the chronicle of the gaunter Don on the gaunt horse. Clash of guitars up there and the drum-roll of hammering heels in the dance, and down there the fever of native timpani. And, east, the tales told to the cruel Sultan Shahriyar, and the delicate verse-traceries of Omar this and Abdul that and Sayid the other thing.

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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.

Christchurch

Burgess writes that Christchurch

seemed grim and dourly northern. A foul wind blew in from the Antarctic. There was a fair amount of resentment down there, resentment of big Australia, which called Kiwis ‘Poms without brynes’, and of a distant Britain which was neglecting its Commonwealth, and New Zealand mutton, to become Europeanised.

Burgess and Mohammedanism

Burgess, who in the late 1950s flirted with conversion to Islam, wrote in 1989:

The old opposition was between the Free World, so-called, and the Communist world. But now Marxism is seen as an out-of-date philosophy based on 19th-century materialism, and the new Europe, which means the overseas Anglophone world as well as the polyglot Continent, will be, if not Judaeo-Christian, at least liberal and humanistic and nostalgic for some kind of faith. The opposition to this will not be atheistic Communism but fundamentalist Islam. Islam cannot be absorbed into the new comity. I foresee its becoming more and more intolerant and also militant. We are going back to the Middle Ages.

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.

Enderby at the Teatro Cervantes

Extract from Enderby Outside (1968):

Enderby climbed to the top of the low wall by means of an empty Coca-Cola crate and a couple of broken-brick toeholds. He dropped easily, though panting, over the other side. It was an alley he was in now, and this led to a street. The street went downhill and led to other streets. If you kept going down all the time you eventually came to the Avenue d’Espagne, which looked at the plage. That dog place was down there, not far from the Hotel Rif.

It was very steep. Enderby teetered past a crumbling theatre called the Miguel de Cervantes then, finding that the next turning seemed to take him some way uphill again, tried a dark and leafy passage which went unequivocally down. Here a little Moorish girl cried when she saw him, and a number of house-dogs started to bark. But he went gamely on, supporting himself by grasping at broken fences. Precipitous: that was the word. At last he emerged from the barking dark, finding himself on a street where a knot of Moorish boys in smart suits called to him:

‘You want boy, Charlie?’

‘You very hot want nice beer.’

‘For cough,’ said Enderby, in no mood for foreign nonsense, and a boy riposted with:

‘You fuck off too, English fuckpig.’

Enderby didn’t like that. He knew that this place had once belonged to the English, part of Charles II’s Portuguese queen’s dowry. It was not right that he should be addressed like that. But another boy cried:

‘You fucking German. Kaput heilhitler.’

And another:

‘Fucking Yankee motherfucker. You stick chewing-gum up fucking arse.

That showed a certain ingenuity of invective. They were very rude boys, but their apparently indifferent despication of foreigners was perhaps a healthy sign, stirring in sympathy a limp G-string in his own nature. He nodded at them and, more kindly, said once more:

‘For cough.’

They seemed to recognise his change of tone, for they merely pronged two fingers each in his direction, one or two of them emitting a lip-fart. Then they started to playfight, yelping, among themselves. Enderby continued his descent, coming soon to a hotel-and-bar on his left called Al-Djenina. The forecourt had bird cages in it, the birds all tucked up for the night, and Enderby could distinctly see, through the long bar-window, middle-aged men drunk and embracing each other. Those would, he thought, be expatriate writers. He was, of course, one of those himself now, but he was indifferent to the duties and pleasures of sodality. He was on his own, waiting. He had written, though. He was working on things. The wind from the sea upheld him as he tottered to level ground. Here it was then: the Avenue d’Espagne, as they called it.

Hotel Rif, Tangiers

From Burgess’s 1968 novel Enderby Outside:

It was necessary that he stay near Rawcliffe’s beach-place, not to let his quarry slip out of his tan-polished hands. It was not windy now, but it was not warm. Autumnal Morocco. He could doze, all hunched up, in the shadow of the Acantilado Verde. In the morning he could drink coffee and eat a piece of bread (there was a dirham or so still in his pocket) and then, an eye open for Rawcliffe, get down to begging. There was a lot of begging here: no shame in it. There were a couple of rich hotels near the Acantilado Verdethe Rif and the Miramar: good begging pitches.

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.