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.

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).