George and Vulture

Chapter 1

Wild Oats

The poster on the hoarding portrayed a group of dusky female singers of shocking, delicious, blasphemous sexuality. This am I. To upstage, to outsmart. Can I be more diabolical than that? Something sinister, something evil? A murderer perhaps? A member of the SS. performing unspeakable atrocities in some little known corner of Eastern Europe?

Furious thoughts swirl. Before they begin to focus. I leave the Underground station and walk along the street.

I come to a pub called The George and Vulture. That was name of the City of London tavern where the first Hell Fire Club used to meet. I walk in and order a pint of bitter, thinking about the brothers and sisters of St Francis of Medmenham. I feel the taste for sacrilege. I want to defile religion.

It is early afternoon and the place is not crowded. I take my seat at an empty table.

I am approached by a figure dressed like a man from the late eighteenth century. in tricorn hat and knee breeches. He asks courteously if he may join me at my table. He introduces himself as a French nobleman. He knows what I have been thinking. His politeness evaporates. He switches to a scornful tone, which I think at first may just be the way he expresses enthusiasm..

“Pah!” he spits. “Your Hell Fire Club was just a milk and water Deer Park, subject of course to the curse of English moderation. All of the original inspiration came from France, from us, from French aristocracy. We knew everything about la douceur de la vie”.

Louis XV kept over a thousand women for his sexual pleasure at his own private brothels in his Deer Park, which cost the treasury over a billion livres.

The aristo tells me how the Revolution changed everything, though everything was changing before that. He is a dandy.

I don’t altogether agree with him. I have a patriotic attachment for the sense of English freedom. I dislike his acceptance of despotism. I listen to what he has to say. I am not arguing with him, but he appears to know exactly what I am thinking.

“Pah”, he spits again, “so much for your ambition to be evil”

I tell him to fuck off. He vanishes.

I sip my beer and return to my musings on the Hell Fire Club and the orgiastic ideal The initial difficulties, the massive difficulties. The point of remaining masked. That is what she would like, she says.

But alluring as it is, the era is remote. And there’s another more serious objection. My Georgian rake may seem too much the Byronic hero. He doesn’t really take off. As much as to me he speaks to the respectable woman’s taste for historical fiction. Like my own mother. Not evil enough She was the third generation to marry a sailor. She didn’t mind that men should have had prostitutes. As her own mother told her, a man has to sow his wild oats. I am not a rake. I am a beast.

Veronica (why do I keep thinking of that wretched woman?) on the other hand felt nothing but disgust at the idea that men should use prostitutes. “If I heard of someone visiting a prostitute” some silly cow once told me, “I think I would just laugh”. That was grotesque. But now it was worse than that. Veronica had managed to elevate something an annoyance most women might feel into a sense of unbounded righteousness. Female distaste for men visiting prostitutes was made into morality.

That’s as may be, but attractive as I think I was, few women took kindly to me. Some say it was because I looked intimidating. That’s a kind way of putting it. Another has said it was because I could not talk to them. But I am good talker I said But they would pick up on all my nasty screwed up emotion, all my hostility, she said.

Focus on a nearer, more accessible dallying with the maid.

One hundred years ago when prostitution was fashionable. Round about 1890. I am dressed in a morning coat and a top hat. I am a predatory gentleman, preying on servant girls, shop girls, barmaids even. Like Walter, or Marcel the narrator in Proust’s great novel;..

Thinking of barmaids, one still looks at barmaids. …

Other images from the period bubble up. Dracula, Jack the Ripper. This is the basic form of virility. To wish to be evil, evil in the heart of opinion.

This barmaid is ugly and unfriendly. This is the East End, full of Cockneys. Remember this part of London a century back. The degraded and criminal rabble of a hundred years ago were perhaps the great-grandparents of some of these people. Now they seem quite bright. A few of them are Irish. They talk about money, prices of stocks and shares. Or have I got the place wrong?

We educated gentlemen have our own image of the lower classes of a hundred years ago. Wherever we came from.. The past being a foreign country, we do not see them as their own gentlemen would have seen them. We have different concepts of degradation and dirt. Their gentlemen were closer to them not more remote, despite the class divide. The abyss of alienness they could not feel. The poor were their poor, not our poor.

And when gentlemen went wenching, their poor were powerfully attracted to their money. Notice the one in the velvet dress. She looks a bit like the barmaid, perhaps she is her sister. Better looking, a bit vulgarly dressed. Tarted up, one would say.

Her figure looks all right. It would be very pleasant to rub my hands over her curves. The little one with her is quite pretty enough.

The man with them is a fat proletarian oaf. I feel the revulsion one feels for our own lower classes. The east end, the football fan, with his animal chants, his communal feeling, his strength in numbers.

My urge for action, for some form of evil identity.

I am paralysed, unable to act or speak. Back now in my own time, I had nothing to say.

Chapter 2

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License