Opening the Pandora’s Box

  I meet Paul Allchin at the British Library to talk about a night out in King’s Cross with ex-partner George Duff. The conversation moves from the night out to the roles we play in the lives of those we are closest to. It feels like we are a million miles from the small room …

Rough as guts

  Christopher Watson was born on Christmas day in 1941. We met him in his house on Packenham Street, where he has lived for over 40 years. We discovered there a host of characters who have accompanied Christopher through the pubs, clubs and drag balls of King’s Cross and Soho from the 1960s to today. When …

Daughters Made for Each Other

  Chrissie Joyce and Denise Spence first met each other at The Bell, a pub and venue on Pentonville Road during the 1980s/90s. With a shared Northern Irish heritage the two women had left Ireland seeking to escape – in Denise’s words – a climate of ‘drink, violence, religion and hate’. Gravitating to the King’s …

Lost and Found

Searching for herself Andrea Smith was born in 1966, and adopted as a baby. She grew up in Manchester, and moved to London in the early 1990s. The knowledge that the people who had raised her were not her blood family sparked an ‘existential quest for self’ in Andrea that took the form of meticulous …

Heavy duty partying in King’s Cross

Eileen was born on Christmas day, 1954. She was reportedly due ‘before or slightly after’ Christmas, and her mother hoped she’d stick to that appointment, not wanting the new arrival to interfere with the festive jollities. But baby Eileen was eager (or else reticent) and arrived on the 25th, and luckily, everyone was glad. For …

Contestation on the dance floor

Huw Arfon Williams Huw Arfon Williams was born in 1959, and came to London in 1983. We meet him to discuss gay London from the 80s onwards, in a stylish members’ club in Soho. It’s a fitting place to meet Huw, who is a stylish man, but when he declares that the sartorial choices he …

There was something in the gritty, shitty air of King’s Cross

After graduating from Warwick University, Rob Pateman moved into a rundown flat in Finsbury Park and spent his 20’s exploring his sexuality on London’s gay scene. A key part of his education and centre of his social universe was The Bell, an iconic gay pub at Kings Cross. He worked on the door for several …

Ghosts on the dance floor

Debbie Smith, Heritage Coordinator, Musician and DJ on her memories of King’s Cross and The Bell. I met Debbie one chilly October morning in her offices at the grand and glorious Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives at Bancroft Library. We talked about her past as a frequenter of The Bell (now The Big …

I wanted to jump, I wanted to turn

I interviewed James Stewart Grant at his house in Stoke Newington in July 2017. James has one of those wonderful homes that you sometimes stumble across working on projects like this – full of original artworks, and lined with books. Over the course of the morning we spoke about his arrival in London from Edinburgh, …

If you can’t kill yourself, you get on and live

Jonathan Blake was born in 1949. That makes him 68 years old when we meet him to talk about his memories of King’s Cross and LGSM, in September 2017. He is officially a pensioner, he tells me proudly; he never expected to be able to say that, having been diagnosed with HTLV-3 – which later …