Monday, 17 August 2015

Fathomless Riches

Most of the popular tunes and fashionable beat combos of the 1980s are a closed book to me. But I do remember the Communards. Jimmy Somerville had the voice of an angel, and a rather spotty chest - I really don't like V-neck tops on men with nothing underneath - and that high-camp yearning they went in for spoke to me. That was the decade when it became OK to be gay and a pop star, among other things. It was also the decade when to be a gay man quite often meant you were dead, rather soon. I didn't remember the other half of the Communards, Richard Coles, at all. But he does have a rather good twitter feed, and now those tweets have been made into a book, which is his memoir. @RevRichardColes, which gives you a clue as to what he is doing now. Like most memoirs the good bits are at the beginning, about his childhood and family, and the dramatic moments in the middle. When he was a drug-addled star, he says, he might have bought a speedboat. He might have, but he isn't sure, and he doesn't know where it is now, if he did. I liked quite a lot in this book. It is relentlessly honest, as Coles has to be, at least now that he is an Anglican priest. He even admits that at one time he pretended to be HIV-positive - that shocked me. He said later in an interview that it was only his sexual timidity that kept him alive. Although I must say I don't think it is particularly sexually timid to drive out into the countryside and have sex in laybys with men you have never met before. Coles lives, allegedly, a celibate life these days, as the Church of England says its gay ordained must (impertinently, in my view). For me there wasn't quite enough in his book about his life in the Church (which came after the drugs and the stardom), but I guess he thought his pop-picker readers wouldn't be interested in that. On the contrary, I contend. I hope Coles writes another book. Oh and nice reference to Gilbert and George (isn't it?) on the cover.

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