It’s kind of weird writing a book set in the 1960s and 70s. I was born in 1970 and it doesn’t really seem like that long ago to me. But then I look back at the faded family photos of us in stripy shirts and flared trousers and boxy haircuts and lots and lots of nylon and it seems like another world. So many things have changed.
Taking Stock is set in 1972, five years after the Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalised homosexual sex in private between men over the age of twenty-one. Adrian and Percy’s story is set in 1967, literally in the weeks after the Act was passed. This piece in The Guardian is titled Coming out of the Dark Ages and talks about the repression that led to the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967.
I found a couple of vox pop articles really helpful–What was it like to go to gay clubs when it was still illegal? (Attitude Magazine) and this recollection from the WayBack Machine about the Spartan Club. There’s also an article from the National Trust about Queer London clubs, 1918-67.
There’s a bit of Polari in Percy and Adrian’s story–the cant slang used during the 19th and 20th centuries whilst it was illegal to be gay. There’s a handful of videos on my youtube channel with personal memories and recollections and a short drama (which I found a bit difficult to watch at the end, so do brace yourself).
Specific to Bristol, where Laurie in Taking Stock used to go for hook-ups before his stroke, I used the wonderful OurStories Bristol resource.
I also thoroughly recommend Matt Houlbrook’s Queer London, Perils & Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1967 and Matt Cook’s Queer Domesticities: Homosexuality and Home Life in Twentieth-Century London for anyone interested in more background.