Pride Month: First Date – Memories From Gay London During the 1980s

Have you ever had one of those life experiences that renders you utterly speechless? Read on and let me know if anything I’m about to tell you leaves you as astonished as it did when it happened to me. 

Pride Month: First Date

Picture it – Earl’s Court, London, 1988, the height of the summer, and me working as a part-time barman in one of the coolest gay bars in the city.

In the bar, the biggest catch in town. And it seemed he had his eyes on me. He’d been showing some interest in me for weeks, or so I thought.

Sometimes, when I caught him looking at me, I’d blush so much that my face resembled a sun-dried tomato. At the same time, my heart would skip a few beats while the butterflies in my stomach felt like they were rioting.

Neville, my best friend, made a bet with me that if ‘catch’ (as we’d nicknamed him) asked me out on a date, he’d do all my washing for the rest of the year. How could I decline a bet like that?    

At six-foot-tall, mid-thirties, with a stocky build, short dark hair, moustache, piercing brown eyes, and always wearing the tightest of Levi 501 jeans, it wasn’t my washing that needed a cold wash. It was me!

He was what I called a ‘man’s man’, and nobody would have ever guessed that he was gay had they seen him walking down the street or standing on the terraces at Stamford Bridge

Nobody knew much about him. Not even his name.

He always stood on his own, and nobody ever approached him. He ordered one drink that lasted the whole evening and always left the bar on his own.

I didn’t want to make the first move. I hated rejection, but the prospect of having my washing done for the rest of the year was tempting.

The other barmen had noticed that ‘Catch’ was giving me a little too much attention. Make the first move, they told me, but I couldn’t.

Then, in the early hours of an unusually warm and humid Sunday morning, having just finished my shift, I left the bar and started to make the short trip home.

“Hi” came a deep voice from behind me. “I’ve been watching you for weeks and wondered if you fancied coming back to my place for a coffee?”

As I span around, the butterflies in my stomach rioted again as my eyes were met by ‘Catch’ smiling at me. For some reason, it took what seemed like ages for me to accept his invitation.

Jumping into a taxi with him, I felt as if I was floating on cloud nine. We sat silent like two lovebirds, just looking into each others eyes.

As soon we reached his apartment, I’d hardly given ‘Catch’ time to close the front door before grabbing him and forcing him to do some tongue dancing with me.

What happened after the tongue dancing didn’t seem to last long, but neither of us seemed to care very much. There was still time for rounds two, three and four. 

I had the feeling that he was the one and that we’d be doing lots more of what had just happened, only at a much slower pace.

“Would you like a beer, Peachy?” were his first words to me since we got to his apartment. Peachy? Was he talking to me? Well, that’s another story, but the cold beers helped cool us down while we continued to look into each others eyes. 

After rounds two and three, we were both exhausted, and he asked if I wanted to stay the rest of the night.

As much as I wanted to stay, I had to get home because I couldn’t wait to see Neville and tell him what had happened.

While quickly freshening myself up, ‘Catch’ made us some coffee.

Grabbing my clothes and walking to the kitchen (because I didn’t want to miss another second of being with him), I realised I still didn’t know ‘Catch’s’ real name. Should I ask, or should I wait until he asked me for mine? After all, he couldn’t know me as ‘Peachy’ when we went on our first proper date. 

Having convinced myself that it wasn’t me doing the chasing in this relationship, I decided to wait until he introduced himself to me.

While the coffee went cold, our tongues had another long dance.

“Would you like to make this a regular thing?” ‘Catch’ asked me, as he came up for some air. 

I had a fleeting vision of Neville doing my washing, so didn’t take long to respond. 

“What? You bet!”

“Good, I was hoping you’d say that.” 

After a little more tongue dancing, it was time for us to part and ‘Catch’ escorted me to the front door. 

However, suddenly stoping, ‘Catch’ told me to wait, and off he wandered (while muttering something about having forgotten something). I watched as the man of my dreams disappeared back into the bedroom. Surly not round five, I thought.

With my heart playing the drums in my chest, I was positive I could feel those first dewdrops of love welling up inside of me. He was probably writing down his phone number for me.  

Then it all started to go wrong. Very wrong!

I couldn’t take my eyes off ‘Catch’ as he walked towards me. “Here you go,” he said, thrusting a wad of ten-pound notes into my hand. “You forgot to ask for your fee. I’ve deducted a little for the beer and coffee you had.”

Shocked, my jaw hit the floor, and for the first time in my life, I was speechless; completely speechless! And, before you ask, no, not because he’d made a deduction for beer and coffee.

‘Catch’ had mistaken me for a rent-boy. 

Still openmouthed and unable to speak, I walked out, turned around and, as ‘Catch’ closed the front door, heard him say he’d recommend me to anyone looking for the same kind of fun.


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Pride Month: Memories From Gay London During The 1980s #LGBTQI #LGBT #PrideMonth

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Author: Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar to learn more about me and my blog.

61 thoughts

  1. Like your fiction writing – a story with a twist! I didn’t see the end coming, Hugh, and while shocking and humiliating at the time, it does make for an incredible story (maybe not so much memory) now! I think you should have kept the money, although that might have made you feel like a real rent boy. I do understand why you slid the money back and never told your best friend about it.

    1. I kept this story to myself for many years, Liesbet. I was so embarrassed by what had happened. Nobody ever knew I’d gone back with ‘Catch.’ Fortunately, he disappeared into the Twilight Zone he’d come from. I’m pleased to say that I can now look and laugh about what happened that night.

  2. Hugh, I don’t know whether jaw-dropping, heart breaking, humiliating, shocking or deeply depressing but I love how you write about it. This shows your “real”! And that is what your Mr. Right recognized!! I am in awe.

    1. Thank you so much, Luzahn.

      I’m pleased to say that although I was horrified by what happened for many years after the event, I can now look back at it and laugh. I think I had a rather lucky escape.

    1. If the ground had opened in front of me that early morning, I would have jumped in, Debby. At least I can now laugh about what happened. Even John thinks it’s a funny story and couldn’t stop laughing about it.

      1. Oye, is all I can say. I totally understand the huge humiliating slap! ❤ Thank goodness you've moved on and made a wonderful life ❤

    1. No and no. I never told anyone what happened, and ‘Catch’ disappeared back into the Twilight Zone he’d come from. I’m glad to say that I can now back and laugh at what happened.

  3. Was the wad of notes sufficient to compensate for how you were feeling, Hugh? I’ve got to say, my initial reaction was to laugh, but the more I thought about, the more I realised I’d have been mortified in a similar situation.

    1. I’d like to know some more about your brother’s strange dates, Terri. I had a few more back then, which I may share details about one day. For some reason, back then, I seem to attract some of the strange ones.

  4. Hi Hugh,
    Great story. I never got mistaken as a boy toy (rent boy). I did stalk a pretty young thing for months, and one evening I talked him into coming home with me. After I took him to his home hours later, I discovered he had stolen my watch and some cash. When I shared my story with my friends, they said, “You did what? Didn’t you know he was a prostitute?” It was a lesson learned, and I was more careful who I invited home after that. I hope you’re having a safe summer. Here in Florida, our numbers are getting worse. I stay at home and only go out to the grocery store. HUGS

    1. I’m sorry to hear about the encounter you had with the thief, Chuck. I knew a guy who we nicknamed ‘family silver George’ because he stole from people who had taken him home. He wasn’t ‘rent’, just very good looking and fit. He knew how to use both. I often saw him doing community work after his convictions. Many of his victims did not listen to the warnings to leave him alone. I wonder whatever happened to him?

      I heard about the numbers in part of the world. You do the right thing by staying at home as much as possible. I’ve been doing the same for the last three months and only went out on my first long walk yesterday.

      Take care of yourself.

  5. Gobsmacked! I can just imagine your face. What a great story 🙂
    A backhanded compliment, him thinking you were attractive enough to be a rent boy 🙂
    I can’t believe he charged you for the beer and coffee; no wonder he was always alone!

    1. Now I think about it, I wished I had done so, Caz. I ended up posting the cash through the letterbox of his front door. Of course, I never told Neville what had happened. And ‘Catch’ never crossed our paths ever again.

  6. Oh! What an awful end to what you thought was the best night of your life! I can feel that kick in the gut you must of felt! Did you ever see him again, did you put him right 💜…did your heart mend? Did Neville do your washing 💜

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