February 11, 2008

Fag single-handedly rescued capitalism

The best thing about the 1930s, and you have to search long and hard to find anything nice that happened in that dreadful decade, what with all that recession, prohibition, Nazi and Stalinist pogroms and the drums of war beating, was the Bloomsbury Group. By then the Group was on its last legs and severely affected by the nasty things that were happening in world affairs, including the Spanish Civil War.
All its members were interesting, but probably the one with still the most influence on world affairs was economist John Maynard Keynes, who overthrew economic orthodoxy at the time by encouraging Governments to stimulate their economies by deficit spending to offset falling demand.

For our purposes here, it's his sexual life that is of interest, being an active homosexual for the first quarter of the century and then settling down in married life with a Russian ballerina (I'm unsure whether that qualifies as heterosexuality). He reminds me of Marcel Proust in that respect, who took to his bed to write those interminable novels after a youth spent as a party boy.
Now, our Maynard was a bit of an obsessive with regards to note taking, figures and statistics, as a good economist behoves, and even tabulated his sex life. It's something I should have done too over the past 25 years because I find it's hard even to remember last week's adventure, let alone chance encounters decades ago - unless something really funny or memorable happened such as here (scroll down to "It's Good To Be A Guy" story).
His sexual diaries have been published and a large part was in coded form like Roger Casement's Black Diaries. Since homosexuality was very much a no-no activity after the Wilde trial, it paid to put one's conquests and thoughts down in coded form.
Now a book review speculates on the code used and is trying to decipher it. It's not a hugely difficult scheme as he codes his "activities" into three categories: C, A and W.

The book reviewer discusses possibilities with a friend (a professor of ecclesiastical history, no less, surely an authority on the matters at hand) and they conclude: A = ass; W = wank; C = either "cop" (as in "copping a feel") or cocksucking.
The reactions to the piece by readers are good fun, with plenty of other suggestions for the code (including "Adults, Wife, Children"!! and Champagne, Ale, Water)
I'm not very sure about it all either: Arse(fucking) and Cock(sucking) are standard gay male sexual choreographies, especially in quick and fleeting encounters. W is a bit of a mystery, as one correspondent said, "wanking" wasn't a term that was in use in Edwardian England. Mutual masturbation or handjobs are common activities too so it would be surprising if Maynard didn't do that too, but what W actually means is a puzzle to me.

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