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A day out in London

Summer 1987

You've been sitting here, wondering what to do
I've been sitting here waiting to make the first move.
I don't want another drink or fight; I want a lover.
I don't care whether it's wrong or right; I want a lover tonight.
I want a Lover - Pet Shop Boys.

Note - this story contains adult themes and one or two swear words. If you're under 18 you should probably skip this one and read the one about dormice instead.

FalCon in Bath had been a fun convention. I'd sat through a number of interesting panels, and read my newly-bought copy of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency in the more boring ones. I'd also bought a couple of items in the auction: a signed copy of Diana Rigg ('very rare, she hardly ever signs photos, oh hang on we've got five more here...') and the promise of a day out in London (including a trip to see The Living Daylights) with Richard Franklin.

I was and am quite into Bond films, so I was looking forward to this. Richard Franklin - I'll call him 'Dick' for short - was one of the regulars during the Pertwee era of the long-running BBC TV series Doctor Who; he played UNIT's Captain Mike Yates. I'd watched him on TV when I was about six, and was in a 19-year-old fanboy's startstruck awe of the idea of actually spending time with the man. I was at the time living in Derby, and Dick was living in London, but I phoned him up, set a date, and arranged to sleep over at his place rather than have to rush back for the last train of the night.

The day came, and I travelled down and met up with Dick at St Pancras station. We then hit London, starting with a cruise along the Thames to the Isle of Dogs. Dick ran a fan club called the Bow-Wows for reasons too complex to go into here, and the Isle of Dogs had featured in his recent dog-related day out in London for the club. We finished with a comprehensive pub crawl in the vicinity of Leicester Square. In between we went to see The Living Daylights; I remember being relieved that Roger Moore had finally been replaced by the competent Timothy Dalton, and commenting on the size of Maryam D'Abo's mouth in a bizarre conversation with Dick about whether I'd want to kiss her. I don't remember that much else, probably due to the number of vodka and oranges that Dick bought for me.

Then we went back to Dick's place, where I'd arranged to sleep over. It turned out that where I'd arranged to sleep over was in one half of Dick's double mattress on the floor of his flat, with him in the other half. Alarm bells were starting to tinkle gently at this point, because I was sure he hadn't mentioned this, but it was only when we both got into bed and he insisted on a kiss and a cuddle that I knew I was in trouble, and way out of my depth.

I remembered how he'd talked about my becoming more involved in the Bow-Wows, perhaps as his personal assistant. I remembered him explaining the intricacies of a Prince Albert body piercing, and asking me if I liked the idea. I remembered how many drinks he'd bought me, and the alarm bell became a gong.

I should have left then. I could have left then, except for the small problem that I'd then have been alone, drunk on the streets of London at 2am. Probably in my pyjamas, if I had panicked and run out quickly. Besides - and this sounds really dumb as I write it now but it was honestly what I thought at the time - Dick had bought me lots of drinks and dinner, and had generally treated me to a good time; surely it would be rude to refuse his hospitality?

So I explained as best I could that I didn't want to kiss him, but I would give him a cuddle and then I really needed to get some sleep because I was very tired. So he tried a different tactic:

'Are you ticklish?' he asked.

I kept quiet, but was suddenly very horribly awake. I am ticklish, but worse I could see exactly where this was heading.

'I know somewhere that most men are very ticklish,' he continued, and showed me by diving his hand inside the crotch of my pyjama bottoms and wiggling it around.

I grabbed his hand and pushed it away. I said something nonsensical, like: 'No thanks, I don't want to do this.' I assume it was nonsensical, because whatever combination of words involving the word 'no' I used, it didn't dampen his enthusiasm at all. Or possibly he just thought I was playing hard to get, or was a shy teenager who needed my latent sexuality awakening, or perhaps he just didn't care. Yes, on reflection, I suspect the latter. In any case, the third time he placed his hand on my crotch, I didn't bother to remove it, and he lifted up my penis and started rubbing it.

It would be nice to report that I was to scared or horrified to respond, but in fact I got an erection within a few seconds, which just goes to show that I'm as good as any man at conjuring up a hard-on at the most inappropriate times. I'm sure Dick was actually fairly skilled at wanking, it's just that at the time I wasn't in the mood to appreciate it. However, despite having Dick's hand pumping away with enthusiasm I wasn't in the least bit turned on; my penis was very much doing it's own thing as far as the rest of me was concerned, and the chances of me actually coming were small.

After a few minutes of this, Dick started to get bored, and evidently felt that I wasn't fulfilling my side of the bargain. He grabbed my left hand and guided it down towards his own penis, which was waiting at half mast. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time I had touched another man's penis, and I probably recoiled slightly at the feel of it - unfamiliarly soft, warm and wrinkled - but it had suddenly dawned on me that making Dick come with my hand was far preferable to some of the other options, so it was best to play along. Two strokes of my hand and Dick was fully erect; ten and he'd come. I had a sticky white mess on my hand, but at least it wasn't in my mouth or my anus (nothing against this in principle, but it's not my thing, and I'm rather fond of the idea of choice, too).

I expected Dick to get bored at that point, or at least for his hand to get cramp, but he showed no signs of that. I told him that it was OK, he could stop, I didn't need to come, but I think by that time it had become a matter of pride for him. He'd probably have been at it all night, but eventually I lay back and tried to picture something that would turn me on enough to actually be able to come. I don't remember what fantasy did it in the end, but I do know it was as far away as possible from lying on a mattress on the floor of a North London flat being wanked off by a forty-year-old actor from Doctor Who.

So I came, and mercifully he left it at that at and rolled over to go to sleep. I lay there, shivering, sticky and tearful, and reflecting that as first sexual experiences go, this one at least had the merit that things were likely to get better from here on.

The next morning we got up, got dressed, and Dick drove me to the station. I was frostily angry towards him; he just looked puzzled and a bit hurt. Looking back on it, I think he genuinely believed that he'd ended up with a fanboy who'd bought a night out with him in order to shag him. There's certainly no shortage of gay and bisexual Doctor Who fans, and for all I know Dick got laid at a regular basis on the convention circuit and thought he was fulfilling a fantasy of mine.

If I can come over all Jerry Springer for a minute (stop sniggering at the back there) and consider what I learnt from this experience, I find the following.

Firstly, I've had it said by my straight friends that this must have made me homophobic, and by my male gay friends that this probably put me off gay sex for life (and would I like to give it a second go?). But the fact is I've never been attracted to men, and I don't think this experience changed my opinion either way, any more than women become lesbians because they were raped by a man. I didn't consider that I'd been raped by a gay man, I considered that I'd been raped by a rapist. And no, I don't know if non-consensual wanking is technically rape, but it's a convenient shorthand.

Actually, I became less homophobic after the experience (although not as a result of it). At the age of nineteen, I was still feeling the after-effects of a schooling that treated 'gay' as more or less the ultimate insult, on a level with the similarly non-PC 'spastic'. Dick was one of the first openly gay men I'd met. I now have lots of gay and bi friends, and find that I have so much in common with them that their being gay is as of little consequence as, say, their not liking Marmite, or being a golfing fanatic.

Secondly, I now have an an absolute resolve never, ever to try to buy a woman drinks to get her into bed - and by extension never to sleep with someone who owes me, unless I'm sure that they want to. I hope I'd never have done this anyway, but there are parts of our culture that play the dating game by these rules. I've been on the receiving end. It's deeply unpleasant, and the worst thing is you feel you're letting the other person down by not enjoying yourself.

Thirdly, 'no' means 'no'. Even if this isn't true, it's a best to act as though it were so. If you meet one of those rare occasions when 'no' means 'yes', if you take it to mean 'no' the other person will quickly correct your misunderstanding.

Finally, it could have been far worse. I don't think I left the experience emotionally scarred; it was unpleasant, yes, but it didn't actually hurt and I didn't catch anything. I've seen Dick a couple of times at conventions and I've watched Pertwee videos since and at no point have I felt like throwing up or crawling into a corner whimpering. At most I've thought: 'You sad man'. This is one reason I'm a bit reluctant to speak of being 'raped', although I think the term fits if everyone recognises that there are degrees of rape and mine was at the mild end of the spectrum.

Oh, and if I recall correctly, I paid £10 in the auction for this experience. Makes Dick a pretty cheap rent boy, really.

David Matthewman - david@matthewman.orgk