Category Archives: History

Gay History: The Hon. Percy Jocelyn (1764-1843); Bishop of Ferns, Ireland.

The Right Rev. and Hon. Percy Jocelyn was Bishop of the Diocese of Ferns from 1809-1820. Percy’s mother, Lady Anne Hamilton, was a member of the Clanbrassil Hamiltons, on whose land the Battle of Ballinahinch was fought in 1798, and her distant kin included the United Irish leader, Archibald Hamilton Rowan. In 1752, Lady Anne Hamilton married Robert Jocelyn, son of the Lord High Chancellor of Ireland. Through his father’s political success and his wife’s aristocratic connections, Robert Jocelyn attained high honours and became Earl of Roden. A year before the Rising, in 1797, Lord Roden’s eldest son, Robert Jocelyn (1756-1820), succeeded as the second Earl of Roden. The second son, George Jocelyn (1764-1798), was the father-in-law of both Walter Hore and James Boyd. But it was the third and youngest son, Percy Jocelyn (1764-1843), who proved to be the most interesting character in that generation of the family.

He graduated with a BA from Trinity College Dublin. At Trinity, he was regarded as something of a bookworm, spending much of his time in his rooms on Library Square. He was later described as “a tall thin young man with a pale, meagre and melancholy countenance, and so reserved in his manners and recluse in his habits that he was considered by every body to be both proud and unsociable”. Percy Jocelyn was born on 29 November 1764. Immediately after graduating, he was ordained deacon at the age of 23 and then priest. He quickly acquired a number of ecclesiastical positions, not because he was able and capable, but due to the cunning ambition that had made him a corrupt pluralist who amassed many posts, enriching himself with the income from accumulated tithes and endowments.
For all the offices he held from a young age, Jocelyn gave very little back in return to the parishes that sustained his lifestyle. He failed constantly to provide for the pastoral care of his parishioners or to take services in the churches and cathedrals to which he had been appointed. Between 1787 and 1809, he was Treasurer of Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork (1787-1795); Rector of Creggan, near Dundalk, Co Louth, and Rector of Tamlaght, Co Derry, two parishes at opposite ends of the Diocese of Armagh (1788-1790); Archdeacon of Ross, Co Cork (1788-1790); Treasurer of Armagh Cathedral (1790-1809); and Rector of Disert, Co Waterford, in the Diocese of Lismore (1796-1809). Not even the holiest and most energetic of men could give due attention to these posts in four dioceses spread across five counties and three provinces while maintaining a city residence in Dublin at the same time.
Jocelyn’s contemporaries realised that he was incapable of giving due attention to his pastoral responsibilities and that he was idle to the point of negligence, seldom taking services and never preaching. Rev Thomas Hore said Jocelyn that he was the “most idle of all reverend idlers” and asked him rhetorically: “Do you ever write a sermon? Most worthy Rector of Creggan – not you.”

As a consequence of the events in 1798, Percy Jocelyn was elevated to the bench of bishops in the Church of Ireland. During the Rising, the Bishop of Killala, Joseph Stock, had suffered bitterly at the hands of the rebels, the French invading force, and the British authorities in Co Mayo. Once the Rising was over, Stock was naturally disillusioned with his see and was soon pursuing every vacant episcopal appointment. However, Stock was disappointed as he was passed over for preferment when the mad Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin, Euseby Cleaver, became Archbishop of Dublin in 1808. Stock had hoped to become Archbishop of Dublin, but now resigned himself to moving to Co Wexford, writing to his son: “If I cannot be Dublin, I shall be content with Ferns.” He must have been convinced of his chances of moving to Co Wexford, for four days later he wrote in similar terms: “I think I must have a chance of Ferns.” Despite his expectations, all Stock received was a polite note from the Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Richmond. Instead, he was transferred to the Waterford and Lismore, and eventually, in 1809, the See of Ferns, vacated by Cleaver, passed to Percy Jocelyn. When he became Bishop of Ferns, Percy Jocelyn found himself in good company alongside the scandalous Chancellor of Ferns, Sir Henry Bate Dudley. But Jocelyn, for his part, spent very little time in his dioceses, seldom visiting those parishes in counties Wexford, Wicklow and Carlow that formed his diocese.

In 1811, Jocelyn’s brother John’s coachman, James Byrne, accused him of “taking indecent familiarities” (possibly buggery) and of “using indecent or obscene conversations with him”. Byrne was sued for criminal libel by Jocelyn and on conviction was sentenced to two years in jail and also to public flogging. In court, the bishop’s counsel was Charles Kendal Bushe (1767-1843), Solicitor General of Ireland and later Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, who was a clergyman’s son. Bushe confounded Byrne’s allegations by claiming the sexual practice the Bishop of Ferns was alleged to have indulged in was a “contagion” that had never reached Ireland. “There is no instance of its existence in the memory of any professional man,” Bushe told the court. Therefore, by deduction, the bishop must be innocent. At the trial, Byrne hardly bothered to defend himself for making what the judge called “so wicked a calumny that no idea is too horrible to be informed of you.” Jocelyn was described as “an exalted and venerable character, who, though raised to one of the highest dignities of the Church, is still less exalted by his rank than he is by the uniform piety of his life.” The bishop was virtuous, pious and devout, Mr Justice Fox agreed. Regretting that he could not pass harsher sentence, he jailed Byrne for two years and ordered that he should be whipped three times through the streets of Dublin. Byrne was whipped to within an inch of his life, and also spent the full two years and an extra 85 days in jail Recanting his allegations at the prompting of the bishop’s agent, the floggings were stopped. A public subscription was raised in 1822 to raise money for Byrne to try to make up for this miscarriage of justice.

Soon poor Percy put all these sordid events and Byrne’s allegations behind him. Others appeared to have had short memories too, including family members, and when the bishop’s nephew, also Robert Jocelyn, succeeded as third Earl of Roden in 1820, he actively sought the promotion of Percy from the Diocese of Ferns to the See of Clogher. Despite the image that had been bolstered by his family and in court, by the time Jocelyn moved from Ferns to Clogher there were rumours that the bishop was mentally imbalanced. Within weeks there were reports that he was selling off the furnishings of his new palace, a four-storey Classical mansion built only a year earlier by his predecessor, Lord John George Beresford. Worse was to come.

On 19 July 1822, at the age of 58, Percy Jocelyn was caught in a compromising position with a Grenadier Guardsman, John Moverley, in the back room of The White Lion public house, St Albans Place, off The Haymarket, Westminster. Jocelyn tried to escape, but his trousers were still down around his ankles, and he was arrested. Although dressed as a clergyman, he refused to reveal his identity. However, once in custody his name was soon discovered and the news of his arrest caused an immediate sensation in London’s clubs and coffee houses. He and Moverley were released on bail, provided by the Earl of Roden and others. The 22-year-old John Moverley was eventually committed to jail. The sordid details surrounding Jocelyn’s arrest were conveyed to the newly-appointed Archbishop of Armagh, Lord John George Beresford, by George Dawson, private secretary to the Home Secretary, Robert Peel. Only after lively correspondence involving the viceroy, the prime minister, the chief secretary, and Archbishop Beresford, was an ecclesiastical court summoned. The court, consisting of four bishops, George Beresford of Kilmore, William Knox of Derry, James Saurin of Dromore and William Bissett of Raphoe, met in Armagh in October 1822. Citations demanding Jocelyn’s appearance were posted on the doors of Clogher Palace and Cathedral, and on the doors of his townhouse in Dublin, but when he failed to appear in court, the process was begun to deprive the bishop of his ecclesiastical office.

But, even while the trial was proceeding, Jocelyn’s capacity for corruption remained unbounded. When he should have been appearing before the four bishops in Armagh, he was auctioning off the last remaining contents of his palace, so that the court ruefully recorded: “That splendid appendage of his dignity has been left as naked as a ruin.” Jocelyn was declared deposed by the Metropolitan Court of Armagh in October 1822. He was deprived of his bishopric, his holy orders and his authority “on account of divers crimes and excesses and more especially for the crimes of immorality, incontinence, sodomitical practices, habits, and propensities, and neglect of his spiritual, judicial, and ministerial duties.” It is, perhaps, the only example ever of a bishop in the Church of Ireland being reduced to the lay state. James Byrne, once flogged and jailed for his allegations against the bishop, now felt vindicated. The Times of London demanded he should receive public indemnity, a great dinner was organised in his honour in London, and a public subscription raised £300 for him.

Moverely had disappeared by now, and there were rumours that Jocelyn’s nephew had him bought off or even had him murdered; other reports said he had been executed. However, the records show that Moverly deserted on 7 August 1822. There is reason to believe that the government, rather than to have a bishop found guilty of the crime of sodomy, was willing to let him escape. There appear to be no documents in the regimental archive relating to a courts martial so possibly he was never caught. Meanwhile, Jocelyn had broken bail. The fugitive bishop first fled to Scotland and from there to Paris with the money he had extracted from his Episcopal Palace, and perhaps with the help of his nephew, Lord Roden. Two years later, in December 1824, the disgraced bishop was formally declared an outlaw. 

The last days of Percy Jocelyn were spent as a character who, by some standards, might be more pitied than despised. It is generally accepted that he ended his days in Scotland, working as a butler under the assumed name of Thomas Wilson. He died in Edinburgh in December 1843, and was buried there in the New Cemetery, with only five mourners present. The Latin inscription on his coffin is very telling: “Here lie the remains of a great sinner, saved by grace, whose hopes rest in the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

However, a contrary end is provided by the English writer, Rictor Norton. After he writing a short sketch of the bishop, Norton was contacted by the Hon James Jocelyn, a brother of the current Lord Roden, who claimed that Percy Jocelyn did not die in Scotland as a disguised butler, but returned to his family in Co Down to live a quiet life. The bishop left most of his fairly large estate to his sisters, but his will also contained a dozen bequests to named individuals ranging from £100 pounds to £2,200, including £300 “to my good friend and relation The Reverend James Hill Poe of Nenagh … as token of Remembrance for all the Kindness and attention which my beloved sisters and myself have uniformly experienced from him for many years past during a period of extreme calamity and misfortune.” The will includes the following clause: “I desire and request that my remains may be committed to the Grave in the most private manner at a very early hour in the morning and that no Publicity whatsoever may attend my funeral, also that no name be inscribed on my Coffin and my age. And I desire no publication of my death to be inserted in any public paper.” Some years ago, the Jocelyn family vault at Kilcoo Parish Church in Bryansford, Co Down, was opened for structural repairs to the church, and when James Jocelyn went inside he found one more coffin than the number of grave markers indicated. This extra coffin was unmarked, and he argued that this belonged to the former Bishop of Ferns.

It is not surprising that Bishop Jocelyn never married. His closest family relations were the daughters of his nearest brother, George Jocelyn, and two of them married into prominent Co. Wexford families during Percy’s eleven-year tenure as Bishop of Ferns. In 1812, Harriet Jocelyn married the Rev Walter Hore, Rector of Ferns. Walter Hore, who was the son of Walter Hore of Seafield and grandson of Walter Hore of Harperstown, died on 28 September 1843. In December 1813, Georgiana Jocelyn married Major James Boyd of Rosslare, Co. Wexford. She died in July 1819, and Boyd died forty years later in 1859.

Jocelyn’s arrest sent ripples through both state and church. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, who was both the Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons at the time, had an audience with King George IV on 9 August 1822 to reveal the fact that he was being blackmailed, and confessed: “I am accused of the same crime as the Bishop of Clogher.” The King is said to have advised Castereagh to “consult a physician.” Instead, he went to his English country seat in Kent, and three days later he slit his throat with a pen-knife. The reputation of the Irish clergy suffered as a result of the case, and Peel wondered whether it was advisable to appoint any of the Irish clergy to a vacant bishopric in the future. Shortly after Jocelyn’s arrest, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners Sutton, claimed “it was not safe for a bishop to shew himself in the streets of London.” The former Bishop of Ferns was the most senior churchman in either Ireland or Britain to be involved in a public homosexual scandal in the 19th century. Initially, there was reluctance to discuss the case in the media, and a writer for The Times of London noted that “[m]ingled feelings of sorrow, humiliation, and disgust” had almost prevented him from writing at all. But Jocelyn was soon being ridiculed as the “Bishop of Sodom” and he became a subject of crude satire and popular ribaldry, resulting in more than a dozen illustrated satirical cartoons and numerous pamphlets and limericks. However, it is agreed generally that the case had many positive consequences, for it strengthened Archbishop Beresford’s hand in enforcing higher standards and instituting reforms of abuses brought about by lax and worldly clerics in the Church of Ireland. Nevertheless, the indiscretions of this former Bishop of Ferns have remained an embarrassment for generations. Percy Jocelyn rates a short and dismissive three-line entry in Leslie’s list of the Bishops of Ferns. Leslie’s separate eleven-line entries for him in the Armagh and Clogher lists of clergy and parishes merely state that he was deprived for by a court without hinting at the nature of his offence. There is no separate entry for him in the Dictionary of National Biography, and he is seldom referred to in the Roden pedigrees in Burke’s and other peerages. 

The Jocelyn case was a sensation at the time, as it would be even now, and researchers might expect to find details of the scandal in church archives. However, the Clogher Diocesan archives in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast, are essentially a record of the day-to-day running of the diocese and are silent about the deposition of Percy Jocelyn. For almost two centuries, the relevant papers in the Armagh Diocesan Registry Archive remained under an interdict imposed in 1822 by Primate Beresford. In the 1920s, Archbishop Charles Frederick D’Arcy, a former Bishop of Clogher, asked for the papers to be burned, although his instructions were never carried out, and the papers were released from closure only recently. An ecumenical but oft-forgotten twist to the tale is that Clogher Palace, which was quickly pillaged by Jocelyn after this move from Ferns in 1820, served as a convent for the Sisters of Saint Louis for most of the 20th century.

Tim Alderman (2017)


Rumination of the Day (2nd December 2016)


It’s the day after WAD, and as usual, I’m ruminating! For many years now I have been looking at how I now view HIV/AIDS – through the lense of objectivity. Emotion only muddles the issue, and history has a trail of misinformation, mixed objectives, venom and misunderstanding! 

Even recently I have encountered those who, for reasons known only to themselves, have never been able to move on! The hate is still alive, the dragons still circling. I could be one of these, who still feel that the experiences of the 80s & 90s are still alive, an uncompromising hard line that leaves me stranded in a time that has passed by. Fuck knows there is a lot in my past that I have never fully moved on from – family business that could, at any time in the past, have left me sitting in a gutter, needle dangling…or in a bar, in an alcoholic stupor – and fuck knows I flew very close to the latter at one stage! More so than many, I have reason enough to be bitter, to be a victim. My experience with AIDS has left me close to blind, and there are many who would agree that that is reason enough. But, as in my latter teens, with full knowledge of my families dysfunctionality, living with a solitary knowledge of my younger brothers horrendous death, of violence and unspoken secrets, of my being gay, I made a quiet vow to myself that I was not going to let it get the better of me, to smother me, to stop me being who I would be! So to with AIDS – my survival alone was an unexpected surprise – and blindness! To buckke under, to attribute blame, to become a victim, to allow it to hold me back, swallow me up, would be saying…I do not have the strength for this, the self-empowerment whereby I would become someone who even I didn’t recognise! 

To move on, one has to acknowledge that the past is just that – the past! Yes, what happened was dreadful – the hatred, the discrimination, the accusations, the blame, the misinformation, the segregation, the fear! We need to acknowledge – 40 years along now – that we were all scared shitless. Straight, gay, male, female, religious, non-religious, politicians, doctors, journalists, activists…ad infinitum…were all scared. Perhaps not since the scourges of the Black Death have we encountered something we all knew absolutely nothing about – not even those who, perhaps, should have known! And what does human nature do when it is faced with an unknown that can just kill at will, shows no mercy, is no respecter of life at all – it looks for scapegoats, attributes blame, hands out punishment! It just so happens that the scapegoat was the gay community, and given what was happening at that time, it perhaps should not have been surprising. Minority groups have a long history of misunderstanding, stigma, discrimination, hate and ignominy! I am not defending the direction it took…I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot…but the point is, it was quite a while back now, and as awful and relentless as it was, as a community we not only survived it, but we fought back with the tools to hand – knowledge, facts, patience and dogged determination. 

One can’t deny that some of the negatives from that era live on. There is still prejudice, discrimination, stigma and musunderstanding! But it is also true that we don’t have it on our own – just ask any person with Down Syndrome. To hang onto the hate, and all the other negatives from that period in our history is to hold no one back but yourself! You know, we all walked in the footsteps of those that suffered, those that died! But by walking in their footsteps, when their footsteps stopped…ours continued on! To live with the negativity is to deny that a lot of good, positive, beautiful things were still going on. The community still lived, loved, and laughed. We supported each other, we were staunch in the face of adversity, we celebrated the lives of those who died with a gusto that was ever born of love. If ever there was a time I was proud to be a member of the gay community, it was through the 20 years of that horror!

Okay, it damaged me! As a fanatical reader & writer, it chose to attack perhaps the most important assets I had – my eyes! But it also presented me with new opportunities, new roads to venture down, new challenges to tackle. I can’t carty the hate because, despite everything, my life has not stopped, nor my humour, my inquisitiveness, my talents, nor my ability to just get on with it. I no longer go to candlelight vigils, or other AIDS memorials. It is too raw, too emotion charged, to ready to rip open healed wounds. I don’t forget – those who died are too entrenched in my memories for that – but now I choose to remember in more gentle ways. What every single one of my dead friends would have wanted is for me to get on with my life. Once a year their ghosts are going to waft around, to cajole me to tears, to invoke memories of wonderful times that will stay with me forever. 

But I’ll wake up tomorrow, and the ghosts will be gone. And just as they wanted, my life goes on. Who am I to argue with them!

Tim Alderman (2016)

Gay History: Bandana Codes

PIt seems like only a brief minute ago that on any night out in a gay nightclub, you would see all manner of guys there sporting bandanas and keys in their rear pockets, advertising to those in-the-know what they were into. Which pocket I used depended on my mood as I raced out the door at home, but there was no guarantee that that was the side it would stay on if the right guy showed some interest! Same applied to keys.

It was sort of one of those things that we took for granted, without stopping yo think that there was a history behind it. In times where being gay, and trying to attract a sexual partner, could not be done blatantly, so things like earrings, bandanas, keys and language played an important role in advertising what we were looking for.

Research seems to suggest that bandana (or hanky) codes originated in San Francisco after the gold rush. With a shortage of women, men danced with each other at square dances, and used coloured bandanas to denote what role they played – blue for the male, red for the female. Their hair would curl if they knew what they stood for now!

These days, they denote fetishes, or preferences. Wearing a bandana (or keys) in one’s left rear pocket denoted an “active” or “top” position for whatever the colour suggested, whereby the right rear pocket denoted the “passive” or “bottom” partner. Despite what many straight men think, these are NOT male or female roles!

There are some regional differences for some of the lesser practiced fetishes, though colours for the basics, or more common practices, are pretty well universal. The following list contains most of the basic codes, including some I wasn’t aware of.

There is also this alternate list of – in my opinion – bizarre and impractical objects used for some very rare fetishes. How true-to-form this list actually is, I’m not sure. I have seen small teddy bears being displayed by guys who are into cuddling…but as for foil, ziplock bags, chamois, cocktail napkins, enema nozzles or doilies, I’ve never seen it – though perhaps because I wasn’t looking for it!

I would have thought a celery stick denoted into vegetarians, so there you go!

I put in this link to Cowboy Frank for those who want to check out some very comprehensive lists of colours and items.

Apart from the odd occasional leatherman – generally older – I haven’t seen people out and using bandana codes for many a year now. Its heyday was the 80s.

I also was not aware that there was a Raver Code, so obviously the tradition is carried on in other areas.

I believe, according to an article on hanky codes in the Village Voice, a twink bandana code exists, but I’ve not to-date been able to track it down. For nostalgia purposes, I include this list from Image Leather, which would seem to be a leather bar.

Back in the day, bandana codes were useful for knowing what you were getting yourself into when you went home with someone, and prevented those “Oh…I’m sorry…I’m not into that!” moments, as the whips come out.

Purely for both interest, and novelty value, I attach several other lists to peruse, at the end of this article.

Tim Alderman (C) 2016



“Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like “steampunks”, perhaps…”

-K.W. Jeter[1]

Have you ever liked a particular style of jewellery, fashion, or design only to find, further down the line that not only does it have a name, but that it is a trend or movement? That happened for me with Steampunk.

Just prior to leaving Brisbane in early 2014, I was rummaging through the jewellery in a new gift store that had opened over the road from me, and picked up the following piece,  mainly because it was one of the few masculine pieces there, but also because I love things made out of cogs and gears. Unwittingly, I had entered the world of Steampunk! My final conversion was “Liking” a Facebook page called Steampunk Tendencies – the ephemera shown in their FB promotion was too much for me to ignore – I mean – fountain pens with intricate gold skeleton work wrapped around them! How could I NOT be addicted!

So, you are probably asking the same question I did – what the fuck is Steampunk? According to an article in the Huffington Post Style blog “What the hell is Steampunk?” [2] “So what the hell is steampunk? The term itself comes from science fiction novels. It was allegedly coined by author Kevin Jeter as a way of distinguishing him and fellow tetro-tech sci-fi writers from future-loving “cyberpunks” like William Gibson. But it’s grown into a whole visual style, and even a philosophy. It’s all about mixing old and new: fusing the usability of modern technology with the design aesthetic and philosophy of the Victorian age. Or as US young fiction author Caitlin Kittredge put it: “It’s sort of Victorian-industrial, but with more whimsy and fewer orphans…”

In its glibbest sense, it can be seen as a way of giving your personal technology a goth make-over. Imagine a top of the range computer pimped out to look like an old typewriter, or an iPhone dock that lets you answer your phone using an old brass and wood receiver. But at its deepest, it’s a whole way of looking and living: and a colourful protest against the inexorable advance of technology itself. And it’s a trend that’s sneaking its way into loads of different sectors: from fashion to film, interior design to video games…”

According to an article on Wikipedia “Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk may, therefore, be described as neo-Victorian.

Steampunk perhaps most recognisably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era’s perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, Stephen Hunt and China Miéville. Other examples of steampunk contain alternative history-style presentations of such technology as lighter-than-air airships, analogue computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
Steampunk may also incorporate additional elements from the genres of fantasy, horror, historical fiction, alternate history, or other branches of speculative fiction, making it often a hybrid genre. The first known appearance of the term steampunk was in 1987, though it now retroactively refers to many works of fiction created even as far back as the 1950s or 1960s.
Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions, or subcultures, that have developed from the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau design, and films from the mid-20th century. Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.”

The Steampunk movement flourishes through inventive repurposing: old elements find new uses. ‘Nemo’s Steampunk Clock/Electrostatic Voltmeter’ is the time-telling creation of Roger Wood; see more of his designs at Image courtesy Klockwerks
It is an odd – yet…not so odd – mixing of the technology of the now, the technology of the past, particularly Victorian, and the Victorian era itself. It expresses itself through history, gadgets, gizmo’s, literature, fashion, music, magazines, conventions, lifestyle. It is the true expression of a “movement”, a trend-in-the-making. In a recent documentary I watched titled “Vintage Tomorrows” [3], one interviwee mused that if Steampunk was to invent a WMD, it would be the size of a room, and be covered in levers, buttons, bells and flashing lights…most of which would do absolutely nothing. In a way, that describes Steampunk!

Sam Van Olffen has an abundance of examples of Steampunk design featuring the stereotypical gears and brassy look.
There is a very obvious bias towards romanticising the Victorian era, which is one of its more controversial aspects. Re-enacting and harking to this era is, to many – including Steampunk adherents themselves – is to base yourself in an era where the Industrial Era came to full fruition, along with its coal dust, choking air, its noise, its chimney stacks. It was a period of immense poverty, of workers being paid a pittance for long hours of work, child labour, women being denied the vote, slavery, and unconscionable wars and cultural destruction in places such as Egypt, India and Africa. Yes, it was an era of great inventions, ingenuity and forward thinking, but despite this it is not an era that should hold notions of romance, frivolity and purity. One woman in “Vintage Tomorrows”, discussing the wearing of Victorian clothing, noted that she had stopped wearing her pith helmet, as it brought to mind the savagery the British had inflicted upon both India & Africa as Colonial “masters”!

steampunk iPhone dock
It is for similar reasons that I see myself more an admirer and wearer of the Steampunk aesthetic,  more so than a lifestyle adherent. If one can single out the pure ingenuity and inventiveness of the era, as distinct from reliving the era through clothing and settings, then one can approach it with a clear conscience.

The Movement also harkens back to the authors of the era – Jules Verne & H.G.Wells, who created fantastical machines, and undertook fantasy journeys.  Books such as “Joyrney to the Centre of the Earth”, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, “The Time Machine”, “Sleepy Hollow”, “Sherlock Holmes” and “Around the World in 80 Days” are steeped in the Steampunk aesthete. For more modern examples we only have to look to “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, modern remakes of the Victorian classics, “Faucalt’s Pendulum” by Umberto Ecco, “Blade Runner”, China Meiville etc to see where the Steampunk Movement draws its inspiration from.

Original illustration of Jules Verne’s Nautilus engine room
I am not even going to attempt to cover the whole field of Steampunk in this brief piece, but I will include a list of some of the links that you can use for further research into this old-but-new Movement. It is, in my opinion, and despite controversy, one of the singularly most intriguing Movements to come along for a long, long time. It caters to history freaks, those into fantasy & science fiction, those into costuming, jewellery, the lovers of gizmo’s, reality escapists, and those like me who just idolise it for its eccentricity, and inventiveness. In a word – Steampunk Rocks!

For the fascinated, Steampunk has sub-genres [5] for those into specific areas:

  • Boilerpunk: The blue-collar answer to aristocratic Steampunk, incorporating the experiences and hardships of actually shoveling coal to gring steam to the upper classes. Vive la Revolution! “Ainsley threw the hot coals at his supervisors protective steam powered mask;the man didn’t even flinch, heing accustomed to it from the proletariat.”
  • Clockpunk: Clockwork technologies replace replace or supercede traditional steam power. “Ainsley got his finger caught in the gear and screamed even as he realised his miscue would throw all,of London off schedule.
  • Dieselpunk: A heresy wherein diesel fuel and nuclear power replace steam power in alternate histories that often have a political component “Ainsley pushed the baroque OFFLINE button, but the diesel fuel continued to feed the reactor, with devastating consequences.”
  •  Gaslight Romance: A mainly British term for the alternative histories that romantisise the Victorian era. Some Brits would argue that all American Steampunk is actually gaslight romance “Ainsley put on his monacle and, bypassing the door leading down into the boiler room and the brutes who worked there, went to the quarterdeck of the airship, there to enjoy a nice cucumber-and-prawn sandwich edged with gold leaf as the servants wiped the floor clean of the blood from the recent encounter with the enemies of the Empire.”
  • Mannerspunk: Fiction that may, or may not, be deemed Steampunk in which elaborate social heirarchies provide the friction, conflict and action of the narrative, usually in the context of endless formal dances. At parties. In Mansions. “Ainsley took the hand of Lady Borregard andswept her across the dance floor, away from that cad Bennington and his steam-powered shoes that never missed a step; ‘Darling’ he said, ‘what rumors do you hear of the Countess Automaton and her piratical sub-siblings in the boiler room; isn’t it scandalous?'”
  • Raygun Gothic: Though not strictly a subgenre, this type of retro-futurism based in part on Art deco and streamlined modern styles has been used for a number of science fiction settings, usually in movies. Coined by William Gibson, the term has become more useful in the context of Steampunk as the fiction has come to feature more and more tinkers and artists. “Ainsley soldered the door to the boiler room shut in an attempt to stall the Revolution a couple of hours more using his ultrachic GSG (Gothic Solder Gun), which he had baroqued-up on the orders of the Queen herself.”
  • Stitchpunk: Fiction influenced by the DIY and crafts element of Steampunk, with a prime example being the animated movie 9, in which cute Frankenstein doll-creatures stitched together by bits of burlap sack try to save the world. In a wider context, Stitchpunk emphasises the role of weavers, tinkers, and darners in Steampunk. “Ainsley was soon accosted by the homeless tinker-weavers living in the shadow if the boiler room. ‘Only through the loom may you ge free, comrade,’ they would say.”

Very shortly, I will have the following two items in my hands. And I don’t think they will be my last!

Steampunk Salvaged Apocalypse Watch
Anatomical Rib Cage Pocket Watch from Steampunk Fans
Tim Alderman (C2016)

The fountain pens that first drew my attention to Steampunk
Steampunk Movement Toad Sunglasses
iRobot Pendant – Jewelled Watch Movement
Steampunk Necklace – Bumble bee pendant with silver watch movement
Steampunk Cufflinks – Steam Designs
Steampunk Gold Filigree Ring Victorian Watch Movement with Clockwork Gears Topaz Blue Swarovski Crystal with Adjustable Band
Steampunk Ying & Yang Pendant

ESS Watch Steampunk Skeleton Watch

Further Reading

1: Sheidlower, Jesse (March 9, 2005) Science Fiction Citations

2: Huffington Post 17 December 2011

3: July 12 2015 (USA). According to IMdB “Documentary · VINTAGE TOMORROWS examines Steampunk’s origins, explosive growth, and cultural significance. Is the Steampunk movement a homogenized, privileged subculture or a reclamation of technology …”

4: Wikipedia

5: The Steampunk Bible

Family Historians – Don’t Copy! Research!

I have just spent a whole day sorting out a family mess. It’s not that what little information I had added to my tree was wrong – it is that the information that everybody else had copied, then incorrectly added to, then put on their tree, was wrong – compounded by everybody copying everyone else without checking the facts.

In a roundabout kind of way, Ancestry have promoted a system that actually encourages the spread of inaccurate family information. By promoting themselves, and making tracing your family tree sound simple and exotic “just enter a name and all will be revealed”, they have inadvertently unleashed a monster. People are inherently lazy, and for the majority of these new “genealogists”, if there is an easy way out, such as just taking your information from someone elses tree, that’s the road they’ll take. It’s not that collating information from other trees is wrong – it’s just that you need to double check it. In other words, there is no shortcut! You still need to research. This is how todays fiasco played out.

I have a family member on my paternal grandmothers tree named Thomas Saville. Someone related to the Saville family had contacted me regarding him, and asked meto contact   her father, who was researching the same family. The initial information I had on this individual had been entered years ago, and was just sitting there waiting for me to get around to researching his family. I thought, to make matters easier, that before making the phone call, I would do some more research on him to see what I could find. My first port of call was the public family trees in Ancestry. The Saville family is large, and I found many trees with Thomas in them. The one thing they all had in common was that Ann Milligan was his wife. Okay, thinks I – I’ll check for a marriage record on one of the trees. Should be easy! Of the 20 trees I checked, NOT ONE had a document proving the marriage between Thomas and Ann Milligan. Further more, there was a discrepency with the number of children, and one tree included a second marriage. We know from records that he and his wife – and two children – arrived in Australia in 1842, and they both died here. However, a number of trees had children spanning from the early 1830s, then a huge gap of 20 years…and suddenly another batch of children appear in the 1850s!

Now, I don’t know about you, but that would have raised alarm bells with me – in fact did! I mean – children attributed to them in England at a time when they were living here? Clang! Clang! Clang goes the bell! What is wrong here? With so many trees having dodgy information, the obvious reason that it was all so over-the-shop, with inaccurate entries, and with all missing required documentation was that – they were copying each other! 20 trees with inaccurate information is frightening – because others are going to copy them as well, so we literally have a “pyramid scheme” of inaccurate information spreading like anoxious  weed through peoples family histories. 

So, off to research marriages for Thomas Saville and Ann. The marriage record was there – right at the top of the search results. A marriage for Ann Milligan and…Thomas SAVEL! Okay, inaccurate spelling of surname, but clerical errors are common, especially in a time where clerks often didn’t want to display their ignorance, and instead of asking for the spelling of a name, they used phonetic spellings. So, the document for the marriage was there, and a search of census records revealed that the only census they had appeared in was the 1841. However, the marriage records also revealed a union between a Thomas Saville and an Ann Ingham. There was no connection between the two marriages, and if people had checked the census records for Thomas & Ann Saville AFTER 1941, they should have noted a Joseph Ingham Saville listed amongst the children. Considering that children were often given their mothers family names as middle names, it should have raised a flag, and sent them researching further. However, they weren’t researching, so all the children were added to Thomas Saville and Ann Milligans line, and in some cases giving Thomas a second marriage to Ann Ingham. Some future researchers are going to be very confused about their lineage!

 The question one has to ask is – is Ancestry giving everyone a bum ride, by making family research sound a lot easier than it is? How many people are just looking at hints, and if the name is on their tree, they are just blithely adding the record! I did make the requested phone  call, and we both verified our information. Scott’s wife is a Saville, and he is researching her line. He informed me that he even encountered people researching this branch of the family in America, thanks to some Ancestry hints that had misdirected them! I still maintain – and have seen it for myself – that if people sren’t happy with their family the way it is, but want to spice it up with some convicts, or peers of the realm, or royalty…they will go out of their way to find the usually inaccurate records to prove it! I don’t get it…but there you go. Considering that to get records without paying a fortune for them you need to subscribe to Ancestry, it’s obvious who the people making money out of this – to the detriment of accurate family trees – is Ancestry! Even watching shows on genealogy like “Who Do You Think You Are?” gives a false impression on how easy it is to gather information on ones family. People watching don’t stop to consider that there is a host of professional genealogists working behind the scenes, who have probably spent months gathering information, before the show was recorded. However, having said that, it can also be excitingly revealing. In the episode with Jacqui Weaver, she was talking about her grandfathers family, whose surname was Onions. It is a very unusual name, and I knew I had some in my tree. I recorded the show, then traced the information they had against what was in my tree. Sure enough – I am distantly related, through marriage, to Jacqui Weaver. My flatmate loves to joke now, that whenever he sees her in a show he yells out “There’s your aunt!”…a bit of an exaggeration, but funny anyway.

But the message from this is – if you take your family history seriously, and not as a trend as many do, then do your leg work. There is no short-cuts, no easy way out. With the amount of inaccurate information out there on family trees (and with many losing interest after finding it is not so easy, and deserting trees), it is very easy to gather incorrect information, and take your family to places they have never been. If you are going to retrieve information from public trees, check the accuracy, and look for documentation. If in doubt, comment or contact tree owners for more information. I had someone contact me this week regarding my relationship to their family, as I had their photos on my tree (which had appeared through Ancestry hints). As it was, it is again my paternal grandmothers tree, and the person in question was my 1st cousin x 2 removed. I noted that there was no follow-on.

We owe it to our families to ensure that information is accurate, or at least as accurate as we can get it. It is better to leave a line dangling than to enter dubious information. If you are unsure of a records accuracy, hit the “Maybe” button, and research it at a later date. The one thing that I do know is that I like my family, both close and far distant. They have created me, here and now, and I owe them the respect they deserve by accurately recording their story, warts and all!

Tim Alderman (C) 2016

Henry Moorsom Pickhills (1840-1866)

We kniw very little about our early family histories, other than what we can glean from records. From these, we have to try to piece together some sort of story of their life. Some records are too-the-point, others sketchy – but very occasionally they can be gems that give us very intimate glimpses into who they were. My Great Grand Uncle, Henry Moorsam Pickhills, is one such. He lived for a very short 25 years, yet I feel I know him well.

Henry was born in Halifax, Yorkshire in 1840, just in time to be included in the very first census held in England. The second-born son of Rickinson Pickhills & Elizabeth Appleyard, he was given his  Great Grandmothers maiden name – Moorsom – as a middle name. Apart from being included in the 1851 census, where he resided in Manningham, Yorkshire along with two additions to the family – Catherine, and Charles Edward, this is all we know of his first ten years of life.

We hear nothing more about him until 14 October, 1847, when he volunteered for service with the Admiralty. Getting Henry’s Admiralty papers was a true find for several reasons – it gives us a description of him,, tells us his ranking and ship, who the captain was – and a statutoty declaration from Rickinson & Elizabeth, written in Rickinson’s hand, giving him permission to join, Henry being only 16 years-old at the time.

We know from this record of 3 pages that he enlisted on HMS Hastings. He was born on the 19 December 1940. He was 5’43/4″ tall, with a fresh complexion, light hair, and blue eyes. He has a scar on his left temple. His ranking is Boy, 2nd Class, and he has joined for 10 years from the age of 18. The actual Boy Certificate is signed by Rickinson, Henry, the Captain and 2 medical officers.The statutory declaration gives the Captains name as Captain Mends (William Robert, as per research). It tells us, rather unnecessarily, that at that time the ship was lying at Rock Ferry near Liverpool. Rickinson had mistakenly given Henry’s birth year as 1842. Henry was born at The Fold, in Northowram (Yorkshire). Rickinson goes into quite a starement in legalese towards the end of the declaration. Was he showing off? As an Articled Clerk training to be an Attorney did he want the readers of the declaration to know that he was a learned man? The reasoning is unknown, though it seems a quite unnecessary addition to the statement.

Our next encounter with Henry is on the 19 December 1858, in the UK Royal Navy Registers of Seaman’s Service, where he is noted on the Hastings. 

We next hear of Henry at the 1861 census, where he is counted amongst those “at sea”. 

We finally encounter Henry on the 8th April 1866. He had died onboard the SV Aracan, from Cholera, at Calcutta, Bengal. He was buried on the 9th October 1866 in Calcutta. £3/13/1 is owing to the family. Other goods sold. He was 25 years-old.


  • Captain William Robert Mends GCB (27 February 1812 – 26 June 1897), was a British admiral of the Royal Navy, son of Admiral William Bowen Mends[1] and nephew of Captain Robert Mends. William Mends was born at Plymouth into a naval family. He married Melita, daughter of Dr Joseph Stilon R.N. on 6 January 1839. From 3 April 1857 to 1 February 1860 he was captain of HMS Hastings on Coast Guard service. He moved to take command of HMS Majestic on 1 February 1860 when she replaced Hastings on coast guard service and was then appointed deputy controller general of the coast-guard in 1861. He spent May 1862 to February 1883 as Director of Transport at the Admiralty. Mends retired at the rank of rear-admiral on 1 January 1869, was promoted to vice-admiral on 1 January 1874 and then a full admiral on 15 June 1879.
  • HMS Hastings was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She was built in Calcutta for the Honourable East India Company, but the Royal Navy purchased her in 1819. The Navy sold her in 1886. Hastings was built of the highest quality “saul”, “sissoo”, “Pegue”, and “Java” teak wood, following Sir Robert Seppings’s principles, which resulted in a vessel both longitudinal and transverse support. Her construction cost Sicca ruppees (Sa.Rs.) 8,71,406 (£108,938), which the merchants of Calcutta and other patriotic individuals subscribed via shares. The full cost of getting her ready for sea was Sa.Rs. 8,71,406 (£116,375). Captain John Hayes sailed Hastings from Calcutta on 28 March 1818. She reached Madras on 13 April, and Port Louis on 2 July. From there she reached St Helena on 15 September, and arrived at The Downs on 3 November. The Ship’s figurehead is now on display at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
  • SV Aracan; nationality: British; purpose: transport; type: fully rigged ship; propulsion: sailing ship; date built: 1854; tonnage: 864 grt; dimensions: 56.8 x 9.8 x 6.6 m; rigging: 3 masts full rigged; IMO/Off. no.: 1080; call sign: HGMW H G M W; about the loss cause lost: collision; date lost: 09/03/1874; casualties: 0; builder: Whitehaven Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Whitehaven; owner:   Brocklebank T. & J. Ltd. – Thomas & John; captain: Charles Hartwood. 
  • Rock Ferry is an area of Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula, England. Administratively it is a ward of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral. Before local government reorganisation on 1 April 1974, it was part of the county of Cheshire. At the 2001 Census, the population of Rock Ferry was 13,676 (6,444 males, 7,232 females),[2] increasing to 14,298 (6870 males, 7,428 females) at the Census 2011.[3]. In the 17th century Derby House, an occasional seat of the Minshull family, covered most of the grounds covered by present-day Rock Ferry. Thomas Oakshott, Mayor of Liverpool, lived there in the 19th century. The house, located on Rock Lane West close to the New Chester Road, was demolished in the early 20th century. Residential building did not really happen until the early part of the 19th century, the rise of the ferry and the railway, and the establishment of the Royal Rock Hotel and bath house in 1836. Between then and 1870, the area received an influx of luxurious housing, the villas of Rock Park and many other large houses around the Old Chester Road making Rock Ferry one of the most desirable addresses in the North West.[citation needed] In the later part of the 19th century, Rock Ferry expanded due to the need to house the increasing population of workers, especially at Birkenhead’s Cammell Laird shipyard. By 1901, the population stood at 2,971. In 1910, the Olympian Gardens were opened adjacent to the Royal Rock Hotel. These pleasure gardens were considered a great attraction and customers travelled from the whole of Wirral and, using the nearby ferry terminal, from Liverpool. The gardens hosted classical piano concerts and also slapstick comedy shows, with performers including Arthur Askey and Tommy Handley. At times the gardens held a prestige similar to the more famous Vauxhall Gardens in London. Shows were held in a large tent set amongst the trees and shrubs of land owned by Charles Boult. The gardens closed in the late 1920s after Mr Boult’s death. The decline of local industries in the 1950s took its toll. Many of the splendid buildings were dilapidated and unrestored. This decline was reflected in the loss of the Royal Rock Hotel, as well as many of the shops in the Old Chester Road and Bedford Road; whereas before Bedford Road had supported a wine merchant, a jeweller, two tailors, three banks, and two bookshops, most shops stood vacant. Large-scale regeneration work in the 1990s, which involved the demolition or restoration of many such derelict properties, and the building of new housing, means that the area has improved considerably, although many buildings of considerable character have been lost.

Tim Alderman 2016

    Captain William Robert Mends
    Figurehead from HMS Hastings

    General Service Medal HMS Hastings
    HMS Hastings
    HMS Hastings
    HMS Hastings
    HMS Hastings
    Newspaper piece on the collision and sinking of SV Aracan

    A Mineral Worth Its Salt

    3/4/2010 The Sydney Morning Herald

    Author: Helen Greenwood

    Section: Good Living

    Page: 8

    This often-maligned compound now comes in a dazzling array of flavours and textures from countries across the globe, writes Helen Greenwood.

    We all know too much salt is bad for us. Yet we can’t live without the ionic compound known as sodium chloride or NaCl. Remove salt from the diet and you die. What’s more, your food tastes better with salt.
    Thomas Keller writes in The French Laundry Cookbook: “The ability to salt food properly is the single most important skill in cooking … Salt opens up flavours, makes them sparkle. But if you taste salt in a dish, it’s too salty.”
    The question is, which salt? In the past few years, Sydney cooks have been deluged with a flood of artisan salts. They are extracted from the Himalayas in Pakistan, skimmed at Halen Mon in Wales, drawn from pans in Brittany in France or evaporated from the sea at Trapani in Sicily. We are now inundated with choices. And colours. And textures.
    Gourmet salts can be white (Maldon), pink (Murray River), black (Cypriot), red or green (Hawaiian) and grey or natural (Italian). They can be flaky or grainy, pyramid- or crystal-shaped. They can be damp, dry or powdery.
    More importantly, these gourmet salts have different mineralities that give each one a different flavour. They have depth, power and pungency and need only to be used sparingly to great effect.

    At Rock Restaurant in the Hunter Valley, chef and owner Andrew Clarke has been playing with gourmet salts. “We use anywhere up to 12 different salts in the restaurant,” he says. “We use the vanilla Halen Mon with balmain bugs after they’ve been grilled. We use a coarse-grain curing salt for meats. We use iodised salts to flavour blanching water. We use the Cyprus black salt to finish off our wood-roasted goat. We put Maldon on the table because it’s clean and has a soft sea-saltiness.”
    All salt comes from the sea, whether it’s mined high in the Himalayan mountains or collected from salt flats in Bolivia. Yet this inorganic mineral carries the flavour of the environment in which it was formed. In the case of the famous French fleur de sel, or flower of the salt, which is “young” crystals that form on the surface of salt evaporation ponds, the flavour varies from region to region – like fine wines.

    Alderman Providore is a specialist online food retailer that sells Himalayan, Hawaiian, Bolivian and French sea and rock salts. Former co-owner Tim Alderman maintains salts from different countries impart different flavours. “Each one has a different minerally quality, as distinct from Saxa,” he says. “The grey salt has a distinct mineral taste, the pink and rose salts tend to be more subtle and are different the Murray River salt. The textures change, too.”
    This is a contrast to the traditional view of salt as a mono-flavouring. Most of us grew up with an iodised salt that just tasted, well, salty. It was mined and refined to remove most of its minerals and took away bitter – and any other – tastes. Plain table salt was also available but most people preferred iodised salt, which manufacturers starting producing in the 1920s after US studies found people were suffering from goitre, an enlargement of the thyroid gland caused by iodine deficiency. It is believed Australians’ consumption of iodine has dropped considerably in the past few decades.
    Humans need less than 225 micrograms of iodine a day. The mineral is found in seafood and sea salts, both natural replacements for refined salt.
    Sea salts are harvested from salt pans, ponds or marshes, or by channelling ocean water into large clay trays and allowing the sun and wind to evaporate it naturally. Sea salts are less treated than other commercial salts so they retain traces of iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and iodine. Sea salts’ fans rave about their bright, subtle flavours.

    Gourmet salts can be used for cooking or for finishing a dish and sometimes both. Like a spice or herbs, different salts lend themselves to being used at different times as you cook.
    Kala Namak, or Indian black salt or sanchal, is an unrefined mineral salt that, despite it’s name, is a pearl-pink grey. It’s strong, sulphuric odour dissipates when used in Indian cooking and is magic with eggplant. You can also sprinkle it on melon or yoghurt as a final seasoning.

    Italian sea salts, such as Ravida from Trapani, is produced from the low waters along the coast of Sicily. They are rich in iodine, fluorine, magnesium and potassium with a lower percentage of sodium chloride than regular table salt. Delicate but with a defined flavour, they are finishing salts that bring a salad or a sauce to life.
    Both these salts were part of a tasting held by The Salt Book. A dozen gourmet, plain and flavoured salts were lined up and paired with a variety of foods.
    The exercise was fascinating. Strips of rare, grilled sirloin fared better or worse depending on which salt you used.

    The coarse rock crystals of pink Himalayan salt looked pretty but the Ravida sea salt from Sicily made the meat jump in your mouth. The green Hawaiian salt was recommended with yellow fin tuna but added a polish to prawns.
    James Ballingall, program director at the William Blue College of Hospitality Management in North Sydney, which hosted the tasting, used a brine made from Olsson’s macrobiotic salt to cure a chicken before roasting. The wonderful, tender, firm flesh tasted more like chicken than most birds, apart from organic chooks.
    Good all-rounders, favoured by chefs and home cooks, are the Maldon sea salt and the home-grown Murray River salt. Guerande Fleur de Sel stood out as a pure, light seasoning that should only be used at the table.
    Fleur de sel is a soft, moist salt that looks like sea foam and surprises consumers who are used to their salt being dry and grainy. Italian salts such as those from Trapani are also moist and often off-white.
    The wonderful Riserva Camillone from Cervia in the Emilia Romagna region is strangely sweet. Flavoured salts such as Netherlands smoked salt, Tetsuya’s truffle salt, Cyprus lemon salt flakes and vanilla fleur de sel figured in the tasting, too.
    They overpowered the plain ones and need to be used carefully.
    Suggestions include salmon, kipfler potatoes, poached prawns and desserts respectively.
    The key to a healthy diet is to cook fresh produce and then season it with a salt that has personality and provenance.

    The Salt Book, Arbon Publishing, by Fritz Gubler and David Glynn, $34.99.
    About 20 per cent of the world’s salt production is used in food. The remainder is used in the chemical industry and applications such as de-icing roads.
    Most of the 20 per cent we consume is “hidden salt” in manufactured foods, from breakfast cereals to instant soups.
    The Australian division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) has reported many Australians consume 10 times the amount of salt they need for a healthy diet. The recommended daily intake for salt is four grams but many Australians regularly consume up to 40 grams.
    The chairman of AWASH, Professor Bruce Neal, has asked manufacturers of processed food to reduce the salt content of their products by 5 per cent a year.
    AWASH’s research has shown excessive consumption of salt comes mainly from eating processed food and can lead to high blood pressure, kidney damage and stomach cancer.
    A leading nutritionist, Rosemary Stanton, (pictured), advises people to avoid such products in the first place. “The problem is we eat so much of it,” she says. “That’s why our salt intake has increased so much in the past few decades.”



    Kala namak (also known as sanchal) Use in Indian cooking, on raw tropical fruits and cooked vegetables. It’s sold at Indian grocery stores.
    Celtic salt, French grey sea salt Use for general purpose, soups, stews and sauces. Buy Coarse Guerande Salt.
    Coarse salt Use for salt crusts on meat or fish, curing and flavouring in soups, stews and sauces. Buy Himalayan Pink, La Baleine, Esprit du Sel.
    Rock salt Use for curing and brining. Not ideal for the table.


    Flake salt Use as an all-round general salt in cooking or at the table. Buy Maldon, Murray River, Halen Mon, Pyramid.
    Fleur de Sel (Flower of Salt) Use for salads, cooked fresh vegetables and grilled meats. Buy Le Paludier.
    French sea salt Use in salads and on cooked fresh vegetables and grilled meat. Buy Le Paludier.
    Grey salt (sel gris, Celtic sea salt) Use at the end of the cooking process or on the table. Good for casseroles and stews. Buy Le Paludier, Riserva Camillone sale di Cervia, Trapani.
    Hawaiian sea salt (alaea, Hawaiian red salt) A natural mineral called alaea (volcanic baked red clay) adds iron oxide and imparts a mellow flavour. Used to preserve and season native Hawaiian dishes. Good for meats. Buy Alaea.
    Italian sea salt Use for salads and to finish roasts and sauces. Great as a garnish on bruschetta. Buy Ravida.
    Organic salt Standards include purity of the water, cleanliness of salt beds and how the salt is harvested and packaged. Certifiers include Nature et Progres (France), BioGro (New Zealand), Soil Association Certified (Wales). Buy Halen Mon, Olsson’s.


    GJ Food The Fine Food Connection (Le Paludier Fleur du Sel and others from Guerande).
    Cantarella Bros (Ravida).
    Lario Imports (Trapani, Riserva Camillone sale di Cervia).
    Alderman Providore, (Himalayan Pink, Alaea, Bolivian Rose, Sel Gris de Guerande).
    Simon Johnson (Halen Mon).
    F. Mayer Imports (Maldon).
    The Essential Ingredient (Murray River Salt).
    Waimea Trading, 0409 219 280 (Cyprus Black sea salt).
    Olsson Industries, (Olsson’s Pacific Salt).
    HBC Trading, 9958 5688 (Himalayan Pink).
    Kirk Food (Pyramid).



    Gay History: The Cleveland Street Scandal

    The Cleveland Street scandal occurred in 1889, when a homosexual male brothel in Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, London, was discovered by police. At the time, sexual acts between men were illegal in Britain, and the brothel’s clients faced possible prosecution and certain social ostracism if discovered. It was rumoured that one client was Prince Albert Victor, who was the eldest son of the Prince of Wales and second-in-line to the British throne, though this rumour has never been substantiated. The government was accused of covering up the scandal to protect the names of any aristocratic patrons.
    Another client was said to be Lord Arthur Somerset, an equerry to the Prince of Wales. Both he and the brothel keeper, Charles Hammond, managed to flee abroad before a prosecution could be brought. The male prostitutes, who also worked as telegraph messenger boys for the Post Office, were given light sentences and no clients were prosecuted. After Henry James FitzRoy, Earl of Euston, was named in the press as a client, he successfully sued for libel. The British press never named Prince Albert Victor, and there is no evidence he ever visited the brothel, but his inclusion in the rumours has coloured biographers’ perceptions of him since.
    The scandal fuelled the attitude that male homosexuality was an aristocratic vice that corrupted lower-class youths. Such perceptions were still prevalent in 1895 when the Marquess of Queensberry accused Oscar Wilde of being an active homosexual.

    Male brothel


    Illustration of Inspector Frederick Abberline from a contemporary newspaper
    In July 1889, Police Constable Luke Hanks was investigating a theft from the London Central Telegraph Office. During the investigation, a fifteen-year-old telegraph boy named Charles Thomas Swinscow was discovered to be in possession of fourteen shillings, equivalent to several weeks of his wages. At the time, messenger boys were not permitted to carry any personal cash in the course of their duties, to prevent their own money being mixed with that of the customers. Suspecting the boy’s involvement in the theft, Constable Hanks brought him in for questioning. After hesitating, Swinscow admitted that he earned the money working as a prostitute for a man named Charles Hammond, who operated a male brothel at 19 Cleveland Street. According to Swinscow, he was introduced to Hammond by a General Post Office clerk, eighteen-year-old Henry Newlove. In addition, he named two seventeen-year-old telegraph boys who also worked for Hammond: George Alma Wright and Charles Ernest Thickbroom. Constable Hanks obtained corroborating statements from Wright and Thickbroom and, armed with these, a confession from Newlove.[1]

    Constable Hanks reported the matter to his superiors and the case was given to Detective Inspector Frederick Abberline. Inspector Abberline went to the brothel on 6 July with a warrant to arrest Hammond and Newlove for violation of Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. The Act made all homosexual acts between men, as well as procurement or attempted procurement of such acts, punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment with or without hard labour. He found the house locked and Hammond gone, but Abberline was able to apprehend Newlove at his mother’s house in Camden Town.[2] In the time between his statement to Hanks and his arrest, Newlove had gone to Cleveland Street and warned Hammond, who had consequently escaped to his brother’s house in Gravesend.[3]

    Notable clienrs


    Caricature of Lord Arthur Somerset, 1887
    On the way to the police station, Newlove named Lord Arthur Somerset and Henry FitzRoy, Earl of Euston, as well as an army colonel by the name of Jervois, as visitors to Cleveland Street.[4] Somerset was the head of the Prince of Wales’s stables. Although Somerset was interviewed by police, no immediate action was taken against him, and the authorities were slow to act on the allegations of Somerset’s involvement.[5] A watch was placed on the now-empty house and details of the case shuffled between government departments.[6]
    On 19 August, an arrest warrant was issued in the name of George Veck, an acquaintance of Hammond’s who pretended to be a clergyman. Veck had actually worked at the Telegraph Office, but had been sacked for “improper conduct” with the messenger boys.[7] A seventeen-year-old youth found in Veck’s London lodgings revealed to the police that Veck had gone to Portsmouth and was returning shortly by train. The police arrested Veck at London Waterloo railway station. In his pockets they discovered letters from Algernon Allies. Abberline sent Constable Hanks to interview Allies at his parents’ home in Sudbury, Suffolk. Allies admitted to receiving money from Somerset, having a sexual relationship with him, and working at Cleveland Street for Hammond.[8] On 22 August, police interviewed Somerset for a second time, after which Somerset left for Bad Homburg,[9] where the Prince of Wales was taking his summer holiday.[10]
    On 11 September, Newlove and Veck were committed for trial. Their defence was handled by Somerset’s solicitor, Arthur Newton, with Willie Mathews appearing for Newlove, and Charles Gill for Veck. Somerset paid the legal fees.[11] By this time, Somerset had moved on to Hanover, to inspect some horses for the Prince of Wales, and the press was referring to “noble lords” implicated in the trial.[12] Newlove and Veck pleaded guilty to indecency on 18 September and the judge, Sir Thomas Chambers, a former Liberal Member of Parliament who had a reputation for leniency, sentenced them to four and nine months’ hard labour respectively.[13] The boys were also given sentences that were considered at the time to be very lenient.[14] Hammond escaped to France, but the French authorities expelled him after pressure from the British. Hammond moved on to Belgium from where he emigrated to the United States. Newton, acting for Somerset, paid for Hammond’s passage.[15] On the advice of the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, no extradition proceedings were attempted, and the case against Hammond was quietly dropped.[16]
    Somerset returned to Britain in late September to attend horse sales at Newmarket but suddenly left for Dieppe on 26 September, probably after being told by Newton that he was in danger of being arrested.[17] He returned again on 30 September. A few days later, his grandmother, Emily Somerset, Dowager Duchess of Beaufort, died and he attended her funeral.[18] The Hon. Hamilton Cuffe, Assistant Treasury Solicitor, and James Monro, Commissioner of Police, pressed for action to be taken against Somerset, but the Lord Chancellor, Lord Halsbury, blocked any prosecution.[19] Rumours of Somerset’s involvement were circulating, and on 19 October Somerset fled back to France. Lord Salisbury was later accused of warning Somerset through Sir Dighton Probyn, who had met Lord Salisbury the evening before, that a warrant for his arrest was imminent.[20] This was denied by Lord Salisbury[21] and the Attorney General, Sir Richard Webster.[22] The Prince of Wales wrote to Lord Salisbury, expressing satisfaction that Somerset had been allowed to leave the country and asking that if Somerset should “ever dare to show his face in England again”, he would remain unmolested by the authorities,[23] but Lord Salisbury was also being pressured by the police to prosecute Somerset. On 12 November, a warrant for Somerset’s arrest was finally issued.[24] By this time, Somerset was already safely abroad, and the warrant caught little public attention.[25] After an unsuccessful search for employment in Turkey and Austria-Hungary, Somerset lived the rest of his life in self-imposed and comfortable exile in the south of France.[26]

    Public revelations


    Newspaper clipping
    American newspapers claimed that Prince Albert Victor was “mixed up” in the scandal.

    Because the press barely covered the story, the affair would have faded quickly from public memory if not for journalist Ernest Parke. The editor of the obscure politically radical weekly The North London Press, Parke got wind of the affair when one of his reporters brought him the story of Newlove’s conviction. Parke began to question why the prostitutes had been given such light sentences relative to their offence (the usual penalty for “gross indecency” was two years) and how Hammond had been able to evade arrest. His curiosity aroused, Parke found out that the boys had named prominent aristocrats. He subsequently ran a story on 28 September hinting at their involvement but without detailing specific names.[27] It was only on 16 November that he published a follow up story specifically naming Henry Fitzroy, Earl of Euston, in “an indescribably loathsome scandal in Cleveland Street”.[28] He further alleged that Euston may have gone to Peru and that he had been allowed to escape to cover up the involvement of a more highly placed person,[29] who was not named but was believed by some to be Prince Albert Victor, the son of the Prince of Wales.[30]

    Euston was in fact still in England and immediately filed a case against Parke for libel. At the trial, Euston admitted that when walking along Piccadilly a tout had given him a card which read “Poses plastiques. C. Hammond, 19 Cleveland Street”. Euston testified that he went to the house believing Poses plastiques meant a display of female nudes. He paid a sovereign to get in but upon entering Euston said he was appalled to discover the “improper” nature of the place and immediately left. The defence witnesses contradicted each other, and could not describe Euston accurately.[31] The final defence witness, John Saul, was a male prostitute who had earlier been involved in a homosexual scandal at Dublin Castle, and featured in a clandestinely published erotic novel The Sins of the Cities of the Plain which was cast as his autobiography.[32] Delivering his testimony in a manner described as “brazen effrontery”, Saul admitted to earning his living by leading an “immoral life” and “practising criminality”, and detailed his alleged sexual encounters with Euston at the house.[33] The defence did not call either Newlove or Veck as witnesses, and could not produce any evidence that Euston had left the country. On 16 January 1890, the jury found Parke guilty and the judge sentenced him to twelve months in prison.[34] One historian considers Euston was telling the truth and only visited Cleveland Street once because he was misled by the card.[35] However, another has alleged Euston was a well-known figure in the homosexual underworld, and was extorted so often by the notorious blackmailer Robert Clifford, that Oscar Wilde had quipped Clifford deserved the Victoria Cross for his tenacity.[36] Saul stated that he told the police his story in August, which provoked the judge to rhetorically enquire why the authorities had not taken action.[37]
    The judge, Sir Henry Hawkins, had a distinguished career, as did the other lawyers employed in the case. The prosecuting counsels, Charles Russell and Willie Mathews, went on to become Lord Chief Justice and Director of Public Prosecutions, respectively. The defence counsel, Frank Lockwood, later became Solicitor General for England and Wales, and he was assisted by H. H. Asquith, who became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twenty years later.[38]

    Henry Labouchère accused the government of conspiring to hush up the scandal.
    While Parke’s conviction cleared Euston, another trial began on 16 December 1889 when Newlove’s and Somerset’s solicitor, Arthur Newton, was charged with obstruction of justice. It was alleged that he conspired to prevent Hammond and the boys from testifying by offering or giving them passage and money to go abroad. Newton was defended by Charles Russell, who had prosecuted Ernest Parke, and the prosecutor was Sir Richard Webster, the Attorney General. Newton pleaded guilty to one of the six charges against him, claiming that he had assisted Hammond to flee merely to protect his clients, who were not at that time charged with any offence or under arrest, from potential blackmail. The Attorney General accepted Newton’s pleas and did not present any evidence on the other five charges.[39] On 20 May, the judge, Sir Lewis Cave, sentenced Newton to six weeks in prison,[40] which was widely considered by members of the legal profession to be harsh. A petition signed by 250 London law firms was sent to the Home Secretary, Henry Matthews, protesting at Newton’s treatment.[41

    During Newton’s trial, a motion in Parliament sought to investigate Parke’s allegations of a cover-up. Henry Labouchère, a Member of Parliament from the Radical wing of the Liberal Party, was staunchly against homosexuality and had campaigned successfully to add the “gross indecency” amendment (known as the “Labouchère Amendment”) to the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. He was convinced that the conspiracy to cover up the scandal went further up the government than assumed. Labouchère made his suspicions known in Parliament on 28 February 1890. He denied that “a gentleman of very high position”—presumably Prince Albert Victor—was in any way involved with the scandal, but accused the government of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by hampering the investigation, allowing Somerset and Hammond to escape, delaying the trials and failing to prosecute the case with vigour. Labouchère’s accusations were rebutted by the Attorney General, Sir Richard Webster, who was also the prosecutor in the Newton case. Charles Russell, who had prosecuted Parke and was defending Newton, sat on the Liberal benches with Labouchère but refused to be drawn into the debate. After an often passionate debate over seven hours, during which Labouchère was expelled from Parliament after saying “I do not believe Lord Salisbury” and refusing to withdraw his remark, the motion was defeated by a wide margin, 206–66.[42]


    Public interest in the scandal eventually faded. Nevertheless, newspaper coverage reinforced negative attitudes about male homosexuality as an aristocratic vice, presenting the telegraph boys as corrupted and exploited by members of the upper class. This attitude reached its climax a few years later when Oscar Wilde was tried for gross indecency as the result of his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas.

    Oscar Wilde alluded to the scandal in The Picture of Dorian Gray, first published in 1890.[43] Reviews of the novel were hostile; in a clear reference to the Cleveland Street scandal, one reviewer called it suitable for “none but outlawed noblemen and perverted telegraph boys”.[44][45][46] Wilde’s 1891 revision of the novel omitted certain key passages, which were considered too homoerotic.[46][47] In 1895, Wilde unsuccessfully sued Lord Alfred’s father, the Marquess of Queensberry, for libel. Sir Edward Carson, Lord Queensberry’s counsel, used quotes from the novel against Wilde and questioned him about his associations with young working men.[48] After the failure of his suit, Wilde was charged with gross indecency, found guilty and subsequently sentenced to two years’ hard labour. He was prosecuted by Charles Gill, who had defended Veck in the Cleveland Street case.[


    Prince Albert Victor of Wales was created Duke of Clarence and Avondale the year after the scandal.
    Prince Albert Victor died in 1892, but society gossip about his sex life continued. Sixty years after the scandal the official biographer of King George V, Harold Nicolson, was told by Lord Goddard, who was a twelve-year-old schoolboy at the time of the scandal, that Prince Albert Victor “had been involved in a male brothel scene, and that a solicitor had to commit perjury to clear him. The solicitor was struck off the rolls for his offence, but was thereafter reinstated.”[50] In fact, none of the lawyers involved in the case was convicted of perjury or struck off at the time, indeed most had very distinguished careers. However, Arthur Newton was struck off for 12 months for professional misconduct in 1910 after falsifying letters from another of his clients—the notorious murderer Harvey Crippen.[51] In 1913, he was struck off indefinitely and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for obtaining money by false pretences.[52] Newton may have invented and spread the rumours about Prince Albert Victor in an attempt to protect his clients from prosecution by forcing a cover-up.[53] State papers on the case in the Public Record Office, released to the public in the 1970s, provide no information on the prince’s involvement other than Newton’s threat to implicate him.[54] Hamilton Cuffe wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Augustus Stephenson, “I am told that Newton has boasted that if we go on a very distinguished person will be involved (PAV). I don’t mean to say that I for one instant credit it—but in such circumstances as this one never knows what may be said, be concocted or be true.”[55] Surviving private letters from Somerset to his friend Lord Esher, confirm that Somerset knew of the rumours but did not know if they were true. He writes, “I can quite understand the Prince of Wales being much annoyed at his son’s name being coupled with the thing … we were both accused of going to this place but not together … I wonder if it is really a fact or only an invention.”[56] In his correspondence, Sir Dighton Probyn refers to “cruel and unjust rumours with regard to PAV” and “false reports dragging PAV’s name into the sad story”.[57] When Prince Albert Victor’s name appeared in the American press, the New York Herald published an anonymous letter, almost certainly written by Charles Hall, saying “there is not, and never was, the slightest excuse for mentioning the name of Prince Albert Victor.”[58] Biographers who believe the rumours suppose that Prince Albert Victor was bisexual,[59] but this is strongly contested by others who refer to him as “ardently heterosexual” and his involvement in the rumours as “somewhat unfair”.[60]

    Notes & Sources

    1. Aronson, pp. 8–10 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 20–23
    2. Aronson, pp. 11, 16–17 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 23–24
    3. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 23
    4. Aronson, p. 11 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 25
    5. Aronson, p. 135
    6. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 26–33
    7. Aronson, pp. 11, 133 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 25
    8. Aronson, pp. 134–135 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 34–35
    9. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 35
    10. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 38
    11. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 35, 45, 47
    12. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 42, 46
    13. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 47–53
    14. Aronson, p. 137
    15. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 74–77
    16. Aronson, p. 136 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 27, 34
    17. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 61
    18. Aronson, p. 140 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 80–81
    19. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 82–86
    20. Aronson, p. 142
    21. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 93
    22. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 94
    23. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 97
    24. Aronson, p. 144 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 98–99
    25. Aronson, p. 150
    26. Aronson, p. 175
    27. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 106–107
    28. North London Press, 16 November 1889, quoted in Hyde, The Other Love, p. 125
    29. Aronson, p. 150 and Hyde, The Other Love, p. 125
    30. Hyde, The Other Love, p. 123
    31. Aronson, pp. 151–159 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 113–116, 139–143
    32. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 108
    33. Saul quoted in Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 146–147
    34. Aronson, pp. 151–159 and Hyde, The Other Love, pp. 125–127
    35. Hyde, The Other Love, p. 127
    36. Aronson, p. 160
    37. Lord Euston’s Libel Case, South Australian Register, 18 February 1890, p. 5
    38. Aronson, p. 153 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 135
    39. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 162–207
    40. Aronson, p. 173
    41. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 208–212
    42. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp. 215–231
    43. In chapter 12 of the original 1890 version, one of the characters, Basil Hallward, refers to “Sir Henry Ashton, who had to leave England, with a tarnished name”.
    44. “Reviews and Magazines”. Scots Observer, 5 July 1890, p. 181
    45. Bristow, Joseph (2006). “Introduction” In: Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Oxford World’s Classic, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280729-8. p. xxi
    46. Ackroyd, Peter (1985). “Appendix 2: Introduction to the First Penguin Classics Edition” In: Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-043784-3. pp. 224–225
    47. Mighall, Robert (2000). “Introduction” In: Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-043784-3. p. xvi
    48. Kaplan, Morris B. (2004). “Literature in the Dock: The Trials of Oscar Wilde”. Journal of Law and Society 31: (No. 1) 113–130
    49. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 45
    50. Lees-Milne, p. 231
    51. Cook, pp. 284–285
    52. Cook, pp. 285–286 and Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 253
    53. Prince Eddy: The King We Never Had. Channel 4. Accessed 1 May 2010.
    54. Cook, pp. 172–173
    55. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 55
    56. Lord Arthur Somerset to Reginald Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher, 10 December 1889, quoted in Cook, p. 197
    57. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 127
    58. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 129
    59. Aronson, pp. 116–120, 170, 217
    60. Bradford, p. 10


    • Aronson, Theo (1994). Prince Eddy and the Homosexual Underworld. London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-5278-8
    • Bradford, Sarah (1989). King George VI. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-79667-4
    • Cook, Andrew (2006). Prince Eddy: The King Britain Never Had. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-3410-1
    • Hyde, H. Montgomery (1970). The Other Love: An Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-35902-5
    • Hyde, H. Montgomery (1976). The Cleveland Street Scandal. London: W. H. Allen. ISBN 0-491-01995-5
    • Lees-Milne, James (1981). Harold Nicolson: A Biography. Volume 2: 1930–1968 London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 0-7011-2602-7

    Lord Henry Arthur George Somerset

    Major Lord Henry Arthur George Somerset DL (17 November 1851 – 26 May 1926) was the third son of the 8th Duke of Beaufort and his wife, the former Lady Georgiana Curzon. He was head of the stables of the future King Edward VII (then Prince of Wales) and a Major in the Royal Horse Guards.

    He was linked with the Cleveland Street scandal, wherein he was identified and named by several male prostitutes as a customer of their services. He was interviewed by police on 7 August 1889; although the record of the interview has not survived, it resulted in a report being made by the Attorney-General, Solicitor-General and Director of Prosecutions urging that proceedings should be taken against him under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. A piece of paper was pasted over Somerset’s name in the report, as it was deemed so sensitive. However, the Director was told that the Home Secretary wished him to take no action for the moment.[1] The police obtained a further statement implicating Somerset, while Somerset arranged for his solicitor to act in the defence of the boys arrested over the scandal. After the police saw him for a second time on 22 August, Somerset obtained leave from his regiment and permission to go abroad.[2]
    Lord Arthur went to Homburg, although he returned to England. When tipped off in September that charges were imminent, he fled to France to avoid them. From there he travelled through Constantinople, Budapest, Vienna, and then back to France, where he settled and died in 1926, aged 74.[3


    • H. Montgomery Hyde, “The Cleveland Street Scandal” (W.H. Allen Ltd, 1976), p. 32-3.
    • H. Montgomery Hyde, “The Cleveland Street Scandal” (W.H. Allen Ltd, 1976), p. 35.
    • Kaplan, Morris B. (2005), Sodom on the Thames: Sex, Love, And Scandal in Wilde Times, Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-3678-8

    Henry James FitzRoy, Earl of Euston


    Euston in Masonic attire
    Henry James FitzRoy, Earl of Euston DL (28 November 1848 – 10 May 1912) was the eldest son and heir apparent of Augustus FitzRoy, 7th Duke of Grafton.

    Euston married Kate Walsh, daughter of John Walsh, on 29 May 1871 at St. Michael’s Church, Worcester. His wife died in 1903, nine years before him. They had no children. Euston was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Northamptonshire in 1907.[1] He died at Wakefield Lodge, Potterspury, Northamptonshire, six years before his father, and so never inherited his father’s lands and titles. His younger brother, Alfred, became the 8th Duke of Grafton.
    Euston was embroiled in the Cleveland Street scandal when he was accused of visiting a male brothel at 19 Cleveland Street in London by The North London Press, an obscure radical weekly newspaper. Euston sued for libel. At the trial Euston admitted that when walking along Piccadilly he had been given a card by a tout which read “Poses plastiques. C. Hammond, 19 Cleveland Street”. Euston testified that he went along to the house, believing Poses plastiques to mean a display of female nudes. He paid a sovereign to get in. On entry, Euston said he was appalled to discover the “improper” nature of the place and immediately left. The defence witnesses contradicted each other, and could not describe Euston accurately.[2] The final defence witness, John Saul, was a male prostitute who admitted to earning his living by leading an “immoral life” and “practising criminality”.[3] The jury did not believe the defence witnesses and found in favour of Euston.[4] H. Montgomery Hyde, an eminent historian of homosexuality, later wrote that there was little doubt that Euston was telling the truth and only visited 19 Cleveland Street once because he was misled by the card.[5]
    Robert Cliburn, a young man who specialized in blackmailing older homosexual men, told Oscar Wilde that Euston was one of his victims [6]


    1. The London Gazette: no. 28054. p. 5868. 27 August 1907.
    2. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp.113–116, 139–143
    3. Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, pp.146–147
    4. Hyde, The Other Love, p.125–127
    5. Hyde, The Other Love, p.127
    6. McKenna, p.182


    • Hyde, H. Montgomery (1970). The Other Love: An Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-35902-5
    • Hyde, H. Montgomery (1976). The Cleveland Street Scandal. London: W. H. Allen. ISBN 0-491-01995-5
    • McKenna, Neil (2005). The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde. New York: Basic Books.


    The Cleveland Street Scandal

    HISTORICAL NOTES: In 1889, the year in which this scandal takes place, it is legal for girls aged 12 and boys aged 14 to marry (with parental consent). Most people started work at the age of 6 (or younger) to help support their families and men had a life expectancy of just 40-45 years of age. Male homosexuality was illegal and punishable, if convicted of buggery, to penal servitude for life or for any term of not less than ten years. The death penalty for buggery had only recently been abolished in 1861.
    Towards the end of the nineteenth century a gentleman by the name of Charles Hammond ran a male brothel located at No 19 Cleveland Street in London, just north of Oxford Street near Tottenham Court Road.
    Hammond catered for a largely aristocratic clientele and for a number of years the existence of his establishment remained unknown to the authorities.
    This all changed on 4th July 1889 when a 15 year old telegraph boy called Charles Swinscow was searched as part of an ongoing investigation into money theft at his employers, the General Post Office.
    It was a telegraph boys job to cycle around London delivering telegrams and urgent messages to homes and businesses. His wage would have been about eleven shillings per week, however when he was searched, eighteen shillings were found in his pockets, more than a weeks salary to such a young man. Swinscow was taken in for questioning as part of the police operation.
    When asked how he came to have such a large sum of money in his possession, Swinscow panicked and confessed he’d been recruited by Charles Hammond to work at a house in Cleveland Street where, for the sum of four shillings a time, he would permit the brothel’s clients to “have a go between my legs” and “put their persons into me”.
    He then identified a number of other young telegraph boys who were also renting themselves out in this manner at the Cleveland Street establishment, leading to the apprehension and questioning of Henry Newlove, Algernon Allies and Charles Thickbroom.
    Who Was Involved:

    • Henry Horace Newlove 16 yrs Telegraph Boy – GPO ‘Recruiter’ for Hammond
    • Charles Thomas Swinscow 15 yrs Telegraph Boy – First boy arrested for ‘theft’
    • George Alma Wright 17 yrs Telegraph Boy – ‘Performed’ with Newlove for voyeurs
    • Charles Ernest Thickbroom 17 yrs Telegraph Boy
    • William Meech Perkins 16 yrs Telegraph Boy – ID’s Lord Alfred Somerset as a ‘client’
    • Algernon Edward Allies 19 yrs Houseboy – The Marlborough Club, used by Lord Somerset
    • George Barber 17 yrs George Veck’s ‘Private Secretary’ and boyfriend
    • John Saul 37 yrs Infamous London rent boy – Possibly aka Jack Saul
    •  Charles Hammond 35 yrs Brothel keeper of 19 Cleveland Street, London
    • George Daniel Veck aka Rev George Veck aka Rev George Barber40 yrs Ex General Post Office (GPO) employee, sacked for indecency with Telegraph boys. Lives at 19 Cleveland Street. Kept a coffee house in Gravesend, Kent. Has an 18 year old ‘son’ that travels with him.
    • PC Luke Hanks Police officer attached to the General Post Office
    • Mr Phillips Snr postal official who questions Swinscow with Hanks
    • Mr C H Raikes The Postmaster General
    • Mr James Monro Metropolitan Police Commissioner
    • Frederick Abberline 46 yrs Police Chief Inspector, infamous for the ‘Jack the Ripper’ investigations in 1888, London’s Whitechapel district
    • PC Richard Sladden Police officer who carried out observations on the Cleveland Street brothel following Swinscow’s arrest
    • Arthur Newton Lord Arthur Somerset’s solicitor. Later to defend Oscar Wilde at his trial in 1895 and notorious murderer Dr Crippen
    •  Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence 25 yrs Rumoured to be a ‘Brothel Client’ – Went on a seven month tour of British India in Sept 1889 to avoid the press & trials
    • Colonel Jervois of the 2nd Life Guards ‘Brothel Client’ – Winchester Army Barracks
    • Lord Arthur Somerset, aka Mr Brown 37 yrs ‘Brothel Client’ – Named in Allies letters as ‘Mr Brown’
    • Henry James Fitzroy, 39 yrs Accused of being a ‘Brothel Client’ – Earl of Euston
    • Sir Augustus Stephenson Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
    • Hon Hamilton Cuffe Assistant DPP – Six years later he would prosecute Oscar Wilde at his trial in 1895 as the Director of Public Prosecutions
    • Ernest Parke Journalist – North London Press

    After The Arrests
    The officer in charge of the case was Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline, famous for being in charge of the detectives investigating the Jack-The_Ripper murders a year earlier in 1888
    Abberline procured a warrant to arrest Charles Hammond on a charge of conspiracy to “to commit the abominable crime of buggery”, but when officers went to Cleveland Street, they found that Hammond had already absconded.
    The police made arrangements to observe the comings and goings at No 19 Cleveland Street in case Hammond returned. They noted that a ‘Mr Brown’ called at the address on the 9th and 13th July 1889, later identified by both Swinscow and Thickbroom on the 25th July as one of the their clients.
    Police followed Mr Brown back to army barracks in Knightsbridge where he was formally identified as Lord Arthur Somerset, younger son of Henry Charles Somerset, the 8th Duke of Beaufort. Lord Arthur was a Major in the Royal Horse Guards and equerry to Edward, Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII.
    Papers were sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions with a view to prosecuting Lord Arthur on a charge of gross indecency. The Prince of Wales was incredulous when he heard of it 
    “I won’t believe it, any more than I should if they accused the Archbishop of Canterbury” he said.
    Despite this gesture of support, Lord Somerset placed the matter in the hands of his solicitor Arthur Newton. 
    Newton contacted the DPP and mentioned that if his client were to be prosecuted, he might have to name Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence, as another brothel client whilst giving his evidence in court.
    Given that Prince Albert Victor was the eldest son of the Prince of Wales and second in line to the throne, it was clear that the government would not want his name associated with the homosexual brothel at Cleveland Street.
    The authorities appeared to drag their heels over the matter, delaying the court case, which allowed Lord Arthur Somerset the opportunity to flee abroad. By the 18th October 1889 he was safely in Boulogne, France. He remained in exile for the remainder of his life and eventually died on the French Riviera in 1926.
    But whilst Somerset escaped prosecution, the same could not be said of the unfortunate ‘rent boys’ caught up in the investigation. Swinscow together with Henry Newlove, Algernon Allies and Charles Thickbroom were brought before the Old Bailey in September 1889 and charged with gross indecency. All were convicted. Newlove received a sentence of four months with hard labour whilst the others each got nine months.
    This might have been the end of the story had it not been for a journalist named Ernest Parke, who ran a story on 28th September 1889 in the ‘North London Press’, claiming that the “heir to a duke and the younger son of a duke” had frequented Cleveland Street.
    Again, on the 16th November 1889 Parke went so far as to name both Arthur Somerset and Henry James Fitzroy, the Earl of Euston, as the men in question and dropped a broad hint to his readers that a member of the royal family was also involved, referring to a gentleman “more distinguished and more highly placed”.
    Ernest Parke believed that it was safe to name the two young aristocrats as they had both fled the country. He was correct as far as Lord Arthur Somerset was concerned, but the Earl of Euston was not in Peru as Parke thought, but still in England. In order to defend his reputation, Henry James Fitzroy felt obliged to bring a charge for criminal libel against Edward Parke.
    The trial was heard at the Old Bailey on the 19th January 1890. Whilst Henry James Fitzroy admitted that he had been to 19 Cleveland Street, he claimed that it was all a mistake. According to his own testimony, he had only gone there after being given a card touting a ‘tableaux plastique’ (nude women) at the address, and that once he realised the true nature of the establishment, had made his excuses and left.
    Ernest Parke however produced a witness named John Saul (AKA Jack Saul), who went into some detail describing the kind of services that he had provided for Henry James Fitzroy at the Cleveland Street brothel. Being a self-confessed prostitute, Saul’s evidence was easily ‘discredited’ and Ernest Parke was found guilty of libel without justification and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment with hard labour.
    One more trial was to arise as a result of the Cleveland Street scandal in respect of the activities of Arthur Newton, defence solicitor to the aforementioned Arthur Somerset who, it was believed, had helped Somerset evade justice. Newton was brought before the court on the 12th December 1889 and charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice for allegedly interfering with witnesses and arranging their disappearance to France.
    He was convicted but received the relatively mild punishment of six weeks in prison. He was even allowed to resume his legal practice, representing the author and playwright Oscar Wilde in own trial for gross indecency with other men five years later in 1895.
    This was still not quite the end of the matter as the MP Henry Labouchère, a noted campaigner against ‘homosexual vice’, who had earlier been responsible for including the offence of ‘gross indecency’ within the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, became convinced that some kind of ‘cover-up’ had been launched by the authorities.
    On the 28th February 1890 he tried to persuade Parliament to establish a committee to investigate the whole affair, but his motion was defeated by a vote of 204 to 66. Henry felt so strongly on the matter that he became over animated during the debate on his motion and he was suspended from Parliament for a week.
    Thus the Cleveland Street Scandal passed into history and ceased to be a matter of contemporary significance, however, from evidence that has since become available, it now appears that the Duke of Clarence was indeed a likely client of the Cleveland Street brothel. If indeed it were true, it would be very likely that some kind of damage limitation exercise was carried out at the highest levels of the British Government to protect him.

    I grateful acknowledge the following works used in my research:

    1. The Cleveland Street Affair – Colin Simpson, Lewis Chester & David Leitch
    2. The Cleveland Street Scandal – H Montgomery Hyde
    3. Cleveland Street ‘The Musical’ – Glenn Chandler & Matt Devereaux

    Gay History: How Bona To Vada Your Eek! Polari – The Gay Lingo

    The most fascinating aspect of Polari isn’t so much what we no longer use, as how much we still use both on the scene, and in everyday slang.

    From Wikipedia

    Polari (or alternatively Parlare, Parlary, Palare, Palarie, Palari; from Italian parlare, “to talk”) is a form of cant slang used in Britain by actors, circus and fairground showmen, merchant navy sailors, criminals, prostitutes, and the gay subculture. There is some debate about its origins,[3] but it can be traced back to at least the nineteenth century and possibly the sixteenth century.[4] There is a long-standing connection with Punch and Judy street puppet performers who traditionally used Polari to converse.[5]


    Polari is a mixture of Romance (Italian[6] or Mediterranean Lingua Franca), Romani, London slang,[6] backslang, rhyming slang, sailor slang, and thieves’ cant. Later it expanded to contain words from the Yiddish language and from 1960s drug users. It was a constantly developing form of language, with a small core lexicon of about 20 words (including bona (good [7]), ajax (nearby), eek (face), cod (naff, vile), naff (bad, drab), lattie (room, house, flat), nanti (not, no), omi (man), palone (woman), riah (hair), zhoosh (tjuz) (smarten up, stylize), TBH (To Be Had, sexually accessible), trade (sex), vada (see)), and over 500 other lesser-known words.[8] According to a Channel 4 television documentary,[which?] there was once (in London) an “East End” version which stressed Cockney rhyming slang and a “West End” version which stressed theatrical and Classical influences. There was some interchange between the two.


    Polari was used in London fishmarkets, the theatre, fairgrounds and circuses, hence the many borrowings from Romani. As many homosexual men worked in theatrical entertainment it was also used among the gay subculture, at a time when homosexual activity was illegal, to disguise homosexuals from hostile outsiders and undercover policemen. It was also used extensively in the British Merchant Navy, where many gay men joined ocean liners and cruise ships as waiters, stewards and entertainers.[9] On one hand, it would be used as a means of cover to allow gay subjects to be discussed aloud without being understood; on the other hand, it was also used by some, particularly the most visibly camp and effeminate, as a further way of asserting their identity.[citation needed]
    The almost identical Parlyaree has been spoken in fairgrounds since at least the seventeenth century[10] and continues to be used by show travellers in England and Scotland. As theatrical booths, circus acts and menageries were once a common part of European fairs it is likely that the roots of Polari/Parlyaree lie in the period before both theatre and circus became independent of the fairgrounds. The Parlyaree spoken on fairgrounds tends to borrow much more from Romany, as well as other languages and argots spoken by travelling people, such as cant and backslang.
    Henry Mayhew gave a verbatim account of Polari as part of an interview with a Punch and Judy showman in the 1850s. The discussion he recorded references the arrival of Punch in England, crediting these early shows to a performer from Italy called Porcini (see also John Payne Collier’s account of Porsini—Payne Collier calls him Porchini—in Punch and Judy).[11] Mayhew provides the following:

    Punch Talk
    “‘Bona Parle’ means language; name of patter. ‘Yeute munjare’ – no food. ‘Yeute lente’ – no bed. ‘Yeute bivare’ – no drink. I’ve ‘yeute munjare,’ and ‘yeute bivare,’ and, what’s worse, ‘yeute lente.’ This is better than the costers’ talk, because that ain’t no slang and all, and this is a broken Italian, and much higher than the costers’ lingo. We know what o’clock it is, besides.”[5]

    There are additional accounts of particular words that relate to puppet performance: “‘Slumarys’ – figures, frame, scenes, properties. ‘Slum’ – call, or unknown tongue”[5] (“unknown” is a reference to the “swazzle”, a voice modifier used by Punch performers, the structure of which was a longstanding trade secret).
    There are many sources of polari lexicons or “dictionaries” online, most of which are random collections with little or no research, rather than a descriptive list of terms in use.

    Decline in use

    Polari had begun to fall into disuse amongst the gay subculture by the late 1960s. The popularity of the Julian and Sandy characters played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams ensured that some of this secret language became public property,[12] and the gay liberationists of the 1970s viewed it as rather degrading and divisive as it was often used to gossip about, or criticise, others, as well as to discuss sexual exploits. In addition, the need for a secret subculture code declined with the legalisation of adult homosexual acts in England and Wales in 1967.

    In popular culture

    Polari was popularised in the 1960s on the popular BBC radio show Round the Horne starring Kenneth Horne. Camp Polari-speaking characters Julian and Sandy were played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams.[12]
    In the first series of British comedians’ panel television series Jokers Wild (1969), comedian Ray Martine is asked to explain the term palone (woman), which he used while telling a joke. In response to the definition, programme presenter Barry Cryer refers to Martine as a bona omi (good man).
    Jason King star Peter Wyngarde recorded a self-titled album in 1970 which contained the song “Hippie and the Skinhead” about Billy the “queer sexy hippie” “trolling the Dilly”.
    In the long running BBC Programme Doctor Who, in the episode “Carnival of Monsters”, Vorg, a showman, believing The Doctor to be one himself, attempts to converse with him in Polari. The Doctor states that he doesn’t understand him.[13]
    In 2015, filmmakers Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston made a short film entirely in Polari, entitled “Putting on the Dish”.[14]

    The lyrics to David Bowie’s 2016 song “Girl Loves Me” consist chiefly of a blend of Polari and Nadsat slang.
    Use today


    Bona Togs clothes shop

    Since the mid-1990s, with the redistribution of cassettes and CDs of Round The Horne, and with increasing academic interest, Polari has undergone something of a revival. New words are being invented and updated to refer to more recent cultural concepts.[citation needed]

    • In 1990, Morrissey titled an album Bona Drag – Polari for “nice outfit” – and the single “Piccadilly Palare”.
    • Also in 1990, comic book writer Grant Morrison created the Polari-speaking character Danny the Street (based on Danny La Rue), a sentient transvestite street, for the comic Doom Patrol.
    • The 1998 film Velvet Goldmine, which chronicles a fictional retelling of the rise and fall of glam rock, contains a flashback to 1970 in which a group of characters converse in Polari, while their words are subtitled.
    • In 2002, two books on Polari were published, Polari: The Lost Language of Gay Men, and Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang (both by Paul Baker). Also in 2002, hip hop artist Juha released an album called Polari, with the chorus of the title song written entirely in the slang.
    • Characters in Will Self’s story Foie Humain, the first part of Liver, use Polari.
    • Comedians Paul O’Grady, Julian Clary, David Walliams, and Matt Lucas incorporate Polari in their comedy routines, as did Rik Mayall.[citation needed]
    • In 2012, artists Jez Dolan and Joseph Richardson created an iPhone app which makes available the Polari lexicon and comprehensive list of etymologies.[15][16]

    Entry into standard English

    A number of words from Polari have entered mainstream slang.
    The Polari word naff, meaning inferior or tacky, has an uncertain etymology. Michael Quinion states that it is probably from the sixteenth-century Italian word gnaffa, meaning “a despicable person”.[17] There are a number of folk etymologies, many based on acronyms—Not Available For Fucking, Normal As Fuck—though these are backronyms. More likely etymologies include northern UK dialect naffhead, naffin, or naffy, a simpleton or blockhead; niffy-naffy, inconsequential, stupid, or Scots nyaff, a term of contempt for any unpleasant or objectionable person. An alternative etymology may lie in the Romany naflo, itself rooted in násfalo, meaning ill. The phrase “naff off” was used euphemistically in place of “fuck off” along with the intensifier “naffing” in Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse (1959).[18] Usage of “naff” increased in the 1970s when television sitcom Porridge employed it as an alternative to expletives which were not considered broadcastable at the time.[17] Princess Anne famously told a reporter, “Why don’t you just naff off” at the Badminton horse trials in April 1982.[19]
    “Zhoosh” (/ˈʒʊʃ/, /ˈʒuːʃ/ or /ˈʒʊʒ/[20]) (generally pronounced “zhuzh” with the vowel sound of “hood”) meaning to smarten up, style or improve something, became commonplace more recently, having been used in the 2003 United States TV series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and What Not to Wear.

    Polari glossary

    Word Definition

    acdc, bibi- bisexual[21]

    ajax – nearby (shortened form of “adjacent to”)[21]

    alamo! – they’re attractive! (via acronym “LMO” meaning “Lick Me Out!)[22]

    aunt nell listen![23]

    aunt nells – ears[24]

    aunt nelly fakes – earrings[25]

    aunt nell danglers – earrings[citation needed]

    barney – a fight[26]

    basket- the bulge of male genitalia through clothes[citation needed]

    bat, batts, bates – shoes[26]

    bitch – effeminate or passive gay man

    bijou – small/little (means “jewel” in French)[27]

    blag-, pick up[28]

    blue -,code word for “homosexual”[citation needed]

    bod – body[citation needed]

    bona – good[29]

    bona nochy – goodnight (from Italian – buona notte)[23]

    bonaroo – wonderful, excellent[citation needed]

    bungery – pub, this comes from bung.[citation needed]

    butch -,masculine; masculine lesbian[30]

    buvare – a drink; something drinkable (from Italian – bere or old-fashioned Italian – bevere or Lingua Franca bevire)[30]

    cackle – talk/gossip[31]

    camp – effeminate (possibly from Italian campare “exaggerate, make stand out”)

    capello, capella, capelli, kapella – hat (from Italian, also Greek – cappello)[31]

    carsey, karsey, khazi – toilet[31]

    cartes – penis (from Italian – cazzo)[32]

    cats – trousers[31]

    charper – to search or to look (from Italian – acchiappare – to catch)[33]

    charpering omi -,policeman

    charver – sexual intercourse[28]

    chicken – young man

    clobber – clothes[34]

    cod – bad[35]

    cottage – a public lavatory used for sexual encounters

    cottaging – seeking or obtaining sexual encounters in public lavatories

    cove – taxi[36]

    crimper – hairdresser[citation needed]

    dally – sweet, kind. Possibly an alternate pronunciation of dolly.[citation needed]

    dilly boy – a male prostitute[citation needed]

    dinari – money (Latin denarii was the ‘d’ of the pre decimal penny)[citation needed]

    dish – buttocks[24]

    dolly – pretty, nice, pleasant, from Irish Gaelic dóighiúil ‘handsome’ pronounced ‘doil’

    dona – woman (perhaps from Italian donna or Lingua Franca dona)[37]

    dorcas – term of endearment, ‘one who cares’. The Dorcas Society was a ladies’ church association of the nineteenth century, which made clothes for the poor.[citation needed]

    drag – clothes, esp. women’s clothes (prob from Romani — indraka — skirt; also possibly from German – tragen – v. to wear (clothes))[citation needed]

    doss – bed[citation needed]

    ecaf – face (backslang)[38]

    eek – face (abbreviation of ecaf)[38]

    ends – hair[citation needed]

    esong, sedon – nose (backslang)[39]

    fantabulosa – fabulous/wonderful

    feele/freely/filly child- young (from the Italian figlio, for son)

    fruit – queen

    funt – pound

    gelt – money (Yiddish)

    handbag – money

    hoofer – dancer

    HP (homy polone) – effeminate gay man

    jarry – food, also mangarie (from Italian mangiare or Lingua Franca mangiaria)

    jubes -,breasts

    kaffies – trousers

    khazi – toilet, also spelt carsey

    lacoddy – body

    lallies (lylies) – legs, sometimes also knees (as in “get down on yer lallies”)

    lallie tappers- feet

    latty/lattie – room, house or flat

    lills – hands

    lilly – police (Lilly Law)

    lyles – legs (prob. from “Lisle stockings”)

    lucoddy – body

    luppers – fingers (Yiddish — lapa — paw)

    mangarie – food, also jarry (from Italian mangiare or Lingua Franca mangiaria)

    martinis – hands

    measures – money

    meese – plain, ugly (from Yiddish “meeiskeit, in turn from Hebrew מָאוּס repulsive, loathsome, despicable, abominable)

    meshigener – nutty, crazy, mental (from Yiddish ‘meshugge’, in turn from Hebrew מְשֻׁגָּע crazy)

    metzas – money (Italian -mezzi “means, wherewithal”)

    mince – walk (affectedly)

    naff – awful, dull, hetero

    nanti – not, no, none (Italian — niente)

    national handbag – dole, welfare, government financial assistance

    ogle -,look, admire

    ogles – eyes

    oglefakes – glasses

    omi – man (from Romance)

    omi-palone – effeminate man, or homosexual

    onk – nose (cf “conk”)

    orbs – eyes

    oven – mouth (nanti pots in the oven = no teeth in the mouth)

    palare pipe – telephone (“talk pipe”)

    palliass – back

    park, parker – give

    plate feet – to fellate

    palone – woman (Italian paglione – “straw mattress”, [cf. old Cant “hay-bag” = woman]); also spelled “polony” in Graham Greene’s 1938 novel Brighton Rock

    palone-omi – lesbian

    pots – teeth

    remould – sex change

    riah/riha – hair (backslang)

    riah zhoosher – hairdresser

    rough trade – a working class or blue collar sex partner or potential sex partner; a tough, thuggish or potentially violent sex partner

    scarper – to run off (from Italian scappare, to escape or run away or from rhyming slang Scapa Flow, to go)

    schlumph – drink

    scotch – leg (scotch egg=leg)

    screech – mouth, speak

    sharpy – policeman (from — charpering omi)

    sharpy polone – policewoman

    shush – steal (from client)

    shush bag – hold-all

    shyker/shyckle – wig (mutation of the Yiddish sheitel)

    slap – makeup

    so – homosexual (e.g. “Is he ‘so’?”)

    stimps – legs

    stimpcovers -,stockings, hosiery

    strides – trousers

    strillers – piano

    switch – wig

    thews – thighs

    tober – road (a Shelta word, Irish bóthar)

    todd (Sloanne) – alone

    tootsie trade – sex between two passive homosexuals (as in: ‘I don’t do tootsie trade’)

    trade – sex, sex-partner, potential sex-partner

    troll -,to walk about (esp. looking for trade)

    vada/varder – to see (from Italian — dialect vardare = guardare – look at)

    vardered — vardering

    vera (lynn) – gin
    vogue – cigarette (from Lingua Franca — fogus – “fire, smoke”)

    vogueress – female smoker

    willets – breasts

    yews – (from French “yeux”) eyes

    zhoosh -,style hair, tart up, mince (Romani – “zhouzho” – clean, neat)

    zhoosh our riah — style our hair

    zhooshy – showy

    Polai in use

    Omies and palones of the jury, vada well at the eek of the poor ome who stands before you, his lallies trembling.—taken from “Bona Law”, a Round The Horne sketch written by Barry Took and Marty Feldman
    Translation: “Men and women of the jury, look well at the face of the poor man who stands before you, his legs trembling.”

    So bona to vada…oh you! Your lovely eek and your lovely riah.—taken from “Piccadilly Palare”, a song by Morrissey
    Translation: “So good to see…oh you! Your lovely face and your lovely hair.”

    As feely ommes…we would zhoosh our riah, powder our eeks, climb into our bona new drag, don our batts and troll off to some bona bijou bar. In the bar we would stand around with our sisters, vada the bona cartes on the butch omme ajax who, if we fluttered our ogle riahs at him sweetly, might just troll over to offer a light for the unlit vogue clenched between our teeth.—taken from Parallel Lives, the memoirs of renowned gay journalist Peter Burton
    Translation: “As young men…we would style our hair, powder our faces, climb into our great new clothes, don our shoes and wander/walk off to some great little bar. In the bar we would stand around with our gay companions, look at the great genitals on the butch man nearby who, if we fluttered our eyelashes at him sweetly, might just wander/walk over to offer a light for the unlit cigarette clenched between our teeth.”

    In the Are You Being Served? episode “The Old Order Changes”, Captain Peacock asks Mr Humphries to get “some strides for the omi with the naff riah” (i.e. trousers for the fellow with the unstylish hair).[40]

    See also

    • African American Vernacular English (sometimes called Ebonics)
    • Bahasa Binan
    • Boontling
    • Caló (Chicano)
    • Carny, North American fairground cant
    • Gayle language
    • Gay slang
    • Grypsera
    • IsiNgqumo
    • Lavender linguistics
    • Lunfardo and Vesre
    • Rotwelsch
    • Swardspeak
    • Verlan


    1.  Polari at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    2.  Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). “Polari”. Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
    3.  Quinion, Michael (1996). “How bona to vada your eek!”. WorldWideWords. Retrieved February 20, 2006.
    4.  Collins English Dictionary, Third Edition
    5.  a b c Mayhew, Henry (1968). London Labour and the London Poor, 1861 3. New York: Dover Press. p. 47.
    6. a b “British Spies: Licensed to be Gay.” Time. 19 August 2008
    7. “The secret language of polari”. Retrieved on 27 August 2015.
    8. Baker, Paul (2002) Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang. London: Continuum ISBN 0-8264-5961-7
    9. “Gay men in the Merchant Marine, Liverpool Maritime Museum”. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
    10. Partridge, Eric (1937) Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English
    11.  Punch and Judy. (with Illustrations by George Cruickshank). Thomas Hailes Lacey, London, 1859
    12. a b Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 206. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
    13. Paul Baker (2 September 2003). Polari – The Lost Language of Gay Men. Routledge. p. 161. ISBN 9781134506347. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
    14.  Lowder, J. Bryan (2015-07-28). “Listen to Polari, the Lost Art of Gay Conversation”. Slate.
    15. New Europe Online (24.11.2013)
    16.  Polari on iTunes
    17.  a b Quinion, Michael. “Naff”. World Wide Words. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
    18. Waterhouse, Keith (1959). Billy Liar. Michael Joseph. pp. 35, 46. ISBN 0-7181-1155-9. p35 “Naff off, Stamp, for Christ sake!” p46 “Well which one of them’s got the naffing engagement ring?”
    19. The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English Dalzell and Victor (eds.) Routledge, 2006, Vol. II p. 1349
    20. “Definition for zhoosh – Oxford Dictionaries Online (World English)”. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
    21.  a b Baker 2003, p. 49.
    22.  Baker 2003, p. 52, 59.
    23. a b Baker 2003, p. 52.
    24. a b Baker 2003, p. 45.
    25. Baker 2003, p. 59, 60.
    26. a b Baker 2003, p. 164.
    27. Baker 2003, p. 57.
    28. a b Baker 2003, p. 46.
    29. Baker 2003, p. 26, 32, 85.
    30.  a b Baker 2003, p. 167.
    31.  a b c d Baker 2003, p. 168.
    32. Baker 2003, p. 97.
    33. Baker 2003, p. 46, 168.
    34. Baker 2003, p. 138, 139, 169.
    35. Baker 2003, p. 169.
    36. Baker 2003, p. 61.
    37. Baker 2003, p. 26.
    38.  a b Baker 2003, p. 58, 210.
    39. Baker 2003, p. 31.
    40.  “The Old Order Changes”. Are You Being Served?. 18 March 1977.


    Baker, Paul (2002) Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang. London: Continuum: ISBN 0-8264-5961-7
    Baker, Paul (2003). Polari – The Lost Language of Gay Men. London: Routledge. ISBN 9781134506354.

    Elmes, Simon & Rosen, Michael (2002) Word of Mouth. Oxford University Press: ISBN 0-19-866263-7

    External links

    Chris Denning’s article on Polari with bibliography

    The Polari Bible by the Manchester Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

    Colin Richardsons What Brings You Trolling Back Then article

    Back in the dim days of my youth, the BBC had a succession of hugely successful radio comedy programmes which have never been matched since. The BBC itself has a strong tendency to be nostalgic about them, calling them the Golden Age of Radio Comedy, though these days the gold mainly ends up in the till, now it has discovered how many other people have fond memories of the shows and are prepared to pay to hear them again on CD or cassette. The best known is almost certainly the Goon Show, attested by its Usenet newsgroup and its fan clubs in North America, Britain and elsewhere. Others included Take It from Here, Hancock’s Half Hour and Round The Horne. This last show was introduced by Kenneth Horne, an urbane straight man, who had previously partnered Richard Murdoch in Much Binding in the Marsh, a send-up of a small RAF station “somewhere in England”, but who in the intervening years had had an extremely successful business career. He was partnered by Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick and Betty Marsden, with scripts by Marty Feldman and Barry Took.

    One element of the show, which was stereotypical in its layout, always featured a pair of screamingly camp young men: “Hello, I’m Julian and this is my friend Sandy”, overplayed by Williams and Paddick to an extent which robbed it of much of its latent homophobia (particularly as both were known to be gay), though I cannot imagine a similar duo being allowed anywhere near a BBC microphone in this supposedly more permissive but also infinitely more sensitive age. These two spoke in a slangy language which was virtually incomprehensible to anyone hearing it for the first time, though by repetition week by week a mental glossary could be constructed. “How bona to vada your eek!” was a recurring expression; there were references to “butch omis” and to “omipalones”; they always “trolled” everywhere, though their “lallies” weren’t up to much of that; things were “naph”, “bona” or sometimes “fantabulosa”.

    This was not a constructed language, but a secret vocabulary, a cant or argot in the linguist’s term, which uses the grammar and syntax of English as well as most of its core vocabulary. It was in fairly common use in the theatre and in related branches of show business such as ballet and the circus, to the extent that a book on the Round the Horne series remarked that Williams and Paddick often really did speak like that in real life. It is variously called Palare, Palyaree, Palary or Polari from its own word for “talk” or “speech”.

    HORNE: Would I have vada’d any of them do you think?

    SANDY: Oooaaawwh! He’s got all the Palare, ain’t he?

    JULIAN: [archly] I wonder where he picks it up?

    Linguists still argue about where it came from. The larger part of its vocabulary is certainly Italian in origin, but nobody seems to know how the words got into Britain. Some experts say its origins lie in the lingua franca of the shores of the Mediterranean, a pidgin in use in the Middle Ages and afterwards as a medium of communication between sailors and traders from widely different language groups, the core of this language being Italian and Occitan. Quite a number of British sailors learnt the lingua franca. On returning home and retiring from the sea it is supposed that many of them became vagabonds or travellers, because they had no other means of livelihood; this threw them into contact with roving groups of entertainers and fairground people, who picked up some of the pidgin terms and incorporated them into their own canting private vocabularies. However, other linguists point to the substantial number of native Italians who came to Britain as entertainers in the early part of the nineteenth century, especially the Punch and Judy showmen, organ grinders and peddlars of the 1840s.

    But Polari is a linguistic mongrel. Words from Romany (originally an Indian dialect), Shelta (the cant of the Irish tinkers), Yiddish, back slang, rhyming slang and other non-standard English are interspersed with words of Italian origin. Take this exchange from one of the Round the Horne sketches:

    SANDY: Roll up yer trouser legs … we want to vada yer calves.

    JULIAN: Hmmm … his scotches may be a bit naph but his plates are bona.

    [scotch = Scotch egg = leg; plates = plates of meat = feet]

    So it would not be surprising to find that both the Italian showman and the lingua franca theories are right, each contributing words at different stages in Polari’s development. This might indeed explain the substantial number of synonyms noted at various times. However, the vocabulary is not well recorded, and now may never be, because it was normal until quite recently for linguists to ignore such low-life forms, which rarely turned up in print (and then only in partial glossaries). But we do know that a few of Polari’s terms have made it across the language barrier into semi-standard English, much of it seeming to come to us via Cockney: karsey, a lavatory; mankey, poor, bad or tasteless; ponce, a pimp; and scarper to run away.

    The rest have stayed within the theatrical and circus worlds, and have also been incorporated particularly into the private languages of some homosexual groups, as Julian and Sandy make very clear. Some writers have sought to claim Polari exclusively for the gay community, renaming it Gayspeak. In the 1990s it certainly seems to be heavily used by some city-based British gays (but only male gays, not lesbians), who have invented new terms like nante ’andbag for “no money” (handbag here being a self-mocking example of metonymy). However, it can scarcely have always been so, unless every fairground showman, circus performer, strolling player, cheapjack and Punch and Judy man in history was gay, which seems somewhat unlikely.

    There are other characteristics of the language of Julian and Sandy. They tend to make diminuitives of nouns: would you like a bijou drinkette? for example. They also playfully invent words based on Italian models, such as fantabulosa. And they use a few terms which seem to be Polari and yet are unrecorded in glossaries: luffer = finger and nish = no, stop (as in “nish shouting!”; unpublished researches of the OED suggest this is either of Yiddish origin or comes from Irish Gaelic.)

    A quick Polari lexicon:

    batt = shoe; bevvy = drink (or possibly an abbreviation of beverage, or both); bijou = small; bimbo = dupe, sucker; bona = good; camp = excessive or showy or affecting mannerisms of the opposite sex; charper = to search (leading to charpering omi = policeman); dolly = nice or pleasant; dona = woman (hence the Australian slang word donah); drag = clothes (and so possibly via the gay world to the informal but widespread use meaning to dress in the clothes of the opposite sex); eek = face; fantabulosa = excellent; feele = child (hence feely omi = a young man, sometimes specifically an underaged young man); lally = leg; lattie = house, lodgings; leucoddy = body; naph = bad (quite possibly the origin of the current British English slang term naff); nante = none or nothing; ogle = eye (hence ogleriah = eyelash); omi = man; omipalone = homosexual; palare = talk; palone; woman; riah = hair (possibly back-slang); tosheroon = half a crown (two shillings and sixpence), possibly a much-corrupted form of the Italian mezzo caroon; troll, = walk, wander; vada = look; walloper = dancer; zhoosh = fix, tidy. And perhaps you might like to be able to count to ten in Polari: una, duey, trey, quater, chinker, sey, setter, otto, nobber, dacha.

    Now you can have a go at translating this:

    As feely homies, we would zhoosh our riahs, powder our eeks, climb into our bona new drag, don our batts and troll off to some bona bijou bar.

    Basket or Packet…………The bulge in a mans jeans

    Betty bracelet……………Policewoman




    Bona……………………..Good, Nice

    Buns……………………..Ass cheeks





    Chicken……………………Young man

    Charper…………………..To Search 

    Charpering omi…………….Policeman 

    Cottage…………………..Public Toilet

    Cottaging…………………Looking for sex in a cottage 


    Dish ……………………..Nice looking man, Nice arse



    Drag………………………Women’s clothes 

    Eek ………………………Face (Backslang ecaf) 


    Fantabulosa ………………Wonderful 

    Fruit………………………Old queen 

    Gay……………………….Good as you








    lilly Law……………………Police



    Mince………………………A camp walk

    Naff ………………………Awfull ( Not Available For F–king) 

    Nanti………………………None, no 

    National handbag ………….Dole money


    Ogles…………………….. Eyes 


    Omipolone………………….Camp man

    Palliass…………………….Back or rear

    Polari………………………Talk , to chat




    Riah shusher……………….Hairdresser 

    Shush bag…………………Bag or Holdall 




    Troll ………………………..To go walking 

    Varda………………………See, To look

    A short video in polari