Performing ‘The Way We Were’ at the British Library launch of the Gay UK Exhibition
Newly arrived in London
Seeking fame, fortune, friendship…
And the kind of sex we couldn’t find
In our small towns and villages.
We were ravenous.
Wanted to grab life by the throat,
Or, fall in and be overwhelmed by it.
Grow into ourselves.
We were gagging for it.
Brimming with fear and excitement.
Impatient for a brand new life,
Of our own making.
We took courses.
Loitered in clubs, pubs and places,
Hoping to meet a bona-fida homosexual
Or become one.
We marched together
On streets paved with hope and wonder
Held hands at Greenham – shouted
Made love as much as possible.
The way we were
We thought would never change or end
Now the way we are today
Will tomorrow’s history amend
Written and performed for my show, ‘Love, Lust and Loathing in the Bloomsbury Literati’, during the Bloomsbury Festival
Lytton and Virginia were literary lions.
They prowled around the Bloomsbury Set,
Vetting interlopers that they met,
Pronouncing them suitable…or maybe not yet.
Their writing set the world aflame.
Their Bohemian lifestyle banished shame.
They tipped convention on its head,
For a new life order…or so they said.
Who would have thought, that he and she,
Would strike up a friendship so immediately.
A connection that lasted the whole of their life
Closer than lover, husband or wife.
He tall and thin, wracked with crippling fear,
Terrified of intimacy…
Yet desperate to be near.
She of similar stature, tormented by self-doubt,
Wanting to be uninhibited…
Struggling to let it out.
Both driven by ambition and desire to be rich.
Both liked to gossip, ruminate and bitch,
Suffer romantic torment and unrequited love.
As long-suffering partners strove to rise above.
A monumental relationship,
Based on values both held dear.
A very English friendship,
Eccentric and Queer.
They were three special Ladies
Friends, collaborators and lovers.
Living together for almost fifty years,
Devoted sisters, serfs and mothers.
They lived, laboured and loved
In a hamlet, betwixt church and stream.
Tending their garden, home and hopes,
Living the domestic and creative dream.
Edy was the catalyst,
A woman who lived to work.
Dutiful daughter, friend and lover,
Her duties she did not shirk.
Tony was the peacemaker,
Blessed with an artists perceptive eye
Gentle, even-tempered and humorous
Between two volatile lovers, she did lie.
Christopher was the agitator,
Passionate, demanding and romantic
In her bright red coat and tri-cornered hat.
She was dapper and rather pedantic.
The focus and drive these women shared,
Helped to change the course of history.
Their guardianship of their private lives
Ensures their love remains, a mystery.