To start with, at that time I'd gone to bed with probably three dozen boys, all of them either German or English; never with a woman. Nonetheless -- and incredible thought it may seem -- I still assumed that a day would come when I would fall in love with some lovely, intelligent girl, whom I would marry and who would bear me children. And what of my attraction to men? To tell the truth, I didn't worry much about it. I pretended my homosexuality was a function of my youth, that when I "grew up" it would fall away, like baby teeth, to be replaced by something more mature and permanent. I, after all, was no pansy; the boy in Croydon who hanged himself after his father caught him in makeup and garters, he was a pansy, as was Oscar Wilde, my first-form Latin tutor, Channing's friend Peter Lovesey's brother. Pansies farted differently, and went to pubs where the barstools didn't have seats, and had very little in common with my crowd, by which I meant Higel and Horst and our other homosexual friends, all of whom were aggressively, unreservedly masculine, reveled in all things male, and held no truck with sissies and fairies, the overrefined Rupert Halliwells of the world. To the untrained eye nothing distinguished us from "normal" men. Though I must confess that by 1936 the majority of my friends had stopped deluding themselves into believing their homosexuality was merely a phase. They claimed, rather, to have sworn off women, by choice. For them, homosexuality was an act of rebellion, a way of flouting the rigid mores of Edwardian England, but they were also fundamentally misogynists who would have much preferred living in a world devoid of things feminine, where men bred parthenogenically. Women, according to these friends, were the “class enemy” in a sexual revolution. Infuriated by our indifference to them (and to the natural order), they schemed to trap and convert us*, thus foiling the challenge we presented to the invincible heterosexual bond.Such thinking excited me - anything smacking of rebellion did - but it also frightened me. It seemed to me then that my friends’ misogyny blinded them to the fact that heterosexual men, not women, had been up until now, and would probably always be, their most relentless enemies. My friends didn’t like women, however, and therefore couldn’t acknowledge that women might be truer comrades to us than the John Northrops whose approval we so desperately craved. So I refused to make the same choice they did, although, crucially, I still believed it was a choice.