Advent Calendar 3rd December 2011: Three little ragged boys

How do we develop our lifelong obsessions? Michael Davidson was born into an upper-middle-class family. At age 10, he still lived with his family in Guernsey. Here’s a memory from that time, taken from page 33 in The World, the Flesh and Myself:

I remember, too, the three little ragged boys from the village I brought to our house to collect fir-cones beneath the great trees in whose monastic heights the rooks lived, to birds’-nest down in the fields or unearth slow-worms in the wilderness below the croquet-lawn; or rather, I remember the swamping sadness I felt when I was told that my father, in a moment of law-giving lucidity, had forbidden me to play with ‘village boys’.

There wasn’t, that I know of, a grain of sexuality in this childish friendship; yet I’ve wondered since whether the denial of it to me mayn’t have helped to engender that predilection for ‘lower-class’ boys which has guided my searches.

Asiatic, Arabian, and African boys are ‘class-less’ in my erotic manual; but anywhere in Europe a ‘public-school voice’ or its equivalent acts as a sexual taboo: I’ve had romantic attachments for boys of my own class, as I had for W. H. Auden when he was 16, yet without wanting to raise a physical little finger.

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