BREAKFAST WITH DEREK BOSHIER
No man in the RCA gave such breakfasts as Derek Boshier. Not the great heavy spreads for thirty or forty with an orgy afterwards, which came once or twice a term, when everything was supplied out of the college kitchen, and you had to ask leave of the Dean before you could have it at all - and the Dean always insisted that the best looking boy was kept back to pleasure the staff. In those ponderous feasts the most hum-drum of the first year MAs might rival the most artistic, if he could only pay his battle-bill, or get credit with the cook. But the daily morning meal, when even gentlemen commoners were limited to two hot dishes out of the kitchen, this was Boshier's forte. Ordinary men left the matter in the hands of scouts, and were content with the ever-recurring buttered toasts and eggs, with a dish of broiled ham, or something of the sort, with a marmalade and bitter ale to finish with; but Boshier was not an ordinary man, as you instantly saw when you went to breakfast with him for the first time.
The house in which Boshier lived was inhabited, except in the garrets, by men in the fast set, and he and three others, who had an equal aversion to solitary feeding, had established a breakfast-club, in which, thanks to Boshier's genius, real scientific gastronomy was cultivated. Every morning the boy from Wheelers in Soho arrived with freshly caught gudgeon, and now and then an eel or trout, which the scouts he employed had learnt to fry delicately in oil. Fresh water cresses came in the same basket, and the college kitchen furnished a spitchedcocked chicken, or grilled turkey's leg. In the season there were plover's eggs; or, at the worst, there was a dainty omelette; and an Acton baker, famed for his light rolls and high charges, sent in the bread - the common local loaf being of course out of the question for anyone with the slightest pretension to taste, and fit only for the perquisite of scouts.
Then there would be a deep Yorkshire pie, or reservoir of potted game, as a piece-de-resistance, and three or four sorts of preserves; and a large cool tankard of cider or ale-cup to finish up with, or soda-water and maraschino for a change. Tea and coffee were there indeed, but merely as a compliment to those respectable beverages, for they were rarely touched by the breakfast eaters in Boshier's bedsit. Pleasant young gentlemen they were at Derek’s south Kensington abode; I mean the ground and first floor men who formed the breakfast-club, for the second floors and basements were nobodies. Three out of the four had huge allowances to live on; and as as a consequence they treated their grants as pocket-money, and were all in their first year, ready money was plenty and credit good, and they might have had potted hippopotamus for breakfast if they had chosen to order it, which they would most likely have done if they had thought of it.
Two out of the three were the sons of rich men who made their own fortunes, and sent their sons to RCA because it was very desirable that these talentless and rather stupid young gentlemen should make good connexions in the art world. In fact, the fathers looked upon the RCA as a good investment, and gloried much in hearing their sons talk familiarly in the vacations of their dear friends Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.
Boshier, the third of the set, was not an heir of an old or a rich family, and consequently, having his connection ready made to his hand, cared little enough with whom he associated, provided they were pleasant fellows, and gave him good food and wines. His whole idea at present was to enjoy himself as much as possible; but he had good manly stuff in him at the bottom, and, had he fallen into any but the fast set, would have made a fine fellow, and done credit to himself and his college.
The fourth man at the breakfast-club, Allen Jones was in his third year, and was a very well-dressed, well-mannered, well-connected young man. His grant was small for the set he lived with (he’d been kicked out of the RCA for making pornographic sculptures and was now studying at Hornsey College of Art in north London), but he never wanted for anything. He didn't entertain much, certainly, but when he did, everything was in the best possible style. He was very exclusive, and knew no man in college out of the fast set, and of these he addicted himself chiefly to the society of the rich first years (in the hope that their father’s might buy his work). But with the first years he was always hand and glove, lived in their rooms, and used their wines, cars, and other movable property as his own. Being a good whist and billiard player, and not a bad driver, he managed in one way or another to make his young friends pay well for the honour of his acquaintance; as, indeed, why should they not, at least those of them who came to the college to form eligible connections; for was not his pornographic imagination a font of riches?
Our hero had met Boshier at an art opening in York shortly before the beginning of his first term, and they had rather taken to one another. Boshier had been amongst his first callers; and, as he came out of the closet one morning shortly after his arrival by telling everyone within earshot that it was cock and not pussy he was after, Boshier's scout came up to him with an invitation to breakfast. No one was in Boshier’s bedsit when he arrived, for none of the club had finished their toilettes. As Hockney entered, a great splashing in an adjacent bathroom stopped for a moment, and Boshier's voice shouted out that he was in his communal tub, but would be with him in a minute. So Hockney gave himself up to contemplation of the flock wallpaper.
Hockney had scarcely finished admiring a dark damp stain on the wall when the door opened, and Boshier emerged in a loose jacket lined with silk, his velvet cap on his head, and otherwise gorgeously attired. He was a pleasant-looking fellow of middle size, with dark hair, and a merry eye, with a twinkle in it, which spoke well for his sense of humour; otherwise, his large features were rather plain, but he had the look and manners of a complete degenerate who’d be fun to know.
His first act, after nodding to Hockney, was to seize on a pewter and resort to the cask in the corner, from whence he drew a pint or so of the contents, having, as he said: "'a whoreson longing for that poor creature, small beer. We were playing Van-John in Blake's rooms till three last night, and he gave us devilled bones and mulled port. A fellow can't enjoy his breakfast after that without something to cool his coppers."
Hockney was as yet ignorant of what Van-John might be, so held his peace, and took a pull at the beer which the other handed to him; and then the scout entered, and received orders to bring up Jack and the breakfast, and not wait for any one. In another minute, a bouncing and scratching was heard on the stairs, and a white bulldog rushed in, a gem in his way; for his brow was broad and massive, his skin was as fine as a lady's, and his tail taper and nearly as thin as a clay pipe. His general look, and a way he had of going nuzzling about the calves of strangers, were not pleasant for nervous people. Hockney, however, was used to dogs, and soon became friends with him, which evidently pleased his host - who like to indulged his voyeuristic streak with dollops of bestiality. And then the breakfast arrived, all smoking, and with it the two other ingenious youths, in velvet caps and far more gorgeous apparel, so far as colours went, than Boshier. They were introduced to Hockney, who thought them somewhat ordinary and rather loud young gentlemen. One of them remonstrated vigorously against the presence of that confounded dog, and so Jack was sent to lie down in a corner, and then the four fell to work upon the breakfast.
It was a good lesson in gastronomy, but the results are scarcely worth repeating here. It is wonderful, though, how you feel drawn to a man who feeds you well; and, as Hockney's appetite got less, his liking and respect for his host undoubtedly increased.
When they had nearly finished, in walked the Peter Blake, a fat man, two or three years older than the rest of them; good looking, and very well and quietly dressed, but with the drawing up of his nostril, and a drawing down of the corners of his mouth, which set Hockney against him at once. The cool, supercilious half-nod, moreover, to which he treated our hero when introduced to him, was enough to spoil his digestion, and hurt his self-love a good deal more than he would have liked to own.
"Here, Henry," said the Peter Blake to the scout in attendance, seating himself, and inspecting the half-cleared dishes; "what is there for my breakfast?"
Henry bustled about, and handed a dish or two.
"I don't want these cold things; haven't you kept me any gudgeon?"
"Why sir" said Henry, "there was only two dozen this morning, and Mr. Boshier told me to cook them all.
"To be sure I did," said Boshier. "Just half a dozen for each of us four: they were first-rate. If you can't get here at half-past nine, you won't get gudgeon, I can tell you."
"Just go and get me a broil from Wheelers," Peter Blake snarled, without deigning an answer to Boshier.
"Very sorry, sir; I don't have time to go to Soho, sir," answered Henry.
"Then go to Hinton's, and order some cutlets."
"I say, Henry," shouted Boshier to the retreating scout; "not to my tick, mind! Put them down to Mr. Blake."
Henry seemed to know very well that in that case he might save himself the trouble of the journey, and consequently returned to his waiting; and Peter Blake set to work upon his breakfast, without showing any further ill temper certainly, except by the stinging things which he threw every now and then into the conversation, for the benefit of each of the others in turn.
Hockney thought he detected signs of coming hostilities between his host and Blake, for Boshier seemed to prick up his ears and get combative whenever the other spoke, and lost no chance in roughing him in his replies. And, indeed, he was not far wrong; the fact being, that during Boshier's first term, the other had lived on him-drinking his wine, smoking his cigars, driving his scooter, and winning his money; all which Boshier, who was the easiest going and best tempered fellow in London, had stood without turning a hair. But Blake added to these little favours a half patronising, half contemptuous manner, which he used with great success towards some of the other art students, who thought it a mark of high breeding, and the correct thing, but which Boshier, who didn't care three straws about knowing Blake, wasn't going to put up with.
However, nothing happened but a little sparring, and the breakfast things were cleared away, and the tankards left on the table, and the company betook themselves to cigars and easy chairs. Jack came out of his corner to be gratified with some of the remnants by his fond master, and then curled himself up on the sofa along which Boshier lounged.
"Who are you going to run down today Farley?" asked Blake.
"The boating-men," Farley announced; "did you ever see such a set? With their everlasting flannels and jerseys, and hair cropped like prize-fighters? They're so ridiculous a blind man wouldn't fuck them without being paid to do so, let alone suck their dicks!"
"What the devil do I care," broke in Boshier; "I know they're a deal more amusing than you fellows, who can't lay rough trade without putting down pounds."
"Getting economical with the truth!" sneered Blake. "When was the last time you took it up the jacksee from a horny handed son of toil without paying the cockson?"
"Well, I can see the fun of tearing one's heart out, and blistering one's hands, if at the end of it all you get your behind abused by the brutish coxswain," said Farley. "He's an mean and ugly motherfucker, just the type I liked. But the boatmen he teaches the Greek rite! Pah!"
"Why, after the coxswain's had them, they aren't able to sit straight in your chair for a month," said Sidney Chanter; "and are reduced to giving the rest of the team blow jobs."
Here a newcomer entered called Peter Phillips entered and was warmly greeted by Boshier. Blake and he exchanged the coldest possible nods; and the other two, taking the office from their mentor, stared at him through their smoke, and, after a minute or two's silence, and a few rude half-whispered remarks amongst themselves, went off to play a game of pyramids till luncheon time. Phillips took a cigar which Boshier offered, and began asking about their mutual friends, and what they'd been doing in the vacation.
This pair were evidently intimate, though Hockney thought that Boshier didn't seem quite at his ease at first, which he wondered at, as Phillips took his fancy at once. Hockney was rather left out of the conversation to begin with, but then Boshier cordially drew him in.
“Did you know David that Peter can tell fortunes?” Derek asked.
“No.” Hockney replied.
“Give me your palm.” Philips commanded and Hockney did as he was bid. “Ah, I see you’re going to be a very successful artist, far more successful than me. Before you die you're going to have a blockbuster show at The Royal Academy…”
“You’re joking surely,” Hockney half-laughed.
“Not at all,” Phillips replied. “It will be called A Bigger Picture and art lovers will be fighting for tickets! Before that you’re going to have a ball with lots of beautiful young men in Los Angeles. Looks like you’ll be mutton jeff in your old age too….. Have you got much time?
“Is it eleven yet?” Hockney asked. “I have to go for a tutorial at eleven.”
“You’d better rush,” Boshier informed him.
“That’s a shame,” Phillips said, “I so wanted to tell you about your death.”
“I’d rather not know about that,” Hockney replied as he bolted for the door.
"Alchemy is a quality of a given psychic movement," Phillips shouted after Hockney, "a release of forces
which, responding to the action of an as yet unknown compulsion, is
capable of causing certain phenomena to pass from one state of being to
another in the direction of a synthesis which is a quantitative act of
knowledge, and which we call the blackening. The serpent, centring
itself in a point of a line formed by the boundary between the white
and the black, draws its substance by making the mass in the depths
converge toward this point. The dragon, having been born at the same
junction and also represented by a point, projects out to the exterior
world through divergence and in a superior form corresponding to those
which lie in a latent state in the depths of the inner world. The
material must be immodest, insolent and brutal, if it is not to fall