Curious Friendships With Older Men

Other people’s lawyers just wouldn’t leave Reggie de Veulle alone. ‘I put it to you that while your youth lasted you often made curious friendships with older men?’ insinuated one. Those friendships, he went on, were ‘very remunerative’. Before the Great War, Reggie had received about £2000 from a middle-aged businessman, to clear debts and send him to the United States. He had also been linked with an attempt by a married couple to blackmail the businessman, who they believed had formed a homosexual relationship with their son.

Les Fréquentations de Maurice (see here and here) leaves little doubt about Reggie’s modus operandi, gleefully relating how ‘Reggie Lindsay’ was kept in the style to which he wished to be accustomed by a very wealthy married man from Liverpool, Alec Kemball. (The real-life businessman was from Manchester, which suggests a clef, but he was single and lived with his mother.) Kemball would take Reggie to the finest establishments, keeping him furnished with cigarettes, clothes, flowers and so on. Reggie, never overburdened by shame, referred to him as ‘my uncle from Liverpool’.

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