Saturday, 9 January 2010


Extract from Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant:

The men of the ‘twenties searched themselves for vestiges of effeminacy as though for lice. They did not worry about their characters but about their hair and their clothes. Their predicament was that they must never be caught worrying about either. I once heard a slightly dandified friend of my brother say, 'People are always accusing me of taking pride in my appearance.’
The sexual meaning of behaviour was only sketchily understood, but the symbolism of clothes was recognized by everyone. To wear suede shoes was to be under suspicion. Anyone who had hair rather than bristle at the back of his neck was thought to be an artist, a foreigner or worse. A friend of mine who was young in the same decade as I says that, when he was introduced to an elderly gentleman as an artist, the gentleman said, ‘Oh I know this young man is an artist. The other day I saw him in the street in a brown jacket.’

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