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The Swinging Kings Road


This story takes place in around the year 1964, whilst I was a fireman stationed at Chelsea fire station in London.

I was still single in these days and along with the other un-married firemen at Chelsea I used to socialize in what was in those days the swinging Kings Road (Chelsea fire station was in the middle of the Kings Road). My own watch with one or two notable exceptions were married men, which curtailed their activities somewhat. Whereas I lived in Fulham a mere ten minute bus ride away from the fire station, and the swinging Kings Road was like a honey pot to a bee, the bee being myself.

On my off duty days I would sometimes arrange to meet the guys from the off going day watch, and go for a drink with them. When I first began to meet them socially, not having known them for too long. The three of them and myself met at the fire station, and they suggested we go for a drink down at a pub called the Bunch of Grapes in the Kings Road. Whilst agreeing to go with them, I was somewhat surprised at the choice of drinking venue, for I knew the Bunch of Grapes to be a raging Poofters pub. Never-the-less accompanied by three other strapping firemen, I should hopefully come to no harm.

In the lounge bar of the pub we stood as a group clutching our pints of beer. At that time we wore a type of blue uniform shirt under our civilian jacket that denoted to the public either policemen or firemen off duty. Since we were patently not policemen, the other three were definitly un-policemen like in appearance and manner, and myself being a bit on the short side. Now it is well known that those people of a neutral gender, do rather like men in uniforms, or conversely a bit of rough, which two of the other firemen certainly qualified as! So inevitably once again just like Bee’s to a honey pot the Poofters, were drawn to us.

Two of my new found firemen friends were now deeply engrossed in conversation with the Poofters, I began to worry. From that point on we purchased no more beer, It was all purchased for us by the Bee’s around the honey pot. I think around the third or fourth pint, and the time now being about eight thirty, I began to panic somewhat. George Grinham the biggest and allegedly toughest fireman had just agreed with the Poofters, that we were all going back to their house for a party. I think my mind was fully occupied, I knew only to well how these party’s finished up, was I not a street wise Fulham lad!. Lest any reader should get the impression that I lacked the spirit of adventure or was faint hearted. I should like to point out that these were not your effeminate petite mincer types, oh dear me no!. These were your mucho macho homo’s and bloody great big one’s at that! these guys don’t receive, they give!. The star of the Poofter crowd was all dressed up in his biker gear, black leather jacket and trousers, black leather kiss me quick hat, with a silver skull and crossbones on it. I was not one hundred percent sure, but I was convinced he kept smiling at me, and I was long enough in the tooth to know what the implications of that were!

As I was mentally working out how I could get out of this without losing face or honour, or more importantly ending the night, with my posterior Virgo intact. One of the other firemen said quietly to me “Dave we are just going for a piss”. As my mind was engaged on other more important matters to hand, I just replied “yes OK”. Then very quietly and meaningfully he repeated saying “Dave we are all going for a piss, that means you as well”. As my gaze took in the worrying sight of the Poofters buying stacks of bottles of spirit and beer for the party, I merely stated “but I don’t want a piss”. Then as turned to face him I could see him looking deadly serious at me, whilst at the same time glancing over my shoulder. Then myself at the same time hearing in the background, the landlords voice telling the Poofters, that will be one hundred and seventy five pounds please sir, or some other at that period of time, astronomical figure. I then suddenly realised that I really did need to urinate, quite badly in fact.

In the gents toilet the other three were grinning like Cheshire cats, saying to me “Jesus Christ Dave what are you thick or something”, adding ominously “your not bent are you, wanting to stay there with that lot”. Needless to say I was very relieved at this outcome, saying probably and quite unnecessarily “what happens next then?”. To which I got the simultaneous and to them patently obvious reply “we all piss off out of the back way, and run like Fuck”. In such idle pleasures and pastimes, did off duty firemen at Chelsea fire station, spend their leisure hours down the swinging Kings Road.

Upon reflection all these years later, then looking back upon it, it seemed an awfully dangerous method of obtaining free beer!.

PS. The Chelsea and Knightsbridge Guards barracks being quite nearby, I suspect that quite a few guardsmen got up to this particular little bit of mischief.

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