I wrote previously about the death of Sebastian Horsley
, who I knew. Because I knew him I was paying attention to what the papers and other sources were saying about him. I suppose I had unthinkingly assumed his funeral would be a quiet nondescript affair. A cremation attended by close family. Of course I was very wrong. The funeral was announced widely as planned for St James' Church in Piccadilly (yes church - that would be the Church of England honouring the man who wrote, and never retracted or apologised for, these words: "I remember the first time I had sex - I still have the receipt. The girl was alive, as far as I could tell"
and "I have slept with every nationality in every position in every country. From high-class call girls at £1,000 a pop to the meat-rack girls of Soho at £15, I have probably slept with more than 1,000 prostitutes, at a cost of £100,000."
) and featuring an all-star cast of celebrity names: Stephen Fry giving a eulogy, Nick Cave, a member of the Clash. And, to me most sickeningly of all, his coffin was to be conveyed in a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of Soho. Oh and of course the whole thing was to be filmed for a documentary glamorising him and his life and death.
Well it put me to thinking about the other people in the prostitution industry, the ones who didn't inherit vast fortunes, or win big on the stock market as Sebastian did. The ones trafficked into the country, promised legitimate jobs that never appeared. The ones trapped on drugs and in a situation of poverty that leaves them with no choice but to endure night after night of gang-rape in every possible orifice (Sebastian bragged of being an "expert" on anal sex). The ones who try to escape or fight back and end up dead and rotting in some unmarked ditch. The children. The CHILDREN. The average age of entry into prostitution in the UK is 14. Based on the statistics he himself gave and the studied indifference he, by his own admission, practiced towards the sex workers he used and abused it is nothing short of fair to conclude in all likelihood Sebastian Horsley at some point paid to have sex with a woman who was in fact a child.
And it is not a matter of seeing the best in someone because they're dead - where were Stephen Fry and Nick Cave when Harold Shipman died? Being dead doesn't make you a nice person if you were a serial abuser before you died.
So I went and stood outside the church (silently and sombrely) with the sign pictured here. The reaction was interesting. The first person to approach me, who was a mourner, said I was making a brilliant point and she was glad I was doing it. Not long after however people started screaming at me. They were, I was reliably informed, offended and upset. Ironically that is exactly what I felt when I learnt that Horsley would be given this grossly indulgent funeral. Even more ironically having debated Sebastian on matters of porn and prostitution he always insisted he was an advocate of "free speech", no more so than when when a graphic column he wrote about anal sex was published in The Observer drawing large numbers of complaints from those offended and upset by it. I honestly believe he would have defended my right to express my views as I saw fit, and not the "rights" of anyone in the vicinity to not be offended or upset. One particularly aggressive woman loudly suggested to her friends that she would set fire to my sign. She came back (perhaps to do so, or to shout some more) but a security guard stepped in and protected me, saying he would prefer if I moved further away from the church but I was on the pavement so I had every right to be there. He then tried to stand in font of me so my sign could not be seen. So I held it over my (and his) head. From the start lots of people noticed the sign and read it and several photographers took pictures of me holding it.
Then a police officer came over and asked to speak to me. She told me I had to stop holding the sign and give them my details. I explained that since I wasn't in a motorised vehicle I didn't need to give my details unless I was being arrested in which case I would do so at the station to the superintendent there. She told me if I held up the sign again she would arrest me for harassment. I might have persisted but my fear was that the whole process of being arrested and at some point released, given a warning, whatever might happen, would take forever and well, frankly, I have a lot to do today (see me tonight as Super Sandra at Ariadne the Greek WAG's Comedy Bag
So I abandoned ship and went home just as two beautiful horses arrived followed by the polished black funeral carriage draped in layers of sumptuous red velvet to convey into the historic church, lavishly decorated with sunflowers and a grand piano, the body of a man who bragged that he couldn't be bothered to check if the prostitute he was fucking was alive or not.
Labels: media, police, prostitution, sex industry, UK