Case Narrative

A Consenting Juveniles narrative is a first-hand account reporting the words of the research subject on his or her experience.

Tom Driberg

The pleasure was mutual, the fault, if any, mine.

Source:   Ruling Passions (autobiography)
by Tom Driberg
Jonathan Cape Ltd, June 1977

Tom Driberg was a popular and influential leftist politician in the British Parliament for most of the 1940s through 1974 and served as chairman of the Labour Party in 1957 to ’58. He was openly homosexual throughout his career, despite homosexual activity being against the law in Britain until 1967. A devout Anglo-Catholic, he described his sex-life and his religion as “conflicting compulsions.” After retiring from politics, Driberg was made a nobleman by Prime Minister Harold Wilson and became Baron Bradwell. Ever a controversial figure, allegations arose after his death that he had been a spy for the British on the Russians, or for the Russians on the British, or both.

The following passages are excerpted from Driberg’s autobiography.

My childhood life at home was blank and lonely, and became more and more boring as I grew into adolescence. I was “very close” to nobody. I have sometimes regretted the mess that my life has largely been – and some of this must be attributable to the circumstances of my childhood.

In a situation of such tedium, the thoughts of any decently instructed child would have turned to sex. But I was not decently instructed: the most that my mother had said to me about it was: “You must never let anybody touch your private parts” – which left me wanting a lot more information.

Some sexual impulses had made themselves felt at an early age. I was crawling about on the carpet in my father’s study, and cannot therefore have been more than two or three, when I found myself between the flannel-trousered legs of my eldest brother, who was standing in the middle of the room talking. Looking up towards the crotch, I perceived a small hole – some stitches loose in the seam. Gently I inserted a finger – so gently that I don’t think my brother noticed – and, though I did not quite touch flesh, I experienced what I clearly recall as the first authentic sexual thrill of my life.

After two or three years of school at the Grange I must have acquired some slight popularity or charm, for by the age of ten or eleven I was indulging fairly regularly in sexual play (though it was still too early for full consummation).

One rather older and better-endowed boy, Derek P., excited me more teasingly. Once I was showing him round our garden: taking advantage of the quiet place and inflamed by the heat of the day, I offered to give him a new pencil if he would unbutton his trousers and produce his member. He consented readily.

But there was another Derek, Derek G., a boy with dark hair and a sunburnt oval face, a scar on one cheek, with whom I had, for the first time, what can be called a serious love-affair (no emission of semen, however, occurring as yet). He and I would repair to the lavatory, lock ourselves in one of the W.C.s, and engage in such oral and manual caresses as occurred to us to be worthy of experiment.

It is also a quaint illustration of the complete lack of sex education at such a school that – though we knew vaguely that the sex act had something to do with parenthood and that a baby came “out of” the woman – we half-toyed with the fantasy that the pangs of constipation might mean that one of us was about to give birth. At any rate, my love for Derek seemed to be (and therefore was) deep and sincere. I remember saying to him: “Wouldn’t it be awful if they ever separated us?” Soon we were separated, by the fate which separates schoolboys: he, a year or two the older, left the school. I missed him for a while, but we did not correspond and I have never seen him again.

By the time I was twelve, puberty was setting in. The first long, straggling pubic hair was a source of amazement to me. So were the erections, which I did not yet know what to do with. (Nor did I have any wet dreams.) Within a year I had learned: my juvenile lust was so importunate that an old tramp was induced to masturbate me in an underground lavatory at Tunbridge Wells. He did it rather roughly, with a mechanical action, and, since I did not understand what was happening, the moment of ejaculation was as agonizing as it was exquisite. Throughout adolescence, during holidays from school, I used to cycle into Tunbridge Wells or Brighton and haunt the various public lavatories for hours on end, especially the one in which I had lost what I can hardly call my virtue.

During these vigils, I hardly ever failed to score, except when the prospects were scared of having so young a boy. So far as their ages went, my taste was more catholic than it later became: I found middle-aged men as exciting as boys of my own age. I have often thought how wrong it is (as also, I believe, in the case of girls) to assume that the senior partner must be the seducer. I remember an agreeable session when I was at Lancing, lying on top of the Sussex downs with a man of about fifty. At the time I was in quarantine after a bout of measles and had been allowed out for a walk from the school sanatorium: I only hope he didn’t catch anything. The pleasure was mutual, the fault, if there were one, mine.

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