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Meeting John


“I was working at the Royal George down in Digbeth, it was then a really superb restaurant and bar and I was in charge of the cocktail bar downstairs and John used to come in as a customer and stand there for an hour watching me and I was aware of him but I wasn’t going to go out with customers, it’s not something I would have thought about. There was a little coffee bar up at Five Ways at Edgbaston and late on a Saturday night it would have a few gay people in there, maybe twenty, thirty people in this coffee bar, and I went in there one night with a guy, Tony, and saw John standing at the coffee bar with a chap.  We sat down and I said, ‘Who’s that chap over there?’ ‘Oh, that’s John McGarry, you want to stay away from him’.  ‘Really? He comes down my bar’ and anyway he spotted me and his friend vanished, he came across and Tony said that he was going home. He said, ‘Do you want to come home, can I give you a lift home?’ to me and I said, ‘No, I think I’ll stay for a little while’ and John said, ‘Would you like to come back for coffee?’ and I said, ‘No, the first night we’ve met, I’m not going back to your place, no’.  He said, ‘Would you have lunch tomorrow?’ on the Sunday and I said, ‘Yeah OK’ and I never left him until 1990.  I never left him except when he left me for a short while, and he proved to be a great partner, I had a wonderful life with him. He fell for me as well, so we had no eyes for anybody for a while.  We were certainly still going to the only gay bar which was up in Camp Hill, the only gay in the village that was, and that was the start of the (1969). It’s moved three times now, but we were amongst the first customers going and it was only a little shop with a store room at the back and that suited us.  We used to go over to Wolverhampton to visit some friends - a gay couple living together - about once a month and we’d have a gay meeting at their house, and we used to do collections to send money to the Law Society who were helping with the Report. We’d do little parcels and little bring and buy things, have a table and you’d buy something for pounds and pence in those days.”

Contributed by: Robin McGarry, 66

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