If I were to honour in prose this spectacular memoir,

It would be like painting over a Rembrandt, or more fittingly, a McGill,

For David McGillivray’s book of a cartoon life turned to porno,

Shows how an inscrutably honest self portrait comes to cover us all

With great skill. As indeed ‘McG’ has, his hacketry expert’s neighbour,

As screenwriter and playwright, espouser of filth, celebrant,

Actor of note, even if most of those fall to dischord,

Who in age and wisdom has described  his younger self as pure cunt.


Here,then, is a life fully lived, from precocious pup to coke dealer;

Purveyor of filth for new masses who missed the shadow and tat

Of the past.  The Radio Times Journalist shooting gay porn

In warehouses. The man who has never been trapped or tainted

By whenever the dye or die has been cast.


A pure writer since birth, McGillivray wrote a different plot to that given.

By foregoing connection with parents and home he was free

To cast the thin suburbs aside, even if was to return slyly to them,

And embrace sixties soho, and all of a gay boho’s fantasies.


This book is so full of life that its writer seems to fuck everybody.

After a lateish start, not so young David takes a yellow brick road walk

With his cock; extremely large we are told and the pen afterall, is a penis,

Which focuses its single eye and intention on moving through

And around every chamber, with each vivid transgression,

Diarised daily, ensuring that a life in red light has been clocked.


The young film fan idolised those fading strays Britain gave us.

Men like Michael Ward, dying sagely after McG’s saving grace.

He charted Harrison Marks, Derek Ford and irascible cult king Pete Walker,

To become at this point his own statesman remaindering shabby

Glories as he catalogues and reminds us in his humourous words

On wronged fates.

The exploitation films McG wrote were an underground,

Free from Culture, but with a vibrancy that no counter, or po-faced stance

Could denounce. The hand to mouth world of film when the industry

Was still puffing is given the judas kiss of life sweetly by the ironic success

David found

With his Farndale plays, which championed Am-Dram

As a genre, and not just a failing that the incompetent might defend.

What with that and the books and the instant turnaround

Of a screenplay McGillivray was a whirlwind who has made

An entire climate of change from pretend.


He adapts.  He moves on.

Auteurs only ever thumb their own pockets.

McG has stroked others and let others stroke his.

He has dared the long dark, given up the ghost, and spun

Frightmares. He has chased love and sadness,

The homosexual heart melting for the chance of a heterosexual touch,

Or kiss.  He resolved to try everything ‘Apart from Falconry and KnifeThrowing,’

And the hilarious phrases, come at you here from all sides,

In exuberant form, and with writing as elegant as its chatty.

The man spills his person, and hands you the wipe:  will you try?


For there is a dare to this book; to live your own life with abandon.

David’s highs and lows are depicted, and the story in turn starts each time

That McGillivray moves, from Kilburn to Ealing, via Kings Cross,

Spearing lovers, while searching for kicks, his fear fries.


He directs films badly. He laughs, gathering devotees as he does so.

He rescues the neglected, such as Peter De Rome, Trouser Bar.

He purveys portmanteau when that style seems extinguished,

Writing more films, filthy panto, and enough of the shows that keep shining

Around Julian Clary’s sauced star.  In the book he connects everything;

From lost faded film to the ravers; he moves from raving queens,

To Kings fallen, like the producer David Hamilton Grant,

Who after pushing porn for decades died in a dank Turkish Prison,

Where a murderous imperative sealed him.  McGillivray views it all

With wry slants

Of both vision and phrase. These confessions,

At times, come close to Crowley’s, (staining us) in which instead

Of raped sheep and magic, we have 1970’s Light Entertainment

And the SM scene hand in hand.  McGillivray’s seen it all to become

The last great survivor, as his book launches and parties are peopled

By famous faces long faded, none of whom seem to quite understand

Just why it all had to change, as what came after did little

To improve horror’s template for sensation’s sake. The fucks fell.

But McGillivray always knew. And perhaps that’s why he kept moving.

Only learning to drive in his 30’s or discovering anal sex as one might

An out of the way holiday resort, or location; his restless spirit

Loved all that surprised him without ever making the mistake

Of falling under its spell.


Most of us believe our own hype. David’s a hack and he knows it.

But its the hacks that keep working and McG has kept up for so long,

In back street cutting rooms, gay bars, Bafta, massage parlours,

And his book catalogues this with exquisite refrains like love songs

That are sung to boys, girls and all things inbetween, if that matters;

The little we knew is long lasting. Now we know more, we belong

To the individuals and groups that McG served and founded,

Reading this, we are the new Farndaled invited to act in his world.


For this is a wonderful book, full of fuel and flith. Its star written,

From the void of AIDS in the 80s to the ever brightening day,

D’s become

One of the shameful greats he’s long prized,

As  he prepares a garish shirt and excursion,

He will raise the world with you


And then probably piss on it, just for fun.


Here then, are pages to prize

And a life to be squeezed between covers.

Here is the smacker a word makes

And here is the shock that gives suck.


The book is that rare thing: it lives,

Especially as it turns the past’s tatty pages.

Met again they gain glamour.


Read and learn something.

It may get you high or laid.


Now, that’s luck.






                                                         David Erdos May 23rd 2019


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One Response to A HIGH OLD TIME

    1. A great review!
      Does what a review is meant to do: order the book at your local library (if you’re lucky enough to live in the Royal Borough).

      Comment by Cy Lester on 25 May, 2019 at 7:51 am

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