Tuesday, 30 March 2010


My first degree, in physics, was four years rather than three. It was designed to run straight into a PhD or similar… but anyway: what it meant was the happy if by now virtually destroyed student house I had shared for two happy and tumultuous years was disbanded and we friends went our separate ways.

I moved to a flat in east London. It was cheap - and once decorated in the fashion of the time it was certainly mine; I spent a couple of happy years there, graduating and starting my career.

One day, into the flat below mine a man moved in.Irish if memory serves, though goodness knows that’s hardly relevant. He was gay. Probably still is, ha ha…

You may, gentle reader, have experienced those moments, in the early hours, when the world is still but something wakes you up. What was that noise? Is there someone in the house?? Then it fades… and then fitfully we fall asleep and it’s all alright, mostly forgotten by the morning.

What I know is that when there is someone there it sounds very different. When there is someone coming up the stairs you wake up and face nothing but stone cold certainty that something is very, very wrong. And there you are, in the dark, your only guides a pounding heart and adrenal glands that really work. I have never been more certain, there in the dark, of anything. There was someone coming up the stairs.

The funny bit – not funny ha ha though - is that turning on the light helped that certainty; there was a monster there. That man, standing there. Like the fool I am my first instinct was to help. This situation isn’t right; there must be something I can do? After all the man was the man from downstairs, though how he got in the wee small hours we cannot tell. But we know what he got in for, oh now we do, oh yes.

I remember what happened next somewhat imperfectly. Physical proximity far beyond the line; things happening even when it was clear that was most unwelcome. Trying to bargain my way out of the situation. Tasting blood… a weird sensation like… he was trying to break my back…?

A little while later the sun came up and I ended up going to work about four hours early. During the day I confided in a friend, and after that I was made to call the police. I’m not sure if that helped or hurt – they didn’t prosecute but ultimately, if somewhat ironically, the guy actually apologised for what he’d done. How bizarre.

So there it is, gentle reader. One of the defining moments of my life, even if I don’t let it define me. It is, in some way, one of the main reasons I came out so late. And it’s very difficult to explain or discuss. But worse things happen to better people and whilst, like many things, coming out didn’t make it go away at least I have the life I should have.


MadeInScotland said...

gosh; brave of you to share that and I hope it helps. I think you'd be surprised just how many people have shared similar experiences, sometimes even where someone was invited, or didn't in fact need one.

with the apology, did you get an explanation?

well done


Nik_TheGreek said...

Oh my God!
I'm so sorry. I really don't know how that might have affected you, in how many levels. How can he not be prosecuted?
I only hope that actually writing about it made you feel better. I'm so glad you actually got your life together...

Mike said...

I'd been thinking about posting about it for some time. It's probably important purely to sketch some more of my back-story; it is a big part of why I came out later than I otherwise might. God knows, worse happens every day.

As for prosecution; he said/he said... plus back then I'm not sure it was legally possible for a man to be considered a victim of a crime like that. There was no explanation; just awkwardness, and then I moved.