How To Get Thrown Out Of A Brothel

By Rosemary Grayson

salir a escondidas


The pavement was wet. It was cold through my dress. My shoulders become slowly soaked; the skirt clung shroud like around my thighs. The new bouffant hair was bravely intact. Nothing touched my flesh for a few seconds ,time to glimpse legs, trousers and high heels, marching along in Manchester’s cheap, yellow  sodium street lamp light. I was at ground zero.

A metallic slam of the Embassy Club’s security door, marked the evening’s end. Manchester, the UK’s second city is a live wire metropolis without London’s terrifying drawbacks. “What Manchester thinks today, London thinks tomorrow,” proud Mancunians boast.

It was an extended family. With a China Town, a flourishing red light district and a swelling organized crime wave, in the early 1970’s, the city was set for a big future. Yet, as a Londoner, I despised Manchester’s pseudo, familial chumminess. Such chumminess was a problem. My landlady had taken pity on the prospect of ‘home alone’ for me that evening. 

My petty thief, drug- dealing, guitar playing boy friend was a million miles from wowing them in some appalling working men’s club. Still it helped pay the rent minus his booze bill and pot for the night. Maureen was a homely woman; in looks and demeanor; perhaps essentially the secret of her success as a madam. The girls looked to her for so much more than just their work place.

And vitally the clients adored her. She was touchingly concerned about the disabled son of one. He was perhaps the UK’s top comedian at the time.  Oh and such a celebrated family man too.

Twenty five years later in Barbados, at a party thrown by a multimillionaire gay TV impresario friend of our family, we finally met. He was sincerely concerned I had just been widowed. I had no heart to mention mutual friends. Though yet to burst on to an unsuspecting public both sides of the pond, in 1994 yet way back in 1970, in Whalley Range, Manchester at a call girl establishment, nestled the prototype Spice Girls.

Maureen’s corporate mission statement was “Give them what they want, what they really, really want.” In the Victorian red brick town house, on the ground and first floors were vaguely look like Scary, Sporty and Ginger Spice. But next floor we had Baby Spice to the life.  Blonde hair in bunches, soft toys, lisp, the full Monty, she hit the spot.

Top floor was the star, our own wannabe Posh Spice. Modeled on “Irma la Douce” as Shirley McLain in the film, seen here were even the green tights and poodle.

I and a chap called Steve, were on the marketing side, for a consideration in rent reduction. He lived in the basement. I shared a comfortable little second floor flat with my musician boyfriend, whom later I had arrested and imprisoned for domestic violence. In my defense, he was 6.4 and weighed 240 lbs.

Steve’s marketing expertise was based on his expertise with electrics. His speciality was electric guitars and sound systems. It was the flowering of the working man’s clubs in Manchester. So the place sprouted a hellish harvest of miserable piss poor and useless guitar players with even more piss poor equipment. My boyfriend was one such.

So Steve had a unique selling proposition. Musicians could choose to relax in any one five rooms on site for ‘while you wait’ repairs.  He made our introductions to Maureen. She needed a more snazzy front than poor little Steve, who incidentally was the only rubber fetishist I have ever knowingly encountered.

I was a rising corporate star. What better for the police to see me marching out daily and early plus briefcase and white shirt? Even more Kosher, I was happy to chat to the local police sergeant about my work.

Since he was often there, enjoying post-prandial chess with Maureen, our conversations over many a lazy late afternoon tea, were happy and relaxed. So imagine Maureen’s horror and embarrassment when I was physically ejected from the club, where she had so proudly introduced me that evening.

It had all snowballed. Maureen tempted me out after a couple glasses of wine at home. I warned her I didn’t drink. Predictably I fell for the ‘what’s the harm in one’ argument. Steve, Maureen, her mink and I then swept off to the Embassy Club. It was below street level, so we took an elevator, manned by a couple of friendly heavies.

At the entrance desk, trouble started. They refused to allow Steve in. He was wearing a polo necked shirt and perforce had no tie. I weighed in with words to the effect of “What, in this latrine?”            

Next thing I clung to the gate of the elevator stretched horizontal by the heavies ranting, “‘I write for national newspaper, you know!”

But then outside, I was laughing from my prone pavement position just to be able to pronounce those immortal words, “I’ve been thrown out of better joints than this.”

Maureen’s parting shot effortlessly topped mine. Clacking in her stilettos by my body at full stretch still lolling on the wet flag stones, she hissed, “And I fort yer wuz a bloody laidy.”

I was on a week’s notice to quit.

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