A group of us moved in. All gay, at the time I was about 24 years old and had just finished University. None of us were working and we were just enjoying life. Actually a little more than enjoying, we were experiencing life in its full glory, to excess, without exception!
We moved in in 1994. it felt a bit like a 'Gay Commune.' I suppose all of us had experienced discrimination at one time or another, and living together as a group of Gay men and women, felt like a good thing to do. Sort of safety in numbers if you will. One always starts out with all good intentions, when setting foot on a new adventure. Generally those good intentions, remain just that, good intentions!
At the time, we had become heavily involved in the Southampton Gay Scene, and all that entailed! Excess in all areas of our life was usual. The 1990s on the Scene in Southampton, revolved around drugs and it did seem as though everyone was taking something at one time or another. Things were strong too, which is probably why I don't remember much about that time.
If anyone who remembers The Mansion reads this and remembers something different, or something in a different way, do let me know. My mind isn't what it used to be!
It was easy to obtain whatever you wanted back then. Although when I look back, with a cost of fifteen pounds a pill, and no one working, I have no idea how we afforded to eat and live, let alone sustain such a life style. When you do ten tablets a night at a cost of fifteen pounds each, on benefits of about ninety pounds a fortnight, you can see there is an immediate discrepancy. We always managed some how. Back then it was amazing how many times ones 'Giro' went missing, through the post and we had to claim another one.
They were funny times. Climbing into one room, through a cat flap type door, smoke everywhere, no room to sit, people everywhere. I remember we used my ex partners 'Gay Times' collection, to do a collage on the lounge wall. The Landlord was less impressed. The strange person who used to live in the conservatory, who we never saw. When he finally left, we found needles, used needles everywhere. It really was like a scene from 'Train Spotting' in that conservatory. Open tins of rotting food, in fact food we had bought, which this guy had stolen from our kitchen. Ah the kitchen, used to flood every time we turned the washing machine on. Tins and packets of food floating around in the mess. Cooking burgers in the upstairs kitchen, when the window fell out, smashing through the room below. Blow drying ones hair so much, as gays do. the fuses blowing constantly! Getting lost in the garden, which was so big and unkempt that it took a day to find ones way home! Finding a room we hadn't discovered before and seeing a ghost, in fact often seeing a ghost. Those are the only real memories I have of that time, others may have more. The times always seemed good, though a know from experience, they were not. One tends to block out the bad!
Like all good things, everything has to come to an end, with a Mansion 'Final Party'. In all honesty I do not remember that final one, at all. We only lived there six months, but they were the most excessive, exorbitant, boundless and self-indulgent times of my life., During those six months, I aged rapidly, looked ten times older than I was and looked drawn and haggard, I was exhausted. In fact I think everyone of us who lived there at least, were scraggy, scrawny and tired! Six months is not a long time, but when you are constantly partying and recovering. It is too much. When I think back, partying for three or four days, with a further three days to recover, we really did not have time, or indeed the energy to work. Our lives had become centred around a time of exuberance and we lived it every day. You know the programmes on TV, looking back at certain years, well, I need those to remind me, what I had missed between 1994-5. I had no idea what was going on in the outside world, nor did I care!
The memories of that time will always be fond, grow less and less each year, but I am glad I was part of that. I'm glad that I still get asked about those times, I'm glad, that for all of us who were there, we still continue to talk about, reflect upon and try to replicate those times. They were probably the last great parties of an era that was excess fuelled, but they were full of happiness and love towards each other, unlike those who pale into comparison today!
Of course I also met my current partner Jason there, so those times have double the significance in my life!