Simon arrived at Piccadilly Circus at ten minutes to eight that evening and waited to cross the road to the statue of Eros on its traffic island. This part of London always gave Simon a thrill of excitement. It buzzed with activity, like a giant beehive. There were swarms of people hurrying from work, or strolling towards a restaurant, theatre or bar. The metaphor was apt, because within fifty yards of where Simon stood there were so many queens.
Across the road was The Trocadero. Its Long Bar was always guaranteed to provide a gay evening for gentlemen in search of pleasure. A little farther on was the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square. Its Upper Gallery was popular with painted boys and men dressed in smart suits who spent an evening either exchanging acid-tongued witticisms or seeking a friend for the night.
Even at that time of the evening the traffic on Piccadilly Circus was almost stationary. Simon stepped off the pavement and wove his way between taxis and omnibuses queuing to drive up Shaftesbury Avenue or down the Haymarket. Cameron was waiting for him, and Simon was pleased to see he was once again soberly dressed in his immaculate black coat. This time with a grey scarf and black leather gloves. Young men of a similar age to Cameron were also standing on the steps of Eros, and they wore far more flamboyant clothing. Simon preferred to be inconspicuous when out with a gentleman friend. There was less chance that they might draw the attention of the police, or busys as his friends in the Fitzroy Tavern would call them.
“I do hope you’ve not been waiting long.” Simon took Cameron’s outstretched hand and squeezed it firmly. “It’s getting awfully cold. I think it might snow this Christmas.”
Cameron reached out his other hand and rested it on Simon’s hip. Simon pushed it away. “Best not here, old chap,” he whispered. “Awfully public you know.”
He released Cameron’s hand and pointed across the road. “We need to head towards Leicester Square. The Lily Pond is two roads up. And we can walk past the Trocadero on the way and see who’s out gadding tonight.”
“I’m glad I’m wi’ ye,” Cameron replied. “I’m still finding ma bearin’s in London. I’ve nae come down to this part of town since I moved to York House.”
“Oh, you should.” Simon led the way through the still stationary traffic to Coventry Street. “It’s frightfully exciting. And you can always be sure of meeting someone interesting.” He pointed to the corner of Glasshouse Street. “That’s the Regent Palace Hotel. Awfully good bar. Perfect place to meet gentlemen from overseas, and they can hire a room for you by the hour if that interests you.” He grabbed Cameron’s arm and pulled him to safety as a motor car attempted to circumvent the traffic jam and drove up onto the pavement.
“Try not to get yourself killed, my dear.”