Who would you most like to fuck in the entire world?

(...) Bernard's fourth wife, Sue, never suspected him of being at all homosexual but considered that 'he might have done it for a drink. He was always trying to get money for a drink.'
Many other friends, however, were convinced that Bernard had never had even the mildest homosexual relationship. 'I don't think he's homosexual because if he was he would have written about it,' said his old friend and journalist colleague Richard West. 'He's too bloody honest and outspoken.' Even his friendship with Minton 'was simply opportunist,' said Oliver Bernard, 'perhaps a bit predatory but in fact they did like each other. Jeffrey was quite amusing company and Minton was a very nice man, very happy and generous'. Oliver said that he himself had actually slept in the same bed as Minton 'and he'd put his arm round my shoulder and say goodnight' but that would be all. 'He wasn't an agressive homo at all.' Minton's younger painter assistant Bobby Hunt also slept with Minton in the same bed 'but we never had sex', he told Farson. This so frustrated Minton that he gnawed his fingers with such ferocity that the sheets were blood-stained. Frances Spalding certainly believed that Bernard was no more than a 'prick teaser', and pointed out in her biography of Minton that Minton preferred to associate with heterosexual men and boys, perhaps because they offered more of a sexual challenge.
Bernard never lost his habit of fleecing homosexuals. As late as the Seventies Frances Bacon was still slipping him the odd £50 note, though Bacon did once enquire in his high, piercing voice: 'What are you going to do now, Jeffrey, now that your looks have gone?' Bernard denied that Bacon had ever tried to seduce him: 'Good God, no. He preferred rough trade or very smart businessmen.' In fact Bacon preferred such rough trade that one of Bernard's favourite stories in later years related to Bacon's £1,500 Cartier watchand the sailor whom he picked up one evening and inveigled home for a night of joy. Bacon despatched the sailor, 'a rough person', to the bathroom to wash, and as he reclined in bed awaiting his return was suddenly convinced that the matelot would mug him and steal the expensive watch, so he hid the watch under the carpet and lay back in bed to await his love. On returning from his ablutions the sailor, whose huge feet were just right for the roll of the ocean swell, trod on the watch and smashed it.
But the most convincing witness of all was the openly homosexual Ian Board, who was Muriel Belcher's barperson at the Colony Room Club and succeeded her when she died. If anyone would have known about Bernard's possible homosexuality it would have been Board but he told me: 'He didn't come across for any of them.'
It is worth remembering, as Bernard's fourth wife Sue pointed out, that in his earliest days in Soho Bernard bummed off everybody without necessarily sleeping with them. He was very good with rich older women as well as homosexuals, and one fur-coated, elderly aristocratic lady who met him in the French Pub bought him numerous drinks and trinkets. He appealed to both sexes and claimed that an older woman once paid him £20 to service her. 'He was a toyboy in those days, you see,' said Sue, 'before a toyboy was invented.'
Other friends of both sexes would look after him and give him treats without expecting any sexual favours. He always dreamed, for instance, of being taken to Wheelers fish restaurant in Old Compton Street and finnally managed to persuade an old prep school contemporary to take him there, Tony Hubbard, a Woolworth heir. Later Bernard often persuaded richer friends to take him to Wheelers: Alan and Isabel Rawsthorne, Frank Norman, Francis Bacon. He never paid himself. One Wheelers visit with Bacon many years later was to pass into Soho legend.
'Who would you most like to fuck in the entire world?' enquired Bacon in his loud, high-pitched voice.
Christ, thought Bernard, I don't know. Cyd Charisse? Sophia Loren? Monica Vitti?
'Out of everybody in the world,' Bacon shrilled, 'I'd like to fuck Colonel Gadaffi.'
Four American tourists at the next table rose and left the restaurant.

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