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I, however, imagine, rightly or wrongly, that I do detect something of a coherent narrative in his early lyrics. It goes something like this. A teenager is seduced by an older man he considers to be his 'friend', who introduces him to the rougher end of the gay sex scene, including group sex 'down in the park', and then abandons him, leaving him with at once a need for rough sex and a feeling of deep shame ('I'm still confusing love with need' - 'The Crazies', bonus track on Replicas. The line recurs on 'Metal', The Pleasure Principle), eventually becoming a prostitute. One thing comes over very clearly. For all his fondness for dressing up and wearing makeup there is nothing in this that could be called 'camp' or even 'glam' and no hint of any sort of sympathy for gay 'liberation' or, even less so, 'pride'. To quote Thaemlitz again: 'Having myself been categorised and ostracised by others as Gay and Effeminate since pre-adolescence (and to make matters worse, "Terre the Fairy" did have a nice ring to it) ... Numan's narratives were one of the rare places in which I could openly investigate what I experienced as the development of my own identity in response to lies and shame rather than those age-old character builders, truth and pride.'

Some clues as to the narrative:

From 'That's too bad' - the first single produced under the name Tubeway Army (with Gary Webb calling himself at the time Gary Valerian - Luc Besson (6) take note):

'Please mister, do be careful,
I'm so fragile.'

(6) For those who don't get it, Luc Besson is the director of the sci fi fantasy Valerian and the city of a thousand planets. This is actually based on a Belgian-French comic series, begun in 1967, so it could be the origin of Gary Webb's early, happily abandoned, pseudonym.

Echoed in 'We are so fragile' (Replicas):

'We are so fragile
And it must be wrong but I'd do it all the same
We are really so shy
There's nothing I can do except believe in you.'

and in that great anthem 'We are glass' (Telekon):

'We are young we can break
Watch us fall ...

We are real you can touch
Just for now
And I say "Hey you which way is down"'

'Down' in Numan's imagery is often an indicator of rough sex:

'The queer is out of order
And me I'm in the ground
But that's no place to be'
('Something's in the house' from The Plan (7) and Tubeway Army. The version on The Plan refers to 'a friend that used to be/something special to me.')

(7)  The record called The Plan is in fact made up of the demos Numan and Gardiner originally brought to the recording company, Beggar's Banquet in 1978, when Tubeway Army was a punk band and Numan hadn't yet discovered the synthesiser. He himself comments on the original sleeve notes, 1984, 'I'd forgotten that I'd written half of these.'

Or, in 'Critics', also on The Plan (a strangely prescient song given his subsequent mauling at the hands of said critics):

'Old faces in my wardrobe
So many I've not seen
Memories to look back on
People I've been
Dead love on faded carpets
Nostalgia grows with time ...
I can recall the time we tried it that way
In dingy hotel backrooms
Where paint cracks like your face
I must admit I have acquired your taste.'

A little later (1981) there is this from the song he wrote with Paul Gardiner, Stormtrooper in Drag' (Originally issued as a single under Paul Gardiner's name). 

'I'll just speak in slow motion
About obsessions with boys on the floor.'

And in 1982, from 'This House is Cold' (bonus track on I, Assassin):

'Boys scream "down"
Like boys fell down
I could believe in such rain

Me falling down
Falling boys ...

Ooh like could down like boys on the ground like I suppose
Ooh I could like boys underground
Ooh I could down like boys on the boys on the ground like me

Boys like
Crying 'down' like'

and in 'Tricks' (The Fury)

'Some call it love
Some call it affection
I don't believe it
It's all clean young flesh

And we all fall down
We all fall down.'

Back to The Plan and 'Oh didn't I say' (B-side of 'That's too bad') for a certain reluctance to identify as gay

'The waiter is an old man
Who looks at me so sly and strange
What's on his mind

Oh didn't I say I'm not one of you
Oh didn't I say I'm not one of you

- Queenie
From a doorway says "You got time?"
- Panic
Not tonight if you don't mind
- Oh no
My fear of streets I cower
- Today
My room is home for hours'

Or, also from The Plan, 'My Shadow in vain':

'This waiter knows me well
He says he'll spill the whole story
He may be lying, I can't tell
And me I'm not that kind'

(The reference to the waiter and 'me I'm not that kind' are missing from the version on Tubeway Army - a more concentrated account of depression without the pretence that it's situated in New York).

Then, in 'Do your best' (on The Plan. It becomes 'Friends' on Tubeway Army)

'See the strange boy
keeping to the shadows
He's a very good friend of mine
I've seen you running from the ladies
Don't tell me you're not that kind
I've got the time
if you've got the money
Mister you'll be pleased you'll see
We'll meet by the tubeway
as the screamer cries eleven
And you can have your way with me
You're gonna make me feel so cold'

This theme of male prostitution recurs in 'The Aircrash Bureau' (Telekon):

'Sometimes I get these questions
It reminds me of the skin game
We used to stand around on corners
Saying "Well, here we are again"
'So now she motions closer
Now that's what I call romance
Someone's calling me but vaguely
You need the feeling not the man.'

Or in the immensely creepy 'A subway called you' (Dance):

'Here we are
We drift like gas
On someone else's bed
I pay high you know

'Here we are
How old are you
It's just a job to me


'Here the business always rings twice
No relaxing for the boys tonight
In a subway I called you.'