The following is Des's own introduction to Orientation in Me, the first volume of his autobiography. It was written at HMP Albany in May 1992, eight and a half years into his life sentence.
This short study is not a full autobiography.
It is a narrative compilation including what I believe to be the salient features of my Sexual History. The only serious attempt to interpret my life was the book by Brian Masters, Killing for Company. However, my autobiography, ‘History of a Drowning Boy’ (written in 1988/89) has never been published and, thereby, my exposition of myself in full studied detail has not seen the light of day.
Every author is entitled to his interpretation of a subject but one is not obliged to agree with his conclusions.
I have spent almost nine years in a climate of long and detailed introspection, without counselling or therapy of any positive kind. Therefore it has fallen on me to prove the secret recesses of my personality in the hope that I may understand the engine of my actions and effect solutions to problems in a non-destructive way. In this short study I offer my own conclusions at the end.
In measuring the spectrum of human conduct, none of us can, as yet, simplify mans infinitely varied behaviour into a set of definitive answers. All we can hope to do is gather and interpret as many of the common traits and features with a view to help us understand humanity better than ignorance and prejudice.
I apologise in advance for the state of this first draft manuscript. I did no rough notes in longhand but put the recollections that came to mind straight from the mind onto this typewriter. As I was under the pressure of having to produce so much in such a short time (three weeks) and at moments when I was not engaged on other things. The entire text is replete with typing slips, errors and omissions due to the sheer speed of production. I have barely had time for anything other than a quick read over of what I have produced.
It is not a full study because of the tight time factor but I trust it will be helpful in understanding the long road from childhood to the present day. I have tried not to replicate or repeat material I have produced in my Brixton prison journals of 1983. The narrative ends in 1985 because since then there has been practically no sexual element in my life. The second reason is that any man has a right to some recent privacy. Suffice to say that my sexuality today has in it no element of violence against other persons. I have not felt attracted to anyone sexually since I left Wakefield Prison in early April 1990.
I hope this document will assist the reader in understanding the Orientation in my past life. This is comprehensive and I have held nothing, that springs to mind, back. I am willing to answer any questions not answered herein.
DES NILSEN, 25th May 1992