Friday 23 August 2013

Colyn Davies sings

Here's a real treat - the music hall performer Colyn Davies sings two very funny songs about the dangers of drink. Click here. You'll love this, trust me.

One evening in 1943 the Welsh writer Rhys Davies - no relation, and the subject of yesterday's blog - walked into the Wheatsheaf pub in Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, a popular wartime hang-out for writers, artists, poets and other riff-raff. There he met Colyn Davies at the bar. The young Colyn had been raised in an orphanage and called up in 1939. He had trained as an army trumpeter but been invalided out following a nervous breakdown and suicide attempt. He fetched up in Soho with vague hopes of becoming an actor, and when Rhys met him he was homeless, penniless and on the ropes.

Colyn - robustly heterosexual - became the great unrequited love of Rhys Davies's life, according to his biographer Meic Stephens. Rhys had a tendency to develop crushes on young, good-looking heterosexual men and offered Colyn a bed for the night in his dank basement flat near Maida Vale underground station. A one-sided relationship developed.

Davies later met the then-unknown Fay Weldon. In her 2002 autobiography Auto da Fay, quoted by Stephens in the biography, she recalled:

He told terrible jokes and wrote terrible, wonderful, rude, crude poems. He was a troubadour, and I ran off with him, pitter-pat bare feet by night through the long hot summer streets to his place up at Belsize Park (where else?) and pretty soon I was pregnant. 

Their son Nick (now a novelist) was born in 1954. Davies later married another woman and had two more children. He died in 1991. This marvellous recording shows real talent.

I'm indebted to Meic Stephens' Rhys Davies - a Writer's Life (published this Autumn by Parthian) for prompting this blog. I'll be writing about this fine biography in the November 2013 Literary Review.

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