Observations, Theories and Predictions

Robert Newton Calvert, 1973-78


  • "Quark [Quark, Strangeness and Charm] is one of the few albums available at the moment which is very much in touch with the modern world, and Hawkwind is a band which has always been in touch with the modern world, in spite of what people say in the press, boringly and interminably, that we are left over from a peace and love psychedelic era, which we were in fact, a part of, but we were still very much in touch with what was outside of that - that revolution at the time, and we still are. The album's title itself is an expression of modern physics terminology ... You will find on this album a selection of musical and poetical interpretations of the world we live in, including the threat, not only of nuclear war, but the threat of the Middle East becoming a very powerful influence on the future of this globe, as they are proving at the moment with their dominance of the energy resources."
  • "I don't like SF that much. Nobody in this band [Hawkwind] is particularly an SF fanatic. I think for a practitioner of that kind of thing, in literature or music, there are much more interesting sources of inspiration to be found outside this field altogether, in newspapers, and magazines like "Scientific American", which is where the "Quark, Strangeness and Charm" idea came from. Most SF is trash, actually."
  • "Hawkwind is an experimental group at a time when rock music is very conventional; very conservative. That's the thing that puzzles me about the "New Wave" -- It's produced by kids who grown up with the media at their disposal and yet still their view of the world is so old-fashioned. Their political ideals seem to be based on really outdated ways of thinking; influenced by George Orwell. They still believe that a 1930's vision of the future applies for our time. "Big Brother is watching you" is nothing to the subtle techinques that are already being used. The New Wave is the most conventionalised influence I've ever noticed in any art form at all. To my mind the Psychedelic era was the most creative with new adventures in lifestyle and music style, pharmaceutical experiments. I tend to be against trends, because it's denial of individuality. There are people now who are so trendy they can't like anything unless it's been okayed by the trend, and they end up being unable to form an opinion. During the Acid-Rock period there was a new approach to the music, but now it's all gone back to the three minute pop format. Even the current avantgarde use it. I'm really not even sure if rock is the answer anymore."
  • "There wasn't any danger of "drowning in the days of the underground" because I don't think it was in any way. The dangers of a revolution taking place were limited by the amount of drugs that were being used by the people involved in the underground, and they were just too stoned to pose a serious threat. One of the main reasons why there will never be a political revolution in this country, is that the security systems of this country are so deeply aware and entrenched in control that there's absolutely no chance that any group could overthrow any government that's in power."
  • "I think that there is going to be a boom in Science Fiction generally, and that this will be reflected in Rock music. I've got a feeling that, in any sort of art, Realism isn't going to tell you anything today. It's not a real world we're living in -- it's a Science Ficton one, and Rock will reflect that if only because Rock music is this generation's literature"
  • "Getting to the moon, I think, was a fantastic achievement. I tried to convince people at the time that it was more fantastic than "Crossroads" or whatever else was on telly. A lot of people weren't that interested. I always thought as a boy that the landing on the moon -- which I know was going to happen in my lifetime, I was convinced of it -- I thought it was going to change the whole consciousness of the human race; but in fact it didn't change anything at all, and it makes you wonder whether contact with aliens is going to change anything."
  • "Whether I am a poet of the space age is obviously a question that will have to be answered when the space age actually is in progress and has been reviewed from a future perspective."
  • "I used to enjoy sitting in churchyards and reading Verlaine, Keats, Shelley, Dylan Thomas. God I was naive! I thought you could make a living as a poet!"
  • "I read this essay by Alfred Jarry called, "How to Construct a Time Machine", and I noticed something which I don't think anyone else has thought of, because I've never seen any criticism of the piece to suggest this. I seemed to suss out immediately that what he was describing was his bicycle. He did have that turn of mind. He was the kind of bloke who'd think it was a good joke to write this very informed sounding piece, full of really good physics (and it has got some proper physics in it), describing how to build a time machine, which is actually about how to build a bicycle, buried under this smoke-screen of physics that sounds authentic. Jarry got into doing this thing called 'Pataphysics', which is a sort of French joke-science. A lot of notable French intellectuals formed an academy around the basic idea of coming up with theories to explain the exceptions to the laws of the universe -- people like Ionesco the playwright. The College of Metaphysics. I thought it was a great idea for a song. At that time there were a lot of songs about space travel, and it was the time when NASA was actually, really doing it. They'd put a man on the moon and were planning to put parking lots and hamburger stalls and everything up there. I thought that it was about time to come up with a song that actually sent this all up, which was 'Silver Machine'. 'Silver Machine' was just to say, I've got a silver bicycle, and nobody got it. I didn't think they would. I thought that what they would think we were singing about some sort of cosmic space travel machine. I did actually have a silver racing bike when I was a boy. I've got one now, in fact."
  • "I want to do this play about Ezra Pound, and actually do the whole thing to the extent on growing a beard like him. I've got this marvelous tape of Ezra Pound reading his poetry. He's got an extraordinary voice, like a cross between Irish, Scottish and olde English, which he concsiously developed as a way of speaking himself, totally eccentric. He was arrested for treason by the American forces and locked up in a sort of cage in Italy, and he had a searchlight trained on him night and day so that he couldn't sleep. Eventually he broke down from pure lack of sleep, he collapsed in a catatonic state. But in the meantime, what was fascinating was the way he behaved in this cage which is what the play's about. His way of passing the time with the guard and with characters of his imagination It's a play that would be very easy to stage with just two people: one who plays Pound and one who plays the guard, who can change roles and come in as characters that Pound is imagining as well."
  • "Although I was brought up in England, my parents went back to South Africa in the early Sixties, and they gave me the chance to stay here or go with them. They weren't just going to dump me here. And I chose to stay in England, which they suggested was not a wise decision on my part. They said England was actually sinking at the rate of one inch per year into the sea! It has always been a conflict of attitudes in the family. I've always been very much against the system in South Africa, and couldn't live there myself; although the rest of my family seem to have no problem dealing with it. My feelings about this are expressed as clearly as I can in the poem "White Dynasty." [...] Although I've divorced myself from active participation in an exploitative system, I'm still descended from White fascists who live there; but they are my family, and I must say that the talk about the bloodbath is very disturbing from all points of view, but especially from my personal feelings about it. I have a lot of dreams about South Africa, which is hardly surprising, and I dont really see any easy solution for that situation at all, but then there aren't any easy solutions for this entire planet anyway."
  • "I knew him [John Lydon / Johnny Rotten] vaguely from some time ago, but I don't want to blow his image for him."
  • "We've done punk kind of things. In fact, back in 1972, just think of "Silver Machine". We wanted to follow it up with 'Urban Guerilla', a very dangerous piece of work actually. It was about urban bombing and just after we released it the IRA had a really concentrated attack all over London, so the record was quickly withdrawn. United Artists quite rightly got cold feet about it because it would have been very likely they'd have made a target for a bomb attack."
  • "If you listen to Born to Go now, it sounds like a punk band. It could be the Buzzcocks, or someone like that. Indeed, Pete Shelley acutally confessed to us that he'd spent a lot of his early youth listening to albums like the Space Ritual, and derived quite a lot of his musical direction from it, which doesn't surprise me. But this is something which never gets mentioned in the press."
  • "I think that a lot of the things that I've actually said in public, and probably a lot things I'm saying now, have to be taken for their humour value rather than their attempts at being too serious. I don't like to be too serious. I think if you were too serious about being alive in this century it would just be too serious for words!"
  • "This is my new invention. [A cassette machine complete with earphones. 1973] I'm going to patent it, because I think it'll catch on. At the moment people seem to think it's silly to be seen wearing a set of headphones plugged into a cassette while reading the paper in the tube. But what the GPO should be doing is offering a news service which you can plug into with your cassette overnight, so that come the morning, you can listen to the latest news on your tape."
  • "The prospects are quite terrifying that a human being can actually be created. It seems likely to me that they have already found a way of being able to create human life without the necessity of the womb being involved at all. I am sure they can do that. [...] I think it does fundamentally question what a human being actually is. It enables the possibility of human life being considered to be extremly expendable if it's extremly creatable. I mean, if you can create a human being without any trouble at all, then why should you worry about getting rid of it. [...] Obviously you can't say "stop doing this", nobody's in a position to say that it is absolutely categorically wrong either. This is what's quite frightening about it: there's nobody who's in a form of moral position to judge on this. Having come this far from escaping religious governings, where do we stand?"
  • "I've got this dreadful conspiracy theory: In 1981, we live in a society where it is absolutely possible to control the weather, and that is something. People were telling me a week or so ago that I am really paranoid. I was going round saying that I'd been soaked through to the skin on two successive days at the same fucking time exactly. I went out on a nice day, like this, and suddenly at 4 o'clock in the afternoon it goes black, nearly , and hailstone came thundering out of the sky for five minutes, then it goes back to being normal again; and I thought, what the fuck is this? The next day it happens again, and I was saying weather control experiments are being made, and everybody was laughing. A week after that, there wa a big piece in The Guardian about a weather control station sitauted somewhere in the country. where they've been working for years on how to control the weather, and they've now reached the point where they can release their findings and the results of their experiments to the public. They didn't mention that they'd been doing it on those two days, but I know they had been. It's obvious they were. There's no science fiction about it. It's something they've been working on since the fifties. They can do it now. They can do anything with the weather. They were doing it when we had those big scorching summers, that was weather control experiments being successfully pulled off. I get a feeling for these things, you understand. There was all this talk in the papers then about the climate changing, and there were conflicting ideas. Someone said the New Ice Age was coming, another scientist said, "No, it's the Tropical Age." That was a smokescreen to conceal what they were actually doing. Now it is there in black and white. I cut the piece out, I've got it in my file. There's a picture of a scientist who's actually head of this department. They are doing it!"
  • "What is interesting about the modern music world is the way that fashions which are created in boardroom meetings in huge record companies seem to be lasting for less and less time. Originally there was Rock'n'Roll for many years. Then there was this big thing with the Mods for some years. Then there was the Psychedelic Revolution, which lasted for about five years, which was ousted by Punk, which lasted for just over a year, followed closely by the New Romantic movement, which lasted three months, which is now going to be followed by the Jazz-Funk summer, which I predict will be lucky if it stands on its feet for two weeks before September comes 'round, and that might well be the complete end of Rock'n'Roll altogether, and the beginning of a new era of television, which I'm looking forward to very much, because I spend a lot of time watching telly. I watch videos all the time. I've got stacks of films; I've got about twenty tapes upstairs with videos I haven't seen yet."
  • "THE ROCK 'N' ROLL BUSINESS HAS ABSOLUTELY FUCKING HAD IT! It's going to be astonishing how quickly what has been our cultural reference point for the last fifteen years is just going to vanish. It's just going to be kept alive as a cult, but the actual masses are going to be concentrating on another totality different area of home entertainment. It won't be records. I mean video discs, video-grammes, 50 channel TV satellites -- all this. Music is going to be shoved right into the corner as a forefront of culture. Things change, but not at random. I was talking to Chalkie Davis, the photographer, the other day at this "Sunday Lunch", with a lot of people from the entertainment business, who were all rabbiting on about their work. We were talking about what was going to Happen this summer. We knew what sort of summer it was going to be. This summer is going to be a Jazz-Funk Summer. Without a doubt. Everyone's going to be going around talking in a jazzy inflected way, like, "Stay cool" -- all that's going to come back for sure. The style of dress, the music, is all going to be geared to it. This has already been planned -- probably the result of board meetings at high level places where these huge financial transactions are made. That's only the music business. I mean, if you can imagine that on the scale of international economy where they decide what the next major industry is going to be, where all the money is going to be channeled."
  • "There's no such thing as a recession or a depression. The money is just sunk down a new vein which is under absolutely perfect control, it hasn't gone anywhere. It's value has been changed deliberately and shifted to a different area of concern. I'm convinced of that, and I'm sure it's something people will begin to get information about. I read the business news now. I cut bits out of the Observer Business News to support these feelings. I'm building up a file on it. Actually, that is another subject worth sending up. It's like gangsterism on a vast scale, the boot-legging era, where people who were campaigning for the lifting of the prohibition laws in America were being shot down by the gangsters, and, sort of, disappearing, because they would have put them out of business. That is the basis for the sort of economy I'm talking about."
  • "Economic control is going on. You can't have anything as massively influential as money floating around the world without people at work at ways of controlling it, in the way they can control the weather. You can certainly control the time a recession happens in a country, to get ready for some new economic take-off in another direction. It seems to me that people are saying now that the entertainment world is going to pick up in a big way because we are entering a recessive, almost depressive stage of economy. Last time it was seen was the thirties. Busby Berkley took off with his masses of unemployed dancers in these visual epics. The same thing is going to happen again, and I think this time it's absolutely under control. The whole thing, the electronic home computer video boom is totally in the hands of financiers influencing the economy to the extent where they can create a vacuum to fill with new product so it goes "whoosh", like that; and all the investments are being sucked into this new boom, which we are all going to see very shortly. As quick as lightning, total changes are going to be happening in the economy of home entertainment."
  • "I work at night. I'm definitely an insomniac. I work these peculiar hours, between ten at night to five in the morning, which may not seem like long hours to people who do real work, but the rest of the time I'm thinking about it. After I've finished, I get into bed and put a tape on and watch about three movies before I go to sleep. I can't get enough of them. I can see that the market's going to be for people of a more mature age because they're going to be the ones who can afford the stuff. But when the prices come down, kids will be buying it, especially young kids, about 7, 8 or 9. They'll be in their bedrooms with their own little video-programme machine, that'll probably play disc and cassette. You'd probably buy it for the price of a reasonably cheap record player from Woolworths, along with the latest equivalent of 2000 A.D. comic played on video. I think that if all this technology gets going quickly enough to catch attention, then we'll be so busily wrapped up in watching stuff on TV that they wouldn't have time to worry about starting wars or fighting one another. I think that that would suit a lot of governments. It's just the same as totally obliterating people, really, to have them locked in their rooms with their private TV screens. It's a horrifying thought for paranoiacs everywhere. Actually, now there's an interesting thing: Orwell actually called that thing that watches you a telescreen, and he wrote that in 1948. But that is probably a more desirable way of controlling the population than blowing them up -- to keep them locked in their rooms."
  • "I just couldn't go on performing 'Silver Machine' over and over for the rest of my life. It's not insanity, it can lead to insanity - in my case it actually did."
  • "Wars were actually, generally, the play things of a small minority of individuals with their private armies. The film 'Charge of the Light Brigade' shows you Cardigan and his sort of army. I mean, he had to do something with it. There was a scene where he went and cut down a pacifist speech-maker in the street, who was talking against wars, because it would have put him out of business. I think that wars were started by chieftains originally, to prove their worth between themselves, involving these massive armies of followers, just dragging people into their private disputes. I've got a feeling that it's something we might've outgrown now, although it has a fascination. It is a good subject to make movies about. But I can't really imagine a lot of my generation jumping into uniform and wanting to go out and fight wars with each other. I fucking know I wouldn't do it."

Lemmy Kilmister, Kerrang, 1999.02:

Kerrang: Acid seemed to lead to a lot of, er, experimental dressing?

Lemmy: Oh, yeah, there was a lot of that! When Hawkwind played Wembley Stadium, Robert Calvert came onstage in a witch's hat with a trumpet and sword. After the second song he attacked me with the sword, so I belted him around the head with my bass and he went away and tortured someone else.

Arthur Brown:

He [Calvert] was, as are many artists, a mixture of dare-devil irresponsibility in his life, and responsibility to his art.

This bright-eyed exuberant child energied cynical fellow was full of enthusiasm. He was a true artist to my mind, beleagured by life's onslaught, and confused by its vagaries.

This lead to a hilarious but alarming incident.

He had himself committed to one of our then fashionable mental-homes. When he came out he came to visit me.

His red hair had been cut to 1/4 inch. He sportred black leathers and wore black flying boots. He had been subjected to chemicals and shock treatment.

He was still speeding out of his skull.

It put me in mind of Vivian Stanshall, leader of the Bonzo Dog Band. A year previously he, being subjected to depressions and mystical symbols, committed himself also to the same mental home. When he came out, his red hair was also 1/4 inch long. He too sported black leathers and flying boots. I wondered if it were some effect of the shock treatment that made them seem like unlikely artistic twins - especially as they both carried rather snazzy black briefcases.

I determined to introduce them. One early afternoon found me taking Robert to visit Vivian's suburban domicile "Chez Gevêra" (as Vivian's signpost announced). We entered and were met by Viv's wife who entertained us with information about Vivian's turtles.

I must preface the incident by saying that Vivian was one of the most fearlessly rude persons I have ever met. He could insult anyone deliciously, and seemed to take delight in it. Robert was no slouch in this area either. So I thought, being both artists of a like temperament, they might understand each other.

I stayed downstairs, listening to turtle-news, while Robert went up. He had been up there less than a minute when we heard a dreadful commotion.

There was the sound of breaking glass. Through the downstairs window I could see something flying across the lawn - obviously thrown through the upstairs window. Suddenly, Robert appeared, running speedily down the stairs with Vivian in close pursuit. Vivian shouted: "And don't you ever come back again!", as Robert scampered hastily down the path.

So much for artistic camaraderie!


Robert just liked our theatre and we got to know each other. He was real fun.

A real artist - if you know what I mean - in the classical idea of what an artist is.'

Michael Moorcock:

Perhaps the bottom line on Bob Calvert is that I still play his records with considerable pleasure. I think he was an original and talented artist who never quite had the measure of his own talents.

On occasions I tried very hard to help him get his ideas and work in order.

His vast anxieties only matched his ambitions and both were inclined to sink him. He believed himself to be "better" than most rock and roll people and a literary figure rather than the musical performer he was at his very best.

Bob talked to me quite a bit about his father, his problems with a repressive family who, in my experience, were merely disturbed by his intelligence and genius. I believe this had much to do with his later problems, which made him difficult to work with.

He was a charmer in one mode and a vicious antagonist in the other. This was ultimately to alienate more decent people than not -- and Bob needed those people, like other musicians, roadies, publishers, record companies and so on, to perform at his best. More than once he was deliberately sabotaged by roadies to whom he'd been overbearing and rude and even the most phlegmatic musicians eventually gave up working with him.

As a project neared completion, his anxieties would frequently get the better of him so that by the time he was due to go on the road with a new album he was already barking barmy. The vampires and wankers of the music press were inclined to encourage him in excesses which sometimes provided good concerts but left friends and relatives weeping. Yet people stuck with him for long periods. Selfish and self-involved as he was, he had a talent which gave considerable pleasure to more people than he hurt -- and I still feel that the world lost a potential superstar when Bob died.

I just wish he could have taken better control of himself. His pathetic sires gave him no worthwile examples, merely a kind of half mocking aping of the upper-classes which characterises the petit bourgeoise everywhere.

With the exceptional talent Bob possessed, you need a particular mixture of good peasant genes, solid learning, horse sense and a strong, well-directed ego to survive and prosper in the kind of world whose approval Bob both demanded and despised.

That said, like several creative people I know, Robert was his own worst enemy and this tended to make you more sympathetic to him.

At base, he was the victim of social attitudes which are found around the world, but I really wish he was still with us.

Michael Moorcock, interview by Robert Godwin, in Godwin's book The Illustrated Collector's Guide to Hawkwind:

What happened was that Bob, by that time, was performing with the band [Hawkwind], but periodically he would have to be carted off by the men in white coats, literally. I've had to go and find Bob, when his girlfriend warned me what had happened. He'd gone off his rocker, at the Metropole Hotel near Paddington, which is the one where the bomb went off a couple of days back, and to find him in the middle of it with a huge broadsword, which he had taken down from a Scottish display, challenging all-comers to come and get it; and I had to get him. - It was not an easy thing to do.

So I didn't ever want him to feel that I was taking over his role in the band, because it was far more important to him than it would be to me, but I filled in for him. We were doing a gig under the motorway, and he was off being sedated in some institution. So I said to him I would fill in for him, but I was not going to take over your job. I was never going to, as it were, take his job. As soon as he was fit and well again he'd come back. The first gig was this Portobello Road gig, and that's the first time I ever did "Sonic Attack". I´d never did it before, it was all fresh then.


Bob was crazy. I mean he was actually certifiably crazy. Whatever that means.

I actually talked to the doctors and stuff because I've bailed him out of [loony] bins -- One bin, I'm exaggerating -- I bailed him out of one bin, where very clearly he was just being drugged up and being kept there sedated, with no treatment or anything. I was quite heavily involved in trying to get him out of that, and get him healthy,

I took him up to Yorkshire and stuff, and got him sort of set back up again. But he was incapable of staying on track.

Although he had the talent for it, and I admire his talent considerably and I mean I really do admire his talent a lot. It showed more in his individual work than in his work with Hawkwind, although his work with Hawkwind was good.

I think he was a very good rock and roll person, but he was a snob, and he didn't believe that that was what he should be doing. He thought he should be recognised as a poet and a novelist. Unfortunately he hadn't written much poetry or written a novel, which was part of the problem.

Also when he started to go up, he would get extraordinarily arrogant and unpleasant to roadies and people who he thought below him.

He was just awful. I mean people really did hate him because it was not simply craziness, it was really nasty craziness. He would get VICIOUS with people, almost anyone he worked with. I mean Pete Pavli, who's probably one of the most easy going people in the world, was working with Bob on some of his individual stage shows. Pete 's mainly my partner nowadays, has been for a long time, but he was working with Bob. And Pete was just constantly feeling disgusted by the way Bob was behaving.

I've seen roadies sabotage Bob just out of sheer fucking tiredness of his behaviour. Just cut off his sound system.

Knut Gerwers' interview with Jill Calvert, June 1996, in Margate, at the home of Jill Calvert and her and Robert's son Nicholas.

Jill Calvert was as illustrator and designer, and did covers for books of her ex-husband, Michael Moorcock. Robert and Jill got married in the early eighties. She took part in many of Robert Calvert's projects. She did some design-work and performed in the electronic musical The Kid from Silicon Gulch, she sang on a couple of his tracks, took part in the Krankschaft Cabaret shows. She drew the illustrations and covers for Robert Calvert records that were released posthumously.

KG: What’s the first memory you have of Robert - What springs up to your mind first?

JC: The first memory? Then I certainly think of the first time I saw him.

KG: Could you describe that? His appearance et cetera?

JC: He was expounding to a small audience in Mike Moorcock’s kitchen at the time, looking extremely bright, because his hair was still quite red then, and he was wearing as I recall a tartan shirt. So, a sort of neon Robert! He was also chatting up my girlfriend (laughs), who was a dancer.

KG: What was he talking about, what was his current obsession?

JC: What then? Oh, I can’t remember. It was probably my girlfriend! (laughs)

KG: On the subject of woman - I’ve heard that Robert was quite a womanizer, that he could work well with his charm.

JC: (laughs) Yes…yes…

KG: Did he have a lot of woman in his life?

JC: Yeah, I should imagine a good few. I mean I certainly knew about a good few. Yes, I think there were two sides to (Robert) because, as I said, in a sense he was a family man, he loved children. Always wanted children. One of his earliest poems was called "What Do People Want If They Don’t Want Babies?".

So I suppose you’ve got two sides. He was so good at playing the English gentleman, that could be very flattering. And the rock star and all his poses. But I don’t know if he was an immense womanizer.

KG: It’s a term that Léonie Scott Matthews used when describing him.

(note: Léonie Scott Matthews runs the Pentameters Theatre (London), where Calvert staged a few of his plays and theatrical shows. She also published the "Pentameters Anthology" in which Calvert published some poems.)

JC: Is it?

KG: Yes, just one of many points but…

JC: I suppose he must have gone through phases (laughs) like everything else!

KG: So what was it that attracted you to him?

JC: Oh lord…His persistence I suppose. I mean, I liked him when I knew him, which wasn’t kind of well, and I suppose in a way I was quite wary of him because I knew about …

(an interruption here - and we start again...)

JC: Well, as I said, he was very persistent because he decided he wanted to have some sort of relationship with me and I didn’t really want to have a relationship at that point in my life. But he was incredibly persistent as only he could be.

KG: What time was that?

JC: That was 1980 I suppose. And then I think the thing that finally did it was that I had been invited to a fancy dress party... Richard Branson’s fancy dress party. I quite liked the idea of hiring some fantastic clothing to wear, and I couldn’t find anyone else who was game enough to do the same thing.

So I phoned Robert up and said "How about it?" and he said "Yeah, yeah yeah!", because he of course would be really into dressing up, and I think it was that that finally kind of changed my mind. (Laughs) Just that he was game for a laugh, as they say.

And that was really the start of it, it was only then that I really got to know him. And he was actually very moral, he was very…he had very great integrity. And he was very honest. He wouldn’t have been the writer he was if he didn’t have those qualities. And as I got to know him I think that’s what I really appreciated.

KG: How would you describe that honesty, how did it come across?

JC: I suppose you could also say it was objectivity. If you look at the kind of things he wrote about, or wrote music about, wrote poetry about, a lot of his subjects are quite kind of moral issues. And I suppose taken as a whole his work had a kind of moral integrity to it. I mean, all the Test Tube stuff, the Test Tube Conceived album, and the play, was based on his perception that tampering with nature is not a very good idea. And that’s the kind of morality, the kind of integrity I’m talking about.

KG: Do you think he had this objectivity also about himself? I mean he is well known for his mood swings and his mental instabilities. Could he be objective about that as well?

JC: Yes. Privately, when he was "leveled" shall we say he was very objective about it. And it was I think probably deeply painful to him because he needed that, those bursts of creative energy. He couldn’t work without them, but he knew that inevitably they always led to problems.

KG: How would you describe these processes of him getting out this huge amount of energy he spent on his work and the intensity he brought into his performances? Do you think he found a structure in himself to build that up?

JC: Yes, very much so. It’s like, anybody who works creatively gets into the rhythm of working, knows how to build up their energy in a sense. But in Robert’s case he would kind of build up a head of steam, and whereas most people know when to stop, and actually can stop -- maybe if you’ve been up working very late and you’re not getting much sleep there’s something in you says "okay, it’s time to stop, I really need to take a break now, get some sleep, have something to eat, do something different" -- Robert just could not do that. He just carried on and on until his energy almost overtook him, he was no longer in control of it, it was in control of him.

KG: But he was always willing to give himself in to that?

JC: Yes. And that’s I think what his most painful area was, because it was almost like an addiction for him. He knew what would happen if he worked that way but he wasn’t willing to give up working that way because he reached a kind of... I suppose a level of perception, which was very good for his work, but then it would go beyond perception and start becoming paranoia. His brain signals would just get really scrambled. But, I mean, it really must have been incredibly painful for him because he always knew that that was going to happen.

KG: He was also quite straightforward about his mental problems. I’ve read some headlines quoting him: "I’m a manic depressive hypermaniac" sort of character. And he was, as he said himself, diagnosed as being schizophrenic in his youth. As it turned out he wasn’t, but was he afraid maybe of crossing the border at one point and not being able to come back? Maybe at the worst point being locked up somewhere in the loony bin and not be able to get out again?

JC: Well yes, but I mean he came very close to that. I mean he was sectioned more than once. But I mean it’s a very, very confusing area, because what’s the difference between someone who’s…oh lord, how can I put it…kind of creatively haywire, you know? We’re kind of talking about "madman or genius?". Where’s the dividing line?

Unfortunately, during my marriage I was forced into the position of almost having to make that decision more than once. And I think it’s only when you’ve been in that situation that you become aware of the grey areas, and they are very very grey. It’s very hard. He went through different phases of saying things like you’ve just said. Also periods of denial, of just denying absolutely that there was anything abnormal about the way he functioned. So I don’t know, it’s difficult to say.

KG: Did you ever try to kind of slow him down in these phases -- and how did he react?

JC: Well, it was partly why we moved out of London, because I thought maybe if he was in a slower environment that would be a help from the start. Just tried to keep his stress levels down. Tried to kind of guide him away from the absolute excesses of working flat out, and not sleeping for days and days and days and days. I don’t know whether I actually had any effect on it at all. In a way I needed to because it could be incredibly disruptive, but in another way I was always very wary of doing it because it was his process, you know? I mean when he was full on, he just had so much energy, no one could deal with him, no one could sort of…People would come and spend and hour and just have to go because it was "it’s too much", you know, just talk and talk and talk and talk.

KG: How did you get along with that? I mean, you must have spent more than a few hours with him in this state and that must have put quite a pressure on you as well -- your whole marriage and family life.

JC: Yes it did. Immensely. Immensely. It was very, very difficult; but ultimately I loved him enormously, and there’s no way I could have really done anyting other than that. A lot of people said I was crazy to sort of hang on in there, but you do, I suppose.

KG: And it was Robert who wanted the marriage?

JC: Yes, really. That was his kind of…as I say that was his "what do people who don’t want babies want?" bit coming out. His kind of romantic family man type. Because I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of getting married again, but there came a time where it seemed important to him, and so I thought "yes", you know? His arguments for marriage were stronger than mine were against, I should say, so we did it.

KG: Did that make any significant change in your relationship, or did it just went on?

JC: None whatsoever.

KG: Looking at that it seems to me that this is what he really wanted -- marriage and family life -- that he was looking for a kind of haven in which he could retreat.

JC: Yeah, that’s true.

KG: Maybe you could tell me something about this family situation he had. I mean, it’s well known that being from South Africa he was kind of obsessed as well with his family background. Did he tell you about this and how did he come to terms with that?

JC: I don’t know whether he did came to terms with it. What actually happened, as far as I know, is that his parents decided to go back to South Africa I think when he and Derek (Calvert's brother) were about 17 and 18, and they gave Robert and Derek the choice of staying in England or going back with them. They wanted them both to go back to South Africa. But Robert did feel, and you know, this again is part of his kind of moral integrity, because of the political situation in South Africa he couldn’t…it wasn’t the place where he could live. And so Derek went back to South Africa with his parents and Robert stayed here. I think it was again a kind of constant pain in his life, if you like, that he was separated from his family not only by a lot of distance geographically but by a lot of attitudes. I don’t think he ever really kind of reconciled himself there. It’s why it figures so much in his work.

KG: But he also never made the kind of "final cut" with them. There was always a sort of relationship, if only a very distant one wasn’t there?

JC: He did actually make a kind of cut with them. They wanted him to go out and stay with them, I think it was the Christmas of 1980. He was actually in quite a manic phase at the time, and had rather an upsetting discussion with them about going or not going. He didn’t go. And I think he lost contact or he stopped contacting them then for a number of years. Actually I can’t remember how long. But his mother actually got the International Red Cross to look for him (laughs) and made contact again. But it was easy with his brother, I mean, you know, that wasn’t a problem, but he did find contact with his parents difficult. He found having a relationship with them difficult.

KG: Do you know something about his relationship with his parents during his earlier years when they were still together in England? How was his contact with his parents?

JC: It’s very difficult for me to assess. I mean, my impression is that it was difficult because his sister Rosemary was, due to problems at birth, developed cerebral palsy. And I think that most of his mother’s attention had to go to looking after Rosemary. And from what Robert said to me that seemed to seriously affect his relationship with his parents, which is understandable. But I don’t know, I mean that’s just from things he said and impresssions that, as I say, that I’ve built up.

KG: I think it must have been a sort of strange situation he was in, being an artist, very well known, as a rock musician, a rock star, but he always wanted to be known as a poet and as a writer, as far as I know. But then again his output seems to have been much bigger in the musical field as well. Did he felt himself that he was under sort of pressure from the music-biz, that he had to produce more in that field, just to earn his money maybe or...?

JC: I’m not sure about that because, I mean during the early Hawkwind years I didn’t know him really, and I suspect that he was very, very much involved in doing what he was doing with Hawkwind and enjoying what he was doing with them -- and I think probably the split with them came at a time…let’s say fortuitous, because it also gave him the opportunity to go and do more work of a different kind. And as the years went on then he was more and more able to do that, to do music when he wanted to, to write poetry when he wanted to, and as you know when he died he was going to actually go back to University to study drama.

So I think, had he not died when he did, he probably would have turned more to theatre and poetry. It seemed to be…the balance was tipping I think. Although he did have vague plans to do something again with Hawkwind, yeah I think it’s true to say the balance was tipping.

I don’t think he would have ever stopped composing, writing music -- that was a major, major part of his life -- but first and foremost I think he saw himself as a poet. All his other work stemmed from that, from his nature as a poet, if you like.

KG: Do you think that he kind of suffered from this kind of public view on him? Seeing him all the time as a musician and just looking at his poetical work as a minor outcome or a sort of side effect of his music? Or did that public opinion not really matter that much to him?

JC: I don’t know, I mean I don’t even know if that’s true because he introduced poetry to a lot of people who would not maybe otherwise have been that interested in it, a lot of people who were really into Hawkwind. And you could say the same about theatre. A lot of Hawkwind fans came to see the things that he did with theatre, and they’re maybe not the sort of people who would normally go and watch a play or read poetry. And because they liked Robert’s work and they kind of liked where he was coming from so to speak, they looked at what his influences were. So you probably get people reading T. S. Eliot who would normally never look at something like that. So I think it works both ways, and there certainly was a different audience for some of his poetry and theatre. And, again, had he not died when he did, you know, maybe that would have been built on more, and his audience would have spread.

KG: How would you judge the situation at the end of his life, in terms of his career, so to speak? Was he on the brink of getting on with it, reaching a wider public, or did it look like he was getting into smaller or minor areas -- reaching a completely different audience with his poetry maybe?

JC: It’s hard to say. I mean, because he was always on the brink of something. But I think maybe the fact that he wanted to do drama…that probably would have opened up a lot more for him. I think there are more possibilities with theatre. There were probably more possibilities around the time he died. Yes, I think it’s true to say that.

KG: Did he have sort of subjects or obsessions that stayed with him throughout his life? I mean, you have this kind of recurring theme of flying or aviation, his fascination for flying, was that really a thing that stayed with him throughout his life?

JC: Yeah, that was, yeah, totally, constantly. He claimed to have wanted to be a pilot. He actually was in the…what’s it called…it was like the junior RAF, I can’t remember the name of it, but apparently he had a perforated eardrum or something, which meant that he could not follow that particular line of training

KG: So he becomes a musician!

JC: (laughs) Yeah, exactly! Become a musician instead. And I suspect that he wasn’t exactly RAF material. But yes, he always was fascinated with flying, and the sort of Dan Dare, space travel ideas, that was a major obsession that was with him as you say throughout his life.

KG: Were there any other things like that?

JC: Yes. One of his favourite novels was The Thity Nine Steps, which is kind of one man up against everybody else, the solitary…the solitary protaganist, which I think Robert saw himself as.

KG: Do you think he had a fascination for the character of the "hero"?

JC: Yes, absolutely, yes, the solitary hero. And that appears many, many times, in many, many different guises, in his work.

KG: What I find the most interesting thing about his work, which I think comes across in all of his work, his poetry and music, is that it’s always sort of ambivalent. That he’s fascinated by something but still has the distance to send it up or to make a complete satire out of it, like on the Captain Lockheed album. I have the feeling he was also very romantic about it. Some pieces are incredibly romantic to me.

JC: Yes, that’s true.

KG: ...and that’s his originality, I think that he had the ability to keep enough distance from it to be able to make fun of it. But I wonder, was that intentional, or was it just a natural approach to him?

JC: Well I think it’s two-fold because, and this is partly why I say that primarily he was a poet, because I think part of his poetic ability, if you like, was to look at something from a completely different angle, turn it on it’s head, see it afresh, which in some ways is the job of the poet, to make you look at something in a different way, to see it afresh. So there’s that.

But there was also his humour, I mean his humour was just incredible. And yes, he brought that into everything, he couldn’t resist it -- that’s also true. So you get this kind of two-fold way of looking at anything, plus as you say he was a romantic. So you'd get a kind of two-fold way of looking at something. You’d get Robert standing back, or turning the thing upside down, but seeing it with humour as well. So yes, you’re right.

KG: Did he talk himself about this kind of thing we are talking about now in a, let's say "reflective" way? Or was it just a natural thing for him to work with this sort of distant or original perception he had?

JC: He didn’t really talk about that, no. He would talk happily for hours and hours about the mechanics, no, the material he was working with, whether it was the fighter pilot or the spy or whatever characters he was interested in. But the process, the kind of real inner core was very quiet. I don’t think he ever really discussed his philosophy, if you like, or his vision of what he did. That was very, very private.

KG: Did he talk about that romantic attitude he had to certain things, like this pilot thing? I mean, it’s a sort of really out of fashion attitude, to have a romantic attitude.

JC: I actually don’t know. I can’t remember whether he did or not. I really couldn’t say whether that was how he saw himself. I suppose that he acknowledged that he saw some of these things with irony, with humour. But whether he really acknowledged the romantic in him or not I don’t really know.

KG: Where did he get his influences from? I mean, in regard to his themes and subjects, he worked in so many different areas, fighter pilots, and the strange scene of the Vikings discovering America. That’s not exactly the first thing you think about as a rock or whatever kind of an album it is! It’s not a subject that springs to mind! And then there’s The Kid From Silicon Gulch, the early eighties computer stories.

JC: He just had an incredibly kind of…there’s a line in Test Tube Bay Of Mine where one of the scientists, I think Virginia, says of Peter, in an almost accusatory fashion, that he has a butterfly mind. Well that was a bit of self judgement if you like, because he did.

He just loved finding out about things. I mean, he’d go off to the library and come back with 20 different books all about…anything, you know, a bit of a detective kind of attitude to things I suppose. He just loved finding out about things. And as you say there were the recurrent themes. But once something appealed to him he would research it deeply and widely, and find the most bizarre connections from one thing to another. That would take him on another step and he’d be somewhere else and so on and so on. He would kind of butterfly out everywhere.

KG: I think he must also have fallen maybe then for some strange conspiracy theories and so on, when he had this sort of detective mind. I read somewhere, that at times he was kind of overwhelmed by these conspiracy theories, like Burroughs had them.

JC: Well yeah, but I think that came at sort of the wrong end of his manic periods, out of his paranoia. And I think that’s partly why he loved The Thirty-Nine Steps so much. Because I think in his kind of manic phases that’s how he saw himself, as a kind of solitary hero, misunderstood, fighting for the reality that he understood, on his own kind of thing.

KG: Talking about heroes and his own attitude -- did you see him as being much ahead of his time and being misunderstood in this time? The classical image of the avant-garde artist?

JC: No, I don’t think so. And I think I’d be quite surprised if any creative person who worked like that had that perception of themselves at the time. I think that’s something that other people see. I think it’s very rare, I think it’s probably impossible that the creator himself or herself has that perception of him or herself, it’s kind of paradoxical.

KG: Do you think he had any sort of image of what impact his work had or could have in later years? Did he think about that at all? After all he was very often working on subjects concerning the future.

JC: That’s true. Again, no, I don’t think he really looked into the future in that sense. He was too occupied with working on what he was working on to actually look into the future in a different way. I mean it’s something I’ve actually thought about recently, because recently more and more people have actually said to me, "Wow, you know, he really was quite prophetic." It’s only now, 8 years after his death, that I think people are actually beginning to see how prophetic he was. But he was just too immersed in prophecying to see it! (laughs)

KG: Would he say he was prophetic in some ways?

JC: He wouldn’t, no. No, I don’t think he would’ve.

KG: Would you?

JC: Would I? Yeah, with hindsight, now. You know, I mean when he did The Kid From Silicon Gulch that whole kind of vision of everybody being hooked into a computer network, that was Science Fiction, and it’s reality now. And it's the same with Test Tube Baby really. I think when he first thought of working with an idea like in vitro fertilisation, it was at its very beginnings. So yes, that happened quite a lot.

KG: Did he use somehow the terminology of Science Fiction or would he have described that as a sort of Science Fiction? Because he always gets connected to that terminology but in my opinion he’s far away from the stereotypical Science Fiction.

JC; Yes, well I would agree with you. But there again I don’t think he ever really had time for either worrying about labelling himself or worrying about what other people were labelling him as. He just got on with it. He just worked.

KG: It was a bit of a surprise to me when I read a statement of him on the Earth Ritual poems. He described them as a sort of Science Fiction, but very accurately I think regarding his whole work which is concerning the future -- that it was more of an earthed-to-the-ground Science Fiction, something that is not addressing the spaceship things but focusing always on the individual.

JC: He meant it in a very literal way, yes. Whereas if you say "Science Fiction" people immediately think of the whole genre, which, I suppose, is entirely different.

KG: In an interview session like that, let’s say Robert would be still alive and would try to portray himself -- what do you think he would ask himself to bring over his character?

JC: You mean if you were talking to Robert and he was…?

KG: No, imagine he would try to do a portrayal of himself, being a sort of host questioning himself.

JC: Well he’d just be incredibly funny, you know. And I’m being incredibly serious! (laughs) No, he would do it all with immense humour really. Like a stand-up comedian, I think.

KG: I think he was a sort of stand-up comedian. He had this very entertaining character.

JC: Yes, yes, completely. In fact, I mean when we were doing Krankschaft Cabaret, and the other kind of cabaret pieces, I think the bit that he enjoyed most was at the end when the script was done and finished; and generally speaking he was called upon just to do a bit of sort of chatting to the audience. And some nights at Theatrespace he would go on chatting to the audience until 2 o’clock in the morning and just sort of…he loved it, he loved just doing the stand-up comedian routine.

KG: He was good at improvising on stage?

JC: He was, yeah. I mean a lot of it was improvised. I suspect he actually could have done it, I mean, he certainly rehearsed all of his improvisations with me, you know time and time and time again! (laughs) But yeah, I mean he was brilliant at the quick one-liner.

KG: Was there any sort of difference between his on- and off-stage persona?

JC: It depends what kind of state he was in. When he was going into a kind of manic phase he would want to be around people, communicate a lot, and liked to be the kind of centre stage and making people laugh and talking to people and stuff. But then during his quiet periods at home he didn’t really… I mean he said it in interviews in various ways at different times, he didn’t much want to go out or see people. He just wanted to sit in his shed basically (laughs). So there were two sides to him.

KG: Would you say he was a better performer when he was in his sort of manic phases?

JC: I don’t think he performed when he wasn’t, really.

KG: So even when he had a sort of quiet phase, as soon as he went on stage he became this sort of more manic character?

JC: I think you could say it the other way around. He didn’t go on stage unless he was a little way into his kind of manic… I mean he wouldn’t be in performance mode if he wasn’t sort of in his manic mode.

KG: What were the major characteristics when he was in these manic phases? How did he come across? Was it just a lot of talk, just babbling, babbling, babbling or how did it show?

JC: At worst yes. And that’s when people found him difficult to deal with because he would just be talking to you all the time, and wanting feedback from you, or whoever, you know, the band, if he was with the band, and that could be extremely tiring for anybody. But at best, you know at the other end of the scale, it just meant that he was extremely sociable -- very, very funny, a good performer. So it varied depending on where he was in his kind of cycle. It was very cyclic.

KG: But he never could really control it?

JC: No.

KG: Did he regret it very often that he went into these kind of cycles? I mean he lost a lot of good people and contacts due to that, especially in the field of music I think. He worked with so many good musicians. Regardless if they were nice persons or not, but a lot of them were/are very talented, like Pete Pavli, who couldn’t stand it any more as well I think -- that’s what he told me -- and other musicians as well.

JC: Yes, yes that’s true.

KG: Was he aware of that and did he regret it, that he just couldn’t control himself a bit more to the point maybe that he could get on with people a bit longer if he wanted to?

JC: The truthful answer is I don’t know, because it’s nothing he would ever say. I don’t know whether he knew it or not. And that’s what I meant when I was talking about denial.

KG: But did he talk to you about what some of these events that happened before some of these splits were about?

JC: Well yes, and that’s why I have to say that I can’t truthfully say whether he knew that or not because he never gave me the impression that he did.

I mean, he did know, he was aware that every time he built up that energy to a certain point, he knew what the outcome would be. But…and he did tell me, he did say once in a moment of great truthfulness, that it was something he was not prepared to stop doing, or could not stop doing, because that was his job here if you like, to do the work he was doing. And if, even if he was capable of stopping, what would the point have been? He wouldn’t really have worked anymore.

So yes, he understood that. But I don’t think he was truthful enough to acknowledge to himself the damage that he did to his friendships and professionally. But maybe it was because he couldn’t do anything about it.

KG: Well that’s maybe the main, let’s say, tragic point about him, that the thing that made him such an original talent was also bound to break up a lot of the outcome of it. That’s maybe the major crux of his life and his work. Regarding the question, "did he know about it, or was he willing to stop it?": I guess he would always have chosen to go further with it just for the artistic outcome of it. I mean, he definitely was aware of his manic phases and what effect they could have on other people. Do you think that he sometimes also utilized this notorious reputation he had for going into these manic phases to motivate people or to get something out of them?

JC: Well he did. I don’t think he was aware that that’s what he did. And there again, I mean, speaking from the times when I worked with him, I couldn’t possibly speak for anybody else, he did in a way bring out the best in people he worked with because he would…it’s the old thing, he demanded a lot of himself and he demanded a lot of people he worked with. But at the end of the day as you say, a lot of people couldn’t take the pace, resented it, because ultimately he was too demanding. No one could keep up with him.

But it was a very good experience, for a limited time, to work with him, because he was very aware of everybody, and everything that they were supposed to be doing. He could be very critical, he could be very rude. But it was all done to achieve… I mean he was a great perfectionist in his work and he expected everybody else to be the same. And that’s a good experience as long as don’t get too much of it.

KG: I am sure he was a perfectionist but he often had to work -- especially in his later years -- on a minimum scale of equipment and finances. Did that worry him?

JC: No, he loved it.

KG: He loved it? Die he tried to utilize that? take advantage of it?

JC: Yeah. I mean, again, that comes into the whole business of being a poet. It’s kind of…it’s honing something to its kind of basis, its skeletal frame, and he saw that. And I think it’s true to say that it was, and still is, great craftmanship.

That’s what a lot of poets are all about, just honing something down to perfection, to a kind of minimalist perfection. And that’s what he became really interested in doing in theatre, working on a kind of shoestring budget. He really enjoyed the challenge of communicating with people without a huge kind of budget. which ultimately, I think, seperates you from your audience anyway.

He always made a great kind of play about being a minimalist. And it’s very true, he loved the skill involved in working like that.

KG: During the years he was with Hawkwind he had this kind of stardom. Hawkwind had quite a big following, and he was very well known. Did he miss that later on? He performed for smaller audiences, he wasn’t anymore the rock star on big stages, with a lot of costumes, and part of this sort of legendary band. Was that something he missed in his later works and performances? Did that bother him?

JC: No, I don’t think it did. I mean, I’m not saying that if the opportunity had arisen again he probably would have done it and he probably would’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. But I think he was…in a sense I think a lot of people kind of grow out of that. And that was the 70s -- a whole different kind of thing. It’s not the same even now, I don’t think, is it?

KG: No, but I think, though, he loved to be in the limelight.

JC: Oh yeah, absolutely, yes.

KG: Maybe even being adored?

JC: Yes he loved that. Yes he loved attention, and performing, and having an audience. Maybe ultimately it didn’t matter to him whether it was the large audience of a rock star, or you know…I think he enjoyed the smaller audiences, say at Theatrespace, or wherever he was working.

KG: Could he get angry with an audience? When he had the feeling they weren’t really aware of what he was offering, or was he just persistent and trying to finally get them on to his level?

JC: I think largely speaking they were. He really did know how to manipulate an audience, and get them, you know, laughing or whatever -- get them on his side. In that sense he was a real natural performer.

I think, off the top of my head, I can only remember one time where he did not have an audience on his side. But then we ganged up on the audience, and it was a joke. Because it was one evening at the Arts Theatre, and it was a terrible night. Rat Scabies will remember this. Because we booked the theatre and then there was really heavy snow, and there was a rail strike or something. None of the trains could get through, so there wasn’t a large audience there anyway. And it happened to be the night that all the critics were coming. People like Morton Childon (?) were there. And we sent our spies out, at some point, I don’t know, in the interval or whatever, and the spies came back reporting snippets of conversation that they’d heard from those people which was sort of the most awful criticism of what we were doing, I suppose because it was tongue-in-cheek. I mean it wasn’t…we weren’t being serious enough for them maybe.

KG: Was Robert affected by criticism like that?

JC: Yeah. I mean, not unduly, but who isn’t, you know?

KG: Whose opinions mattered to him most when it came to his work? Which opinions from which persons did he value most?

JC: That’s a hard one. I’m tempted to say his! (laughs)

He would bounce off whoever he was working with. Yeah, I think it’s true to say that. Me, whoever he was around, he’d bounce off and get feedback from, and probably then dismiss all of it and carry on anyway (laughs).

I don’t think he ever had any kind of relationship with any other creative person who could’ve overridden any idea he had of his own work.

KG: Talking of people’s opinions and people he worked with, did that sort of develop of its own, did he just bump into the people with whom he worked? Or would he really choose? I mean, especially the period after he split with Hawkwind, he worked with a lot of different people over the years. Was that consciously chosen or did it just happen?

JC: Well, when he was in his gregarious persona, he attracted people to him. You know, he did have a magnetic personality. He’d go out a lot, talk to anybody and everybody. And so he was the kind of person who could, within the space of a week, if there was say a project brewing that he wanted to kind of involve people with and get funding for, get actors or get musicians or whatever, he would sort of keep going out and making forays into various areas, talking to lots of people, put a lot of energy into what he was doing, and within a week he’d have the good fortune to meet people who were right for that.

How can I explain it? It was like, he could just put himself out there and get what he needed, because he had the energy to go and do it and talk to people.

KG: Do you think he always made lucky choices with whom he worked?

JC: Creatively speaking, yes, I think he made the right choices. And fortunately the right people seemed to turn up. He always worked with good musicians, by and large at any rate, and with good actors, good directors. What he wasn’t very good at was the kind of business side of things, but as far as his craft, his job, was concerned, yes.

KG: Personally I think that the band's line-up he had with Fred Reeves and Steve Pond wasn’t really a good suitable band for him. And the line-up with Dave Anderson (like his antics or not) and Martin Holdcroft was a much better one. But that was only together for a very short time I think. That surprised me a bit. Maybe it was just of money reasons or so, I don’t know.

JC: What you mean the Dave Anderson band, why that was so short-lived?

KG: Yeah, because I think this was a much better line-up for his music.

JC: Various reasons. I don’t think Robert was… It served his purpose. He wanted to do the Test Tube Conceived album. He wasn’t at that point very interested in touring with a band or anything like that. Martin, who he worked very well with, was not particularly interested in putting too much into working in a kind of band situation at that time. So really I think it’s true to say that it just served Robert’s purpose to get the album done and get a bit of publicity for it, and that was that.

And as for the Steve Pond and Fred, if my memory serves me well which it probably doesn’t, I think he was offered the Queen Elizabeth Hall gig and very much wanted to do it.

[note: The Queen Elizabeth Hall gig in 1986 was indeed a prestigious one for Calvert -- it has been recorded by his friend Rodney Henson and was released posthumously -- feat. the Fred Reeves, Steve Pond and Mary Cason line-up.]

[after a short break]

KG: Would you say that Robert had sort of utopian ideas or ideal visions of the future? Was he a sort of a pessimist regarding those things?

JC: Well again, going back to the other question you asked, It was very, very interior. If he had a kind of crystallised vision, whether it was optimistic or pessimistic, it wasn’t projected as a whole, it was only projected in facets. So ultimately I suppose anyone has to form their own judgement of that from his work. It probably too simplistic, to see either a utopia or some kind of technohell in the future. I think he probably saw both sides.

KG: Do you think that he would have gone into, would be very involved by now with the computer-side of things, like Nicholas (his son) is?

JC: I don’t know. That’s another hard question, because in a way he yearned for a return to simpler technologies. I mean there’s a song, "Ned Ludd" -- and Robert really was a Luddite I think. He was fascinated by technology, but ultimately he was very pleased to achieve something without the use of technology. So, I think you could say he was a Luddite in that sense.

KG: The Freq album, I think, came mostly out of the miner’s strikes, or was at least addressing it to a great part. Was he always kind of sympathetic to labourers movements? Was he very aware of such political ongoings?

JC: Yes, yes. There again, he didn’t so much talk about politics, or morality, or spirituality; but what he felt was his philosophy -- he just worked. He worked it.

But yes, I mean he actually did get very involved in the miner’s strike, which was partly I think because at that time we lived in an area of Kent where a lot of pits were threatened then with closure. And so in one of his periods of going out and about and meeting a lot of people. he met a lot of miners, and listened to what they were saying and realised what the social implications would be for them.

And I suppose you could say that that happened also to fit in with what he was working on, it kind of happened to gel, because he was at that time working on material and songs... this was the kind of Luddite thing coming up again. It was kind of "technology pros and cons", because one of the songs on that album is called "Work Song", which is simply about Robert, I think, sort of happily working with his machines.

So that’s the kind of the good side if you like, and then all the kind of technological nightmares that are possible. And somehow he managed to gel the two together, the whole idea of work, what’s work for? -- it’s necessary to us maybe as human beings.

KG: Did he also try somehow to close, a bit at least, the gap which is normally there between the so-called lower class or labourers and the so-called intellectual and artist, which is often there?

JC: Yes, very much so. And again, strangely, I don’t know whether he would have vocalised or intellectualised that, he just did it. And that’s what I think a lot of his theatre was about. He loved the idea of theatre for the people, you know, involving people who never normally would maybe go to the theatre because it was seen as some major event, and you know, for the wrong reasons it wasn’t a living theatre for everybody.

KG: Talking about theatre for the people, the great Brecht springs to mind immediately. Can you say something about the influence he got from Brecht?

JC: Yes, Brecht was one of his heroes. He loved Brecht, he loved Brecht’s plays and, probably even more, his poetry. So yes, he was a major influence.

KG: What other influences he had? You named T. S. Eliot before.

JC: Eliot yes, Ezra Pound…

KG: Could you describe in which way those figures have influenced Robert?

JC: I really couldn’t tell you the truth, again because… I think if you asked Robert, if you had a discussion with Robert about any of those people, what he would want to talk about again was their craftmanship. And maybe I’m being terribly wrong here, but I don’t think he would be so much willing to talk about the content, but you can’t know Eliot without knowing deeply what he was writing about, and you can’t know Brecht without knowing deeply what he was writing about.

But again it was very internal. Those kind of issues weren’t issues he really, really talked about. Craftmanship yes, the way people worked, their style of writing. He would talk for hours about different poets, and the metres they liked to use, and stuff like that; but his understanding of what they were writing about… it wasn’t something he really discussed a lot.

KG: This idea and ideal of craftmanship, was that always something that was an important subject to him or did that arise later on?

JC: I think it was always important to him, but as he grew older it became more and more important. I mean maybe -- and I’m kind of thinking on the hoof here -- maybe it grew more out of a kind of political understanding of the importance of that kind of work. As I said to you before, going back to theatre, he absolutely hated the fact that places like the Royal Opera House or whatever were being given millions and millions in funding. That was anathema to him.

And so maybe it’s true to say that as he became more and more aware of that, and maybe more and more aware of, say, what you could do in terms of mystery plays you know -- two men and a wagon, or something in a marketplace. It sharpened the way he thought about that perhaps.

KG: Can we talk about specific works of him? To me the Hype album sticks out a bit of the whole body of his work -- not only because it features a lot of autobiographical background, but also because it seems to me a much more mainstream record than the other albums he did. Was that intentional? Did he also attempt from time to time to get into the sort of mainstream? to get finally out into the public?

JC: I think two things are true here. I mean he actually…I was not with him when he wrote Hype. He was married to Pamela (Townley) at the time, and I think probably that was the period of his life where he was trying to be the most mainstream. He was trying to be a rock star, or he certainly was early on, about the time he married Pamela, trying to be a mainstream writer.

So yeah, I think that was a phase he was going through. But, at the risk of being boring, again he was so interested in the structure of things, of different metres in poetry or different genres of song, that he actually liked to experiment with writing songs from many different genres. I mean that’s instantly obvious when you look at Lucky Leif & The Longships.

So yes, I mean he would go through periods of playing with one particular style of songwriting, and it didn’t necessarily mean that he wanted to be mainstream or he wanted to be anything, he just liked to play with different aspects.

KG: Talking about the Lucky Leif album -- which wasn’t very well received when it actually came out in 1975 -- which is surprising, looking at it now, it seems so vivid, so full of life and ideas, featuring so many different approaches. How did Robert see that work himself, in later years? Was he kind of miserable about that?

JC: No, I think he liked it and that was good enough. I mean, he was always kind of incredibly fond of that, that particular idea behind that album --- the Vinland sagas. It brought together a lot of things that he really liked and he was happy with it, and that was good enough.

KG: Do you know how great the influence of Brian Eno was on that album?

[note: Brian Eno produced Lucky Leif & the Longships]

JC: Well I actually happened to be there quite a lot when it was recorded, and it was incredibly impressive, because Robert in his kind of eclectic way had got a lot of different people together to work on the album, and they weren’t necessarily working happily alongside each other. And watching Brian Eno work was wonderful, it was absolutely magical, because he managed to really get the best from everybody, and (as far as I was aware at the time) pick up on exactly what Robert wanted and exactly what would work. He produced it brilliantly. He orchestrated it brilliantly. It was actually really a pleasure to watch him working, and you can’t often say that about being in a studio, because it’s normally a nightmare.

KG: Do you know if there were plans to work together again? or why they never collaborated again?

JC: I don’t really know. It would have been good. I think they would have worked very well together. Maybe it would have happened. It just was one of those things that didn’t happen quickly enough maybe.

KG: There's a thing surprised me when I listened to the tapes you gave me yesterday*, because Robert pointed out in a few interviews that he was… well, not exactly *proud* of never having written any love songs, but he pointed it out from time to time; and then yesterday I've heard five or six of them on these tapes, which took me really by surprise.

The first thought was -- obviously -- he was so happy in love with you -- or whichever person he was addressing -- or was it just again that he tried to work on a different formula, work in a different genre? Because these songs are really different from most of his other work.

(* tapes with the last, unreleased home-made demo recordings of Calvert's songs)

JC: They are, yeah. It was another time when he was specifically working with different genres. I mean I was amazed when he wrote those, because it was the last thing I ever expected him to write. But he did. Again, I think it was just his love of playing with different genres. I think he wanted to write some sort of pop songs for fun.

KG: Did he intend to put out a lot of the material which is on these tapes?

JC: Yes, he did, actually. He was writing…some of those songs were written with specific people in mind. He wrote "Over the Moon" -- he very much wanted Captain Sensible to do that one. And he had somebody else in mind for "Satellite of Love" -- that’s one of the (love) songs -- but I can’t remember who it was.

KG: Do you know if he intended to go into a specific musical direction with his later works? Because I have to say I am most attracted to his more experimental tunes like "Your Purple Lid", which I find very interesting, very intense.

[* "Your Purple Lid" is one of those demo-tracks - only released on his self-published "Cellar-Tapes" -- not, unfortunately, on the CD-version "Blueprints from the Cellar")

JC: Yes, I’d like to think that he would, because I do know that he really enjoyed writing those songs. The other one that he really enjoyed working on was "Underground Love Affair".

Again, you know, you’re under financial pressure, well, then, to get songs like that recorded; and it was not his strong point, you know, actually going out in the business world, wasn’t his forte. But yes, I think he may well have gone in that direction, judging from how much he enjoyed working with that style.

KG: Can you tell me about of some of his other later projects he was working on?

JC: There were so many of them. There was The Box, which you’ve now listened to.

KG: Was he intending to perform that himself?

JC: No. Léonie Scott-Matthews. And he had an actor in mind whose name I cannot recall. But Léonie will know. He was making another attempt to get into kind of mainstream fiction. He had a couple of ideas and actually started working on one novel.

KG: A sort of fantasy novel?

JC: Well there were two. There was one that I described to you about the Kabal which was…again, I think he probably would have written it a bit like The Thirty-Nine Steps in Egypt or something, because there’s a song called "Radio Egypt", and that one had very much the feel of the book he was going to write. There was a project about Stonehenge, and he discussed that with various people. I don’t really know how far that had got or how far it would have gone.

He wanted to do more with the "Earth Ritual". He had ideas about turning that into some kind of mega stage production, interactive kind of thing. There were quite a few things in his mind at the time.

KG: As always?

JC: As always.

KG: Was he ever interested in going into the visual media, like film or videos, doing something with that, or writing for that?

JC: What he had always wanted to do was to write comedy for television, ideally a kind of sitcom, and he had various ideas. And I think he sketched out quite a few, played with bits of script, bits of dialogue here and there. He would have loved to have done that, he loved David Nobbs (?). And again, going back to craftmanship, he had a lot of admiration for some of the good TV comedy writers.

KG: Was he watching a lot of television?

JC: Yeah he went through phases of watching TV, he was quite fond of his TV. Liked watching cricket (laughs).

KG: It also cropped up from time to time that he was kind of proud or liked to nurse his appearance as a sort of stylish English gentleman. I think he was very aware of his appearance, of the style he wanted to bring across, wasn’t he?

JC: Oh yes. Oh enormously, oh God, yes, he really was. He loved it. It was one of his sort of costumes. I think it became probably the main one, "The English Gentleman". It was becoming more and more so. But he played with lots of other ones. I mean there was the kind of German sort of whatever it was, that uniform and the jackboots and things. There was the English cavalry officer from the First World War, there was that one. I think we actually buried a pair of his boots in the garden. He found a pair of First World War officers flying boots in a junk shop in Devon, and loved them and nursed them for years. And the day he could no longer wear them was a very sad day. So, yes, he was very, very much into his costumes.

KG: What did attract him especially to these kind of war or guerilla figures he often performed on stage? Also with Hawkwind. A lot of these were kind of militant figures.

JC: Well I would actually say military rather than militant. I think maybe it was just that we all like doing it when we’re children and we probably still like doing it. It’s really sort of dressing up, and I think it just happened to be one of the things he thoroughly enjoyed dressing up as. Apart from the connection with what we were talking about, the kind of solitary figure in combat maybe, that’s the connection there. But other than that, I think he just loved dressing up and all these appearances.

I remember getting the props and the costumes together for the Krankschaft Cabaret, and it was a nightmare. I think I had to go back to the costume hire people three times just to get three different flying helmets for him.

KG: But then again somehow at a certain point when these personas met his particular mental stage -- when it all came together -- he tended to stick to a certain persona. Like during the famous Hawkwind-in-Paris episode when he just decided to stay in the combat gear during daytimes, frightening the hell out of everybody during the high time of the RAF* in Germany and all the terrorist ongoings in Europe.

[* Rote Armee Fraktion - the famous (west)German terrorist group who had it's heyday during the seventies.]

JC: Yes, absolutely. I suppose you could say that…and again...if you'd get him on the couch here...he did have a fear of being him. He always really liked to hide behind a character in public.

KG: And yet also seemed to have a tendency to be in these solitary figures as the kind of "tough guy" as well?

JC: Yeah, well I mean I told you the story about the suit of armour, when in one of his relationships he actually came home wearing a suit of armour. But I think you could take that in a very kind of Freudian way if you like as well. And that’s maybe why they were tough guys or military guys, as a kind of protection.

KG: But he wasn’t really? That’s what Adrian Shaw also told me, about the time when they were on this tour (which ended up in Paris) - and the one time when Robert was grabbing him by his head saying "Listen to me, listen to me, listen to me!"; and that’s the one thing Adrian couldn’t stand any more, and said "Do that again and I’ll flatten you!". And Adrian’s really the nicest, easiest-going guy you can imagine. And I thought, "My God, that must take a lot." And then he said he was actually a bit surprised himself that Robert backed out quite quickly and never did that again. Adrian said as well that Robert wasn’t the tough guy, that he was a kind of gentle, soft…

JC: He was. Very soft.

KG: So you think that was also what he tried to hide?

JC: Yes.

KG: Can you tell an anecdote that gives a glance of the typcial "Calvertian" day-to-day humour?

JC: Yes, I had this puppy, King Charles Spanial puppy, called Charlie, and there was a door in the house which always had to be closed because of the dog. And Robert’s typical sense of humour, this became a kind of standing joke, about if he was the last one to leave behind me to close the door. And we were leaving one day, and I looked round and said "Did you close the door?" and, as I said, I could see behind him that the door was open. And he said "Well basically, yes". - "Basically yes" (laughs). I don’t know, it was just sort of off the wall humour….

KG: Any other anecdotes from the family-side-of-life?

JC: Typical Robert humour is the story about when he and Pamela were married, they lived in a flat in London. And they got a male kitten and Robert says that Pamela sat him down one day and said: "Look, we've have to make a decision here. If you want the cat to go out we will have to have him neutered. Or if we gotta keep the cat totally in the flat then we'll leave him as he is." And Robert apparently sat and thought about this for a minute, and said: "Well, can't he just have one off and go out sometimes?" It's little things like that, you know?

KG: How was Robert in his - let's say "role" as a father?

JC: He was wonderful. Brilliant.

You can also see that in some of these letters - one of which you have a copy of.

He spent an awful lot of time with Nicholas. There was a time when Nicholas decided that he wanted to go exploring. And Robert somehow managed to turn it into a kind of thrilling Boy's Own Adventure -- exploring the lanes of Ramsgate and stuff. He was brilliant because he spent an awful lot of time with Nicholas and was happy to do so. They made up stories together, doing all sorts of things and giving him a lot of input.

KG: Was this something he missed with his other children?

JC: I think he did. When I first met him he lost touch with Alex and Helen and Darren*. And very much wanted to get back in touch with them. I think he had heard somewhere that Darren at one point had tried to get back in touch with him. And I had the feeling that they would find him. which is exactly what they did. And so from then on, which was about 1982, he spent a lot of time with them. They'd all come back down to Ramsgate to live from Oxford where they have been. So, he had the chance to make up for it, a bit, for that.

[* the 3 children from Calvert's first marriage]

KG: You told me that especially Darren came a lot after Robert.

JC: Yes, and I think Alex as well. You could see in Robert and Alex together... painfully, I suppose, the tragic elements of Robert's life in Darren. In a funny sort of way Darren went off and did what Robert wrote about doing -- which was to go off and join the foreign legion. That's probably how he contracted the illness that killed him.

KG: Would you say that there are a lot of things that are tragic about Robert's life in the whole?

JC: I think it probably depends where you are when you ask that question. Obviously, for me, ultimately yes, because he died so young. But probably for Rober, no, because he lived it to the full -- as much as he could.

end of iinterview

Knut Herwers email interview with Nicholas Calvert, 2006: 

KG: What was your and Robert’s favorite way of spending your time? Jill allowed me to read a letter, in which he described how he planned a theater-play with you, while strolling through a desolated area around Ramsgate or Cambridge.

NC: Two of the most memorable things that spring to mind are playing with our tape recorder and going ‘adventuring’. The tape recorder was a never ending source of amusement for me as child. I used to sit with my Dad and take it in turns to continue stories – a kind of Calvert Jakonary.

Some of these tapes still exist and are rather amusing, I think one of them must have been overdubbed at a later date as it drifts seamlessly from a rather Lovecraftian version of The Three Little Pigs into some poetry my father had recorded.

One of the very earliest memories I have of spending time with Robert was exploring the poppy fields at the back of our home in Ramsgate. To me, it seemed as if they had sprung up out of nothing; one day they weren’t there, the next they were.

I told my father what I had noticed, he agreed it was very odd and insisted we explore them. Rather than going headlong in, this was a rather measured affair. We sat and planned it meticulously - even down to the ‘adventurers’ toolkit we would need.

I went to stay with my grandparents for the weekend, keeping in touch with my parents on the telephone. When I spoke to Robert I was informed he had managed to source an ‘adventurers’ kit and that everything was ready. He described it in the most wonderful detail; it contained an elephant gun, some rope, a variety of knives for cutting foliage and a tent – everything we would need. I gleefully returned home on Sunday night to find this was a complete figment of his imagination and also experienced my earliest feelings of disappointment. In this respect I think I was sometimes both the benefactor and victim of my fathers – shall we say, over enthusiasm.

Overall I was an incredibly lucky child and I received a lot of good input from both my father and my mother

KG: A very general question... nevertheless: How’s your memory of Robert as a/your father?

NC: This is actually a surprisingly difficult question to answer.

I remember him as a very complex individual; even from the perspective of a five year old child this was obvious. At times he could be the most encouraging and eager father, at other times, when he was working, he could be the complete opposite.

It would also be foolish not to think my memory of him has been glorified over the years, yes I put him on a pedestal but I also remember the bad times. I remember the arguments and raised voices that came when he was experiencing a ‘bout’ of mania. I remember how upset my mother got. Ultimately though, I remember him as a loving father and more importantly a loving person. I think that’s the most important thing for anyone to remember.

KG: I guess that the view of one’s father, who died that early, must change quite a lot over the years. It must have taken a good few years before you learnt about ALL the things he did in his short live. Has the knowledge of his works changed your - private/remembered - perception of him? - Do you or can you make a difference btw. The father and the artist? (IF there is any sense in such a difference...)

NC: Yes, it has changed it to a certain extent. There is only so much you can pick up as a five year old child and this dulls with time. Reading his body of works and also relationships I have with his friends have ‘filled in the blanks’ so to speak.

I think my perception of him is not entirely real, as it is combined of all these different aspects – I haven’t known this man for 25 years but it feels like I have. While it isn’t real in the strictest sense of the word, it is very real to me.

I don’t think there is any difference between the father and the artist, the father WAS the artist.

KG: Robert is well known for his - let’s call it mood-swings - which he was probably benefiting and suffering from. Do you remember to notice any signs of his ‘mental instabilities’ from the time you spent with him - and if so, how do you remember them?

NC: Yes, totally. I remember it getting so bad that in the last 3 months of his life my mother and I moved out of our family home and in with her parents. Sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but it was never, ever malicious and I was acutely aware of that even as a child.

Things happened around that time that I can only put into perspective now, as an adult. For instance, I remember, quite vividly, being taken to a mental hospital to see my father. I also remember a doctor coming to the house and administering a sedative to Robert because he hadn’t slept for several days. I’m quite glad I have these fragments of memory, as, in retrospect, it has given me the opportunity to have a personal and adult view of my father I might not otherwise have been able to have. If that makes sense.

KG: Do other people - especially from your generation - at times come up with your father’s name - or is he *the guy who was with Hawkwind / the band that had this Silver Machine one-hit-wonder*?

NC: Generally, people of my generation don’t know who Hawkwind or Robert Calvert were and I kind of like this. I don’t think I have any of the problems Dwizel Zappa has, bless him. The only time it ever comes up is in conversation with older people, normally at Hawkwind concerts! It’s a very niche thing...

KG: If people ask you what your father did - and what his special talents where - how would you describe him?

NC: If they asked me who he was I’d say he was an author, a writer; who fell in with a bunch of really nice, well meaning hippies. If they asked me what he did, id say he did far too much to be regarded in the meager way he is today.

KG: It’s easy to see, that Robert never achieved real fame, or at least a kind of critical acclaim, that his manifold and often pioneering work would deserve. What do you think were / still are the major obstacles for getting his work into the public eyes and ears?

NC: I don’t think there is any obstacle now, except time and hard work. This is the right time for that kind of work to make it to the public eye, perhaps the only time. I’m going to try very hard to make sure it does.

KG: You told me that you wrote a couple of songs and that you’re spending a lot of time on your writing. Do you see a familiarity of interest in subject-matters / your view of people/the world?
(Maybe a shared interest in new technologies / psychic/mental „phenomenon’s" / moral issues...)
- and are there any certain characteristics you recognize in yourself, that you could/would track down to your father’s personality?

NC: It’s funny you should ask this as I think about it often.

I think the way my mind works is very similar to my fathers; I am very inquisitive and easily become obsessed with ideas – unable to think about anything else until my mind is sated. However, there are two very distinct differences between the two of us. Firstly I have a fraction of the energy he had, I don’t suffer or benefit from any of that manic drive.

Secondly, and this is probably the most distinct difference, we grew up in very, very different times. I think the environment you grow up in and the people you meet really shape the subject matters you are interested in.

If you look at ‘Hype’, or the unpublished book ‘There at the Turnstile’, there is some very personal stuff born form living in that time. I think I have been influenced by my generation in a similar way.

Moving on from this, and I’m probably going to contradict myself here, I think we also share the same core interests and basic morality. I am fascinated by the stories you can tell with genres like Science Fiction and Fantasy. I am also very interested in the human mind, a lot of what I write about features stream of consciousness and exploration of ‘normal’ thought processes; am I really thinking this, why am I thinking this, should I be thinking this etc I think I have definitely inherited these things from Robert.

Overall I am a strong believer in there being very little to the nature/nurture argument; it’s all nature as far as I am concerned. I see large chunks of so many people in me, my mother, my father, my grandfather – even my half brother and sister who I only met very recently.

KG: Could you point out - maybe in a short list of words, the main characteristics you see/sense in Robert’s works?

NC: There are so many characteristics, so many different types of work this is quite hard to do.

‘Futurism’ is the biggest one, which was Robert through and through. ‘Morality’ and ‘Love’ are two others that spring to mind. People say my father never wrote a love song.

"When I’m working, working on my machine, I think about you; I think about what you mean."

To me, that is one of the most poignant lyrics from a love song ever.

KG: What are your favorites amongst your father’s
work(s)? / Why?

NC: I will probably draw a bit of fire here but my favorite album has to be Hype. Yes, it’s considered the most accessible but I think people are missing the point. Musically, if you look at what he’s trying to do its amazing, each of those songs is a carefully crafted pastiche with original ideas thrown in for good measure. That’s not an easy thing to do.

‘There at The Turnstile’ is my favorite written work. This is an unpublished and possibly partially biographical novel about a young boy exploring the emerging world of 1960s London. My father was always on record as saying he wanted to sit down and write a ‘healthy’ novel, something not many authors are able to do. I think this was it.

My favorite poem is ‘Married’, I just think it’s a really sweet collection of words and probably means more to me than most people.

My absolute favorite thing he ever did was ‘The Kid from Silicon Gulch’. This is just such a truly remarkable work, the reasons why are hard to quantify.

I hear some people saying Robert planned out British synth-pop ten years before it happened. If you really want to see something scarily before its time, look at this… Except you can’t, because it doesn’t exist anymore – brilliant eh?

KG: Do you - possibly together with Jill - have any plans to (re)-release any of your father’s works that haven’t been published yet - or that are out of print?

(personally I think that especially the The Kid from Silicon Gulch project, which I consider one of his very best works is criminally underrated - quite a shame it never was released in one form or another...)

NC: I wholeheartedly agree with you as far as ‘The Kid’ goes.

My main concern are the two novels, ‘Hype’ and ‘There at The Turnstile’, I really want to get these published and out there as I think there is a huge amount of people who would enjoy them.

The music is a difficult and murky subject as I’m sure you know. Jill is currently working quite closely with Voice Print to get the oddities and unreleased stuff out there and accessible to the fans. Watch this space, as they say. Things are picking up.

KG: Apart from the inevitable feeling/pain of such a loss: What’s Robert’s "role" in your life today? Is he a point of reference you’re thinking about - maybe especially in regard to your own writing - and/or other parts of your life?

NC: He is many things to me. It may sound clichéd, but he is still able to be there for me whenever I want him; through all the things he left behind. I am so incredibly lucky, lots of people have lost a parent but not many people gain a body of personal, artistic work when they do.

He is a benchmark for me in some respects, I certainly don’t aspire to be him or imitate him but if I can produce something artistically that I think he would enjoy and appreciate I will be a happy man.

KG: Do you have dreams in which your father appears? - and how does he "show up"? In the age you remember him / older or younger?

NC: My father appeared to me in dreams almost constantly throughout my childhood; the strange thing was this dream world was persistent. We would pick up and continue conversations, continue to do things we had started. He looked as he always did, behaved as he always did... One day this stopped, pretty much around the same time I became an adult.

I’ll let you drawn your own conclusions to this.

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