It was late as we climbed the stairs to Ray’s flat, the party in full swing.
The room at the top of the house was warm, smoke-filled and vibrant. Ray welcomed us, surprise evident in his face but he was so pleased and proud that we had come.
Looking round the room, scanning the sea of unfamiliar faces, my eyes were met and held for what seemed to be forever by the eyes of someone standing alone in a corner. Tall and handsome with thick, dark hair and wearing black-rimmed glasses he looked young and vulnerable, his smile cheeky but infectious.
Embarrassed, unable to face the honesty I saw in his eyes I turned away.
Someone was already singing as Mel and I arrived at the Folk Club and it was a few minutes before my eyes were able to focus. Wherever we went it seemed the atmosphere was permanently smoky and dim.
The large shabby room which was in desperate need of a coat of paint, had a bar running the full length at one end, with tables and chairs place around a raised area at the front onto which shone a single spotlight.
Scanning the room, I happily began to absorb the atmosphere, the people, and I instinctively knew that I had found my niche, that I would never have been happy in that other world of pseudo sophistication.
Eyes riveted and skin goose pimples rising on my skin, my senses were alerted before my brain registered just who it was I was listening to, singing so beautifully and with such melancholy.
Oh goodness! It was ‘HIM’. I didn’t know his name but I had begun to think of the dark haired young man I had seen at Ray’s party as ‘HIM’
He wasn’t wearing his glasses but I was certain I was right. This time I had the advantage, able to observe him without him seeing me.
He was standing completely relaxed and sexy with his head thrown back, one hand covering his ear, the other in the pocket of his jeans. With his eyes closed he sang unaccompanied and with confidence. Bathed in light and in the hush of the murky room he was beautiful.
Everyone, it seemed knew ‘HIM’.
There he was, actually sitting opposite me, talking to me and my heart was fluttering or rather pounding so much that I had difficulty speaking.
RICHARD BECKINSALE, ACTOR
6 JULY 1947 – 19 MARCH 1979
Richard and I met in Nottingham the early 1960’s. He was a student by day and a folk singer by night.
I was a secretary working for a bank.
We fell in love, married, had a baby daughter and moved to London in order for him to follow his dream of being an actor.
His dream of “making people laugh”.
My book tells the story – essentially a love story – of how we coped, grew up, parted and our reconciliation.
The story is punctuated with Richard’s version of events; I use excerpts from his many handwritten letters to me to illustrate his side of our story. There are many photographs which have never been published before. And his handwritten poems; dedicated to me, because I “inspired them”.
Shocking the country, He died suddenly in his sleep 30 years ago, on Thursday 19 March 1979, aged 31 becoming a legend of British comedy.
My book is an honest account and, I hope, evocative of the era.
I am looking for the right publisher who will want to be involved with this book.
16 March 2009
Time heals they say and, on the whole this is true.
Because it is more pleasant to remember the good things, the good times writing a book like this is not easy.
One is forced to re-live the bad times, the hurt and the pain but I hope that it will give both pleasure and an insight into the life of a boy who became much loved both as an actor and as a man.
Modest and unassuming, he would have been surprised and happy to know that he is remembered with as much affection by his audience who felt they knew him, as he is by his family and friends.
In essence, it is a love story.
‘There is no education like adversity’ wrote Disraeli and I believe both Richard and I learned through our experience.
I believe in fate. Believe that there is a reason for everything. Our love yielded the precious gift of a daughter, Samantha.
This book is dedicated to her and her brothers but most of all, to all my beautiful grandchildren. Those who are here and those still to come.