David Mitchell, the poet, died earlier this week after a long illness.
Friends of his, Nigel Roberts and Murray Edmond, published an anthology of his poems, Steal Away Boy, last year. The book had a long biographical introduction. I appear briefly in those pages as a sort of comedy extra ("poor old Tosso", the perceptions of one Paul Gray, an unreliable witness I say). You will see a little of the film I shot of him back in 1980 or so down the page a way here.
Dave was foremost a charming man. He was also an exceedingly irresponsible one, a nasty one, a greatly talented and enormously annoying one. I spent far too much time and money with and for him but I was perhaps the least of the many victims of his charms, wiles and – later – his insanity.
I met him first in about 1964 when he returned to Wellington from Europe with his beautiful new-won and newly pregnant wife Elsebeth. I bumped into him again the following year in Kings Cross, Sydney, on my first day there, and I was around King Cross at the time his marriage began its inevitable collapse. I saw the bad side of him then. I was however persistently, habitually I suppose, nonjudgemental, so I would hardly spurn him in the pub or at parties. It wasn't just me. His charm and wit won most people.