I never had any ambition other than to be a writer. It was difficult to know how to set about it. I seem to have regarded the main task as being to avoid doing anything that might compete with or disturb this ambition. In the early 1970s A. and I travelled around the country for a year in an old A95, living in a tent and earning the small amount of money we needed to keep going by fruitpicking in Kent. It was never easy to write under these circumstances. In 1976 I enrolled at UCL, a move which eventually led to my emigrating to Norway and the writing of my first book, a biography of the Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun.
I met Kevin in about 1965, when I was 17. He had just started working alongside my mother at the Social Therapy Department of Whittingham Mental Hospital, near Preston in Lancashire and she brought him to our house one evening for a meal. During my summer holidays I worked as his assistant in the department, living with him and his wife Leslie and baby son Eugene at their house in Whittingham. Later they moved to London. I’d been living in France, and when I came back I had nowhere to stay and he and Leslie, who by now had given birth to Robert, let me stay with them again. During the time I was living and working with Kevin I owned a Woolworth’s guitar which I kept in open tuning. In the evenings, usually after we had been down the pub, he would start improvising lyrics to some of the very primitive finger-picking patterns I was capable of playing. Forty years later I found out that for these very modest contributions of mine he had given me co-composer credits on two of his songs: ‘White Horses’ is from the Dandelion Years reissue of his classic Case History album, and ‘I Drove Your Car’ from the 1994 release Let’s Do It.
We lost touch after I moved to Norway in 1983. Shortly before he died Kevin phoned me from Nuremberg in Germany, where he had made his home. He sounded unchanged – just as funny, irreverent, decent and truthful as ever. He was unique, a true original and an astonishingly powerful singer. After his death in 2004 I wrote an appreciation of him for Dagbladet. Kevin's site is at www.kevincoyne.de
John and I went to the same school, King Edward VII School in Lytham. I’ve known him since we were eleven, which makes him my oldest friend. He’s a tremendous painter who has always gone his own way, oblivious to the demands of the market. You can read about John and see more of his work here http://www.courcoux.co.uk/painters/charlesworth/jc_foreword.htm