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Nico Llewelyn Davies To Andrew Birkin - 1975

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Letterfrom Nico Llewelyn Davies to Andrew Birkin, 29 November 1975


Dear Andrew

As I wrote yesterday to Sharon, I’m sure I should thus address you, tho’ whether you’ll find it easier to Nico or Mr Davies a 72–year–old is to you to decide! I take it you will be showing each other my overlong letters … I let my pen run away with me and am a compulsive answerer when I get a letter which really interest me. There are three points in yours of the 27th I’d like to mention:

I found myself boiling with fury at Alison Laurie's bollox in the New York Times Literary Supplement, which of course I'd never seen or heard of until now. Wholly untrue, and I suppose by now ridiculous even to think of remonstrating or pinning the lie. None of us five brothers EVER found Uncle Jim's games and jokes embarrassing, never gave a thought to tradesmen's bills etc, and only Jack took resentment at JMB ‘taking father's place’. Yes, JMB wrote that bit about the Etonian household [at Eilean Shona] and being just the ladler of soup, and the young Eton hoardes "shuddering and edging away from me", all of which was written to Cynthia Asquith – someone who knew JMB's humour, better than did the sweet psychological Alison!

Cynthia Asquith we will of course get down to at some length. I started by worshipping her … was warned by a Lady Astor (to whom I paid no attention at this stage) … most wickedly – from my point of view – and probably criminally (?) – had us cut out of the Will: yet I read a book of hers last week – Haply I Remember – and loved pretty well every minute of it! But she must be a major problem your Part 3. That is, if you want to tell the truth!!

Scotland – in JMB context – I can talk on forever: from Scourie to Eilean Shona. A few photos of the latter. Masses and masses of photos of Amhuinnsuidh and Mary Rose Island, tho’ these of course taken during the last 10 years.

Am I right in connecting you with Angela Laycock? Not that I know/knew any of them remotely well though she was here not so long ago, in this room, with her friend Ronnie Aird. No need to answer this unless you want to!

Yrs Nico Davies

I put a PS on the back of my letter to Sharon suggesting she look at Neville Cardus’s autobiography: there’s a superb 4 or 5 pages of a sort of nightmare weekend at JMB's Adelphi flat, which is vividly ‘true’ and to me extremely funny. I in fact appear in the account tho’ no one would realise this, but it brings back so very vividly some of the scruffy things I took absolutely for granted in those days. It's certainly an unknown side to JMB! Yet Cardus wrote me shortly before he died last year saying how right I was that Barrie was a man of great wit and humour ….


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