Tea with Stevie

On  January 29th, 1970, accompanied by the late poet, George Macbeth, I took tea with Stevie Smith at her legendary home in London: 1, Avondale Road, Palmer’s Green.

I was twenty-five and an aspiring poet, dressed in the fashion of the day: a long, black coat with a wide-brimmed hat over long, honey-coloured hair. Stevie had just won the prestigious Queen’s Medal for Poetry; and had only one more year to live.

It had taken some weeks to set up this rendez-vous.  Stevie’s diary was full. At the zenith of her career, she was much in demand.  Richly-deserved glittering prizes were now hers for the taking.

George drove us both from the BBC to Stevie’s home in his louche Reliant Scimitar ( his current passion), almost as special to him as his growing collection of Japanese samurai swords. It was almost dark, as we snaked through the wintry, London streets for our appointment with Stevie at four o’clock.






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