Francis Huxley and the ‘guiding light’ of Bach.

My meeting with Francis took place some time in 1970, but I have no record of the precise date.   I was given Francis’ address in Belsize Park by my father, who told me that Francis wanted to find out more about my father’s life and modus operandi.

I arrived, in the early evening, at a large, sombre house in Belsize Avenue, I believe, rang the bell, and was greeted by Francis.  He had invited me to supper.

His apartment astonished me.  There were large, glass cabinets everywhere, containing artefacts and specimens – anthropological finds.  I didn’t look too closely at them. On the walls hung many carved masks; and the floor was covered in sumptous textile rugs.

In the corner, near the galley kitchen, was a round table, set for supper, with two cosy chairs.   A comfortable, deep sofa, covered in  dull crimson velvet was placed under a window.  I could see the leaves of the plane tree outside, flickering green darts in the soft evening light. There was a feeling of warmth in the room. It was gemutlich.

‘Do sit down’, he gestured to the sofa.

‘Tell me about your father’.

I didn’t know where to start.  I spoke about his kindness, energy, enthusiasm for life, spiritual beliefs and love of people.

But Francis appeared disappointed in my account of my father. I was perplexed. I was too young and immature – and too close to the subject- to be of much use. I wasn’t giving him the answers that he wanted.

To me, Francis appeared to be a very troubled, dark individual. He looked grumpy and miserable . He hardly smiled, and seemed  utterly charmless.  But he had the most elegant manners, and was gracious to me, inspite of my short-comings.

‘I’ll make us some supper’, he said brightly, and disappeared into the kitchen.

‘Would you like to hear some music’, he called out to me.

‘Yes, I would’, I replied.  Relieved that his mood had brightened.







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