KG: What was your and Robert’s favorite way of spending your time? - (Jill allowed me to read a letter, in which he described how he planned a theater-play with you, while strolling through a desolated area around Ramsgate or Cambridge.)
NC: Two of the most
memorable things that spring to mind are playing with our tape recorder
and going ‘adventuring’. The tape recorder was a never ending
source of amusement for me as child. I used to sit with my Dad and take
it in turns to continue stories – a kind of Calvert Jakonary.
One of the very earliest
memories I have of spending time with Robert was exploring the poppy
fields at the back of our home in Ramsgate. To me, it seemed as if they
had sprung up out of nothing; one day they weren’t there, the
next they were.
Overall I was an
incredibly lucky child and I received a lot of good input from both
my father and my mother
KG: A very general question... nevertheless: How’s your memory of Robert as a/your father?
NC: This is actually
a surprisingly difficult question to answer.
KG: I guess that the view of one’s father, who died that early, must change quite a lot over the years. It must have taken a good few years before you learnt about ALL the things he did in his short live. Has the knowledge of his works changed your - private/remembered - perception of him? - Do you or can you make a difference btw. The father and the artist? (IF there is any sense in such a difference...)
NC: Yes, it has
changed it to a certain extent. There is only so much you can pick up
as a five year old child and this dulls with time. Reading his body
and also relationships I have with his friends have ‘filled in
the blanks’ so to speak.
KG: Robert is well known for his - let’s call it mood-swings - which he was probably benefiting and suffering from. Do you remember to notice any signs of his ‘mental instabilities’ from the time you spent with him - and if so, how do you remember them?
NC: Yes, totally. I remember it getting so bad that in the last 3 months of his life my mother and I moved out of our family home and in with her parents. Sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but it was never, ever malicious and I was acutely aware of that even as a child.
Things happened around that time that I can only put into perspective now, as an adult. For instance, I remember, quite vividly, being taken to a mental hospital to see my father. I also remember a doctor coming to the house and administering a sedative to Robert because he hadn’t slept for several days. I’m quite glad I have these fragments of memory, as, in retrospect, it has given me the opportunity to have a personal and adult view of my father I might not otherwise have been able to have. If that makes sense.
KG: Do other people - especially from your generation - at times come up with your father’s name - or is he *the guy who was with Hawkwind / the band that had this Silver Machine one-hit-wonder*?
NC: Generally, people of my generation don’t know who Hawkwind or Robert Calvert were and I kind of like this. I don’t think I have any of the problems Dwizel Zappa has, bless him. The only time it ever comes up is in conversation with older people, normally at Hawkwind concerts! It’s a very niche thing...
KG: If people ask you what your father did - and what his special talents where - how would you describe him?
NC: If they asked me who he was I’d say he was an author, a writer; who fell in with a bunch of really nice, well meaning hippies. If they asked me what he did, id say he did far too much to be regarded in the meager way he is today.
easy to see, that Robert never achieved real fame, or at least a kind
of critical acclaim, that his manifold and often pioneering work would
deserve. What do you think were / still are the major obstacles for
getting his work into the public eyes and ears?
told me that you wrote a couple of songs and that you’re spending
a lot of time
NC: It’s funny
you should ask this as I think about it often.
Overall I am a strong
believer in there being very little to the nature/nurture argument;
it’s all nature as far as I am concerned. I see large chunks of
so many people in me, my mother, my father, my grandfather – even
my half brother and sister who I only met very recently.
KG: Could you point out - maybe in a short list of words, the main characteristics you see/sense in Robert’s works?
NC: There are so
many characteristics, so many different types of work this is quite
hard to do.
To me, that is one
of the most poignant lyrics from a love song ever.
are your favorites amongst your father’s
NC: I will probably draw a bit of fire here but my favorite album has to be Hype. Yes, it’s considered the most accessible but I think people are missing the point. Musically, if you look at what he’s trying to do its amazing, each of those songs is a carefully crafted pastiche with original ideas thrown in for good measure. That’s not an easy thing to do.
‘There at The Turnstile’
is my favorite written work. This is an unpublished and possibly partially
biographical novel about a young boy exploring the emerging world of
1960s London. My father was always on record as saying he wanted to
sit down and write a ‘healthy’ novel, something not many
authors are able to do. I think this was it.
My absolute favorite
thing he ever did was ‘The Kid from Silicon Gulch’. This
is just such a truly remarkable work, the reasons why are hard to quantify.
you - possibly together with Jill - have any plans to (re)-release any
of your father’s works that haven’t been published yet -
or that are out of print?
NC: I wholeheartedly
agree with you as far as ‘The Kid’ goes.
KG: Apart from the inevitable feeling/pain of such a loss: What’s Robert’s "role" in your life today? Is he a point of reference you’re thinking about - maybe especially in regard to your own writing - and/or other parts of your life?
NC: He is many things
to me. It may sound clichéd, but he is still able to be there
for me whenever I want him; through all the things he left behind. I
am so incredibly lucky, lots of people have lost a parent but not many
people gain a body of personal, artistic work when they do.
KG: Do you have dreams in which your father appears? - and how does he "show up"? In the age you remember him / older or younger?
NC: My father appeared
to me in dreams almost constantly throughout my childhood; the strange
thing was this dream world was persistent. We would pick up and continue
conversations, continue to do things we had started. He looked as he
always did, behaved as he always did... One day this stopped, pretty
much around the same time I became an adult.