In my new book, If I Chance to Talk a Little Wild I explain that it was my reading of Laing’s The Divided Self that led me to give up my fledgling career as an actor at the Royal Court Theatre and begin a journey to becoming a psychoanalyst. Albeit, after the rigorous journey to qualification, I later saw reason to defect from the ‘cult’ and rename my professional identity as a relational psychotherapist. Laing’s brilliance and inclination to rebut authority with, ‘It cuts no ice with me’ also remains alive in John’s memory, who was privileged to take many photographs of Ronnie over the years.
I am privileged that in contrast to John’s website: http://www.johnhaynesphotography.com where he only displays one portrait of the many individuals, to be able to display a sequence of John’s portraits. It is my intention to add another of John’s subjects to this blog, from multiple images, each week or month… or for as long as my intention remains intact.
Back to Ronnie… I will not repeat what I have said in my book except to remind those people who have not read the book that Laing was the archetypal hybrid of Apollo and Dionysus in every aspect of his life. He was arrogant and modest and every other combo of oppositional energy. In the end it was his hubris or his defiance of death that killed him. While suffering from a heart condition he died playing tennis, determined to beat his opponent, in the midday sun, in St. Tropez.
My book has also been responsible for me reconnecting to a vital if mutually neglected friendship with Ronnie’s ex wife Jutta Laing. When we met last week, Jutta told me that there was one inaccuracy in my account of our ‘former lives’ regarding my account of Ronnie in the book. I was filled with dread that I was guilty of misrepresentation, a superior dread to the feelings of shame that accompany the discovery of a typo. Jutta explained there was an error in my statement that Ronnie wrote The Divided Self when he thirty. He finished it when he was twenty-six but it was turned down by every publisher, (6) until the Tavistock published it in 1960. Roll over Proust!
My meeting with Jutta was both sad and joyful. Heartbreaking of sadness because her beautiful daughter Natascha died of breast cancer, after an eight year long battle with the disease, at the end of September 2018. Tragically, her firstborn son Adam died ten years earlier while living abroad. Adam and our daughter Tanya spent the first few two years of their lives in tandem when we functioned as a tight knit Hampstead community in Belsize Park. (Looking back, admittedly with nostalgia to the sixties from this materialist and self- aggrandising world, I choose to remember that we preferred Ideas and Ideals to Gold.)
Joyful, because Jutta, in spite of such tragedy – and she was beside Natascha until the moment of her precious death – still manages while mourning – to celebrate Life. To find joy in small things, the aroma of the tea, the resumption of a lost friendship. I am not sure what greater tribute Ronnie would wish for than to know that the woman he cherished and whose love he betrayed in ruthless Dionysian and alcohol fuelled abandon has, in the face of the cruel loss of two of her three children, continued to celebrate the random and hapless, or spiteful nature of Life, which Ronnie also knew and wrote about. Jutta’s smile, her courage and generosity of being leaves me winded with admiration.
All the photographs in this blog are copyright of John Haynes.
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes (Louis MacNeice)