News Column

RELATIONSHIPS: Me and you: Photographer Charlie Waite and actor David Schofield met on stage in the nude. Since then they've shared music, been beach bums and never fallen out: Conversations with my children by Nev Pierce

June 29, 2014



HIS STORY Charlie Waite, 65, photographer

I had a horrible time being bullied at boarding school. There was no provision for feeble little boys who erred towards the arts. But when I was in my early 20s and met David, it was a friendship made in heaven. He just approached me as another guy and didn't make any assumptions about me. It was the early 1970s and we were fresh new actors both cast in a play where we appeared completely naked, covered in body paint. We thought we were at the heart of everything.

I knew I had him as a friend when I said I was getting a reel-to-reel tape recorder. I think he thought: "This guy is cool!" It had an echo effect. We liked to think of ourselves as rather good guitarists. He would come to my flat in South Kensington and we would record ourselves playing Cat Stevens and Jackson Browne.

I have great respect for David as an actor. He pioneered The Elephant Man on stage at the National Theatre. When he started contorting his body, you could have heard a pin drop. He had 800 people in the palm of his hand. Despite his talent and success he's modest and self-deprecating.

What maintains our friendship is that it was built when we were kids. There was no trying to impress each other. We weren't contaminated by the competitive world and all the horrors that go with it. We were just a couple of dudes going into early adulthood, struggling to figure out what the hell was going on.

When my mother died he was the biggest shoulder to cry on. He's just so dependable. It's a wonderful thing when a guy loves another guy. As well as your wife or girlfriend, you need someone in your life who is utterly dependable. And he's that man.

HIS STORY David Schofield, 64, actor

I had turned up for rehearsals for a play. Also in the cast was this very tall chap, Charlie. We could not have been at further ends of the social spectrum. I'm a working-class boy from Manchester, my father worked for the railways. He is upper class - he'd probably say upper-middle - whose father devised the Berlin airlift. Charlie and his future wife, the actor Jessica Benton, were the most beautiful couple you'd ever wish to meet.

In 1974 I'd returned from an international tour and had nowhere to live and no work. I received a postcard from Charlie telling me to book a flight to Nassau and come to the Caribbean. He was out there building a small house. He knew all the local guys and we hung out in the bars listening to music. There isn't a week that goes by that I don't feed myself with the memories of that holiday.

What drew me to Charlie was his extraordinarily gentle nature and his spirituality. He used to go to an ashram in Belsize Park and I asked him what he got out of it. He told me: "It's the challenge, Dave" - he's one of only two people who call me Dave - "it's all very well being spiritual when you're a hermit up a mountain in India, but it's much harder to put those principles of love and understanding into practice on the Northern Line at 7.15 in the morning."

Many people go to therapy for this kind of friendship. I can say anything and know he won't judge me. In our 40 years of friendship, we have never had a cross word. And that's because of him - I'm a volatile, crotchety old bugger. I know he'd never turn his back on me and I hope he feels the same way about me. CANDICE PIRES

Charlie Waite's photography exhibition Silent Exchange is at the National Theatre



If you'd like to appear in this column, email meandyou@observer.co.uk


For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel



Source: Observer (UK)


Story Tools






HispanicBusiness.com Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters