David has found a deeper inner contentment in recent years. I find this heartening, as I know it’s not always been so – there’s been emotional suffering along the way. And with that suffering has come a wisdom (though he’s too self-effacing to say so himself): ‘When you’re younger you think your happiness is going to be derived from things like status or ability. I found it’s none of those things. Different periods of your life bring you happiness in different ways.’
Among the things that bring David happiness these days is his great passion for culture, in many forms – theatre (particularly Shakespeare at The Globe); film (especially the golden period of Hollywood); music (ranging from Beethoven to Frank Sinatra and David Bowie); literature (the Brontës and Jane Austen); and art (Hockney and Warhol being favourites). Indeed, what I particularly admire in David is his admiration for so many cultural heroes – it speaks of his devotional and loving nature. I’ve tried to reflect this in his portrait in the ‘gallery of fame’ behind him.
There’s one lesser known figure in the gallery – his partner Ken (below David Bowie). David recognises their relationship as of central importance: ‘I can’t imagine life without it … there’s always someone you can turn to, and who you can stand around with in your underpants without feeling inhibited!’
David’s irreverent sense of humour comes through in that quote, and it’s another quality I enjoy a lot in him. ‘There’s a naughty boy part of me that wants to rail against or tear down. I have to put a pin in things sometimes just for my own sanity.’ David can indeed do a very fulsome rant, which I love – partly as he’s very funny, but more because what I sense (and enjoy) as really being behind it is a longing for real beauty and truth.
‘I’ve had a really good life – if it ended tomorrow, I wouldn’t mind.
I like to complain, but I’m basically very happy.’
How I know David
My first conversations with David were in the smoking hut at my first Buddhist retreat in 2006 (we’ve both given up since!). I was in a bit of a mess then, and David showed kindness and patience. I remember him seeming to know many things about life and to have lived it fully. That first impression turned out to be true. We both went on to work and live at the London Buddhist Centre for a few years. We have been good friends and supports to each other, including during some quite intense times.
David chose for his video not to be shown publicly