Derek and Jenny, 1968

Derek and Jenny, married, 5 children


When I was a student, my friend Mair and I were broke, but, as we were both interested in music, we fancied going on an early music course in Swansea, which was where my parents lived. So we persuaded the organiser to let us go as day students. All the other people on the course, which was called the Swansea Bach Week, were resident, including the tutors.

Needless to say, being young and footloose, we kept our eyes out for the talent. And I remember seeing this fabulous bloke in a yellow shirt, with cheeky twinkly eyes and long dark ringlets, sitting on a table and swinging his legs. We learnt that he was a singer called Derek McCulloch. He was teaching on the course and had come with another singer, Morys Davies.

I happened to mention Derek to a former boyfriend of mine who was also on the course. “Nah” he said. “You don’t stand a chance with him. He’s obviously queer” (the term for gay at the time). “He’s come with that other one, Morys”

On the last night, I was playing in the concert and was feeling a bit nervous. I went to the nearest loo, not knowing as a non-resident that some toilets had been allotted to men and some to women. As I entered, I was embarrassed to find Derek standing there. He was less so. “Come in” he said. It seemed churlish to refuse. The ice had been broken!

Later that night, the end-of -course party was well under way. Dai was still convinced Derek and Morys were what we nowadays call “an item”. It was time to find out. After several drinks too many, and an interminably long musicological discussion between Derek and Chris Hogwood, all of it completely over my spaced-out head, Derek suggested we go to see his room….and the rest is history! We got married 18 months later.


In the late 1960s I was for several years tutor on the Swansea Bach Week, a residential music course held in Clyne Castle by the Adult Education Department of the university. Being footloose and fancy free, and in a world less governed by PC, I normally became friendly during the week with one of the attractive young ladies on the course, especially in the run-up to (and after) the final party.

Thus in March 1970 I was invited back to the course to give a lecture on the Passion settings by Heinrich Schütz, a recital and to perform midweek as soloist in Bach’s John Passion, voice fortunately somewhat restored.

As normally happened, my predatory gaze narrowed the field down to two potential playmates, but one smoked, thereby reducing the field to one. Apart from a few pleasantries I had hardly spoken to her – though she, it appears, had taken notice of my lecture delivery, as I sat on rather than behind the table, swinging my legs and wearing a gaudy yellow shirt. She had, however, been assured that I was “queer” (= gay), and that my friend Morys was my lover!!!

No real progress had been made in terms of serious encounter, and the end of week party was looming very large. It did not seem very promising. However, as I was in the gents loo, in preparation for the event, I heard someone enter and looked round. It was HER. “Come in”, I said – and she did, apparently unconcerned that she had entered alien territory. She later explained her trespass on the fact that being non-residential on the course she had not been made aware which loo on that upstairs floor was designated for the men and which for the women.

Was she there by design or error? She swore total innocence (on that front, at least), but a few minutes later she was seen entering the ladies loo on the floor below, thereby signalling either weakness of bladder or consummate pretence …

Thus it began, and the rest is history.


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