My Dartmouth Park: Beatles biographer Hunter Davies remembers Parliament Hill Fields
08:00 04 August 2014
Hunter Davies, 78, is an author and journalist best known for writing the only authorised biography of The Beatles. He has lived in Dartmouth Park with his wife, novelist Margaret Forster, for more than 50 years. Mr Davies has two new books, The Biscuit Girls and The Beatles Lyrics, out in August and September respectively.
What brought you to Dartmouth Park?
This was in 1963 and we had a flat in the Vale of Health and wanted to buy something locally but couldn’t afford Hampstead. So we looked around for cheap places near the Heath and bought our house for £5,000. At the time, the area was called Parliament Hill Fields, which you still see on the buses. It was the local poncy, pretentious estate agents about 30 years ago who rechristened our immediate streets as Dartmouth Park. Nobody knew where that was for years. I quite like the use of the name now. We always thought we would move back to Hampstead one day but now never would. We love it here soooooo much.
You have a day off to spend as you wish in the area, what would you get up to?
I have days off all the time, I am a total sybarite but I suppose the ideal day would be as it always has been since 1960 when we first moved to Hampstead – the Heath, of course, where else? I walk it every day that we are in London.
Is there anything about Dartmouth Park which you would like to see changed or improved?
No dogs anywhere, on the Heath, on the planet. It’s people shouting at their dogs that drives me mad. People seem to have dogs just to shout at them. Potty. Mobile phones, obviously. They should be banned as well.
As guest editor of the Ham&High for a day, what one local issue would you most like to see reported?
The whole paper, every inch, devoted to Spurs, with not a word about the Arsenal...
A film is set to be made about your life. Which actor would you choose to play you and why?
Old Mother Riley? Is she still going? If not, Mrs Brown of Mrs Brown’s Boys. I always think I look like both of them, but they have better hair.
Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?
My dear wife, of course. Stop it, that hurts.
If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say?
Epitaph? Is that spelt with a “f” at the end? And spelt. Should that be spelled? Thank God, no more spellings to check...
Hunter Davies was in conversation with Tim Lamden