Friday, May 15, 2009

CYRIL DAVID, 1920-2009

Cyril was not a parishioner. In fact I have no idea if he had any formal religious leanings. But he was a part of St. Ann's by virtue of the fact that he actually lived here. Physically. On the church property. For Cyril, had rented the apartment above what was the old rectory for many years. He was the perfect tenant as far as paying his rent was concerned, and even if, from time to time he would complain that the dishwasher/oven/washer-drier/microwave wasn't working properly, and closer inspection proved him wrong, he was never too grumpy about the whole thing. In fact he was always shy, cordial, impeccably polite, and (given that he was born in London) never wanted to "make a fuss." But I write about him, in tired, fumbled words, as his landlord. And how pathetic my estimation of Cyril is, compared with his international reputation.

As a renowned artist Cyril was quite unique in the images he was able to create using paper and special graphite pencils. I have seen dozens of his works, and if I had not been previously told, each one resembles a monochrome photograph; such is the perfection of the detail. By pencil. By concentrating on painstaking detail. And by emotion, in that (by his own words and those who now come after him, his daughter Chris and his long-term partner Joan) Cyril always felt that each work, each scene, each individual depicted (often female, subtly composed, see above) was a projection of his own desire. Who knows? How wonderful!

On hearing of Cyril's sudden death today, I got there as quick as I could. Yet even though he was dead, he was, through his works displayed everywhere in that apartment, still living, still breathing, still shyly telling me that the gutters dripped too noisily, and could I do something about light bulbs? It was a very moving moment, as I held the hands of those closest to him, and we all breathed memories in and out. No prayers. No fake religion. Just people drawn together in a peaceful death. As it should be.

Requiem in pace, Cyril.