Charles Fisher Born Swansea Nov. 21st 1914. Died Jan 24th 2006 Bangkok
THE LAST OF THE 'KARDOMAH BOYS'
"Charles Fisher was one of Dylan's closest Swansea 'friends of my youth'. "
The Dylan is Dylan Thomas and the writer of this description was Constantine Fitzgibbon, the official biographer of the Welsh poet. Fitzgibbon also wrote in his 1965 'Life of Dylan Thomas':
'Charles Fisher was more than just a journalist and was thought by many to show more promise as a writer than did Dylan.'
Charles Fisher was an almost exact contemporary of Dylan Thomas. They attended the same Swansea Grammar School where they met and became friends, indeed Charlie could claim to be Dylan's first 'wife' in as much as he played that role in the all-boy production of Galsworthy's 'Strife' - Dylan taking the lead role of Roberts the strike leader.
After School they both became reporters on the local Newspaper, 'The South Wales Evening Post', where Charles's father was head printer. Charles was by far the better journalist and wrote general news, music criticism and a well respected angling column under the by-line 'Blue Dun'. Charles loved the outdoors and country pursuits and was known to arrive at the urban newspaper offices dressed in riding breeches, having hitched his horse to a lampost outside. Even in 1930's Swansea this was eccentric behaviour. Charles described Dylan's appearance as 'looking like an unmade bed'. But Charles was the complete opposite, a well-groomed dandy, who, every Saturday, would don top hat and tails and head for the local up-market dinner-dance where he cut a swathe through the Swansea girls.
Charles and Dylan were both part of a group of bright young men who have come to be known as 'The Kardomah Boys' after the Swansea cafe where they would meet up on an ad hoc basis. All were talented artists in one field or another, - the poet Vernon Watkins, the Painter Alfred Janes, the musician and polymath Dr.Daniel Jones, together with other talented writers and musicians like John Prichard and Tom Warner. Dylan Thomas would describe these meetings at length in his 1947 radio broadcast 'Return Journey' where he writes, 'Charlie's got whiskers now' , and that he will become famous for 'catching the poshest trout'.
After the local paper they both moved up to London - Dylan to pursue his literary career and Charles to continue his journalism working for Reuters. But Charles continued to write poetry and plays, - his poems were published in the early issues of Kiedrych Rhys' seminal literary magazine 'Wales' alongside Dylan and other key Anglo-Welsh writers. He and Dylan stayed in touch and began to collaborate on a spoof murder mystery 'The Death of the King's Canary'. But with the advent of war Charles volunteered and joined the Army Intelligence Corps.His place as co-writer on 'Canary' was taken up by John Davenport [the book was eventually published in 1976 with an introduction by Fitzgibbon who writes warmly of Charlie's early involvement].
Charles married a Spanish singer some years older than himself but by the time of Dylan's death in 1953 this marriage had broken up.Charles was shocked and saddened by his friends untimely death and he attended Dylan's infamous funeral in Laugharne before striking out for a new life in Canada.
He ended up in Ottawa where he worked at the Canadian Parliament transcribing the proceedings for their version of Hansard.It was an ideal job for Charles as it brought him into contact with a rich and colourful social scene which he thrived on, [he was good friends with the Trudeau's]. But it also gave him long vacations where he could indulge his passion for travel. To begin with he was captivated by Spain - in particular Granada and its Gypsy population. Charles remarkably won their affection and respect as a flamenco guitarist, dancer, drinker and bon-vivant and was eventually accepted into a family and even gave away the bride at a huge gypsy wedding.
On his retirement Charles continued to travel but now he explored the Far East and Pacific Islands. He came to love Thialand which became a favourite destination. He also began to write poetry prose again and in 1988 his volume of poems 'The Locust Years' was published to critical acclaim. His account of his time with the Spanish Gypsies 'Adios Grenada' is to be published shortly.
In 2003 he returned to Swansea and gave a mesmerising talk to a packed auditorium at the Dylan Thomas Centre on the last night of the festival commemorating the 50th Anniversary of his friend's death. Nearing ninety himself he cut such a fine figure in a midnight blue Armani jacket, upright and chiselled, his steelgrey hair tied back in a neat pony-tail - He looked like a cross between Geronimo and Timothy Leary.
A true adventurer to the end, Charles was on another of his long solo journeys across the globe when he died peacefully in his sleep in a Bangkok hotel. He is survived by his daughter Caitlin, two grand-daughters, Harriet and Stella Charles, and his beloved second ex-wife, Jane.