Love is Soaked in Memory

Steve Gough on the tragic story of his friend Tom Hyndman, Stephen Spender’s ex-lover and veteran of the Spanish Civil War, who died battling alcoholism in Cardiff.


Sometime in the mid-1980s, Stephen Spender came to Cardiff to give a poetry reading. A friend of mine, Terry Dimmick, took him by taxi from the station. Terry mentioned Tom Hyndman, Spender’s ex-partner – his longest-lasting gay relationship from the 1930s – who spent the last years of his life combating alcoholism in a shabby council flat in the east of the city. Spender did not seem to want to talk about Tom (AKA Tony, T.A.R.H., and Jimmy Younger from Spender and Isherwood’s autobiographies). My friend was disappointed, for Tom had been greatly admired in Cardiff’s radical arts community. Had Spender forgotten his old companion over the years? Not entirely. Spender knew of Tom’s existence and had even paid for a telephone line to be installed in Tom’s spartan home on Cardiff’s infamous Taff Embankment. It seems the famous poet and his now more or less destitute ex-lover would talk occasionally…

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