Sylvester's story

Writing Days

Sylvester 06.jpg

1958 2nd Class Taxi was published by Fabers. The book was immediately banned by the then Apartheid South African government when it hit the best seller list. It was unbanned in 1988 when the 2nd edition was published under the AfricaSouth imprint.

1959 Old Letch was published by Fabers.  Written on voyage from South Africa to England, Old Letch, sometime titled Qwertyuiop, foolery with the typewriter, was, three years later, turned into a musical by John Dankworth (music) and David Dearlove with Sylvester (lyrics).

Daily Mail 21 October 1959

Here are the words of a sample song about its hero, a lazy, lovable layabout, at his toilette:

The nail on a toe
Can't possibly grow
as fast as the nail on a finger
for the nail on a toe
takes everything slow -
and the nail on a finger won't linger,
won't linger,
won't linger, 
won't linger.
There's only one But:
the moment to cut
each harvest of horn - that's the poser!
for the manual tips
are ripe for the snips
much sooner than those on the toes are,
the toes are..
the toes are..
the toes are..
(Dankworth, Dearlove, Stein)

1960 What the World Owes Me by Mary Bowes was published by Fabers.

All three of the books published by Fabers had covers designed by Malcolm Hart.

Settled in London, Sylvester had a spell in Fleet Street (The News Chronicle and Reynolds News) at the same time pursuing a writing career.

1976 The Bewilderness, some nonsense about Moss published.

1999 Who Killed Mr Drum? published by Mayibuye Books in South Africa and later republished by Corvo (2003) in London.

At the end of the 1990s I started stewing up a book about my old Drum staff when I learned of the death of another of my old pals from back in the 1950s, Bloke Modisane. I myself was still in the land of the living, the oldest of the whole gang, now entering my 80s, so I regarded his death as very untimely. Looking at the whole lot of them as a fateful sample of the black population, with its tragically low mortality rate, and what with the deaths when very young of Nat Nakasa, Casey Motsisi, Bob Gosani and others. From I Danced with Mrs Gandhi.