Open menu


Open menu


Open menu
three pairs of lovers with space



The following story was twice recounted by English journalist Michael Davidson, first in his autobiography The World, the Flesh and Myself (1962), and then, at much greater length is in Some Boys (1969), a memoir more narrowly focused on his Greek love affairs. It is the first account is presented here.

Davidson was fifty-three when he moved to Japan from Korea in 1950, having "decided that the best place to cover the [Korean] war from was Tokyo."


The World, The Flesh and Myself

"Keibo" Suzuki

I find it's impossible to write about Keibo[1] because, I suppose, he's too close to me—though it's eleven years ago now, I feel he’s in the room with me. Of all the loves I've had, his has lasted longest; of all the boys I've loved, he, more than any, was the ‘divine friend, much desired’—the perfect one. He was 15 when I met him in the Hibiya gardens in Tokyo; today, at 26, his affection is as perfect as ever; and mine for him, though changed in structure, is unalterable in strength. After I had had to leave him behind (his adoring mother, sweet little Mama-San, had said to me: ‘Do you want him for your own, I will give him to you’; and thereafter he had begun his letters: ‘My fatherly Michael’), he wrote to me for ten years, and sent me presents from Tokyo; and when, at the age of 23, he became converted to the Catholic Church, he had himself baptized after me—‘Now I’m Christian so my name is Michael of course after yours,’ he wrote to me. I have many of his letters written down the years, and when I re-read them I am humbled to the point of shame by the fierceness of their naively expressed devotion: ‘ ... we were always together. You came every day for lunch and dinner to my house and I was stay with you every day and night, first we were hotel then you found our house in Satagaya.... My dear Papa, since you left Japan I felt very lonely and sorrow then I became very norty boy but I have grown now. Mon père, I was hard to live alone, I thought I’m going to mad, you can’t imagine how I was missed you so. Oh I wish I can look after you. It will be very nice isn’t it?...’[2] Love, which should be always kind, can be as cruel as torture when arbitrarily wrenched apart; I’ve often felt, during the many harrowing partings of my life, that one has no right to love when one knows that circumstances must brutally cut it short; by loving and being loved, one is storing up pain.

Tokyo in the 1950s

Yes: our house in Satagaya ... the perfect simplicity of life on the yielding kindliness of the tatami floor, the softly sliding doors; the gliding grace of a Japanese house and the steaming luxury of a Japanese bath. And how we laughed afterwards, that night in the European-style hotel (our window looked full out to the blue-white immaculacy of Fuji-San) when an impudent earthquake rolled us out of bed with a bump. The shopping expeditions to the PX and the Australian canteen to buy luxuries like sugar for Keibo’s family (it was a grave offence even to give ‘occupationaire’ provisions to any Japanese). I suppose, in all my life (since the perfection of my childhood), those six months with Keibo were the happiest; and his incomparable goodness made even the grim inhumanity of the Korean war seem worth while. We said good-bye twice: in October 1950, the war in Korea seeming to be near dubious conclusion, I was sent to Hanoi, in northern Vietnam; not knowing that in six weeks’ time I should be back with Keibo, after the Chinese ‘hordes’ moved south. ...

"Keibo" Suzuki

In the first week of December I was back in Tokyo, and a week or so later in Seoul, the capital of South Korea already being threatened again. I recall chiefly the agonizing cold, and Christmas at the front with the Middlesex Regiment, who were cheerfully entombed beneath ice and snow in the wild hills some dozen miles north of Seoul.

I left the Korean war for good on 17th January 1951. I can’t remember, I’m glad to say, the actual parting from Keibo; I know that I sobbed for half an hour after take-off: saying my prayers for his sake to Fuji-San’s white pile on the starboard beam. I’ve howled so often and so much in aeroplanes during the last twenty years and more, that I no longer care about appearing an ass in the other passengers’ eyes.

In 1961 I saw Keibo in Europe: the same incomparable person; but a decade older than boyhood.


[1] Eikishi Suzuki, nicknamed Eibo [Author’s footnote]

[2] Suzuki’s letters to him, from which he has been quoting in this paragraph, were published in his Sicilian Vespers and other writings (London: Arcadian Dreams, 2021) pp. 262-67.