Lovesong

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“Another of Smith’s early music heroes was David Bowie. He and his lifelong  partner, Mary Poole, would share their first dance to the accompaniment of  Bowie’s ‘Life On Mars’.”

“By this time, 16-year-old Robert Smith, who’d first seen Harvey play two years  earlier in 1973, was a true believer. Smith and girlfriend Mary Poole followed Harvey  to virtually all of his shows in the south of England. “People talk about Iggy Pop as  the original punk,” Smith said in 1993, ‘but certainly in Britain the forerunner of the  punk movement was Alex Harvey. His whole stage show, with the graffiti-covered  brick walls – it was like very aggressive Glaswegian street theatre.'” 

“It was around the same time as Obelisk’s indifferent debut that Smith would  lose his virginity with Mary Poole, “the nicest girl in school”, whom he’d first  encountered in Drama Class at St Wilfrid’s. ‘I went out with her because everyone  else wanted to,” Smith admitted. Typically, their first sexual encounter wasn’t quite  Mills & Boon-worthy. ‘We were at someone’s party, a fancy dress party,’ he recalled. ‘I went as a surgeon. I remember because I poured all this tomato ketchup  down me. At the time I thought it was a really good idea, but after an hour it really  began to stink. Every time I moved I was completely overpowered by the sweet  sickly smell of tomato ketchup.'”

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When ‘Charlotte Sometimes’ was released in October, the album art fea-  tured a typically oblique, cryptic cover image, which was actually a shot of Mary  Poole, which had been snapped by Smith at a Scottish castle in 1980. The song  crawled to number 44 in the UK singles chart.

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“His band may have been falling apart around him, but in one crucial aspect,  Robert Smith was a lucky man. Over the past three years and three Cure albums  he’d suffered a very public meltdown and done his best to alienate his audience,  his friends and his bandmates. But the one constant in his life was Mary Poole, his long-time girlfriend. Even when he’d sunk lower than he thought possible, with The  Cure having crashed and burned at the end of a period Smith described as “more  like a rugby tour than a Cure tour”, Poole stood by her man. Smith was smart  enough to recognise her remarkable, unswerving faith in him and acknowledge  how much she helped him keep his head together. 

‘I was quite out of sync, a bit disturbed,’ Smith said of his hard times in the early Eighties. ‘I knew then that Mary was the girl for me, because she stuck by me.  But everyone I know reaches a point where they throw out their arms and go  berserk for a while – otherwise you never know what your limits are. I was just trying to find mine.'”

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“‘We’d been drinking and someone thought it would be cool to go for a walk,’  Smith reminisced when asked about the night on the tiles that inspired ‘Just Like  Heaven’. ‘But suddenly the fog came in and I lost sight of my friends and couldn’t  see my hand before my eyes. I thought I might fall down the cliff if I moved another  foot so I had to sit down until dawn. Later I heard my friends didn’t even look for  me.’ Smith and band revisited the site for the Tim Pope video; look closely and  you’ll spot Mary Poole, spinning and dancing like a fallen angel, looking exactly as  you’d expect Robert Smith’s partner to look.” 

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“I open up my eyes
I find myself alone, alone, alone
Above a raging sea
That stole the only girl I loved
And drowned her deep inside of me”

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“At the time, Smith had also started work on a musical sketch called ‘Lovesong’, a  song that had a noticeably different mood to the rest of his new material. It was a  gentle strum in the midst of some genuine fire and brimstone. For Robert Smith it  was a first – and the title said it all. ‘It’s an open show of emotion,’ he admitted.

‘It’s not trying to be clever. It’s taken me 10 years to reach the point where I felt  comfortable singing a very straightforward love song. In the past, I’ve always felt a  last-minute need to disguise the sentiment.’  What Smith was actually writing was a gift to Mary Poole – a wedding gift. ‘I  couldn’t think of what to give her,’ said Smith, ‘so I wrote her that song – cheap  and cheerful. She would have preferred diamonds, I think, but she might look back  and be glad that I gave her that.’ Finally, after 15 years together, they were married  in Worth Abbey on August 13, with much of The Cure (including the increasingly  unstable Lol Tolhurst) along for the party. Simon Gallup was best man, while  Smith played DJ for much of the night-long party that followed their nuptials.

‘We just got married to have a nice day,’ Smith said soon after, ‘so that Mary  could walk down an aisle in a white dress and [so we could] just have all my uncles  and aunties there. It’s really dumb but I was sort of overcome.’ For Smith, the  decision to get hitched boiled down to simple maths: he and Poole had known  each other for more than half their lives, so it was time to make it official. Smith,  however, wasn’t quite ready for parenthood. When asked by a local reporter after  the wedding, he simply replied: ‘No, I don’t think I’m cut out for fatherhood at the  moment – and I’m lucky in that Mary doesn’t think she’s cut out for motherhood at  the moment, either.’ They did, however, “adopt” two children through a World  Vision-type scheme – Smith, a Guatemalan girl; Poole, a Haitian boy. They also decided to get the hell out of London and return to Sussex.”

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“Mary means so incomprehensibly much to me. I actually don’t think she has ever realized how dependant I’ve been of her during all these years we’ve been together. She’s always been the one that has saved me when I have been the most self-destructive, she’s always been the one that has caught me when I have been so very close to fall apart completely, and if she would have disappeared – I am sorry, I know that I’m falling into my irritating miserable image by saying it – then I would have killed myself. “

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