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My friend, Dave Tomlinson - Craig Brown

Features | By Craig Brown

Tomlinson, as an undercover journalist, with Carol Marsh in Marry Me! (1949)

After an unconventional, tragic youth, David Tomlinson, the Mary Poppins star, became a lovely, anarchic charmer. By Craig Brown

Aged seven, I bought my first LP. It was the Mary Poppins soundtrack. Though I played it a thousand times, I never took to the treacly, goody-two-shoes Feed the Birds. When it came on, I would pick up the stylus and skip straight on to my favourite track, Let’s Go Fly a Kite. It was sung by Mr Banks, who begins the film huffing and puffing as a starchy pillar of respectability and ends it having opted for a life of mischief and merriment. Thirty years later, I was the restaurant critic for the Sunday Times. One afternoon, my answerphone was flashing, so I pressed the button to hear the message. Out boomed the voice of Mr Banks, complaining, in the strongest possible terms, about the food and service at a fashionable restaurant in Covent Garden. ...

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