LOVERS of art-rock who see singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock perform in Twyford village hall in July may agree with Paste Magazine that this is a return of a “witty, moving and seriously catchy” musician “who wasn’t gone in the first place”. Although Hitchcock lives in Nashville, Tennessee, he was brought up near Winchester, in a restored mill-house at Abbots Worthy – recently featured on BBC’s Country File.

When the Hitchcock family moved there in the late 1960s, his father, Raymond was returning to his roots, although he didn’t know it. His orphaned father had been brought up in Upham, and his mother was from Portsmouth. Raymond was on the verge of publishing a risqué novel that would become a box-office success. This was Percy, a satire about a penis transplant (get the title?), that netted him £30,000 from the producer Betty Box.

It was an extraordinary achievement for someone whose father was a hard-bitten soldier, rising from the ranks to brigadier, and insisting his son follow him. But this was his salvation. Sent off by the Army to Cambridge to read Mechanical Sciences, Raymond entered a new world. His studies were interrupted in 1944 when he went as a sapper to Normandy, sustaining injuries that gave him a lifelong limp.

After recovering, he went back to Cambridge, where he met his future wife, Joyce, who was reading History. “She it was who opened his eyes to culture. And she was always the sales person,” said his daughter Fleur.

His first job after graduating was as a communications engineer with Cable & Wireless, but in his spare time he drew cartoons. “He was very good and sold lots of originals. Looking at the list of contributors to Punch he was up there with the likes of Quentin Blake,” said Fleur. By 1959 he was creating primitive images in Festival of Britain colours, and staging a one-man show at the Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford, which achieved sales to several colleges.

Fleur said: “In about 1965, someone said to him, ‘If you want to tell stories, you should write them down’. So he wrote Percy, which was his most successful book. After that his publishers encouraged him to do others things, like a novel based on the film [and long-running play] There’s A Girl in My Soup, which he found rather soul-destroying.”

In the 1970s he threw his weight, and his cartooning skills, behind local protests against the proposed route of the M3. The script of his impassioned speech at the public enquiry is in the Hampshire Record Office. There followed a barren period, but in 1980 he started to write again, this time publishing thrillers, such as The Tunnellers, Sea Wrack and Attack the Lusitania, which has been reprinted recently. His last book, The Morrow of Lammas, was the only one with a Hampshire setting and was based on the death of William Rufus.

Raymond Hitchcock was in many ways a refusenik, who followed his nose. At school he refused confirmation, and later refused careers in the Army and radio communication. It is no surprise that his son, Robyn, forged a career in a totally different world. And Raymond’s “short and very pugnacious” father might have been satisfied to see on his son’s gravestone, in Rampisham, Dorset: “Soldier, Artist, Writer”.

“He was not really proud of Percy, even if it was a great success. For him it was really his paintings,” said Fleur.