Sometimes when you are mentally unwell life can seem useless. The perception of you being a burden or a bore.
At the moment, I cannot shake off this feeling, so instead of bending my friend’s ears, I am turning to my writing.
From the age of 14, Kenneth Williams kept a diary for much of his life. It is an impressive collection that the British Library has recently acquired and a testament to the great man of comedy. But the diaries were his confessional. His ‘other half’, the one you ‘sound off to and the person you usually come home to when your pissed and need to talk.
For many years I have done the same. I live on my own and I often need someone to chat and the diaries over the years also have become my companion. The writing I do for this blog is certainly censored and a diary is a true reflection of one’s state and feelings.
I was thinking back at a time when I didn’t seem to have a care in the world and the person that I was when I was in my 20s is not the person I am now. The depression came a few years after my father passed away, and it hasn’t left me since. So my outlook on life has changed dramatically. I don’t suffer fools gladly (others might disagree) and I don’t spend time, as I should, doing things I actually enjoy.
Been away. Yep. Another time away for Philip. This time I am hoping when I come home I am not ill again. Just thought it was an ideal time to get a break from taking a break. This time I was a lot more relaxed and able to enjoy the sites and sounds of London.
London is crazy. The people are crazy. Every day I hear car horns blaring and a constant stream of emergency vehicles sirens screaming down past the hotel at all times day and night.
I was able to have a quieter moment in Green Park on Saturday afternoon as the weather had turned from nice to the Mediterranean. Coming from the northeast and unable to feel the cold it was a little unbearable at times especially travelling on the tube at temperatures that would have rivalled my oven at home. Plenty of water and patience.
I decided to have a less “touristy” visit and take in some of the bookshops that London has. It was a great time although my suitcase now looks like I have done a Hatton Garden on a local library.
The good thing as well is I don’t have to justify these purchases to anyone when I return. Why have you bought all those books? My mother would have asked.
It was a time of reflection given the horrible terrorist attacks on Westminster Bridge. Seeing all those flowers and dedications somehow made something I just saw on the news very very real. It was difficult not to shed tears for those innocent people who had been caught up in it and those left behind asking the question why.
I did make an important journey to Marchmont Street to the home that Kenneth Williams grew up in. It was an important pilgrimage. I cried uncontrollably for a while when the reality hit that I was in a place where he frequented. It was a place of heartache and sometimes laughter for him. I was moved by the fact that he was honoured with a plaque in 2009 commemorating the place.
I did stop by Downing Street where there was a Stop the War protest of Trump’s bombing of Syria. I made conversation with a lady as I wanted to get their point of view on the matter. Her simple message was forgotten all the complications and points of view and see the violence for violence as not the solution. That’s a standpoint to start from. I saw her simple view as intriguing as well as frustrating. What is the solution?
Time to come home after a great few days away. I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life. Looking for work and moving on from the past few years.
I had a look back at my blog and thought I must have written about him hundreds of times only to realise I think I mentioned him once when I had bought an autobiography for 1p on Amazon. That’s it. It is strange what you perceive in your own mind and what is the reality. Things couldn’t be any different once you delve into the past.
I feel an affinity towards Kenneth Williams not only did he appear in the 26 of the most successful British comedy films through his life but he was a consummate raconteur of the talk show circuit in the 1970s and 80s. He was a brilliant panelist on Just a Minute a BBC radio show from 1968 until his death in 1988. The premise of the show is talking and this was his craft and he honed it to perfection.
Kenneth Williams led a reclusive and sad life. He wouldn’t allow people to visit a sparsely decorated flat that he lived in. He hated any kind of germs or untidiness. He was brought up in a strict Wesleyan Methodist household. It was certainly different from the Methodism we see today. High morals and certainly a disapproving of someone who was seen to be a homosexual. It would have been seen as a sin and a dark cloud that would have irritated and upset Williams’ father, Charlie.
It was only in 1967 that Britain decriminalised homosexual acts and by this time Kenneth was well into his forties. The deep spiritual belief that being gay was a sin was entrenched into Williams’ psyche something that he wouldn’t be able to accept or come to terms with throughout his life.
Even meeting the playwright Joe Orton with his liberal views wasn’t enough to shake off the British facade of wearing the collar and tie even on the beach. You had to look the man to be the man.
My mother was desperate for me to emulate older people within my family unit. “Why can’t you dress like your uncle so and so?” She used to ask me. Growing up with someone who believes that in the 1980s young teenagers should dress like someone in their late 60s caused a great amount of conflict in my house. Especially when it came for me to tell them I had become a Christian and would be regularly attending the local church. My mother was horrified that I was going to church each week dressed in jeans and t-shirt. I had become morally bankrupt in her eyes.
My life seems to have been almost a copy of Williams on paper. His father was Welsh. The religion was Methodist as was my mother’s. We both suffered from depression and conflicts due to being gay. Always the consummate clown from an early age. I was berated by my mother when they received the annual school report to say Philip is messy and a chatterbox. I can remember from the age of six thinking up my first joke. I explained to this to my mother many years later that in conversation with who it may be my brain is thinking of a funny line to say. If I do think it’s funny, I will say it. If it isn’t I won’t. Other times I will say things without thinking and some people do laugh but others seeing as being crude or rude.
Williams quoted someone in one of his television appears about being an atheist. The person in question had asked what if all of life was just a joke and there was no God. The person responded by saying if it is a joke let’s make it a good one.
Getting back into reading and now that my attention span has settled. It is amazing what bargains you can find on second hand book websites. I picked up this Kenneth Williams biography for the glorious amount of 1p it was just the postage that cost a few pound.
My obsession with the Carry on films continues and even more so with the life and works of one of its greatest stars. This is the third book I have read on Kenneth Williams and it was good to read about what those who were closest to him remember about his often misunderstood and complex character.
I certainly see familiar traits and peculiarities in his attributes. A comic actor playing to the audience but racked with self-doubt and over-riding depressive tendencies.
I would have loved to met KW and was sad to realise that at the time of his death in 1988 I was living in London and could have unknowingly crossed paths at one time.
I do watch a view “youtubers” some have been good and some have been dreadful. I think being honest and open about your life is an attractive thing. Someone who is living a lie and hiding who they truly are is an ugly trait.
Connor Franta has been open about his life and has released a book about his journey in the twenty two years he has been on this planet. At times he gives his opinion and how he sees life. He challenges the reader to live in the moment and enjoy the things that are around us.
Some could be cynical and say he is cashing in on his status or just releasing a book like everything other Youtuber. I for one am glad that he openness and honesty seems to be genuine and he is allowing himself to be role model for a digital generation that are ever more surrounded by social media pressures.
I picked up the last book that seemed to strike a chord with me at this moment. Someone who had documented and spoke about his depression and anxiety so candidly. It was good that an ordinary bloke had published a book on his perspective of why you should stay alive. The biggest killer of young men isn’t road accidents or cancer it’s suicide.
The book was easy to read and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who has had or is having problems with depression. Everyone is different and it’s about finding the right treatment for yourself. If it medication then that’s good. If it’s yoga and exercise like the author it’s whatever works for you.
The key about treating mental illness is that you do have the power and the right to find what keeps you alive.