Kenneth Williams

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.

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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.

Amy

Never ‘got’ Amy Winehouse until her second album. Never really did with Adele until she released her last album 25 as well. Watching the film made about Amy Winehouse simply titled ‘Amy’ reveals a complex personality. Someone who had immense talent but just couldn’t handle the fame.

The film mentions that there is no text book or manual that prepares you for fame. But there are thousands of people out there who have gone through the mill of press intrusion and having their lives scrutinised and placed under microscope of rolling 24 hours news and social media where one word taken out of context can travel the globe within seconds.

I always look at the management and advisors that are around the people who are in the magazines and TV etc. Too many ‘yes men’ and not enough of those who are there to protect the artist from the people who can either choose to make or break them.

Making major decisions in life I have always asked a friends opinion. You run it by them to get their ideas. Keep you on the right track. The sad story of Whitney Houston’s demise along with Michael Jackson and other similar stars that died too young reminds us that these people are human but leave in an unreal world. Distorting that unreal world with mind changing substances that numb the person pain makes things much worse.

There are those who have become famous and remained relatively unscathed by their lives in the spotlight. They might have had a moment of indiscretion but they have come out the other side seemly a better person.

Find the right balance of people who will keep you grounded and safe. Whether you are famous or not we all need some sort of stability in life. Not deciding to do what we choose without thinking first of the consequences of the process. I think it’s important that we surround ourselves with people who are good for us. Those who mean a lot to us. Not those who would demean and belittle us. It all sounds easy in words but actions are different.

Celebrity

I am struggling with the term “Celebrity” at the moment. I am having a hard time getting my head around what it means to be actually famous. So I thought about looking at the actual definition of the word. It’s origins lie in someone who is honoured or celebrated.

If I am widely known does that make me a celebrity? I am sure people wouldn’t consider someone like the serial killer Dr Harold Shipman as a celebrity when he was alive. So notoriety and knowledge of a particular person do not make them one. The minute that someone is placed on a talent show, broadcast on mainstream television, some think that they are a celebrity.  To me, they are not.

Look at what so-called celebrities have achieved. You have auditioned and failed to win. You haven’t achieved anything. I certainly will think again when someone considers themselves to be a celebrity. I will start first with what they have given to society and is it worth celebrating.