Wednesday, 29 May 2013


Just finished the authorized biography of Kenneth Williams and I have to agree with it that, against much common opinion, his death almost certainly wasn't suicide. He was a man in great physical pain and with little common sense, who didn't think through necking his regular pain killers on top of the xanax for his stomach. For a 'suicidal' man with a great pile of pills at hand, it's odd that he didn't swallow tons of them and, indeed, that he had arranged an appointment with the doctors the next day. And the infamous last note in his diary? 'Oh what's the bloody point?' is a phrase he regularly uses in his diary from the age of 21 onwards. 

But why has the nation--when it cares to think about it--clung to the notion of a suicidal Ken? Doubtless the 'tragic clown' is a magnetic idea, one reinforced by K's pal Tony Hancock. But also one has to remember this was the end of the eighties, with the AIDS epidemic and coarse Victorian values wrapped in Thatcherite clingfilm. On some ugly subconscious level, perhaps the nation believed this was how a homosexual man should die:  alone and full of self-hate. I hope not, because it's a mean way to treat someone who dedicated his existence to entertaining us so well.

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