Sunday, 20 January 2008

Kenneth Williams

A letter from a complex, kind man....

In the early winter of 1980, unwell with asthma and a chest infection, I was obliged to take time off work. The duvet and Radio 4 were my solace.

I particularly enjoyed a programme of Victorian 'parlour poetry' presented by the actor Kenneth Williams and the veteran radio presenter David Davis.

Williams performed with brio, making the poems emerge as if stripped of ancient coats of varnish.

Davis read with glutinous relish, his voice the texture of a Hobnob dipped in sweet tea.

I was so taken with KW's contribution that I zipped off an appreciative postcard.

The letter shown above arrived within a few days:
Dear Rory, Delighted to receive your very encouraging letter today. Actually I was amazed that it wasn't ME reading WALRUS & CARPENTER in that broadcast, & to show you my version I shall send you a recording under separate cover. Hope you will find it an improvement on that other old farts rendering. Yours, Kenneth

Mr Williams was as good as his word. A cassette arrived a few days later. His reading of Walrus and Carpenter is indeed a gem - as are his idiosyncratic treatments of Christmas Day in the Workhouse, The Dong with a Luminous Nose, Hiawatha's Photographing - and much more.

It remains a treasured possession.

1 comment:

barrie k said...

This is a super entry in this excellent blog. It has prompted me to listen to clips from Around the Horne that can be found on the web. It is hard to imagine that one would receive such a response from a "celebrity" today. Bravo!