I met Kenneth Williams just the once. We stood, along with Jim Dale, in the front room of Talbot ‘Tolly’ Rothwell’s house. Tolly was the then scriptwriter of the much loved Carry On films (and Kenneth Williams and Jim Dale were two long serving actors of the successful series).
Kenneth was bleating. He did that a lot. If you were in another room with a crowd of chattering people, then that not-so-far-away sound of bleating was more than likely to be the sound of Kenneth Williams holding court. For when Kenneth was in a room 1/ he was never alone, and 2/ he was the king of all he surveyed and the others were there merely to listen.
‘Is this where you get felt?’ These were the first words Kenneth Williams uttered in my presence. I was barely into my teens and took his query to be one pertaining to non-woven cloth and not the sexually charged nod-and-a-wink meaning he had in mind.
Jim Dale piped-up in my defence and asked Kenneth to pipe-down. ‘He knows I’m only having a laugh, don’t you?’ I smiled back. Kenneth then asked my name and how come I happened to be at Tolly’s gaffe at the same time as comedy royalty.
I explained that Tolly and my dad had been friends since school and that we were often here at weekends. ‘Well, good for you. And what fine profession have you got your eye on,’ inquired Kenneth.
‘I want to be a vet.’
‘A vet. Dirty job. All those hours with you hands up strangers’ arses. What drew you to that?’
‘James Herriot. Well his books, I love them.’
‘Good for you,’ smiled Kenneth. ‘Read and ye shall find.’ He then broke his attention away from me, realised the bulk of guests were in another room .. and the next I heard was the not-so-distant sound of a bleating sheep.