Wednesday, 13 August 2014

MONEY CAN'T BUY ME LOVE ... RIP, ROBIN WILLIAMS

The temptation to spill all that Robin Williams said to Express writer Roger Tavener and me one afternoon at the London Palladium during the Eighties, after rehearsals and ahead of that night's charity show, is great. I'm not going to. I will instead remember with mirth the mischief we made - hiding in the downstairs Gents' until the venue had emptied, then squirrelling our way around the warren of dressing rooms until we happened upon his. I'll cherish the expression on Robin's face when we told him what we'd got up to: how could he not grant us an interview after that? I'll recall his doubtless John Lennon-inspired line during the performance that same evening: 'Madam, you can either wear that bracelet, or you can feed Nicaragua.' I will try, like everyone else, to accept.

The dysfunctional childhood that Robin Williams endured left a gaping great void that he would spend his adult lifetime attempting to fill with the echoes of adulation. His maniacal brand of humour was an expression, maybe even a quest for exorcism, of the demons who possessed and taunted him. I cannot think of a person more deeply human. He mattered because he touched base with us all. It was as if he knew all our most terrifying secrets, and wasn't afraid of confronting and exploring them. Or possibly he was: he did it anyway. What amazes me, now that I think about it, is that he lived so long. All the while that he was able to make art out of anguish, he could maintain what passed for a normal life (if there is such a thing. Who knows? I don't. I really don't.) When his art boiled down to money - not having enough of it to pay off past loves, nor to keep everyone in the style to which they'd become accustomed, he literally lost the will to live.

At least death was on his own terms. Who in their right mind would deny him that?

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