Damn damn damn damn damn
It's quite hard to explain why Ken Campbell was so much loved by everyone who ever saw him perform, or met him, two things which were pretty much the same. But first, for those who never did, a momentary pause for an introduction to the sly suburban lunacy of the man:
So, OK, I only saw one of the great Ken productions - his version of Hitchhiker
- and I never got round to his version of Illuminatus!
or his 22-hour The Warp
, but I got told about them in hushed tones by various critics and actors who saw them or were in them or both. I found myself sharing panels at sf cons with the man a couple of times, which was weird and scary because you knew that anything you might say would be taken down and used in evidence for the surreal nature of the universe. At one con, I had to sing the Star War's Theme and I caught Ken looking at me, in a considered fashion.
Seeing him on stage - or hearing him on the radio doing his talk about pidgin - was only part of it, is the point. Once, after al fresco sex with my then lover in Finsbury Park - the park itself, not just the district - I had kissed her and put her on the bus, and then went for a post-coital bacon sandwich in a local greasy spoon. And found myself having breakfast with Ken, who talked about more things in half an hour than I do in a long weekend. He was intelligent and funny and incredibly talented.
And is dead at 66 having done more than most of us.
He once walked up to me, and said 'Your comic timing's not bad at all' and then paused, and then walked away. One of the five nicest things ever said to me.