“And now for something completely different”, as the stars of Monty Python’s Flying Circus used to say.
As a matter of fact, I knew one of the stars of the series, Graham Chapman, who used to confide in me about the series in the late 1970s. Sadly Graham died in 1989 from cancer, but we had many a happy hour in meeting and in general chat. We often had long conversations about his film career and my own unfortunate experiences regarding my involvement in the infamous Highgate ‘vampire’ affair back in the ‘70s, and my arrest which culminated at my Old Bailey Trial for ‘witchcraft offences’ in the Summer of 1974. I often used to be invited back to his house in Highgate for coffee, and there was no doubt he was very sympathetic regarding my experiences with the belligerent attitudes of the Metropolitan Police which resulted in my unjust imprisonment. Graham had read many of the stories in the national Press which covered my Trial, and quite frankly, he was less than impressed. A comedian by profession, but nevertheless, a person who deeply understood the more tragic sides of human nature and, as he often explained, merely sought to satirise this.
He owned a fairly large Georgian house which sat on the outskirts of Highgate Village, not far from the infamous Highgate Cemetery where the Press had maintained a ‘vampire’ existed, and all sorts of black magical activity was taking place.
He used to rest his large feet up on a pouffe in front of his favourite armchair, and pour me a whiskey, while he infrequently enjoyed a double gin. It seems so long ago now; maybe even longer, as those times were fairly short-lived. Graham was to die of cancer not many years later after he had abandoned the house in Highgate and moved to Maidstone. But one thing I will always remember from our conversations is his attitude towards the way I had been treated. On many occasions he encouraged me to keep fighting to prove my innocence of my 1974 ‘witchcraft’ convictions. He said I should ‘never give up’ and right would always prevail in the end – but to give it a chance, which he emphasised was always essential. Maybe he was talking in part about the lighthearted attitude he used to take towards society in general; maybe he was just trying to satirise life, which he made only too clear in his comedic roles: but with myself he was always serious, and expressed a far deeper understanding of life, than most people would ever realise. “I think there is a great empathy between us”, he once told me. “Never give up.”
Well I never have done, and never will.
Graham’s motto always seemed to be…just publish and be damned, that way people can never accuse you of being hypocritical.
So I’ve taken his advice – at long last – and decided to make public a few experiences from the past which have hitherto remained unpublished. Nothing sensational, but events which have completely escaped the attention of the popular Press – in the UK at least.
I have just received a video of a film recording I made in 1985, for French TV. The film crew came to interview me about the occult and ‘witchcraft’ and I will be posting the film itself in the next day or so, but in the meantime, here are some stills from the TF1 transmission that apparently was so popular in France.
So watch this space tomorrow!