Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Ghost of Kenneth Williams Stalks Regents Place

When Kenny Williams of most joyful memory departed this vale of tears - with a most enigmatic entry in his diary - he was living in a flat in Marlborough House, in Osnaburgh Street, London NW.

Ken died in 1988. Too young, too funny, too unloved. The flat was, after a while, demolished. His blue plaque was removed but replaced, when the site was redeveloped, by the plaque which is in the Diorama Theatre.

Regents Place is a typically modern London environment. Gone are the flats of Kenneth Williams' ken. In their place are shiny office blocks, trendy pubs with glass walls, and a health club. Because nothing is more useful to London's thrusting executives than a fitness suite they never have the time to get to.

Of a late evening, the Union bar stops selling overpriced lager to stressed Santander bankers and Atos executives. The concrete canyons fall silent. The striding-woman art installation stops walking and has a breather. Only the BT Tower, looming over the scene, is unchanging - and mostly as Kenny knew it.

It is then that Kenneth Williams stalks the estate, in eternal search of a cooker preserved in a wrap of polythene - of a toilet used by no other human being. Or of a fumble with a muscular builder of ambiguous preferences.

People who have walked through Regents Place in the small hours have reported their experiences. A chill, both unsettling and yet childishly vulnerable. The sense of a presence that is both lovable and yet, oddly, unloved. A spirit reaching out for love and yet pulling away from contact.

And the sound on the wind as the restless soul looks forever for the place, now gone, where he and his Louie found their temporary peace. Accounts differ but young Cockney men - mostly maintenance men of a certain build - are convinced of what they have heard.

A nasal intonation, a mixture of sarcasm and the desire to please, and the sound that echoes across the square and its glass passageways:

"Oooh Matron! Stop messin' about!"


  1. Poor man. Have you read his diaries? He couldn't accept his own sexuality, and though he longed for love and affection he pushed it away whenever he suspected it was being offered. The only exception being Louie, and then she was becoming more and more lost to him as the dementia took hold.

    May he rest in peace.

  2. Really. It's been 27 years since he left, and people only noticed his return recently. Poor soul.


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