Doing the twist
I come from a spot known as Dunoon, a small seaside city on the Firth of Clyde, simply contained in the Highlands. It’s like that city Dylan Thomas made up in Underneath Milk Wooden – Llareggub – “bugger all” backwards. In 1960, I had simply turned 17 and I went to London to go to my father’s household. The Night Customary revealed a centrefold with diagrams on find out how to do the twist as a result of Chubby Checker was coming to city. So I purchased the LP – Twist With Chubby Checker – and took it again dwelling by steam practice and steamboat and launched the twist to Dunoon, lengthy earlier than it received to Glasgow or Edinburgh.
I used to be sitting on a bus per week or so later, and this little boy sat behind me. I heard him say: “Oh, look, that’s Kent” – that’s my actual surname – “He’s the twist king of Dunoon.” That was one of many best moments of my life. My god, I might twist, I might put the again of my head proper down on to the ground and all the best way up. I used to be the twist king of Dunoon.
Between the ages of 12 and 16, I studied to be a priest at Blairs Faculty, the seminary close to Aberdeen. At main faculty our head mistress, Rosie O’Grady, would invite every kind of individuals in to present vocational talks – a bin man, a health care provider and the captain of the paddle steamer. Afterwards, she would ask if anybody would need to try this job. Someday we had a priest and Danny Sweeney and I put up our fingers. We got the afternoon off to go and inform the priest we wish to be a part of the seminary. Getting the afternoon off was sensible, however Danny misplaced his bottle. So my deep non secular highway to Damascus was merely to indicate that Danny Sweeney was a coward.
Blairs Faculty was very monastic. We might get woken at 5am and sit on the washroom sinks with our toes in scorching water to maintain heat. One time, we have been taken to see Puccini’s La Bohème and I used to be utterly enraptured. I wept when Mimì died, as a result of my mom had gone mad and spent 4 years in a Dickensian psychological dwelling.
I turned so holy at Blairs that I made a decision I needed to grow to be a lay monk. I believed that if I turned a missionary, I might go to South America. I left the seminary and went dwelling however after we stuffed out all of the types, it turned out I used to be a 12 months too younger. I needed to be 18 to grow to be a monk, so I needed to go to highschool to complete my training.
The native faculty was Dunoon grammar – a mixed-sex faculty. And really rapidly, I made a decision I didn’t need to put on a skirt – I needed to chase skirt as an alternative. And that was the top of me eager to grow to be a monk.
Years later, I used to be requested to write down my autobiography, which I gave up on, however after I received to that second, a lightbulb went on. Such was the facility of the humanities and theatre, I realised that I had been pursuing the lifetime of a bohemian straight out of La Bohème. I believed I used to be going to be the pope however as an alternative I ended up in Belsize Park in north London, surrounded by painters, artists, junkies and prostitutes.
The World of Apu
Within the 60s there was an artwork cinema in Oxford Road the place this excellent girl with white lightning by means of her hair used to play the grand piano to Buster Keaton movies. Satyajit Ray’s 1959 movie The World of Apu launched me to India. It was about peasant India. Up until then, I had no thought what lay past the small Highland city I grew up in. Now I realised there was an entire different world that I simply needed to discover and eat.
I’ve been to India a number of occasions and I liked it. I’ve travelled extensively. My most up-to-date journey was when my granddaughter was about to return into the world in Bangkok. I completed a play in Edinburgh and went all the best way by practice from Edinburgh to London, Paris, Moscow, Mongolia, China, Hanoi and Bangkok to fulfill my granddaughter. Once I received again, I noticed my good friend Michael Palin and instructed him about my journey on the Trans-Siberian Specific. He stated: “You probably did all of it by your self?” I stated, Yeah. He stated: “I’m very envious. I want I might have finished it and not using a digicam crew up my nostril.”
The English class system
My actual title is Percy James Patrick Kent-Smith. I solely realised it was posh after I was 11 and needed to maintain quiet in any other case I might have been killed within the playground. Once I first got here to London age 18, I went to the youth employment workplace. This bored-looking man in a go well with stated: “What’s your title?” And I stated: “Percy James Patrick Kent Hyphen Smith,” and he went, “Hyphen?” Then he stated: “Training?” and I stated, “I used to be at boarding faculty …” “Boarding faculty?” “Then I used to be at Dunoon grammar.” “Grammar faculty?” He ticked all these packing containers and stated: “And also you’re a Scot.” He phoned up places of work within the Metropolis of London and stated: “I’ve received right here a boarding/grammar schoolboy with a hyphen and he’s a Scot …”
So I received a job working in insurance coverage with this excellent Irishman known as Liam Woods. He had a photographic reminiscence and was clearly a genius however by no means received wherever as a result of they thought: “He’s Irish. He have to be thick.” That’s the place I found the English class system and realised how ridiculous and silly it was – and nonetheless is.
Some years later, I received a job working within the field workplace of the Roundhouse, when it was staging a celebration of movie with the Sunday Instances. My job was to fulfill the well-known individuals akin to Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway, Billy Wilder, King Vidor, Rudolf Nureyev, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and take them to their seats. Someday Gene Kelly got here up the steps. He was somewhat older than I remembered him, however he greeted me with that very same sunlit smile. Years later, in 2007, I used to be touring the world, taking part in the idiot in King Lear with Ian McKellen. Gene Kelly’s spouse got here to see it in Los Angeles and invited us all again for a celebration. Sadly, Gene was lifeless by then, however she had a room stuffed with his paraphernalia.
I received to know Brian Murphy, of George and Mildred fame, as a result of his spouse, Carol, was assistant admin on the Roundhouse, so he usually got here in to assist out if he wasn’t working elsewhere. Someday, Ken Campbell got here and stated: “’Ere, Brian, I’ve received this new present, however some fucker’s let me down. Have you learnt any younger actors?” Brian stated: “Ask the man within the field workplace. He’s out of his head.” So Ken got here up and stated: “’Ere. Do you need to be a part of my present?” And that’s how I turned an actor. I toured Europe with Bob Hoskins, Jane Wooden, Dave Hill and the Ken Campbell Roadshow. I used to be 26 by then, however I used to be nonetheless mentally an adolescent. I nonetheless am.