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  • Ken Campbell, for the time I knew him, taught me many things aside from the improvisation he was actually teaching me. He was one of the people who inspired me to write, but more than that he inspired me to read, always with a book that I should buy or a story I should hear. Every time I visited his home he would fill me with stories. He, his stories, his attitude to artistic expression and the way he nurtured me to be brave and unflinching, had a profound effect on me as a person. He was always very kind to me.

    Recently his daughter Daisy & her partner Greg did a book givaway of some of the books from Ken’s personal collection, selecting a book for those friends of Ken’s who responded with an SAE with a choice process based on ‘occultist methods’ to select something suitable for the recipient. Ken was always interested in the occult side of things.

    Sure enough when the book turned up it was very apt indeed, coming with a personal vignette from Daisy about the relevance of the book to their relationship, and containing the inscription she had put in it when she’d gifted it to him in 2005 which was co-incidentally the year I acted for Ken in a show in Livepool. It was her Christmas gift to him at the end of that year and Ken had gifted me with a Christmas ornament at the beginning of that year as a ‘for luck’ token before our show. What she and Greg could not have known, was that I have always wanted to go dog sledding in Iceland. Perhaps this was a message from Ken that I should go live that dream? Who knows! In any case I was very impressed with whatever ‘occultist methods’ were used in the selection process. Ken did believe in messages from beyond the grave.

    One time he told me about a séance he went to with a medium who could raise Sir. Laurence Olivier. So Ken drove out to the séance and sure enough the woman most impressively connected with the spirit of Sir. Laurence and people were able to ask the spirit questions. When Ken’s turn came he asked Sir Laurence who he thought the greatest living actor was now? The answer most astonishingly came back as Jackie Chan, which surprised Ken considerably. On the drive home, Ken stopped at a petrol station and couldn’t resist having a browse in the DVD rack to see if there were any Jackie Chan films available. There were, he bought them, and went home to watch them all. “And do you know,” he told me excitedly, “Sir. Laurence was right! Jackie Chan is a bloody brilliant actor!” And he went on in some detail to explain why he’d come to that conclusion, comparing him to the greats like Harold Lloyd.

    And though I’ve never taken a special interest in his films, and am still very much on the fence about the spirit world, I have as a result of that conversation always respected Sir Laurence and Ken’s judgement on Jackie Chan’s most bodacious talents ever since.
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