In all honesty mine is a very fine life, but it could have been so
very different. The trouble is I take everything for granted when I
should be going down on my knees thanking the Lord for my good
fortune. I take my carers far too much for granted. Without them, I
would not be able to survive. Bed making, shopping, cleaning: they
do the lot.
Even as a small child I assumed everything was fine without
thinking about it. But the war was on and London was being blitzed.
Only two bombs fell on St Albans where I lived. My brother took me
to see the craters as a fascinating curiosity. The full grimness of
the situation never percolated. And when I fell off the banister
and broke my leg, I was delighted to hold court to all the passers
by from my bedroom. Ebullience, cheerfulness was my stock in trade;
I could not take things seriously.
I floated into Winchester Cathedral choir school on the wings of
song. I just assumed I would win the scholarship and I did. The
same thing happened with Winchester College, fourth from the top of
the list. I took it for granted that all would go well. If I had
lost either of those scholarships, heaven knows what I would have
had to put up with. But I blended into the Winchester scene without
a murmur. It was as if everything was planned, which it was. And a
scholarship to Oxford seemed the most natural thing in the
I assumed I would gain a commission in the army as a National
Service officer and I did. I assumed that the Yemeni tribesmen’s
bullets would miss me and they did. As Macbeth might have said I
led a charmed life. Oxford was too good to take for granted until I
fell ill. I had to play a madman in a fringe production at the
Edinburgh Festival. I assumed it was a temporary thing but in fact
I was blighted by the ailment for 15 years.
All this time I had to keep a roof over my head. Jobs seemed to
drop into my lap. Was this optimism or carelessness? I felt so good
that I lost one job by behaving extremely oddly. Doctors called it
hypomania. Back to hospital again and incarceration for a year and
a half. Then came 10 glorious years with BT in which everything
went well. I took that for granted, forgetting the hard
My showbiz life has been unexpected and joyous. I did five months
of weekly rep, a tour of Sweden, numerous amateur productions, two
years on Radio Kent and five years on LBC. Showbiz is the one field
in which you don’t take things for granted. I thank my lucky stars
for giving me the opportunity to do what I have done.
The moral is quite clear. Don’t take things for granted. Every
fresh new day is full of sparkling opportunity and the unexpected
is always round the corner. Disaster or joy, you cannot assume your
way through it all. You must be dead from the neck up if you do. I
am learning to be extremely thankful for everything. This not only
cheers me up, but puts a smile on the face of my carers too.
Richard Jameson is retired and uses mental health