The last few night I’ve slept badly; blessed with a nuisance daughter, a nuisance cat, and a time-pressured commission that keeps me gnawing at it in my head when I should be sleeping. At 3am I found myself on Twitter – and there was the kicker. The news that Robin Williams has killed himself. For the second time in a week I find myself crying because a brilliant, funny, and much-loved man who brought light and joy into the world has killed himself after losing a battle with depression.
The first, a few days ago, was the much less well known Ian Smith. He was one of the founders – and undoubtedly the face – of Brighton’s original Zap Club (when it was a quirky all-comers cabaret venue, not yet another dull thumping seafront nightclub). We were on the same bill for a couple of weeks in the mid-1980s, when I was singing/strumming in the two piece Honey Guide with Pete Sinden, and he was banging six-inch nails up his nose. I didn’t really know him, but he affected me. He was brilliantly being himself and inspiring others to be so. He was funny, and startling, and weird, when I was afraid to be. He moved to Glasgow and carried on doing the kind of performance art that makes you wonder, and laugh, and think. He made a lot of friends. He had a wife who loved him and two kids he adored. But he also had depression. And last week, aged 55, he killed himself.