"Would you like to go to New Zealand to do a commercial?" That's the sort of question an actor likes to hear from his agent in freezing mid-January.
But it was drama, high drama: fires at night, the fires that burned people's houses away; bombs fell and left exotically shaped fragments in the form of shrapnel. And we collected it and traded it. As long as we were not hurt -- and I wasn't -- life seemed wonderful.
We even copied the way the Americans walked, though Father Leonard didn't like that bit of admiration. He disapproved of rolling buttocks.
These days when I see a child in Waitrose and smile and say, "Hello, are you going to visit your Mum in her sheltered accommodation when you grow up?" it provokes glistening eyes and hollow laughter. And if you pursue it with, "Or are you going to be a drug dealer?" it may result in a snub.
The chaos of our lives suited me; I don't think I wanted it to end.
The notion that God was everywhere put paid to any possible peace of mind by the time I was six.
One tortured soul I know who suffers from amazingly premature ejaculation -- I mean so premature that he hasn't got any children after eleven years of marriage -- was told by the priest that it was probably a blessing in disguise. What a piece of advice to give to a poor sod who comes off at the sound of his wife's car in the drive.
Tom Fleming, the eldest, was said to look like King George V, and indeed, was often mistaken for His Majesty when in the vicinity of Scotland Road, Anfield Road or Lime Street. Why people would suspect that the King might be working in Tate and Lyle's sugar factory is beyond me, but there you are.
Of course, for a lot of people, death was a welcome change. Grinding poverty takes the edge off most things, including life.
The theatre couldn't match what was going on in a court of law or at football grounds. The theatre has never been able to match what goes on anywhere, that's why so few people go.
Who was it that designed brown envelopes? I feel sure that he hated people whoever he was. I wonder where he's buried?
It was in the church that I got to love shadows and dark corners, musty cupboards and creaking floorboards. I was a perfect recruit for the Addams family. Cobwebs made me whimper with joy.
I didn't care as an ex-ballet dancer wrote and told me she had seen the production and fallen in love with my legs. She said that in other circumstances she could have lived happily with my legs but that she only had a small flat in Holland Park.
"Stay calm, sir," I cried. "Don't excite yourself, it could mean death." He took me at my word and instantly fell inert. I didn't know whether he was obeying me or had died.
Once a man next to me found the handle of a radiator in his mashed potato; he said nothing, merely moving it to the side of his plate after sucking the mashed potato off it first. Nobody else said anything either. If the truth was known several of us were probably jealous.
She smiled at me, arsenically.
Being poor is a little like having an earache over a Bank Holiday. All you can think about is the pain and how long it will be before a healing hand can be found to take away the anguish.
Poverty can curdle the libido and corrode civilized thoughts. One's sense of humour vanishes, to be replaced by a curry-spoiling sarcasm as one's Mr Hyde emerges from the swamp of the subconscious.
The poor don't really like that ticket. They are desperate to get away and join the rich, and have glossy hair, bright eyes and white teeth. The rich live longer and can afford to be charming.
All my life I have felt myself to be on the edge of things. All my life I have suffered from bad dreams. All my life I have had difficulty in knowing whether I am awake or in a nightmare.
All my life I have entirely missed the point; and the turning, as I also have no sense of direction. This long period of uncertainty in the twilight land of the fuddled (it is now more than sixty years) has taken its toll.
One of the astounding qualities of that family was their capacity to fill innocent bystanders with thoughts of murder.
When the doctor was there, Alfred refused to believe that he'd had a stroke. "I can't have had a stroke," he grated, in a terrible rage, "I've got 93,000 pounds in my current account."
I was honestly very nervous of Constance Wheatcroft. And I wasn't the only one. Her entire family was afraid of her. Dogs were afraid of her. Bindweed in the hedge would wither as she passed; birds would forget their nesting instincts and fly back to north Africa at the sound of her hideous cries.
Waiting for a 136 bus from Highgate station to Muswell Hill Broadway on a misty evening in February is a bit like lurking outside the gates of purgatory.
I've been pretty wary of street sweepers since, though it is true that since we left the European Exchange Rate Mechanism some sweepers are really quite dashing to glance at.
But we can't escape into the future like we can escape into the past. So those of us who are not certain of things, and there are an awful lot of us, often rush back to the past. And each one has a particular past he prefers to the present. Sometimes I feel that any past is preferable to the present.
About ten days later, it being the time of year when the National collected down and outs to walk on and understudy I arrived at the head office of the National Theatre in Aquinas Street in Waterloo.
The only imperfection in life then was that we didn't really have much money.
Living in an institution, rumours of change can make life more bearable, and starting rumours can be a wonderful pleasure for those without much hope. The National Theatre was like that.
My old skill at self-delusion overrode my doubts as I told myself that Dexter probably believed in me. I could believe anything then. I still can as long as it is improbable.
Playing Doctor Who came as a great surprise to me. I had no idea that I would enjoy it so much. All that was required of me was to be able to speak complete gobbledygook with conviction.
It was no problem for me to say I came from another world and could go back and forth in time in my emphysemic old Tardis which was bigger on the inside than it was on the outside. Problem? For me who believed in Guardian Angels and was convinced that pigs were possessed by devils after their New Testament encounter with God's son? It was easy and I loved it.
Jim Acheson, our designer, told me I looked like his Auntie Wyn and I have never forgotten it. I wondered if it was the way I walked or wore my hat, but Jim just said that I had some indefinable air of an aunt. It was then I began to hope that one day I might play Lady Bracknell.
Bob Holmes, the script editor, did laugh and filled his pipe so that he could create a smoke screen between us while he turned the idea down.
Most of my ideas were rejected and I got used to it. One can get fond of almost anything, even rejection.
He told me he was having the time of his life and then fell to the floor unconscious. I didn't take this too personally, although he was not the first person to collapse while talking to me; to tell the truth it has happened quite often.
It is part of my duty as a decent member of my local hamlet to mow the grass in front of the church. It's a pleasant little task and mowing is a favorite activity of mine; it gives me a lot of pleasure to make the churchyard look tidy. I sometimes pause at the grave of someone or other and speculate what he might have been like when he was alive, but gravestones don't tell much.
Not everybody knows that looking at people in 'a funny way' is the commonest cause of sudden murder. I happen to know that because I read a Home Office brochure once.
I am used to being mistaken for Miriam Margolyes; Private Eye noticed that, and once I was even taken for Gertrude Stein. But that was at Chelsea Flower Show where uncertainty of identity is in the air.
We are all quite capable of believing in anything as long as it's improbable.