Julian’s ‘madness’ – diagnosed at the time as a variant of paranoid schizophrenia – seemed to involve two modes of suffering. One comprised an immersion in complicated fusions of London geography, centres of power and the pervasiveness of dark forces that sought to foment a race war. He saw evidence of such conspiracies everywhere during his long, daily wandering through the city and had devised a special circuit that took him past powerful places, enabling him to develop some sort of immunity against the darkness. He clearly passed much of his time in a state of great anxiety but there were times when he was mad and an ironic commentator on his condition at the same time.
Buckingham Palace, for example, was an important power point and Julian would push through the crowds of tourists, grasp the gates and roar “Mummy!” with all the vocal force that his actor’s training afforded him.
He told me of these exploits in one of his ‘down’ periods and I laughed out loud. Not only had he crystallised and exploited some of the normally occluded mechanisms of the joke engine but he’d overridden the popular notion that crazy people don’t know what they’re doing. Julian was immensely entertaining at the best of times and now, when things were dreadful, his wit and his skills remained intact, countering the assumption that to be mad was to be comprehensively out to lunch.