WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO

TOM HOUGHTON, CO­ME­DIAN

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - TEDDY JAMIESON

MY dad [Gen­eral Sir Nick Houghton, for­mer Chief of the De­fence Staff of the Bri­tish Armed Forces] is the Con­sta­ble of the Tower of Lon­don, so I am al­lowed to stay there as long as I am re­spect­ful and don’t in any way do any­thing risky what­so­ever within the walls. It’s a very priv­i­leged po­si­tion to have.

Is it easy to be re­spect­ful? Since I’ve gone solo from my com­edy group The Noise Next Door I’ve been knuck­ling down and mak­ing sure my solo ca­reer goes the right way. I left the party life a few years ago. I’m 32 now. Don’t get me wrong, I can still have a mis­de­meanour here and there. But I tend to leave those to the away games rather than the home games.

My dad’s house is in the Queen’s House [in Green­wich]. We only moved there last year. I think it’s the old­est Tu­dor build­ing in Eng­land. Of course it’s haunted. There’s Thomas More. He’s kick­ing around. Anne Bo­leyn, she’s al­ways there, with or with­out head.

The down­sides of liv­ing at the Tower? There is a strict door pol­icy. You have to sign in and out. It’s all very proper and of­fi­cial. The other down­side is no­body be­lieves you.

The up­sides? It does make you re­flect. Nowa­days a lot of peo­ple are con­vinced the world is get­ting worse. But when you go back and look at all these rooms where peo­ple were be­ing be­headed and racked … We’re get­ting away from that.

There are a lot of bad things hap­pen­ing right on our doorstep, but it’s def­i­nitely im­proved since 1520.

The main rea­son I de­cided to be­come a co­me­dian was pre­cisely not to ride on my dad’s coat tails. I wanted to make a ca­reer that was to­tally mine and mine alone.

I think it was very ev­i­dent from the age of seven when I was do­ing Cats the Mu­si­cal on the stairs that jazz hands prob­a­bly weren’t what the front line needed.

I think some­times priv­i­lege can con­vince you that you are more than just an an­i­mal. Posh peo­ple aren’t the prob­lem – snobs are the prob­lem. Snobs are to the up­per class what chavs are to the work­ing class. They’re the ex­treme ver­sion where you wear where you’re from as if it was some sort of en­ti­tle­ment

or achieve­ment and it’s not.

Never for­get where you come from but also don’t ex­pect it to mean any­thing to any­one.

It’s been nice to get to know my dad more. He’s been away with the mil­i­tary and now he’s re­tired and I’ve just left my group so it’s good. We’re spend­ing more time to­gether than we ever have which I think is one of the best things about it.

Tom Houghton: Class Half Empty is on at the Gilded Bal­loon Te­viot at 5.45pm un­til Au­gust 28

PHO­TO­GRAPH: STEVE ULLATHORNE

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