When we did the interview, she had a curious technique. She began by undressing me like a doll. In those days I was so thin I wore five of everything — socks, tracksuits, T-shirts — and in the name of research, they all came off, one by one.
"What have you got here?" she squeaked. "Another pair of socks?" Pretty soon I was down to my underwear and she was sitting on top of me.
Her skirts and petticoats were like an overflowing bubble bath, snapping with electricity, and at some point the interview ended and a strange love affair of utter misfits began.
She was married. I was gay. These constraints operated like a kind of safety net and there were no obstacles between us.
During those early days, she would come to my dressing room, her arrival down the stairs announced by the rustle of petticoats, the click of Manolo heels and the odd little gasp.
She loved a dramatic entrance and had invented her own brand. She would stand in the doorway like Tinkerbell, then bite her lip and in a breathy voice borrowed from Marilyn Monroe she would say: "Hi, big boy..." It was pure genius.
When I finished Another Country, I went straight into a play with Gordon Jackson, the actor who played Hudson, the butler, in Upstairs Downstairs.
He was a lovely man, and so was his wife Rona. Neither of them had any idea who Paula was or that she was with Bob, whoever he was, or that I was gay for that matter. But they saw us together a lot and so assumed we were an item.
They would ask us out for dinner. Rona would tell Paula about the pitfalls of being married to an actor, and Gordon would advise me about the right time to take out a mortgage (never).
One night, when Paula and I had both been feeling fairly suicidal about our mixed-up lives, Rona asked us when we were going to tie the knot.
Our immediate reactions were to think that she was talking about making a noose. Gordon threw back his head and roared with laughter. "Will ye hark on these young?" he said to Rona. "Soon," screeched Paula, desperately back-pedalling.
During our various encounters — when we were sometimes joined by a desperately shy Kenneth Williams, Gordon's best friend, the potential for living according to the norm was certainly not lost on me.