News of the passing of Ken Dodd yesterday struck me with sadness – which was soon replaced by a smile as I thought of the laughter that Ken Dodd had spread throughout his long career, working until last year – he was 90 years old when he passed away. That’s impressive.
Ken Dodd had a chequered past. My personal memories of him are mixed. Growing up in Merseyside, Ken Dodd was quite a feature of the comedy scene. I recall a family outing to one of his shows, delighting in Ken Dodd’s humour, his tickling stick, the famous jam butty mines in Knotty Ash, and the comedic Diddy Men. I recall a fancy dress costume I was particularly proud of, where my mother designed and made a wonderful Diddy Man outfit for me – complete with hooped trousers and oversized top hat. Yes, I was that child.
In my first job at an insurance firm in Liverpool, I met Ken Dodd. I was surprised that none of my colleagues jumped to meet him, and it was left to 16-year old me to discuss his insurance requirements with him. I was star struck – for all of five minutes, those five minutes of anticipation of meeting a famous person from my childhood. Then the excitement dissipated.
Upon meeting Ken Dodd I realised that he was just an ordinary person. Yes, a little eccentric in his dress and the way he looked, but off stage and out of the spotlight, just an ordinary man with ordinary demands on his daily life – like sorting out his insurance.
It’s impressive how some people are able to sprinkle a little stardust when it’s required – enhancing people’s lives and bringing joy in an otherwise hum-drum existence. I’m glad I met Ken Dodd, really I am. My bubble might have been burst, yet my admiration for such a man grew. Chameleon qualities – something that many of us have in our lives, adapting our behaviour to get the best out of situations. And if we can make people smile along the way, it’s a magical thing.
As Ken Dodd would say, “How tickled I am.”