14 March 2018

Genii

Two English geniuses have died this week. They occupied very different worlds but in their own ways they were both remarkable people.

Legendary comedian and variety entertainer Ken Dodd passed away on Sunday at the ripe old age of ninety. He died in the same house where he was born - in the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash.

With his buck teeth, his wild hair and his various costumes and tickling sticks, Ken could keep a theatre audience entertained for hours. Just one man on a stage with a vast repertoire of jokes and a fine singing voice. He was a modern day court jester. Though he starred in several TV shows, his home territory was the theatre and in his seventy year career he delivered shows on virtually every stage in the land.

He once said, "Laughter is the greatest music in the world and audiences come to my shows to escape the cares of life. They don't want to be embarrassed or insulted. They want to laugh and so do I - which is probably why it works."

Professor Stephen Hawking died this morning at the age of seventy six. He was a theoretical physicist with a brilliant mind. In addition to this he had to battle with a terrible handicap most of his adult life - namely, motor neurone disease. His familiar computer-generated monotone "voice" was operated by the blinking of his eyelids.

He wrote "A Brief History of Time" and as a gifted physicist he would most certainly have won the Nobel prize were it not that his work was principally theoretical and not always proven  in practice. Apparently, the Nobel awarding committee appreciate substance as opposed to hypothesising. 

I could not begin to understand the complex solutions to the scientific puzzles that Stephen Hawking unravelled but I loved the film about his early life - "The Theory of Everything" (2015) starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. If you haven't seen it please give it a whirl some time.

Ken and Stephen will now be queuing together outside the pearly gates and Ken will be saying... "Tonight when you get home, put a handful of ice cubes down your wife's nightie and say: 'There's the chest freezer you always wanted'." And this will surely be followed by computerised guffaws of laughter.

32 comments:

  1. Can't say that I was that fond of Ken Dodd but if all of his jokes were as good as the one in your last paragraph maybe i should have taken more attention of him.
    Stephen Hawking was amazing to say the least. It was said that he would not live for more that a few years after his diagnosis but he went on to a good age. I wonder if having a real purpose is what keeps us going?
    Briony
    x

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    1. I know people who went to Doddy's shows over and over again. They loved him like a family member. I never saw one of his live shows but his TV appearances were part of my childhood.

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  2. Thank you, Mr YP - a wonderful epitaph to 2 such wonderful men.

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    1. And I in turn thank you Rambler for this nice comment.

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  3. I just saw the news about Stephen Hawkin. What an extraordinary human being.

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    1. We are all extraordinary but some are more extraordinary than others and Professor Hawking was one such human being.

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  4. To live so long with this condition is no mean feat - well done, Mr. Hawking!
    As for Dodd, I must admit I have never heard his name. I am sure, though, that Steve knew him (and probably liked him, too).

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    1. You could ask any member of Steve's family and they would all be familiar with Ken Dodd.

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  5. Was there always an open bar at a Ken Dodd show? I've been reading some obits and his jokes seem, well, predictable (Chest freezer? Really?) and a liquored-up audience would explain the ensuing hilarity, but I guess it's one of those things where you had to be there. My favorite British comedian these days is John Oliver. Thank you, England, because he's badly needed in America right now.

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    1. Yes. You really had to "be there" to truly "get" Ken Dodd. As I understand it, most of his live audiences were stone cold sober.

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  6. All the big old household names are going one after the other. So sad. I can boast to having Ken Dodd's autograph. He was hilarious in real life too not just on the stage.

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    1. May I have your autograph for owning Ken Dodd's autograph ADDY?

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  7. I had never heard of Ken Dodd until I read his obituary. Perhaps his humor didn't catch on "across the pond." But of course we all know Stephen Hawking, and I agree with you -- "The Theory of Everything" is a great movie. I think Hawking did amazingly well to live to 76 with such an affliction -- that brilliant mind kept him going!

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    1. One of the litmus tests re. assimilation into British society must be an affirmative response when asked if you have heard of Ken Dodd.

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  8. "The Theory of Everything" is one of my best films.  When Stephen Hawking came to Italy to the university of Padua my son attended his lecture. A brilliant astrophysic. Nice to mention him here today.
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. Is your son an astrophysicist Maria?

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    2. No, he has a PhD in mathematics. Professor Hawking held a lectio magistralis and my son attended it.
      x

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  9. Sadly they have been joined by Jim Bowen of "Bullseye" fame. Three men, all different but all giving something to humanity.

    I have seen " The theory of everything" it is indeed a wonderful film.
    My husband has a copy of "A brief history of time" and "A briefer history of time" at the rate he reads there won't be time to finish them!

    R.I.P. to all three.

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    1. And lets home that Mr Christine finishes the book before it's time for his RIP's!

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  10. I was born a stone's throw from Ken Dodd and came across him on many occasions in Liverpool theatres. He was a comedian of considerable presence but not always the easiest person to work with.

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    1. Well that's impressive Graham - you met the great man. Geniuses are not always the easiest people to know.

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  11. I had never heard of Ken Dodd , but Stephen Hawking was a household name. Your post shows the importance of widely different achievers.

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    1. Genius arises in different forms.

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  12. Stephen Hawking truly was one the the great minds this world of ours has ever known. Having been told at the age of 21 years he had approx only 2 more years to live, he defied logic and odds. The rest of the human race will benefit from his brilliance forever more. A remarkable man; a remarkable brain...a remarkable life.

    Thank you, Stephen Hawking.

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    1. Human beings can be awesome and Professor Hawking filled many folk with a sense of awe.

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  13. Both men had bad teeth x

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    1. Neither had any desire whatsoever to star in toothpaste commercials.

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  14. I spent some time reading a summary of Hawkings' life and some memorable quotes. The thing that struck me, that I hadn't realized before, is that he had quite a good sense of humour along with all that brainpower.

    I think Red said something very important up there ^^ when he said you showed the importance of widely different achievers.

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    1. Red is a wise man but even he would agree that he's not in the same league as Stephen Hawking or indeed Ken Dodd!

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  15. The Ken Dodd joke that I always remember was made around the time Parliament was first televised. He said that when the Speaker called for "Order", one of the MP's woke up and shouted "Two pints and a packet of crisps" (fries) ! No idea why it's stuck in my mind, but it has. It was all about his delivery.
    The comments about the sad passing of Stephen Hawking are so true - the brightest star has gone out. Surely the most incredible person on the planet?

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    1. An incredible mind though most of us cannot understand what it was that made Professor Hawking incredible. At least we could understand Doddy.

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  16. Neither one was a genius to me. They were hero-worshipped but a genius? no! I love watching Norman Wisdom films but wouldn’t call him a genius either. People can be so gushing with their praise.

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