If there’s one thing that children appear to have more than adults, it’s imagination; that ability to conjure something up in your mind in a way that no one else does. Often it’s an imaginary friend, something that many children have. However, the demands of everyday life seem to inhibit that imagination and, certainly, not allow for its further development as you get older. So blessed are those that retain that inner child and, in that respect, at least, I consider myself to be so blessed. Indeed, although my books are works of nonfiction, they rely on imagination to paint pictures, using the facts that are their basis.
I’m also an avid reader and am always struck by books, the reading of which leaves me with the thought “where the hell did that come from?” Similarly those from which I, almost physically, have to have to get myself out of when I put them down, as well as those which conjure up different, but coherent, other worlds. The works of Ursula Le Guinn, Angela Carter and the real, but surreal, sitcom that was “Dinner Ladies” from the inestimable Victoria Wood. So why am I writing this today?
Well, it to say farewell to the legend that was Ken Dodd, who died yesterday at the age of 90, still living in the house in which he’d been born. I was lucky enough to see him live in the early 1970’s for a works outing that my, then wife, got invites to. Now works do’s aren’t really for me and I was reluctant to go. However, I was persuaded and it was one of the funniest four hours of my life. The man’s imagination took flight on journeys that most of us couldn’t even envisage let alone take other people on. In a recollection today, Paul O’Grady describes his act as “spellbinding” and that it was. Yet it was also the result of incredibly detailed study and preparation. A lesson to us all as to how that effort, in combination with an imagination that wasn’t only undiminished by age, but actually grew, could hold an audience; uniting them in the common act of laughter. So, farewell then, Doddy, and thanks for making us smile. At least for those hours when you were in your element, on stage in front of an audience, making the world a happier place. Not a bad epitaph that.