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Sir Norman Wisdom

Blue Collar Rat

Water Rat Register Number: 534. Initiated into the Order on 29 May 1955

Proposer: Tommy Trinder. Seconder: Fred Russell.

I have worked with many big names over the years but I don't think any one was more loved by the public than Norman Wisdom. I remember going to pick him up at Heathrow Airport and being surprised, as we walked to my car, at just how many people wanted to shake his hand and thank him for all the joy he had given them. Then, in the last few years of his working life, I did lots of shows with him on my own and was privileged to actually appear with him as, together, we would tell his life story. He would often forget bits but when I tried to gently remind him he'd get a big laugh saying "I know, I know, it's my life!" We would often have a meal together and he'd go through the whole thing with me word for word and it lasted at least an hour! No one seemed disappointed that he wasn't doing his actual act anymore though he did still attempt to run at the piano and jump up onto it without using his hands. He was in his late eighties and it needed some control from me to stop him from trying! We used to do a lively question and answer session too and I was always amazed how he could remember all the lyrics of his songs even one's he hadn't sung for ages that were suddenly requested by someone in the audience.

We were in Scotland on one of the tours and Norman got George the coach driver to stop at a pub for lunch (he was always trying to find out of the way country pubs, making George drive down the narrowest of lanes). The publican began to telephone his regulars telling them who he had got in his establishment. Slowly the pub filled up with people just wanting to see Norman Wisdom! He always loved an audience and would sing 'Don't Laugh at Me, cos I'm a Fool' at the drop of a hat. He came to my son Ben's wedding to Hayley-jane in Essex in 2004 and got up at the reception and sang it there too!

Norman attended quite a few Rats functions back then and I was proud to organise a Water Rats Tribute Luncheon for him on the 18th February 2005 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel.

He really was a lovely guy fun to be with and brilliant on stage. I will remember Norm with great affection. He will be sadly missed.

Past King Rat, Preceptor Keith Simmons BM KRA RoY
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