Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rattle Of A Simple Man

If you're going to try the BBC iPlayer - and you should - try it on "The Secret Life Of Norman Wisdom Aged 92 3/4". This is the story of how his two middle-aged children deal with the fact that his carer is retiring and their dad can no longer look after himself at his home on the Isle Of Man. Not long ago I blogged about a film portrait of the last year in the life of George Melly, in which his relatives confessed that he'd always taken up more than his share of the family's oxygen. This was similar. Wisdom appears to have no inner life to refer to as he drifts in and out of dementia. The only thing he clings to is that he's famous. There's a heartbreaking scene near the end where he buttonholes one of his grandson's young schoolfriends and says "do you know who I am?"
The boy says "Greg's grandad."
"No," he say. "I'm Norman."


  1. There's a hairdresser's round the corner from my home in Leamington, run by an immigrant from Bolivia.

    Evidently, Norman Wisdom is very popular in Bolivia, and he was invited to the shop to make a celebrity appearance last year. It was a great success, and a photo of him having his hair cut takes pride of place.

  2. What was even more heartbreaking for me was when Greg came out of school and Norman had to be told who he was.

    Very thought-provoking, a situation I think we'll all find ourselves in with our parents at some stage.

  3. Or, just as likely, a situation we'll be in ourselves. Only we won't know.

  4. Better that we don't.

  5. I agree that both families seemed worn down with their insistence on being famous. Wisdom would always sing Don't Laugh At Me at the drop of a hat, and I wonder if he wasn't the sort of dad who'd sing it to strangers' kids and ignore his own, a la Rolf Harris.

  6. Anonymous11:00 am

    No!! Don't tell me anything bad about Rolf Harris! [fingers in ears] la-la-la-la-la I'm not listening...