Life · Personal

R.I.P. Sir Norman.

Norman Wisdom

We awake this morning to the sad news that Sir Norman Wisdom has passed away. He lived to the grand old age of 95, despite suffering with heart problems and having had a series of strokes in the last 6 months. He will be fondly remembered by people all over the world (apparently he was a cult hero in Albania!) and was described by Charlie Chaplin as his “favourite clown”.


There was a portion of my life in which the words ‘Norman Wisdom’ struck an icy blow to my heart.

Here’s my secret: I was a clumsy child.

I think I was fairly normal up to the age of six, then a particularly nasty case of Meningitis struck and I was left not knowing what to do with my limbs.

I don’t mean that literally, I could still walk and talk and was actually extremely fortunate to come out of the other side if it relatively unscathed.

But I was never going to be a ballerina.

Well, again, to be totally fair, I was never going to be a ballerina anyway, my boobs started to sprout at the age of 9 and didn’t stop until they’d reached a hefty G-cup, but my point is, the clumsiness set in.

One of my earliest memories was going to the shops with my Aunt and my Nan and going to this place called ‘Spoils’. It was a shop that basically sold factory-second homewares, so there were huge displays of wine glasses and ceramic fruit bowls everywhere.

Only, I wasn’t allowed in those sections.

I was ushered through the shop and told to wait in the toy section, so I couldn’t fall over the invisible tripping hazard which seemed to be constantly at my feet, and cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage.

And I admit it, I was THAT kid, the one who’d walk away from a dinner table and pull the cloth off of the table with her. The kid who’d drop things, or knock things over. I always (and often still do) did things with a little too much zeal and vigour, and it often ended in disaster.

Only, disaster is relative, isn’t it? ‘Cause let’s face it, surely dropping a glass every now and again is less of a disaster that a little girl with no confidence. A girl who is called “a bull in a china shop”, “ham-fisted”, and best of all “fairy elephant”. A girl who believes everything that is said about her.

And do you know, it wasn’t until I met my husband that I realised that there were certain things that I still avoided doing, because of this early doubt in my abilities. Even to this day, I reach for the thicker drinking glass in the cabinet, a subconscious move to lessen the chances of somehow spontaneously shattering the glass, just by touching it.

I only wish I’d asked for a plastic cup the first time I met my future Mother-in-Law. Within 5 minutes of meeting her, I’d dropped a glass of Dr. Pepper at her feet, showering her with sticky brown liquid and shards of glass.

Fortunately she has a sense of humour.

So I admit it, I am Norman Wisdom, I do clumsy things, but I can’t help but wonder; would I still be so clumsy if I wasn’t so acutely aware of being clumsy? Maybe if I was able to relax about it, I’d miraculously gain the grace and gentle touch that I coveted as a child?

Maybe, but maybe not.

For now, I think I’ll just remember Sir Norman, and hope that I live to 95, having enriched the lives of so many. And I’ll make this promise, here and now. I promise that I will never make my daughter, (who shall be forever more known as ‘Sausage’ in the blogospehere), feel inadequate if she has an accident, because I want to make sure that she has the confidence in herself that I never had.


Just sat down to eat my lunch and knocked a whole pint of juice over with my elbow.

Sir Norm lives on.

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