I was saddened to hear of the death of Ken Dodd, who contributed an introduction to Funny Bones and can be seen, above, with Freddie in a photograph taken for the book at one of his Good Turns charity functions in his beloved (the attraction was mutual) Liverpool.
In the chapter entitled Surviving in the Clubs Freddie talks of the inspiration which Ken's act provided when the younger comedian was still trying to find his way:
I looked up to people like Ken Dodd, as most young comics did: Ken was always very kind and helpful with young comics. I used to go backstage to see him and he always welcomed me: ‘Young man,’ he called me. At one time I could even feel myself working in his flowpath, but I thought: ‘Well, you can’t do better than emulate the master.’ Ken is very much a theatre comic. He started in clubs but really is a theatre man: larger, more fantastical, with a presence you can feel way up in the gods.I myself was fortunate enough to experience his generosity after a performance at the Liverpool Phil when Ken chatted with me for about forty five minutes. Mention of a particular comedy book made him spin a mental rolodex: after a second or two before he delivered a definitive pronouncement about the writer - though when I made a passing reference to a well-known story about Laurel and Hardy's arrival in Ireland he was gracious enough to react as though he had never heard the tale before. When I left by the stage door at around half past one, despite the five and half hours they'd already spent in his company a long line of the faithful were still there, patiently awaiting one final glimpse of him.