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EXCLUSIVE: The Day I Met Sir Norman Wisdom O.BE by Ross Owen
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Ross
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2005 11:21 am    Post subject: EXCLUSIVE: The Day I Met Sir Norman Wisdom O.BE by Ross Owen Reply with quote



    I am having a meeting with none other than Sir Norman Wisdom on the 10th April. Watch this space for details.

    Ross

    October 6, 1952: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy photographed with Norman Wisdom.





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Last edited by Ross on Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:26 pm; edited 20 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WORDS OF WISDOM!

Hi all, I am just this minute back from my meeting with Sir Norman Wisdom O.B.E on the Isle of Man but unfortunately it will be tommorrow before I get to make a report. I didn't manage to record our chat in audio format but I will explain all tommorrow as I say.

I can tell you that I was lucky enough to be granted a private meeting with Norman and after 15 mins of chatting I WAS INVITED TO HIS HOUSE!

I am delighted to announce Sir Norman Wisdom OBE accepted my invitation of honorary membership to the Fra Diavolo tent of Scotland Very Happy

He signed a few items for me including a sons of the desert fez and a rare photograph of himself with the boys. Norman celebrated his 90th birthday in February and only recently announced his retirement from professional showbusiness... although he exclusively told me about a movie he is planning to do.


Last edited by Ross on Sun Oct 02, 2005 10:44 am; edited 7 times in total
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markl999
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent, can't wait for the full report.
Sounds like you had a good time Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WOW

Waiting for your full report Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent stuff Ross.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fantastic Ross, I look forward to hearing about what Norman had to say. Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice one Ross Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Waaw! Can't wait also Ross Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Meeting Sir Norman Wisdom OBE

Sunday 10th April 2005 saw the World Karate Championships head for the Isle Of Man, home of showbusiness legend Sir Norman Wisdom and Norman was booked to open the event.

Imagine my delight when I found out that my friend Jim was entering the tournament. I immediately arranged to go with him because just a glimpse of Sir Norman, who has famously met the boys more than once, would have been a thrill. The event was also a fundraiser, which explains Normans presence there.

A few days before I was due to set off, I spoke to the event organiser, who told me he would personally introduce me to Norman on the day, so I got to thinking... maybe I could use this opportunity to find out a few things about Stan and Ollie and Normans time with them? I had to at least try.

As Sunday approached I found myself getting more excited and nervous about what I was going to say to this remarkable man who just celebrated his 90th birthday in February this year. I packed my recording equipment and printed out the many questions for Norman I had received fom the Laurel and Hardy forum members and started memorising them till I knew them backwards, re-wording them, setting up links to each question etc. I was all set for my meeting.

Jim and I arrived on the Isle of Man the evening before the event. I couldn't sleep that night. Jim claims I was shouting "Mr Grimsdale" in my sleep, but I strongly suspect he is winding me up!

It's now 7.30am Sunday morning and in about 2 hours I am due to meet Sir Norman. I run through my questions again mentally and check my recording equipment is working.. all is well and we set off to the Sports centre where the event is being held.

Norman is due to arrive at 9.30am. It's now 9am and I start to get real nervous. What if I mess up? What if I ask the wrong question at the wrong time? What if Norman doesn't like my approach? All this goes through my mind and then it hits me... maybe he would be offended at me turning up at a charity event with recording equipment expecting an interview. It was then I decided I was going to ditch the recording equipment and just play the whole thing by ear in case I blew it altogether.

... and then it happened... at exactly 9.30am on the dot, this little silver haired man with an unmistakeable strut appears at the top of the stairs and to a massive round of applause starts jogging around the hall. Have you ever seen a 90 year old do this? It is an unbelievable, yet slightly worrying sight to witness. The event organiser, who knows I make a living from being a cabaret entertainer, took me totally by surprise by then handing me the radio mic and inviting me to compere the event for the duration of Normans appearance. The result was Norman interupting every announcement with silly questions and comedic efforts to get the mic so he could sing etc. It was a truly magical moment which I shall never forget.

Norman then mingled with the crowd for a few minutes signing autographs etc until it was time for the championships to start. This is when his housekeeper, the lady who looks after him everywhere he goes, invited me to spend some time alone with Norman before he took off. He had another presentation to attend later that day so I quickly grabbed the 2 sons of the desert fez's I had taken along, together with 2 copies of a rare Laurel and Hardy photo with Norman which I bought from the sun newspaper (it appeared in a 1952 article) which I hoped he would sign for me. Since I was planning to present Norman with an honorary membership our Fra Diavolo tent, I made up a certificate for him and to top it all off I took along a copy of the Stan Laurel interview cd from 1957 to present to him. The 3 of us (myself, Norman and his housekeeper) then headed upstairs. Normans housekeeper then offered to take pics while Norman signed my items and chatted to me.

I just couldn't believe that I was sat at this little table on my own with Sir Norman Wisdom in a quiet corner of the sports centre with NO distractions. I knew I only had about 10 or 15 mins to present Norman with his membership, get my items signed and ask any questions I had, but if you ever meet this remarkable man you will realise that although still in amazing physical health, sadly his memory is fading a bit, so to ask him about stuff from way back in the 40's and 50's would have been ambitious and perhaps rude of me, so I just asked him every day questions like. how are you?, are you enjoying your retiremement? etc. He then told me he plans to make another movie. A JB Priestley story about an old man. He got quite excited as he talked about it but since the details were rather exclusive, I feel it is not my place to give too much away in such a public way before the news is released officially.

I then told Norman about the forum, the interest in him from the members and I told him about our tent. He mentioned that he had received a beautiful, giant birthday card from the sons of the desert (he said he thinks it was from Preston) and he loves it. To my absolute delight he then gladly accepted my offer of membership to the Fra Diavolo tent in Scotland. I presented Sir Norman with a Fra Diavolo members certificate, a Sons Of The Desert Fez and a copy of the Art Friedman interview with Stan Laurel from 1957 on CD which I thought he would like to hear. He was very interested in the Stan interview.

When I showed him the pic of him with the boys he was engrossed, staring at it for almost a minute without saying a word. I asked him a few questions as he looked at it, but after a short silence, all he could say was.. "where can I get one of these?" So I said he could have the spare one I had. I'd like to have had it signed but seeing the delight on Normans face when I told him he could keep it was worth the sacrifice. He signed the other one and dedicated it to my son 'Hunter'. He then mentioned a 'second' pic taken of him and the boys on the same night, the more commonly known one with Norman in his dressing gown, you can see both photos in the first post of this thread.

He accepted the sons of the desert fez I presented him with and even put it on, but I didn't manage to capture it with the camera as Normans housekeeper had it and was slightly distracted at the time with the organisers of Normans next engagement that day. He then signed another fez which we intend to display at our meetings. he also signed a few other little items like BlackRavens DVD boxset (see images below).







I knew it was almost time for my meeting with Norman to end, so I asked him about the time Stan offered to stand in as his feed... Norman could only reply "I don't know anything about that!". A very disappointing and surprising answer. So there we go folks, according to Norman Wisdom himself, Stan never offered to work with him after all, unless no one told Norman of course.


Norman explaining that Stan never offered to work with him - or at least that he didn't know anything about it until I mentioned it

It was at this point Norman apologised and explained that he had to go to his next presentation. he then said, "why don't you come up to the house tommorrow (Monday) for a chat?". I could have died. My boat was leaving at 7.45 that evening (Sunday) and I had a meeting arranged with Billy Connolly on the Monday evening so I couldn't even stay on. I was very disappointed, but I know if I am ever back on the Isle Of Man I can go and visit my new friend, Sir Norman Wisdom OBE.

A true legend and a gentleman. God bless him!

A big heartfelt thank you also goes to Normans personal assistant and housekeeper who allowed me to meet Norman privately in order to chat to him and present him with his membership etc. I am eternally grateful.

Ross Owen


Last edited by Ross on Thu Oct 06, 2005 1:37 am; edited 10 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a fascinating report, Ross.
You did so well in the brief amount of time you had with Sir Norman.

I know how exciting and intimidating it can feel when interviewing people who knew the Boys as I did that once myself.
The happiness you brought to Sir Norman by the gifts you gave him was the most significant and successful part of your endeavor.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good man Ross, a job well done.
Regards.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was a fantastic read, it sounds liek you had a great time, pity you couldn't have taken him up on his invite that would have been something to tell the grandkids.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yours is a wonderful experience, Ross! you must be proud of it!
few people could say they have a friend like Norman! Very Happy

only...ooooh, Stan never asked Norman to appear with him Sad
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done Ross! Very Happy Can't wait to go to the Isle of Man Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are a really lucky man, Ross!

Sir Norman looks amazing for 90 years of age. I would be honoured to meet this legend.

Stan
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