Wonderland: Norman Wisdom
I saw the trailers for the BBC’s new Wonderland series, and though it might be interesting. It looks something like Channel 4’s Cutting Edge documentary series used to be many years ago, before it was ‘improved’.
I was also intrigued by the subject of the first programme, Norman Wisdom, now aged over 92 years. I had no idea he was still around, and was pleased to see that he had survived his years of falling about in films without lasting injury. While I might not be a member of The Norman Wisdom Fan Club, I think he is/was a comedian who could be funny without having to resort to any of the smut or ‘alternative’ humour that the art seem to have descended into today. Contrast his style with the absolute rubbish that is epitomised by the likes of Ricky Gervais, an individual who has singularly made it to some sort of god-like position in the entertainment industry, but has never made me smile, let alone laugh, and actually has a smug look that actually makes me feel sick to look at. Norman Wisdom on his worst day is at least 1,000 funnier than this man, who showed the true level of his ability (when separated from his entourage) when he could do nothing more than a silly dance when asked to fill a 5 minute gap on stage, and was thankfully videod giving his ‘best’. I would actually have given him my first laugh, if he hadn’t looked so pathetic.
Wonderland’s arrival into Norman Wisdom’s life was ironically timed, and could hardly have been scripted better. Living only with his carer, in his large home on the Isle of Man, this phase of his life was about to come to an end as she prepared to retire, and his care would need to addressed by his family. It was interesting to see how this developed, as I was once in the same position, but without any family to help. Unlike me, his family had the resources of bodies, and what I would describe as the benefit of a relatively comfortable estate provided by the Isle of Man property. Initially, they were able to work out a rather complicated re-organisation of their lives, and allow Norman to remain at home while they looked after him, however, during the course of the programme, it became apparent that he was developing memory problems, and and also confessed to falling. He clearly needed more care than the family could give, and the decision was finally taken that he should go into a care home, where he could be looked after on a 24 hour basis.
Despite much of the media’s representation of this process being negative, and there are no doubt people out there who want to dump aging relatives, there comes a time when reality dawns, and the decision has to be made, and not every care home is the one that features in the horror stories repeated in the media.
In this case, the conclusion seems to have been positive, as Wonderland observed that Norman Wisdom has what he needs as an entertainer, a permanent audience in the home, where he can keep them amused as long as he likes. I wish him luck, and that the disease that is affecting his memory progresses but slowly, as it is one of the least amusing that can affect not only the sufferer, but even more so the family.
Reaching this position does not fall into the category of funny. At first hand I saw this arrive, result in injury and hospitalisation of a loved one, watched as it robbed memories, awareness, and strength, then started on me. The State may help in some ways, but it will have its Pound of Flesh, taking the family home, savings, and pensions in payment for its ‘generosity’, and then adding to that by grabbing most of the family’s wages to pay for the care it offers. I could see why others had simply given up and stopped working – another irony, as being at work is one reason why one has to look at the Care Home option. Once your relative is in care, it takes so much of your wages, it becomes a better option to lose your job and let the State pick up the bill. How mad is that?
However, the real subject is Norman Wisdom, and it was nice to see that he at least was able to be comfortably settled into his Care Home, and looking happy, and I thanked Wonderland for providing an comparative example of how this process could work when not subject to the over-riding attentions of the ‘Money-men’.
It will be interesting to see what comes up in the remaining Wonderland series, and how they treat it. This (and the second episode which I have now seen) is certainly more akin to the ‘interesting’ documentaries that we used to get in the earlier days of Cutting Edge, blessed by not having some headline-hunting presenter popping up inside it all the time, giving is unwanted opinions, or fighting for some agenda or other – if these first programmes are examples of what is to come, then all I can say is let’s have some more.