I feel a bit like an old king whose favourite jester has died! Reading Dennis Norden's obit in The Telegraph today was a very sad surprise because, to be honest, if you had asked me I would have assumed that he had died years ago! It made me realise that he, and his former excellent and witty partner, Frank Muir, have been making me laugh for nearly 70 years. I can still, just about, remember listening to "Take It From Here" when I was a nipper.
Norden (left) and Frank Muir in 1950 writing a script for the radio show Take It from Here Credit: Popperfoto
It is, I think, just a magical skill to be able to produce an almost endless series of jokes and witticisms and those two were amongst the very best. Here is just one example:
For example, asked to explain the origin of “A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse”, Norden spun an elaborate and laborious yarn about training to use different forms of signalling in the RAF, which finally ended “A prod is as good as a wink to a shined Morse”. This and other examples were later published in Norden and Muir’s book You Can’t Have Your Kayak and Heat It (1973).
Now seems an appropriate time to quote another of his gags:
“When I’m gone?” he once mused. “Well, I’d like to be cremated and used as Dolly Parton’s talcum powder.”
Farewell, Maestro, and thank you.