Comedy legend Ken Dodd died last week following a short illness. He was 90 years of age and died in the house in which he was born. What an incredibleall-roundentertainer he was! I remember on a Blackpool holidaywith my parents as a wide eyedeleven-year-old seeing him for the first time brandishing his tickling stick and seeing for the firsttime his beloved ‘Diddy’ men from Knotty Ash.He could certainly hold an audience and often his shows would overrun such was his delight in preforming. His many TV appearances and the longest ever season played at the London Palladiumlasting an incredible 42 weeks raised his popularity to even greater heights. He is also included in the Guinnessbook of records for the longest joke telling session ever – 1500 jokes in three and half hours. He never really gave up performing and had a tour planned for later this year. His lastappearance before his illness was in his belovedLiverpool in December. He was knighted in acknowledgement of his showbiz career and charity work – an honour well deserved.
Ken Dodd had another side of his life. He was a very privateperson and also man of faith. He once described the book of Common prayer as the ‘best guide book for life’His local vicar Revd Julia Jesson added “Ken was a much-loved member of the local community who had Knotty Ash running through his very being. I had the privilege of getting to know him and Ann over the last few months and know what a special person he was. His faith was important to him and he was well known at the church and the Cathedral often spending time in quiet prayer and contemplation. He was also a talented singer. In 1964 we heard ‘Happiness’ for the first time. This bouncy and well-loved song may well have been his testimony. ‘I thank the Lord’ he sang‘that I’ve been blessed with more than my share of happiness’.
We often look for happiness in the wrong places. Happiness is then short lived and often disappointment and frustration follow.The Bible speaks of the blessedness of faith. Faith in the goodness of God and the promise Jesus made that however dark the night may be to borrow from another Liverpool anthem we never ever walk alone. That’s something Ken Dodd was sure of . ‘I came’ said Jesus ‘that you might have life in its fullness’ – He brought and still brings through amazing grace that assurance – How? – ‘cause, like Ken Dodd and all Christians through the ages – ‘ I’ve got happiness in my soul!’