Park Engineering

 John Park, 32 the Loaning, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, Strathclyde, Scotland, U.K. ML1 3HE

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work of the Bonkle Poet William McCormack "Memories O' Hame" and other poems

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Ken Dodd




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Patsy Cline







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What did they do before doing stand up

Hardie vehemently opposed the first world war

bernie keith







 Diamond Year for Doddy. 60 years of tattifilarious fun! He is one of my favourite comedians in fact I've see him live on three occasions


How tickled is he? Yes September is a special month for the Squire of Knotty Ash himself, Ken Dodd, as it was 60 years ago that he became a comedy legend.  "I went fully professional at that time but I'd been doing clubs as a part timer, learning the trade for about 10 years before that," said Doddy, who is still playing to sell out theatre audiences as he approaches his 87 th birthday in November. "I started when I was six months old. "Where I come from, you had two choices -- you either entertained or you faced life working down a jam-butty mine. "I looked at myself in the mirror one day and after getting over the shock, I decided I had the sort of face that wasn't suited to mining.     Actually, as a family we were often taken to theatre to see all the great comedy stars and I just loved it. "Yes, I was smitten by the whole magic of the theatre and laughter.  "I left school at 154 and went into the family coal business and that brought me into contact with people. "I soon learned that a cheery greeting made people feel good and that was a big lesson learned. "That's why when I go on stage, I like to give a big welcome.  "Whatever you give your audience, they'll give back to you so if you go on stage looking like an undertaker, you're going to get greeted like one.     "When I was a lad, I was fascinated by ventriloquism and I wanted to learn how to do it. "My dad encouraged me by getting me vent doll called Charlie Brown.  "I still feature my little pal Dicky Mint in my act today.  "That is really how I started, doing doing a bit of ventriloquism, singing in the church choir and learning how to have a laugh with people when I was doing door-to-door sales." Doddy made his full debut on the stage of Nottingham's Empire Theatre and he still has a poster from the show. "Tony Brent was the singing star of the day and topped the bill with brilliant trumpeter Kenny Baker no 2," recalls Doddy. "A singing group called the Kordites were next. "Right down the bottom tucked away in a corner is the name Ken Dodd.  "I knew my place. It wasn't easy in those days. The digs were mostly awful, the pat was just about enough so long as you didn't want to eat and you lived on your nerves every time you went on stage.  "I don't like talking about what's been because it starts to sound like you're at the end of the road and I'm certainly not. "We're just getting some more brochures printed so I'm not planning to retire. "How can you retire from a way of life?." What a way of life it is, too. Yes, It's been a record breaking career from long see-out sessions at the London Palladium with Doddy's Here! in 1965 and Doddy's Here Again, two years later.    Doddy's Here! ran for 42 and a half weeks at the Palladium," Ken adds. "I was in London so long, I was starting to talk with a Cockney. "It was a great experience though.  Also in 1965, Doddy broke more records with sale of Tears, one of his many records which soared into the charts.  "Tears sold several million copies and I was given a gold disc," says Doddy. I thought it was a big chocolate biscuit and tried to take the wrapper off!."  Doddy's appearances for the Royal Family, both public and private, have all added to the legend. "Royal Variety Shows are always very special, very exciting, very nerve wracking," he reveals. "Of course they're not so bad as they were in the days of Henry V111.     If Henry didn't like you, that wasn't just the end of your. You really could smile on the other side of your face because it was parted from your body.  "Nowadays, if you don't do well at the Royal Variety Show, it will probably be your last as well as your first.   The Phrases "Sell out" and "Record-breaking" have been attached to Ken Dodd for decades. His audiences adore him and the length of his shows is part of the legend.  "Babysitters hate my shows but the theatre caterers love them as they can serve breakfast on the way out," he jokes. "I like to give value for money for one thing but when I'm on stage, it's like having friends round for some fun and when it's going well, you don't want to stop. "My audiences get in training days before the show.   "They go to bed early to get used to the time difference. They exercise their chuckle muscles so by the time the show starts, they're fully fit. It's Doddy's manic approach to life that's given us the Diddy Men, Treacle wells and a whole host of other crazy characters and sayings. Audiences go home to practice sayings like tattifilarious and discomknockerated. Perhaps the greatest gift to the nation is the tickling stick.   "It's very special" he explains. "The court jesters of old often had balloons on stick. I didn't have the puff to do that every night, so I decided to use a feather duster. "I used to sell them as part of my door to door work. So the feather duster became the tickling stick and of course, I am very patriotic so it had to be a red white and blue one. "They can't touch you for it. It's always been my ambition to tickle the full nation and I think I'm nearly there. "Doddy's received countless honours but he especially likes the statue in Liverpool's Lime Street Station. "I'm very proud of that  ---  to think they made a pigeon's toilet look like me is quiet an honour. The pigeons love it" he laughs. Doddy takes his comedy seriously but never himself. "I've been very lucky to have chosen laughter as my occupation because it's something every wants and needs, is good for the health and you can share without loosing it yourself," he adds. Just like the shows, Doddy has planned to go on for ever and that's good news for his millions of fans and of course theatre managers up and down the county.

Doddy was a bigger pop star than the Beatles. In 1965  he celebrated the fact that his single is no. one in the charts.

Half  a century after he kept The Beatles and Stones off the top of the charts, and at the grand old age of 87, Ken Dodd is still making us roar with laughter. The comic, in fact, hasn't shortened his legendary gigs, having done some last year that kicked off at 6.45 and saw him still on the stage at at 15 minutes past midnight. This summer, and right through the rest of the year, Doddy will have audiences laughing long into the night, up and down the UK.  From Blackpool to Llandudno, Glasgow to Darlington, those teeth, that hair, those madcap props and that loveable lunacy will light up theatres and halls yet again. Has there ever been a more British comedian.? Has there ever been a harder working star? It's astonishing to think it was 'way back in 1965 that his single Tears, sold more than one and a half million copies. That made it not just one of the UK's top selling records of all time --- it kept the Fabs and the Stones, the Walker Bros. and the seekers and all the rest of those cool young things off the top perch. Perhaps one of the secrets of his success, and it's longlevity, is the very fact that Doddy does put so much hard work in, having spent so much of his life travelling these islands, providing silliness and hilarity when and where it is required.  The only comparison we can find is with, believe it or not, American rock good Bruce Springsteen, also famed for the length of his gigs, often performing for six hours of an evening. He too, is worshipped by millions. We love our artists, it seems, when they also work their socks off  and give their all. Doddy, like Bruce, doesn't walk off a stage until it's drenched in sweat and the folks in the seats are absolutely exhausted. Ken was born on the 8th of November 1927, and got his unique fangs when he rode his bike with his eyes shut, to prove a point to his pals in Liverpool.  It ended badly, although who's to say if his career would have been so successful without those unusual teeth?.  Being the son of a coal merchant in Knotty Ash, his career seemed planned for him, and sure enough, he left school to work for his dad at 14.     But his heroes, like Arthur Askey, Max Miller and Will Hay, gnawed away at the lad --- the young Dodd loved to laugh and felt, he too could raise a giggle or two.      Askey was also from Liverpool where, like Ireland, a sense of humour seems to be a natural part of life.    There was a great sense of community back then, and nobody took them selves too seriously.    So when Ken saw a comic advert urging kids to try ventriloquy, it sounded just the thing. His father bought him a dummy, which Ken named Charlie Brown and soon he was making them all laugh at the local orphanage.   He was well into his 20s, though before his first very nervous appearance at the Nottingham Empire, where he came off feeling relieved that they hadn't booed.   That self doubt seems bizarre now, when we know how confident he appears on stage. He once did a marathon gig to get into the Guinness Book of Records, telling 1,500 jokes in 210 minutes, the crowd taking shifts to come in and enjoy. Not once did he falter, getting through 7.14 jokes a minute, according to the history books.  When he did the Royal Variety Shows, commoners and royals were rolling in the aisles, and all this from a man who often feared a concert going badly.    Even when he has tried something not for laughs, some Shakespeare or Dr. Who, that Dodd magic has won the day. His tickling stick phrases like "How tickled I am" and his Diddy men creations have all got the thumbs up over the decades. In the pop charts, he's been up near the top on 19 occasions, selling millions of records. When he had to entertain Charles and Camilla  in the wake of his big tax case, he joked about it.  The tax case in 1989, of course grabbed headlines for a while, and it was revealed that he had kept a large amount of cash in his loft. He was eventually acquitted.    Not a fellow to let the chance of new material  slip through his fingers, he'd open shows for a while with the immortal opening line: "Good evening, my name is Kenneth Arthur Dodd, singer, photographic playboy and failed accountant.      How could we not like a man who could laugh at himself?. Ken got an OBE from the Queen in 1982, for his amazing services to show business and charities, and in 2004 received a framed playbill after his sell-out show at Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall.   He had been in showbiz for  a full half century, after all, and outlived the city's old Empire, which was now long gone. But there can be no better judge of a comedian than the funny men themselves, who voted him among the top 50 Comedy Acts Ever, 10 years ago.   As honours go, though, the fact that  a statue of him, complete with feather duster at Liverpool's Lime Street  must make him burst with pride. His discumknockerated Happiness Show continues to rampage up and down our islands, with dates coming up that  include Dudley Town Hall June 7, Glasgow Pavilion, June 27, Southend Cliffs July 12, Skegness Embassy July 26, and we could go on and on. Let's just say he has Blackpool gigs pencilled in for early November, so he ain't putting his feet up and getting the pipe and slippers out any time soon.     


Doddy at 88: I need a script and that's no joke.

He once said his stand up routines relay on rapid delivery of one-liners at a rate of 'Seven titters per minute'. Now Ken Dodd has admitted his memory is failing him at the age of 88 - and he has to use scrip when performing. After picking up a comedy award this, he said: 'My memory ... well I was in Leamington Spa the other night and I just came to some lines and it was like, 'Whoosh, it has gone' There is nothing there.  'But as a comic you can get out of it with a line like, 'I have had amnesia ever since I can remember, or 'I have just bought this book on how to develop a super memory but I can't remember where I put it.' 'So what you have to do is have a script. I always have a script with me but an actor can't do that. But we can, so I read the script. Dodd who is always with his trademark tickling stick, has been entertaining audiences since he left school at the age of 14. 


Ken Dodd at Ninety Years of Age

Ken Dodd has been spreading his own Brand of happiness for many decades. We don't see him on TV these days, but he still does his live shows.  My sister Lizzie went on a work "do" to see him and had a great time. She couldn't believe how long he was on stage. The show started at eight and she had to leave at 11 for her last bus -- the show went on until after midnight. Amazing to think that next year Ken will be 90! They don't make them like that any more.


Why I'll never retire from Happiness. A chat with Sir Doddy. Wouldn't it be simply tattifilarious if everyone on the planet was happy. By Bernard Bale  

Doody's on tour again! Even though he's heading towards his 90th birthday. Sir Ken Dodd is taking his tickling sticks well beyond Buckingham Palace --- where he was recently knighted --- for his 64th annual tour. "I've been around more times than an EP" said Doddy. "Most people have never heard of an EP, but it stood for 'extended play' -- it's something you do when you're younger. When you get older, you're more like a single with a crack in it. "People remember things like EPs. Vinyl is coming back, you know -- I didn't know it had been away.  "We still have vinyl lino in or kitchen. Always remember that these are tomorrows good old days -- that's another way of saying that things are going to get worse!" Doddy is nothing less than amazing. He's touring various parts of the country, and skips every night carrying famous Big Bass Drum to be greeted by standing ovations before he's even spoken. "People are wonderful," he said. "Where would we be without people? I wouldn't be standing here for a start! When I go on stage, I feel totally at home." As well as comedy, Doddy is, of course, famous for his many million selling records. So what does he have to say about today's music? "If music be the food of love ..... It's no wonder I often get indigestion". he laughed. "It's difficult to understand some of today's lyrics. "And what about that thump-thump-thump stuff. It sounds like someone driving past with a washing machine! "I love music, of course, but mostly I like the old songs -- they don't write romantic songs like Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavour on The Bedpost Overnight? any more." Every autumn, Ken Dodd can be seen at one of his favourite venues, the Blackpool Grand Theatre, but for the rest of the year, he travels from Bournemouth to Bridlington and London to Llandudno. Most nights, he returns, to his home Liverpool suburb Knotty Ash. "I always try to go home after each show, no matter how far it might be," he said. "The roads have improved over the years because there more of them and they are wider, but there are still more road works per mile than fuel stations.  "There are so many traffic jams, though, that I am worried that they are going to start making congestion charges on the motorways!  "I like to go home because I love Liverpool. "I've lived here all my life and have never wanted to stay anywhere else. "In fact, I've lived in the same house all these years and that's great as I have never had to move. "They say it is one of the most traumatic times, moving house. Circus people must be under a lot of stress as they move every week.  "Think of all the things Liverpool has given the world --- The Beatles, strikes, police walking around in twos, the Merseybeats, the ferry across the Mersey, winning the European cup, Liverpool is going to be the city of culture and everybody will have to speak English as good as we do. Liverpool is also famous for Aintree and that means horse racing. "I've always liked horse racing except the horses are always faster," Doddy chuckled. "Still, it is good exercise and I would not be the fine figure of a man I am today if it were not for horse racing and the pounds it's lost me. " I've never been much of a gambler -- butterflies have more flutters than me -- but I like the spectacle and it proves such great employment for the Diddymen, who dress up in all kinds of colours and ride the horses. Aintree started with a convention of dentists, you know -- they all turned up for the Grand Gnashional." Is Doddy ever serious.    


More to follow