He loves a nice cup of tea with a good book, and life in Florida Keys suits him just fine…
But it’s his Glasgow attitude that Sir Billy Connolly is relying on to fight back against the impact of Parkinson’s Disease.
The 79-year-old comedy legend invited the cameras into his home for the second successive year to film a special documentary being shown on STV on Boxing Day.
Here’s a taste of what the Big Yin has to say:
Making people laugh
Humour is a great gift, nobody knows where it’s from, why you can say words in a certain order and all of a sudden people will fall about holding their stomach.
You can take reality, dress it up and have people fall about laughing. There’s nothing nicer.
Shock is an intrinsic part of comedy. The audience love being shocked and horrified. You’ve got to rattle the box every so often, give the world a shake. There’s a circus performer in all of us, who wants to say “look at me walking the tightrope”.
Living in Florida
I didn’t settle in Florida Keys. My wife settled in Florida Keys, with all the furniture. She sold my house and moved to the Florida Keys and gave me the option of whether I want to come or not.
This is a good place – there’s a lot of old hippies that live here and people who refuse to get old. And it suits me lovely.
On his upbringing
It was a tough upbringing but I survived it and it was made great by my friends. I could see by their houses and the atmosphere in their families that whatever was wrong, was wrong with my family, it wasn’t wrong with the world.
So I learnt from that – that if I ever got married I would live like them, be funny and cheery with my children.
Meeting his wife Pamela
I thought Pamela was a cracker. I thought she’d be hanging out with university guys because that’s who she was working with (on Not The Nine O’Clock News). I thought that would be her taste.
Then she came to see me in Brighton and I realised I was her taste.
Pleasures in life
My pleasures are very simple – fishing on a nice river in nice weather. A good book, a cup of tea and a McVittie’s digestive – that’s my ultimate happiness.
Books were my ticket to the world, I would read everything I could when I was a boy. I still read a lot, I don’t know where it came from but it got instilled in me, by myself.
No matter what I did, everything would be fine if I just kept reading and it worked out just dandy.
Parkinson’s Disease has taken a lot from me. I can’t play the banjo anymore. It’s just a noise. I can’t yodel anymore. I can’t smoke cigars. It’s taken more and more of what I like – it’s kind of painful.
But you have to have a Glasgow attitude and say, “oh, you think you’ve got me beat, try this for size”. I just deal with it. If I fall, I fall.
I think about death a lot, not in an excessive way, but every day. I’ve seen people die and it’s ok. It’s not painful. You just go away and it’s gone. You exhale. It’s nothing to be frightened of. It’s just the next step.
It’s better to be bright and optimistic and have a laugh. You pass this way but once.
I sound like an end-of-the-pier preacher, but be thoughtful and kind and it’ll come back to you. There’s only love. That’s all there is.
Billy Connolly: My Absolute Pleasure is on STV at 9.30pm on Boxing Day, and is available now on the STV Player.