I often find life funny. I believe that the only reason I managed 25 years in the pensions industry was that I was expert in finding humour in most situations. Well, perhaps not most - that might be rose-tinted reflection. I finally managed to extricate myself from Pensions (as it was known), with a nicely negotiated redundancy package. In the customary and embarrassing speech inflicted on leavers, my manager said that an unexpected bonus of accompanying me to meetings with clients was the amount of laughing we did in the (usually long) car journeys and that she had had no idea Pensions could be so funny. Which was nice. Some twenty years earlier, a previous manager had said to me "Really, Small*" (not public-school formality - it was a nickname. It was a nickname-heavy establishment. One of my colleagues was known as Horse and he was unwise enough to make it plain he didn't like it. Hmmm. Perhaps not so far from school) "you speak to me as though I were an amiable buffoon." I remember looking at him and taking just that little bit too long to lie and say I didn't think of him like that at all and he harrumphed off. As he regularly asked me to go and buy wrapping paper and then use it on various family presents, I felt entitled to regard him how I wished. Actually, I liked him a lot and I really didn't mind the present-wrapping - it was better than manually calculating GMPs (don't ask).
(*Has this mode of expostulation fallen out of fashion? Billy Bunter was always saying it "Oh really, Coker" usually followed by "Ha! Ha! Ha!' yelled Bob Cherry. And "well, really" was a favourite of my mother's.)
In the last week I have found myself laughing out loud whilst on my own in cafes twice. (Gosh, what a dreadful sentence.) That is quite unusual - I might find something funny but I rarely hoot about it if I am alone. The cause of the first was a picture in last week's Guardian. As one of you knows, I laughed so much I stuck my finger in my coffee. The second time was caused by a rereading of The Hills Is Lonely. I read all of Lillian Beckwith's Hebridean books many years ago and I remember I loved them, but I had forgotten quite how funny they were. Are. There are only a few books which have made me laugh out loud and at the moment I can only bring one other to mind - the glorious, bonkers, perfect Uncle Fred In The Springtime, by P G Wodehouse (especially the bit about entering the Empress of Blandings in the Derby.)
I had considered having Charles Penrose with The Laughing Policeman as the musical interlude, but I've always considered it rather chilling. This isn't a song, but it makes me laugh. And the subtitles are a nice touch.
I couldn't leave you songless, though. Here you are. On Monday I shall be singing this with the Sheffield Singing for the Brain group in the Crucible. Yes, really.
Thanks for being here. Back soon.