Yr. Humble Chronicler must confess to having been supremely neglectful. As you may be aware, my usual schedule consists of an entry every Wednesday and one every Sunday. Alas, this has been a particularly busy weekend, albeit an interesting one. In practical terms, this means it’s currently five-to-midnight and I’ve had enough alcohol to make a coherent entry unlikely. Therefore, here’s an incoherent entry.
When I’m not writing this blog, I have various hobbies to keep me busy. One of my favourites is restoring old jokes.
While strolling through the German countryside not far from the River Elbe last summer, I was caught in a storm and took shelter in a nearby barn. Waiting for the rain to stop, my curiosity was piqued by a shape under a tarpaulin. Looking underneath, I was astonished to find a political joke that I’d never seen before. It had clearly been out of use for quite some time.
I sought out the farmer later that day. He explained that he had acquired the joke back in 1989, but with the fall of the Berlin Wall it had become irrelevant and since then he had been unable to get rid of it. He was more than happy to sell it, and a month later I brought it back to the UK.
Upon inspection, the joke was not as far gone as I’d thought. Although it would need tightening up in places, and of course the subject would need to be changed, the substance of the joke was basically intact. Anyway, I’ve been carrying out restoration work over the last few months, and it’s finally ready.
Gordon Brown is worried about his election prospects, and so he calls together all his spin doctors, advisers and speechwriters together.
“Help,” he says, “the public hates me, the opposition are laughing at me and my own party have lost all confidence in me. How can I win the election this year?”
The spin doctors consider the matter for a while. Then one of them speaks up. “Frankly, Gordon, nothing short of an actual miracle will restore you in people’s eyes,” he says.
“Fine, I’ll give them a miracle,” says Gordon.
He locks himself in 10 Downing Street for a month. The day before the election, he invites all the MPs to gather outside the Houses of Parliament to witness his miracle. He climbs down the stairs to the river. He steps out on to the water. He takes another step, and another, and walks all the way across and back again.
He raises his arms in triumph, but the only sound is one MP whispering to his neighbour, “See? I told you he couldn’t swim.”