Monday, 10 January 2011

Joking in the Teeth of Death

Two of the bravest jokes I remember hearing by way of a f**k you to the Grim Reaper:

1) (from a recent doc.) Bob Monkhouse on Parky a few months before his death, talking about the time his doctor had to tell him he was terminally ill. "How long have I got, Doc?" "Ten." "Yes, but ten what? Weeks, months, what?"
Doc looks at his watch and says "nine, eight, seven..."

2) In 1942, three German battleships made the audacious "Channel dash" to get back to Germany. One of them was called "Gneisenau." (silent G.) The Fleet Air Arm's Fairey Swordfish was a slow and obsolete torpedo attack biplane. Six took off to attack the "Gneisenau" and the other ships. All six were shot out of the sky, and only five aircrew out of 18 survived. There was a posthumous VC. You have to try to imagine the blazing hell of machine-gun and anti-aircraft fire coming up at them as the old stringbags lumbered in.
One of the pilots was heard to say over his radio "It doesn't look so nice now."


  1. Perhaps it's courage worn lightly that most shames and diminishes Reaper G. And teaches us all a lesson. Blazing hell indeed, poor buggers.

  2. Such eloquence, Charles, thanks.

  3. I read this earlier today. No so much a brave joke, but it raised a gentle smile none-the-less...

    French playwright, Paul Claudel, upon his deathbed
    "Doctor, do you think it could have been the sausage?"

  4. Lovely.
    "When Pitt died, his famous last words are said to be “My Country, My Country. How shall I leave my Country?” (or "How I love my country.")In fact, these were not Pitt’s last words. He ruined the effect by speaking another sentence before he died: “How I could eat one of Bellamy’s veal pies.” This was a classic case of patriotism being overcome by pastry."
    Or by a brave joke? Or maybe he was just hungry...

  5. I, myself, am often overcome by pastry. Alas, it shall be my downfall...

  6. Way to go, CB! For me, it's pasties....and above all the L-SOs chicken pie. Addictive. H'm. Wonder if there's any in the fridge...?

  7. The swordfish thing – I wonder if that is something to do with a culture and a generation as well? My Grandfather (Major in WW1) was on a ship with his men that got torpedoed and sunk.

    He used to say “. . . so we swam about for a day or so, eventually we saw a ship, so we got on board. Unfortunately it was the wrong sort of ship so we had a cup of tea and got orf again. Swam around for another day before a proper ship turned up. . .”

    Staring death in the eye with a weird combination of madness and manners.

    Not quite a joke but nearly.

  8. Excellent joke, even though I doubt the actual experience was much of a rib-tickler - might have been a Python sketch? But better because of its source, and that weird combination, which is a delight.