In that strange dream-like world between sleep and waking this morning, I was thinking about comedians telling jokes.
This is never a good idea.
I thought that, like tomatoes and broccoli on supermarket shelves, perhaps there should be a Best By… date and a Sell By… date on all jokes.
After that, it would be illegal to expose the joke to the public.
But then I remembered a conversation I had with a man who sold flowers.
There was a Sell By… label stuck on each and every cactus in his shop.
“Do cacti actually go bad after a certain date?” I asked. “I thought they just went on year after year, surviving through drought and everything.”
“Yup,” said the flower shop owner.
From memory, he told me the European Parliament had passed a law that all cacti should have a two-year Sell By… date.
“After that,” he told me, “the law says I have to throw them away.”
“So what do you do with them if they pass their Sell By… date?” I asked the flower shop man.
“I peel off the Sell By… label on the cactus,” he told me, “and stick on a new one.”
That is not a joke. It actually happened. In European Parliamentary legislation, the dividing line between a joke and reality can be a spider’s web-thin one.
Maybe, though, some jokes should have a Best By... date and a Sell By… date.
On the other hand, some jokes are like cacti.
They can go on forever.
The connecting factor may be the involvement of little pricks.
In the world of cacti, pricks are essential.
In comedy, you cannot beat a good knob gag.
Having rationalised this, I turned over and happily went back to sleep.
Perhaps it was a mistake.
Not the turning over and going back to sleep.
The rationalising bit.