Laughter really is the best medicine – you ought to try it some time, dear. It’s just what the doctor ordered. This non-prescription panacea (“for all ills”, as the illiterate would add, not realising that this is what ‘panacea’ means) has been known from the time of Galen right down to your friendly neighbourhood doctor.
The problem, if you will permit this quack to diagnose it, is that many of us only too often fail to see the funny side of things. And therein lies the rub. We are a nation sardine-packed from shore to shining shore with whiners and whingers, weepers and wailers, moaners and groaners. If only we would not take our predicaments, our present troubles, and especially our politicians so seriously!
Now before we proceed to unwrap this not-so-bitter pill, let us enlighten you on the two types of humour – only one of which happy Hippocrates would have heartily recommended. You see, dears, there is ‘funny peculiar’ – and then there’s also ‘funny ha ha’. For the purposes of your, er, treatment today, we’ll deal with only the former. The latter you can discover for yourself – on the Web. Or by fishing it off a magazine rack which shelves MAD or any number of hilarious digests. Even by dint of rediscovering the lighter side of hysterical members of one’s family and the godliest virtue of one’s friends. Got it? Good…
So, what exactly is ‘funny peculiar’? Well, for starters, it is that state of mind when someone important says one thing but does another. Statesmen call this one-upmanship. Religionists condemn it as hypocrisy. And common or garden citizens with more than a smidgen of common sense hail it with hoots of laughter. Doubt it? Consider the case of bigwigs who fancy themselves as benevolent dictators of quite a different ilk to that which we’ve seen before in this blessed isle. First, they rail against the prevailing internationalist ethic, in which the planet is rapidly becoming a global village. Then, they globetrot to the very Mecca of swashbuckling diplomatists – and pontificate to poor audiences about the imperatives of forgiveness, reconciliation, and all-round goodwill in the aftermath of wars fought and won. Finally, they shimmy back home and sign on the dotted line that official little slip of paper which will send a former comrade-in-arms off to a rigorous round of incarceration in a, er, funny farm… what a hoot…
Ah, you’re getting the picture! The buck, or bill of medication, does not stop there. Once upon a time in Cloud Cuckoo Land, the generally well-thought-of type who, ugh, allegedly won the war for the ‘home side’ was highly sought after as a speaker on the business circuit. Hardly a seminar or symposium was held without his experience being enthusiastically recapitulated or his expertise being earnestly reinvented for the corporate board room and production floor alike.
De Gaulle meets De Bono just about sums up this effort of commercially minded mandarins to milk the war victory until the Stock Exchange’s cows came home and they could cash in their chips before the fat was in the fire (if you will pardon the mixed metaphor)! Then, as the dramatic novelists say, all hell broke loose – and the hero of the hour past became the zero of the present moment. Not to be put off for too long by the vagaries of the mercantile world, the boffins among our business leaders devised an adaptionist strategy. With their pin-up soldier off to the penitentiary, they lost little or no time in looking for a suitable poster boy to replace him. No two guesses, folks! Yes, the other war hero… now the newest darling of the survival-of-the-fittest gang…
Eh, do I hear you saying to yourself that there’s something in this ‘funny peculiar’ business after all? Better than a stiff one or that bracing tonic, is it? Told you so! And you ain’t seen nothing yet! Still to come… A minister to whom nothing is foreign – so much so that he can pack a can full of worms at home as soon as he can empty an auditorium abroad on behalf of head of state. Another ministering angel whose bark is not much worse than his bite – And a cabinet that is steadily growing in size, being jammed full of old crocks and young Turks who would sell their soul to the owner of the cupboard as long as he won’t compel them to come out of the corruption closet!
Politics is not the only pretty pickled kettle of fish (there’s another one of ’em mixed ‘m’s), dears. Take a dekko.
Top cops who reach juridical decisions into police scandals before investigations are even begun. Professional organizations whose associations are meant to champion worthy causes, but have of late adopted the ‘be seen and not heard’ motto. Civil society “voices for the voiceless”, who are more worried that their respective roles as mouthpieces are ending with a whimper and not a bang… ha ha, would it be funny if it wasn’t so peculiar?