Sunday, 6 October 2013

You gotta laugh

Laughter is the saving grace of mankind.

Many of our worst problems are caused by acute sense of humour breakdowns. I mean, if the Tea Party could appreciate the irony of the wealthiest nation on Earth spending more than anyone else on healthcare without even being able to cover the whole population, they might not be driving their nation and the world into uncharted waters of financial mayhem.

Even better, if US voters could see what a bunch of tenth-rate clowns the Tea Party Congressmen were, they might just treat them with the derisive laugh they deserve and stop voting for them.

In the meantime, while I wait for the day when the pits of our society – I’m sorry, I meant the pinnacles of our leadership – learn to stop taking themselves quite so seriously, I can at least get some enjoyment from the smiles around in my neighbourhood.

And I’m using the word ‘neighbourhood’ in its literal sense. 

On one side, we have a neighbour from hell, who does all she can to test the sense of humour of anyone nearby – indeed, most of the street. Her idea of a party is to have loud fun until about 1:00 in the morning, and then drift into increasingly bitter, and equally loud, altercation involving screaming, tears and not infrequently the smashing of crockery, for the rest of the night.

But on the other side we have people it’s a delight to know. Two sisters living together, with sons and grandchildren around. The  grandchildren, incidentally, find it just as unfunny as we do to be woken at 4:00 in the morning by the other neighbour.

Some time ago, I was struck by a strange sight over the back door of the sisters’ house. It was a clear plastic bag full of water, nailed over the lintel. It looked like nothing so much as the kind of bag in which one might carry back a goldfish won at a fair. The resemblance was underlined by the coppery objects lying on the bottom, but it turns out these weren’t goldfish who’d seen better days but copper coins.

Finally, meeting one of the sisters yesterday, I asked her what the bag was about.

‘Oh, a friend told us that it would keep flies out of the house,’ she explained, smiling self-deprecatingly.

‘And – does it work?’ I asked.

‘No, of course, not. But it’s become a talking point whenever people come round to the house now, so we leave it up there.’ And she smiled again.

A fly catcher? What, seriously?
Or not to be taken seriously at all?
Now, that’s the attitude I like to see. Mockery of one’s superstitions. And a healthy willingness to display evidence of our own laughable behaviour, if only to provoke light-hearted conversation and, no doubt, a smile or two.

If only the Tea Party could learn to behave that way towards itself, our teetering financial system might be a lot more sturdy. And we’d all have a lot more to be cheerful about.


Leonard Beeson said...

It does work. The fly catcher, I mean, not the tea-party. It's widely used in the tropic where we have been blessed with myriad insects. The problem is the sisters are not using it properly. You want to place several bags of water IN the place where you don't want the flies, and must have plenty of light bouncing off them, in order to create the optic effect that flies find repulsive. However, along with the flies, so does the decor fly out the window.

David Beeson said...

That's fascinating, Leonardo - thanks for the comment. I can imagine that lots of those little bags would do little for the decor, and I'm fascinated that the technique actually works!

Anonymous said...

An interesting piece of new-tech.
I am trying this route to comment, in case it's become more accessible.


MalcDow said...

Laughter is the saving grace of mankind.

I think it the human beings' way of expressing 'understanding.

One doesn't laugh at a joke one doesn't understand.