There's an old joke that goes ... The judge looked at the defendant and said, in a shocked voice, "You mean to say you beat this old man up and left him lying in the gutter for TWO POUNDS?" and the defendant says "Well y'know how it is Gov, two 'quid here and two quid there... it soon mounts up." Some psychologists would say that if you found that funny it was because the concept of such a horrific crime is so far removed from your idea of reality that it made you chuckle. Sad to say one or two people would find it a strange joke as, in their life style, it would not appear far enough away from reality.

The whole idea of jokes and punch-lines is a fascinating subject and it makes you wonder how we arrive at them. People say the English have a highly refined sense of humour. I sometimes wonder if it's the humour or is it the language? A lot of our jokes rely on the use of homonyms (words that sound the same and mean different things). You know, .. the bald man painted rabbits on his head because from a distance they looked like hares.. Some jokes rely on the double entendre ...where we say one thing and mean a mother (sorry old Freudian-type joke slipped in there). It would be puerile to attempt to analyse all forms of our humour and would probably just end in a very dry "conceptual analysis" of what we find funny (I'll save that for the Readers Digest). Suffice to say humour seems to be an integral part of our life and a natural way of being able to either make a point; "Tie a broom to me and I'll sweep the passage way too" or help with difficult times; as the earwig said as he fell off the cliff "Here we go again".

Interestingly enough humour was the basis for the I.Q. test. Binet, the man that originally developed the I.Q. test, did not design it so people could go about joining Mensa or parading their I.Q. score about proving their worth. He was a remedial teacher who simply wanted to know which pupils needed help. Prior to developing a test to estimate who needed help he used humour to identify these pupils. Binet would walk into a classroom and say something like "Sorry I'm late" (in French of course) "I had some difficulty getting my trousers on this morning.
I couldn't get my head through the hole in the leg" At that point the class would laugh and some would look puzzled. Binet would know who needed help when a child came to him and said "Mr Binet.. you don't put your head through the leg-hole" I must admit, I once had a similar incident in a class room. I had given some children a survival test that involved selecting several items to have on their 'desert island' I leaned over one boy and said "I see you've decided to take the bucket with the hole and the chewing-gum" Then, jokingly, I said "Why not take the matches and build a fire; when a ship sees the fire you can ask them to fix the bucket." The boy looked up and said "Don't be daft sir, if a ship came to the island I'd ask for a NEW bucket." So it seems Binet may have had a point.

Taking Binet's idea of humour to it's extreme, perhaps we could sort out the National Curriculum and really get it working. Now we have a scale called I.Q. (thanks to Binet) we could test a few hundred people and group them into ranks, say, I.Q. 100; I.Q. 110; etc., We could then try out some jokes on them and see which ones made them laugh and which left them puzzled. Just think, we could have jokes based on I.Q. levels. This would make life easier for both teachers and comedians. The comedian would simply walk on stage and throw out two test jokes, see what the response was; then pitch his act accordingly.
Teachers could dispense with lengthy testing and silly exams. They would simply collect the whole year group in the hall and the headmaster could do a quick routine starting with, "A funny thing happened to me on the way to school this morning..." Teachers could then move amongst the pupils and 'Weed' out those that did not laugh.

Some people have developed humour to a fine art form and if you saw the film starring Anthony Newley called "Will Heronimous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Hump and Find True Happiness?" you would have noticed how the story was speckled with little meaningful jokes that somehow related to his life.There's even the philosophical point to humour which can help with problems.
So if you have never heard it....
A man was riding a bicycle down a country lane late one afternoon and got a puncture. Having a puncture outfit with him he quickly fixed the tyre but discovered that he hadn't brought a bicycle pump. He noticed a farmhouse in the distance and decided to push his bicycle to the farm and ask to borrow the pump. On his way there he imagined what would happen when he arrived at the farm. "I'll knock on the door and the farmer will answer the door in a friendly manner and say "Can I help you' and I'll say "May I borrow your bicycle pump?" and the farmer will say "Help yourself squire, it's in the barn" then I'll get the pump; pump up my tyre and be on my way. As he continued to walk towards the farm he noticed the lights go out in the kitchen and the bedroom light go on. He then thought, Oh he's gone to bed early, they do that in the country. When I get there I'll be waking him up. I'll knock at the door, he'll be very annoyed and open the window shouting "Who the devil is calling at this time of night?" I'll say "Could you lend me a bicycle pump?" he'll shout "You woke me up for that?, get out of here you xxxxxxx!!" and then he'll go for his shot-gun. On his way to the farm the cyclist kept considering these different encounters with the farmer he imagined lived in the farm. On arriving at the farm, it was dark, the lights were all off and he knocked at the door. Sure enough a man stuck his head out of the window and shouted "Who the devil is calling at this time of night?" The cyclist looked up and shouted "I just want to say you can stick your bicycle pump right up your xxxxxx" and walked off down the lane. In our family, when people start considering the outcome of some forthcoming meeting or discussion someone always says "You can stick your bicycle pump....." and they realise what they are doing and laugh.

Humour comes in all forms from the the very dry Australian type where any innovative new idea is met with "S'great... why didn't you think of that before?" to the droll Yorkshire "I'm afraid my husband died last night"."Did he happen to mention a paint brush he borrowed?".

Whatever your taste hang on to it, it's the best buffer you have against adversity and life's problems and remember never, never give away the punch line. That's a rule I always try to follow but I don't always keep it. ..................I'm a frayed knot.