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Don't make me laugh!

Apr 23, 2017

I must tell you this! 

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I spend some of my time playing in a ukulele band – as an aside: somebody once said that the definition of the shortest unit of time is the difference between you meeting Tony Allen and him telling you that he plays the ukulele! 

Anyway, I play in a ukulele band and the other night when we had our AGM our revered leader was expounding how we should really be ‘increasing our performing credibility by taking on more complicated and meaningful songs which would of course require more expertise’. He went on to say how this was what discerning audiences required these days; and in a general discussion that followed it was decided that this was how we should proceed, and the proposal was minuted with all due solemnity. At no time did the word pomposity enter into the discussion.  

Next item on the agenda was a forthcoming event at the local library in which we would be taking part. A copy of our song book had been fittingly handed to them with a suggestion that they chose a selection of songs which they would like us to play.  

Our leader had received, just before he left home, an e-mail from the chief librarian (poor joke alert) who had originally ‘booked’ us. It itemised their song choices and apparently he had not yet had a chance to read it. With a degree of ceremony, the list was produced, and with a slight change of facial colour to a moderate puce, accompanied by a scarcely hidden splutter, he announced that the first song which they had chosen was … TEDDY BEAR’S PICNIC! 

Now I know that a sense of humour can vary from person to person but I must confess that I fought hard to swallow a burst of laughter - along with around 50% of those present. The rest of the room, in varying proportions, failed to appreciate the delicious sense of irony involved here - and so the meeting continued in a mixture of indignity and mild hysteria.  

Somebody asked what the next choice was. Now our revered leader is not one to hold back on his views but somehow he was finding it difficult to speak and had a look on his face which gave the impression that he was chewing a wasp, but finally he was able to announce the next choice … PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON! 

Oh lordy lordy! Apart from the fact this banal song sounds like a game that hippies used to play during the drug enhanced sixties, I can’t begin to tell you the effect that this had on the room. All thoughts of improving our credibility etc. had now completely disappeared amid a combination of snorts and scarcely repulsed amusement. I formed the initial impression that maybe our leader was not at all amused, but in the end I think that even he saw the funny side of this situation. 

It did make me think about how preoccupied we often are with the concept of ‘meetings’. It doesn’t seem to matter whether we are running the country or discussing a ukulele band, we still like to go through the appropriate procedure and I think we are obsessed with the whole idea. Of course we have to accept that a meeting normally moves at the speed of the slowest mind in the room. There is always somebody with verbal diarrhoea who insists on passing motions. 

The political philosopher Thomas Sowell once said that people who enjoy meetings should never be in charge of anything and maybe this makes sense, but how important is ‘a sense of humour’? 

I always remember the late comedian Bob Monkhouse saying, “When I was young they laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian – well they’re not laughing now!”  Lovely. 

In our meeting I’m sure that the whole thing was becoming overblown – it’s a little old ukulele club for goodness sake. Humour seemed to bring us all back down to ground level and destroy any pretentions. 

“Well you can’t make a joke out of everything,” I hear you say, “what about ambition?” Well yes that is true, but entertainment is an infectious quality which is born out of a combined sense of enjoyment. This quality also applies to businesses in general, you can always tell when a company is populated by people who enjoy what they are doing and this is normally manifested by a smile. A happy company is a happy bank manager? Perhaps not, I’ve never met one. 

So there you are, I hope that you can see the humour in this ukulele story which I assure you actually happened. I read only yesterday that there are three basic rules to writing a magazine article. The trouble is nobody knows what they are! 

By the way; I sincerely hope that our band leader doesn’t read removal magazines!  

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