Laughter – The Best Medicine
A couple of weeks ago we sold a copy of "Lucky Jim" by Kingsley Amis. This is one of my favourite books. My brother had recommended it and I first read it years ago amid tears of laughter. It is so unusual to laugh like this while reading and it is pure joy when it happens. The main character Jim Dixon is trying so hard at his new academic post but it is so obviously the wrong environment for him and the constant sneering and disapproval that he encounters are seriously funny.
We can all find things less worrying or concerning if we can laugh at them and Jim’s hapless attempts at fitting in were probably striking a chord with me as I was starting out in a new job and in a new city with new people. I have recommended this book to other people with mixed reviews. Some have loved it and some have been unable to find anything funny in it at all. It is a gift if, as an author, you can make people laugh. Humour is subjective and often needs to be in context and it is possible that my sense of humour is not very sophisticated. I confess that not long ago I watched ten minutes of a YouTube compilation of people trying to stay upright on an icy pavement and I laughed so much it hurt!
We have several books of Giles the famous cartoonist. One of these "A Life in Cartoons" is a biography which has examples of his cartoons dating back to when he first started with the Daily Express in 1944, when Giles himself was on active service, right up to 1982. It is fascinating to see how humour provided a commentary on the British way of life. Some of the cartoons apply just as much to today as they did decades ago.
My mum loved P. G. Wodehouse books, particularly Jeeves and Wooster. Although I appreciated the writing I can't say I found them funny. I enjoyed reading Henry Cecil's books, not so much laugh out loud, but witty and clever. Children appreciate humour in books. Young children often laugh spontaneously at pop-up books and older children love the humour in comic annuals like Beano and Dandy. This joke is from The Beano Annual 1954 and is typically awful but no worse than anything found in Christmas Crackers today - "When does a fire move?" - "When it goes out!" I used to laugh at Jennings and Darbishire and at the antics of Just William. These books still remain very popular with our customers.
Throughout literature there have been some memorably funny quotes:
"The story so far: In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example."
Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson
"To lose one parent may be regarded as misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
And finally just because we are a bookshop and we love books it is worth remembering that not everyone loves every book alike.
"There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts!"
Contributed by Nicky
(Published 31st Dec 2019)