Up Front 03/13

Humphrey Walwyn’s hysterical take on the current horse meat scandal, (page 27), is a great reminder of the joys of the British sense of humour. Although known for a ‘stiff upper lip’, Brits are also known all over the world for their ability to lighten the moment with an often irreverent poke at the world around them. From the Ealing comedies in the sixties and The Goons, with Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, to the lovable Monty Python, humour has always played an important role in helping this nation cope with the down times. Although we may cringe a little nowadays, think of Eric Idle strapped to a cross singing ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ or Basil Fawlty beating up his car in Fawlty Towers, or even the Young Ones’ madcap spoof of University Challenge. Think also of the deliciously irreverent and ground-breaking Kenny Everett, of Billy Connelly, the Two Ronnies, The Goodies or Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. In recent years I have spent many happy moments laughing at Mock the Week or marvelling at the quick wit of Sandi Toksvig on Radio 4’s The News Quiz or Paul Merton on the BBC’s Have I got News for You. When the time comes for us to look back on our lives we should surely think of these people and the moments they gave us with a smile.  That’s the silver lining that comes with a good scandal—the opportunity to find a way to laugh at it. In another life, (not The Good Life), I worked with the late Richard Briars on a commercial project. It was only for three days but I ached for at least a week afterwards from the constant laughter brought on by his dry wit and acute perception of life and what went on around him. Like many before him he brought a little bit of fun into a world that needed as much of it as it could get.  FB