Humour? Britain waives the rules

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Posted by Don Pearson UK ( on March 20, 2000 at 03:03:51:

I have obviously.risked causing offence the everyone in U.S., Italy and U.K, the Great Tits at the bottom of my garden (who appear to be celebrating the joys of Spring in ways which I would rather they conducted in private) and my two cats, one of which bit me today. My old friend, Dick, on Prednisolone at the moment, is pretty resilient.

I appear also to have caused offence to the Irish and in Uzbekistan. Emails have in fact poured in from all over the globe from CH who feel slighted by being excluded.

I have heard of Ireland and poring over an atlas, I discovered, much to my surprise, that it is an island and quite close to where I live. If it is an island, why doesn't the name say so? It appears to be divided, somewhat artitrarily, but one assumes that there are sound reasons, as there always are, for that. One of the bits seems to be called Eerie, but is also misspelled.

I have always known that Van the Man was a native of Belfast. I now know that Belfast is in Ireland, up at the top. I obviously became confused early on. You see we don't have natives here in Devon.What with that and the troubles I just assumed that Belfast was some corner of the far-flung empire with chaps running about in the bush. I feel further study would be useful if I am to continue as advisor to the Minister for Northern Ireland.

It appears that some of the Irish can read and write, indeed a Jonothan Swift even became skillful enough to write a proposal*, admittedly a modest affair, to solve overpopulation and hunger at one fell swoop. It did not meet with universal acclaim and offended many but that was in the 18th century. I am sure it would be better received today.

Of course, I have never heard of Uzbekistan and my attempts to learn more about it have been hampered by uncertainty as to whether it exists at all, where it might be and how to spell it. Having looked through pages of "Uzb"s I am delighted to find it in Encyclopaedia Britannica. Unlike Laputa*, it is a real place. The Uzbek people are described as sedentary (honestly, if I was gong to make this up I would be much livelier). Their formation as a people at the end of the fifteenth century appears to call into question my more conventional views on evolution. They apparently often use run-off water from mountain slopes, presumably sitting in wait for it.

I have had two emails which I have yet to investigate. They claim to be from the Maldives and from Texas. I am sure that neither of these countries is of much overall importance but I would obviously welcome more information. I continue to be astonished that what I just think of as overseas, could turn out to be so complicated.

Meanwhile, I am off to the village three miles down the road from here. I hear reliable reports that the inhabitants there have cloven hooves but, obviously, I have never been there.

* Note for any unfortunates for whom English is not their first language. Swift's Modest Proposal was to use one year old babies of the poor for food. Laputa is from Gulliver's Travels, a still-relevant political satire "to vex the world", for some obscure reason thought by many to be a children's book.

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