An Indonesian Chinese man cleans the Buddha statue in preparation for the lunar new year celebrations in Satya Buddha Temple in Medan, North Sumatra, on Sunday. Picture: AP

AN AMUSING incident happened the other evening at the Street Shelter for the Over-40s. A new barmaid was on duty. Proprietor Bob Humphreys, in relaxed and genial mode, ordered drinks for some of his regulars.

“That will be…” the barmaid named a figure.

“No, just put it on my account.”

“Your account? You want to run a tab? You’ll have to give me your credit card and car keys.”

“But I’m Bob.”


“I’m the owner.”

“Yeah? And I’m Queen Victoria.”

The barman on duty came to Bob’s rescue and vouched for him.

Maybe it could otherwise have gone further with her calling the security to have him flung out of the place, which would have made it an even better story.

But this is how it turned out. What a gem Bob has hired. A pity he couldn’t make it to the interview.


DO MEN and women think entirely differently? Consider the following:

A wife says to her husband: “While you’re at the shops please get me a carton of milk and, if they have avocados, get six.”

He comes back with six cartons of milk.

“Why did you buy six cartons of milk?”

“They had avocados.”

I don’t see what the problem is here, though women apparently see it differently. Let’s drop the subject – I don’t want to get pelted with avocados by the ladies in the supermarket.

Conspiracy theory

RECENTLY we discussed some unusual collective nouns, among them a “murder” of crows (or ravens or rooks).

Reader Paul Lewis says a book by Scottish food critic and raconteur AA Gill gives the correct collective noun for crows, ravens and rooks as “conspiracy” – though “murder” is also often used.

Murder, conspiracy… It seems the folk who devise these rather fanciful collective nouns don’t think much of crows, ravens and rooks. What would they say about Indian mynahs?

Gill has also devised a collective noun for his fellow-countrymen – “a glum of Scots”.

Indeed? Has the man no’ been tae Glasgow of a Saturday nicht?

Tombstone humour

SOME graveyard humour comes in from that repository of jollity, the Hluhluwe Club. Tombstone inscriptions from various parts of the world:

l Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York: Born 1903 – Died 1942.

Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down. It was.

l In a Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery:

Here lies an Atheist, all dressed up and no place to go.

l On the grave of Ezekiel Aikle in East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia, Canada:

Here lies Ezekiel Aikle, Age 102. Only the good die young.

l In a London cemetery:

Here lies Ann Mann, who lived an old maid but died an old Mann. December 8, 1767.

l In Ribbesford, England:

Anna Wallace

The children of Israel wanted bread,

And the Lord sent them manna.

Clark Wallace wanted a wife,

And the Devil sent him Anna.

l In Uniontown, Pennsylvania:

Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake,

Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.

l In Silver City, Nevada:

Here lays The Kid,

We planted him raw.

He was quick on the trigger,

But slow on the draw.

l A lawyer’s epitaph in England:

Sir John Strange. Here lies an honest lawyer, and that is Strange.

l John Penny’s epitaph in Wimborne, England:

Reader, if cash thou art in want of any,

Dig six feet deep and thou wilt find a Penny.

l In Hartscombe, England:

On the 22nd of June, Jonathan Fiddle went out of tune.

l Anna Hopewell’s epitaph in Enosburg Falls, Vermont:

Here lies the body of our Anna,

Done to death by a banana.

It wasn’t the fruit that laid her low,

But the skin of the thing that made her go.

l In Nantucket, Massachusetts:

Under the sod and under the trees,

Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.

He is not here, there’s only the pod,

Pease shelled out and went to God.


“Honey, I’ve been thinking. Now that we’re married it’s time you quit hunting, shooting, fishing, and golfing. Maybe you should sell your guns, boat and golf clubs.”

“Whoa! You’re sounding like my ex-wife!”

“Ex-wife? You never told me you’d been married before!”

“I wasn’t.”

Last word

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear. Mark Twain