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Feather's Miscellany: Humour

“At times of crisis in our lives, humour often saves us. It beams its wholesome shafts of light through the blackest clouds of depression or danger.,’’ writes John Waddington-Feather.

It was their sense of humour expressed through characters like Old Bill which pulled soldiers through the horrors of the trenches in World War One; and the radio broadcasts of programmes like ‘Itma and all the light-hearted musicals and films starring the likes of Carmen Miranda, Dorothy Lamour, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope which helped us through the blitz and the obscenities of World War Two.

And I’m sure that without humour we’d find it so much more difficult to cope with our own personal tragedies and stresses.

We are still faced with tragedies on a global scale. Natural disasters, wars and the seemingly never-ending atrocities terrorists afflict us all the time – and give the lie to Darwin’s thesis that man is the most intelligent animal on the planet, the product of a long process of evolution. Advanced he may be in mind and body, but not yet in spirit.

There’s more to man than reason. There are forces at work on him we call ‘evil’, which can only be countered by ‘ love’; and I’m not using that word in a sloppy, sentimental way. By ‘love’ I mean compassion and respect for our fellow beings.

Only when we love someone and get to know them well can we pull their legs gently; something it’s difficult to do with a person we dislike, unless we use satire, which is a bleak form of humour. Satire is ridicule and has little to do with love. It’s designed to hurt, not heal; to mock, not mend.

Finally, I liked Elizabeth Taylor, the film-star’s, sense of humour at the end of her life. She was regularly late for appointments and, in fact, turned up late for her own funeral. Having got all the mourners safely seated inside the funeral chapel, her hearse drove up fifteen minutes late.

John Waddington-Feather ©

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