The saying goes that laughter is the best medicine. Words cannot express how true this is for me! Laughter (when it is not at someone else’s expense) can be genuinely healing, a release from weary cynicism, sometimes even an expression of joy. If there is one thing we Brits know how to do it is to laugh at ourselves. There is a grand tradition of witty cynicism and intelligent repartee stemming from Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde to my all-time-favourite the late great Tony Hancock. In more recent times we have the likes of Bridget Jones, Jack Dee, Victoria Wood, French & Saunders, Paul Merton, Sarah Millican, Sandi Toksvig, Miranda Hart, Ross Noble… the list goes on and on. To misquote Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘How do I love thee, BBC Radio 4 comedy? Let me count the ways…’ During some of the most troubled times of my life, the gift of laughter has been the one thing that carried me through. For this I thank God! Of particular worth to me personally have been the Sacred Diaries series by the wonderful Adrian Plass. Here’s an extract:
**’Wednesday December 25th
…Gerald and Anne and I left for the Christmas service.
Enjoyed it all very much except for a point halfway through the prayer-time, when George Farmer, who was sitting behind me, stood up and began to swing his fist from side to side as he prayed fervently for goodwill among God’s people.
Suddenly felt a heavy blow on the side of my head and slumped forward, momentarily stunned. Shook my head to clear it, and realised to my amazement that Farmer was still ranting on as if nothing had happened!
Didn’t feel much good will.
I said to him afterwards, “I forgive you for punching me in the head, George.”
He said, “Did I really do that?”
Gerald said, “Yes, you did. It was on your twenty-fifth ‘just’ – I was counting.”
I can’t help but inwardly smile whenever I hear someone ‘just’ praying… Why do UK Christians insert the words ‘just’, ‘Lord’ and ‘really’ into their prayers so much? We’re just so thankful, Lord, really just for your blessings, Lord, and we ask that you, Lord, just really fill our hearts today, Lord, just fill our hearts with your love, Lord. Really just fill our hearts, Lord. These prayers are like meringues – mostly air Hmm. Maybe there are more virtues than I at first perceived in the practice of silent prayer…?
**’I could be a really good Christian if other people didn’t mess it up all the time.
I’ve noticed this before…’
Just for fun, here’s Ross Noble at his insanely brilliant best:
**From The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass (Aged 37 3/4) by the inimitable Adrian Plass