So the shorts have been packed away for another ten months that means its time to dust off the old blog and bore anyone who is daft enough to read this page.
Here's a quick story.
There was once a man called Richard Sunshine. He was known for two things; laughing and coughing. When he wasn't laughing he was coughing and when he wasn't coughing he was laughing. This wheezy comic owned a grocery store back in the olden days and he was known far and wide for his good sense of humour and his poor health. Eventually this poor health drove him out of his little shop and he had to look for alternative work. As it turned out the local Prohibition Society were recruiting people to further their message. This job involved travelling the country promoting sobriety and warning of the dangers of, well, insobriety. Richard was ideal for the job in every regard, apart form one; he had never given a public speech in his life, something the job required a great deal of. However, he interviewed so well that he was hired on the condition that the local minister would help him develop an ability to speak winsomely and convincingly to huge crowds.
Mr Sunshine landed at the door of Mr Boreham, his pastor, and, in between fits of giggles and coughs, he explained his need. They soon agreed that Richard would live at the parson's house until he felt able to speechify. It would take some time. During his stay at the house Richard began reading some of the books that filled the library of the minister to take his mind off the dread that filled him when he considered giving a public address. He began to read some of Charles Dickens' works for the first time and greatly enjoyed them. Mr Boreham could tell when Richard was studying to speak because there would be dead silence from whatever room he was in. But when he was reading Dickens, great laughter could be heard booming throughout the house. One sentence in particular brought him great laughter from The Old Curiosity Shop concerning Codlin and Short, the Punch and Judy men, where one of them utters 'Codlin's your friend, not Short!'. He frequently pestered the pastor by recounting this story and breaking down in hysterics.
The day soon arrived for Richard's first speech. He travelled with the support of Pastor Boreham to a nearby town to address a great crowd. The time spent travelling was the longest the minister had ever heard Richard be silent. Not one laugh or splutter the whole way there. He was a bag of nerves. Getting onto the platform, he was as white as a sheet, however, he managed to deliver a very able message that was warmly received. Even so, he was visibly relieved when he reached the end and made his way to sit down. But, without having given any advanced notice, the man leading the meeting asked the crowd if there were any questions. Richard fired up a quick prayer that the crowd would remain mute. One man broke the silence with a question that Richard didn't understand one word of so much so that he wasn't sure if it was entirely in English. An awkward silence hung in the air as he panicked and thought about running off the stage. Then, compulsively he said... and laughed hysterically, as he was known for. The pastor, realising that this was a bluff, joined in the laughter to help his friend save face. For a brief moment the bewildered crowd was dead silent as it tried to work out how that made sense, which of course it didn't, and why it was funny, which of course it wasn't.
After a few seconds someone thought they didn't want to look ignorant by not getting what they assumed was a very clever joke and so they became the third person to laugh at something that made absolutely no sense in any one way. A fourth came to the same conclusion and a fifth and then a sixth and soon the whole crowd was in splitting their sides in merriment, bar the one poor, perplexed man who asked the question. Richard Sunshine became a great success in his role with the Prohibition Society.
If you're still reading, fair play, not many get through anything as long as this online.
There's two things I take from this story.
It is dangerous to go with the crowd. You might worry about looking silly by being the only one to point out that the joke isn't funny but if you don't then you become just another lemming who pretends to like the Emperor's new clothes. Many are laughing along with atheism at the minute purely because some clever people seem to get the joke.
Secondly, a little laughter is not only contagious but also covers up a lot of cracks!
(Story taken from Mushrooms on the Moor by F.W. Boreham)