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Gerard Hoffnung
(from his Oxford Union speech)

A striking lesson in keeping the upper lip stiff is given in a recent

number of the weekly bulletin of 'The Federation of Civil Engineering
Contractors' that prints the following letter from a bricklayer in
Golders Green to the firm for whom he works.

Respected sir,

when I got to the top of the building, I found that the hurricane had
knocked down some bricks off the top. So I rigged up a beam, with a
pulley, at the top of the building and hoisted up a couple of barrels of
When I had fixed the building, there was a lot of bricks left over.
I hoisted the barrel back up again and secured the line at the bottom
and then went up and filled the barrel with the extra bricks.
Then, I went to the bottom and cast off the rope.
Unfortunately, the barrel of bricks was heavier than I was and before I
knew what was happening, the barrel started down, jerking me off the
I decided to hang on!
Halfway up, I met the barrel coming down... and received a severe
blow on the shoulder.
I then continued to the top, banging my head against the beam and
getting my fingers jammed in the pulley!
When the barrel hit the ground, it burst it's bottom... allowing all the
bricks to spill out.
I was now heavier than the barrel and so started down again at high
Halfway down... I met the barrel coming up and received severe injury
to my shins!
When I hit the ground... I landed on the bricks, getting several painful
cuts from the sharp edges!
At this point... I must have lost my presence of mind... because I let
go of the line!
The barrel then came down... giving me a very heavy blow and
putting me in hospital!

I respectfully request 'sick leave'.

The Doomed Starship (Search for similar jokes)

There was once a huge starship, called the SS Titanic. It was a mighty cruise ship, set
to sail the inky blackness of space.
The first voyage of the immense vessel came. Thousands of people on board - mostly
the rich and famous, and of course, a large crew to cater for their every need.
As the ship set off, no-one realised that her fate was just around the corner.
She flew around the galaxy, visiting several resort planets, before heading towards her
last solar system. As she arrived, everyone found themselves looking in horror as the
star exploded in front of their eyes - a supernova.
Of course, everyone was killed, and although search parties spent several years
looking, nothing was ever found of the great ship, except for a single twisted, half-
molten chunk of metal that had come from the toolkit of one of the ship's engineers.
The chunk of metal was put on display in a museum dedicated to the memory of the
It became known as the Star-Mangled Spanner.
The Original Shaggy-Dog-Story (Search for similar jokes)

King Arthur sends Sir Lancelot out on an important mission to deliver a message to
the king of Spain. It is a long distance, and Lancelot looks in the Kingdom for a good
horse to take him there. His own horse is sick, and all he can find is an old mare, but,
since he has to leave quickly, he takes the mare.
About 3 days out of the Kingdom, Lancelot realizes his mistake. The horse gets tired
and appears to be going lame. He finally makes it to a small village and gets to the
Inn. He goes up to the Innkeeper and explains his problem. That is, he needs a good
horse so that he can fulfill his mission to deliver the message for the king. The
Innkeeper replies that this is only a small village, and most of the horses around are
not up to the task. He is welcome to look around, however, and if he can find
anything, he is certainly welcome to it.
Lancelot looks around the village, and true as the Innkeeper has said, no good horse is
to be found. As Lancelot is about to give up, he comes across a stable boy carting
some feed. He asks the stable boy if there is any beast of burden in the village that he
can use to fulfill his mission. The stable boy thinks for a minute, and starts to reply
no, but then says, go see if Old Mange in the barn can help you.
Lancelot goes over to the barn expecting to find a horse. What he finds is a very large
dog: almost as large as a horse. The dog is a mess, however. It is mangy, parts of its
fur are falling off, and it is full of fleas. Lancelot is desperate at this point, and he
looks it over carefully. It does, however, appear to be strong enough to take him to
Spain (which is only 3 days away at this point).
Lancelot goes back to the Innkeeper, and acknowledges that he cannot find a horse in
the village that he can use. He says, however that this dog, Old Mange, might be able
to take him most (if not all) of the way to his destination. The Innkeeper hears this,
stiffens up, and says : Sir. I wouldn't send a Knight out on a dog like this.

At the Vet's
A man takes his Rottweiler to the vet.

"My dog's cross-eyed, is there anything you can do for him?"

"Well," says the vet, "let's have a look at him".

So, he picks the dog up and examines his eyes, and then checks his teeth.

Finally, he says, "I'm going to have to put him down"

"What? Because he's cross-eyed?"

"No, because he's really heavy"

Wild are the tales of the Pony Express
And most of them are true if I don't miss my guess.
But wildest of all tales that they tell
Is that of fearless young Johnny O'Dell.

Johnny was little, but he was a man

Whom none could outride, outshoot or outplan.
Ride, he could ride anything that could run
And could outdo any man with a gun.

Back in those days there were men in the West

And Johnny O'Dell was as good as the best.
Only the bravest could carry the mail
Through terrible dangers that haunted the trail.

Dangers there were on the night I describe,

For Johnny encountered an Indian tribe.
Blackie, his horse, gave a new burst of speed.
No Indian pinto could equal that steed.

Bullets and arrows whizzed over his head

As into the foe and right through them he sped.
Outlaws had raided the station ahead
The horses were stolen, his partner was dead.

Onward went Johnny over the trail.

For such was the life when you carry the mail
Rivers they forded for bridges there were none
While crossing one stream he was stopped by a gun.

"Halt!" cried a man on the bank of the creek-

As together they fired by the light of the sun.
Still lay the stranger whom Johnny had met,
For all that I know he is lying there yet.

Onward went Johnny into the West,

As a spot of crimson appeared on his vest.
Together they continued their hazardous ride,
The powerful horse with the brave man astride.

Into the town of Red Gulch did they go,

As blotches of blood marked their way through the snow.
This was the end of the perilous trail
Through bullets, and arrows; through blizzards and hail.

Johnny dismounted and cried with a wail,

"Oh, Darn it all, I've forgotten the mail!"

I'll tell of the Battle of Hastings,

As happened in days long gone by,
When Duke William became King of England,
And 'Arold got shot in the eye.

It were this way - one day in October

The Duke, who were always a toff,
Having no battles on at the moment,
Had given his lads a day off.

They'd all taken boats to go fishing,

When some chap in t'Conqueror's ear
Said 'Let's go and put breeze up the Saxons;'
Said Bill - 'By gum, that's an idea.'

Then turning around to his soldiers,

He lifted his big Norman voice,
Shouting - 'Hands up who's coming to England.'
That was swank 'cos they hadn't no choice.

They started away about tea-time -

The sea was so calm and so still,
And at quarter to ten the next morning
They arrived at a place called Bexhill.

King 'Arold came up as they landed -

His face full of venom and 'ate -
He said 'If you've come for Regatta
You've got here just six weeks too late.'

At this William rose, cool but 'aughty,

And said - 'Give us none of your cheek;
You'd best have your throne re-upholstered;
I'll be wanting to use it next week.'

When 'Arold heard this 'ere defiance,

With rage he turned purple and blue,
And shouted some rude words in Saxon,
To which William answered - 'And you.'

'Twere a beautiful day for a battle;

The Normans set off with a will,
And when both sides was duly assembled,
They tossed for the top of the hill.

King 'Arold he won the advantage,

On the hill-toop he took up his stand,
With his knaves and his cads all around him,
On his 'orse with his 'awk in his 'and.
The Normans had nowt in their favour,
They chance of a victory seemed small,
For the slope of the field were against them,
And the wind in their faces and all.

The kick-off were sharp at two-thirty,

And soon as the whistle had went
Both sides started banging each other
Till the swineherds could hear them in Kent.

The Saxons had best line of forwards,

Well armed both with buckler and sword -
But the Normans had best combination,
And when half-time came neither had scored.

So the Duke called his cohorts together

And said - 'Let's pretend that we're beat,
Once we get Saxons down on the level
We'll cut off their means of retreat.'

So they ran - and the Saxons ran after,

Just exactly as William had planned,
Leaving 'Arold alone on the hill-top
On his 'orse, with his 'awk in his 'and.

When the Conqueror saw what had happened,

A bow and an arrow he drew;
He went right up to 'Arold and shot him.
He were offside, but what could they do?

The Normans turned round in a fury,

And gave back both parry and thrust,
Till the fight were all over bar shouting,
And you couldn't see Saxons for dust.

And after the battle were over

They found 'Arold so stately and grand,
Sitting there with an eye-full of arrow
On his 'orse, with his 'awk in his 'and.