Nothing’s That Funny

…but this was.

A long long time ago, I can still remember…

I work, as I have mentioned, in a call centre providing customer service. Mine is a senior team, who deal with repeat faults, cases that have not been resolved in the first instance. This makes for a rather volatile team. Because of the number of us, we are divided into two teams, with separate managers.

At the moment, we have quite a churn. Several people have left and are leaving in the near future, most of them from my team. I don’t know what it is that I’ve said, and if I did there are another couple of people I would say it to.

As I have alluded, more than once, I’m not having a great time of it at present, and I’m finding working conditions difficult, even on the level of personal interactions. A lot of what would normally pass for everyday behaviour and high spirits is rubbing me up, sometimes quite seriously. I’m keeping it contained, for the most part, just letting out my frustrations in little outbursts, to other people, not to anyone who has got me worked up.

You may call this dishonest or cowardly, but the problem is me, not them, and I don’t think it’s fair to kick off at them when it is my increased thin-skinnedness that is the source of the irritation.

One of those shortly to leave is a female colleague who has herself been going through rough times: divorce, financial problems, health (she is another fibromyalgia sufferer). I like her, we get on well, she’s usually sympathetic and friendly towards me.

But. But my soon-to-be-ex-colleague has two substantial flaws. One is that she has a completely filthy mind. That, in itself, is nothing to be sniffy about: you don’t get to see that side of my mind on here. The problem is that hers operates non-stop, seizing on the double entendre in everything (and believe me, she can find double entendres where non-entendres exist).

It’s the relentlessness of this, the fact that no conversation takes place without it, that makes it wearing. Comedy, if it’s about anything, is all about timing, and the one vital aspect of timing that most people these days don’t seem to get is that you have to know when to just knock it off!

This is exacerbated by her other flaw: she giggles. And when I say giggles, I mean giggles. If we could weaponise that giggle, there would be no further worries about the rest of the globe, it would mow down armed forces everywhere.

So, put incessant innuendo together with the inevitable – and uncontrollable, unstoppable – giggle upon giggle upon giggle into infinity, and when I’m in my current frame of mind, it’s a fatal combination.

And this is going on – and on and on and on and on – yesterday afternoon, and I am gritting my teeth as forcefully as my slightly sore tooth will allow, and there is no end to this in sight or sound, and I grumble to myself, “Nothing’s that (****) funny.”

And the mists of time roll back, and I with them. And suddenly, I’m back in the guests’ living room at Low Bleansley farm, near Broughton in the Lake District, and I’m sat at the table. It’s the late mid-Sixties, it’s somewhere not long after eight in the evening, we are on holiday again. My sister has already gone to bed, and I will follow at 9.00pm, Mam and Dad and Dad’s elder brother are sat around talking, and no doubt smoking, and I’m reading.

I’m reading a library book, one I’ve just discovered thanks to School, or should I say Skool, because it’s either Down with Skool! or How to be Topp by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle, and I am reading the thoughts of Nigel Molesworth, the Curse of St Custards, and I can even remember the exact line I am reading, which is set in a department store at Xmas, with Molesworth in line to sit on Father Christmas’s lap and being told to queue quietly and be nice to Santa Claus, and remarking what does she think we’re going to do, i.e. kick him in the shins and go roaring out, zoom zoom zoom.

And I am laughing my head off, which I have been doing for most of the book before now, because I have never read anything so anarchic, rebellious, fractured and absurd, and I am discovering that this is indeed very much my sense of humour, and this is all so ridiculous, yet so in tune with a mind that is only just pre-teen, this Willans guy knows how we think in a world we have absolutely no influence over.

And my Dad looks up and demands to know what’s so funny, and he say ‘Nothing’s that funny’, just like I did, only without any words that you may choose to represent by italics, because this is 1967 or something like that.

Nothing’s that funny. The years separating these moments close up. Circles are squared. I am my father’s son and to be linked with him, even in such frustration, is a comforting moment.

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