Category Archives: humour

By the way

Without any warning, the dentist in my little town got religious indigestion; overnight he shed his tatty cloak of atheism for the snug jacket of God. The speed of the dentist’s transformation was second only to his new found zeal for the conversion of our town’s somewhat generous supply of lost souls. It was not that he had a particularly compelling theology; he did not display a style of argument that subtly blended passion and reason into an irresistible confirmation of the existence of God; nor was it that the dentist was remotely articulate. He lacked even that capacity of that persistent kind of bore to wear away the steely armour of our adolescent disbelief into at least an appearance of acquiescence.  Yet, for all this, our dentist was effective in ways that no preacher had ever been.  Lowering us back into his chair, he would murmur, “Open wide.” Then, as almost an afterthought, he would add, like John the Baptist with a drill, “Oh, by the way, have you been saved?”

Eventually they took our dentist away.  He had started bursting into the pub and spoiling our fathers’ nights with loud admonishments on their evil ways, something they could abide in the church or the bedroom but not the bar.  It was a shame though; everyone agreed that once you said you were saved, that dentist had the touch of an angel.



Filed under australia, humour, youth

In which I discover I have sired a prodigy and then am cruelly disabused of same

Early in parenthood, each of us has the secret and smug suspicion that our child is, in fact, a prodigy. This seemed to be confirmed for me one day as I was snapped out of my driving reverie by my 4 year old daughter’s voice from the backseat of the car.  “Dad, will you tell J. that he doesn’t know everything.”  I turn briefly to her six year old brother and say, as instructed, “J., no one knows everything” and swallow the impulse to add, “With the possible exception of your mother, of course.”

There is silence for a while as the two of them ponder this gem of fatherly wisdom. A truce descends and, then, almost as if to test my sage hypothesis, my daughter asks, “OK, J., if you know everything, who was the first president of the world?” This should be good, I think.  There is hardly a pause and my son, only half way through his first year of school, replies with eminent confidence, “George Washington.” My daughter, perhaps feeling the first limitations of a public kindergarten education asks me, “Is he right, Dad?” And I have to admit that he is mostly right even if the USA is not quite the whole world yet.  And there it is: that uniquely parenthood moment, that sly suggestion that maybe one of our offspring has dipped into the deeper end of the gene pool than we were aware existed.

I put my shoulders back and start to consider which university J. will enrol in. My illusions, however, soon evaporate as the backseat conversation reaches its intellectual zenith.  After a pause, my daughter, feeling that she should take advantage of the now confirmed genius beside her, asks, “J. are there any animals that can fly?” Once again, the answer is unequivocal and instantaneous. “No.”

J.’s sister’s next question is tinged with anxiety, “But what about Father Christmas’s reindeers?”

The air becomes palpable with uncertainty.  Then my son in a single moment relegates himself back to the realm of sandpit mortal.

“Oh, yeah,” he says, “I forgot about them.”


Filed under australia, humour, life

In which I receive certain advice relating to the practice of medicine


I stand up to leave the meeting.  “I’ve got a doctor’s appointment,” I explain.  I am with one of the Managers, and he looks up at me with raised eyebrows.  For a moment I think he is questioning my excuse and I wait for his comment.


“I do hope you’re not going to tell him anything,” he says through pursed lips.


“Sorry, tell who what?” I answer, genuinely confused.


“The Doctor,” he says and then, since telling the Doctor everything was clearly my intention, he adds, “Never tell Doctors anything.”


I begin to pack my briefcase. As I do so, the Manager gives me the following advice:


When the Doctor asks, ‘Do you smoke?’ You must say No.”


I interrupt.  “But I do smoke.”


His eyebrows lift again, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”


“Well,” I explain, “I only smoke on Fridays.”


“Whatever for?”  Now his eyebrows are so high that I think they might disappear into his hairline.


“Harm minimization,” I explain.


His voice is slightly incredulous.  “But why bother at all?” he asks.


“That’s what my Doctor says,” I reply and this reminds him of his original treatise.


“Ah, well, doctors,! Never tell them anything!” And he continues with this explanation.


“After he has learned you don’t smoke, the doctor will ask if you drink and you must also answer ‘No.’ This will be followed by the question, ‘Do you exercise?’ And this time you must answer ‘Yes.’”


“After that there will be a considerable silence in the surgery,” my interlocutor adds.


“And then what should I do?” I ask.


“Then,” says the Manager with a dramatic flourish, “then you must say to him, ‘So now tell me what’s wrong with me!”






Filed under humour, life, Men

Class Management 101

A teacher I knew told how he always had trouble with a particular class of 14 year olds when he came to explain the joys of human reproduction.  Inevitably, the boys, in particular, would snigger and whisper during his lesson and no admonishment or threat on his part seemed to affect the mature reflection he desired.  Then, one day, he found the solution without really trying.  Turning suddenly from the blackboard, he bore down on a hapless boy caught giggling to the student next to him.  At the top of his voice the teacher commanded, “You, son!  What’s a penis?” Apparently the remainder of the lesson assumed an unusual gravitas both profound and undisturbed.


Filed under humour, life, sex, youth


I swear I didn’t raise my kids differently; they just turned out nothing like each other.  Maybe it’s a gender thing. 

Anyway, I’ve decided to take them to Bali this year, their first overseas holiday.  We are looking through the brochures together.  There are photographs of our hotel, jungle adventures and palm trees.  The mood of excitement is palpable and my eleven year old daughter exclaims, “Wow, Dad – elephants!”

Barely have the words passed her lips than my 13 year old son, in tones equally ecstatic, cries, “Wow, Dad – cable TV!”


Filed under Bali, boys, humour, youth

Last laugh

grandmother.gifThere was a time when my grandmother was a vivacious and romantic young schoolteacher who loved the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and quoted the poetry of Tennyson. She was funny and mischievous well into old age.  One day, says my father, he was courting my mother on the front veranda of my grandmother’s house.  His fiancée’s younger sister, Janet, hovered around them and did her purposeful best to ensure that the young couple were not left alone.  Finally, in a fit of frustrated amour, my father reached out and smacked the teenager’s leg.  She raced tearfully and angrily into the house.  A pause ensured and my grandmother’s voice came from inside, “Bobby, did you just hit Janet?”

My father, still annoyed but also a little embarrassed answered curtly, “Yes, I did!”

There was another pause and then my grandmother’s voice, calmly and emphatically, returned with, “Good.”

When my mother was a teenager, my grandmother would take great delight in foraging through rubbish bins while they waited for the bus, much to the mortification of her daughter.  Then she would giggle about it all the way home.

Once, when I was just a small boy, she found me laughing at something on the television, something suspiciously like sexual innuendo.  “And what are you laughing about, young man?” asked my Grandmother.  I explained in my confused, uncertain way.  She looked at me sternly and then said with mock disdain, “I believe, sir, that you have a polluted mind!” But I heard her loudly guffaw seconds later.

By the time she was sixty, however, she had become completely and painfully crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. Letters to my mother were written over many days as it became increasingly difficult to hold her pen and her mind began to wander.  One day she wrote, “Now that the years have past, there is something that I need to tell you, something I should have told you many years ago. Now that you are a woman you will understand and there is no need for this secret to exist between us anymore.”  My mother turned the page with a sense of dread and expectation.  What she found was a new date and a new set of agonisingly etched lines that began, “I can’t remember what I was writing about before.  The weather here has been delightful lately although not good for the garden…” 

Despite my mother’s elaborate and extended entreaties, no further information was ever forthcoming and the secret, whatever it was, has long ago gone with my grandmother to the grave.  I don’t know about the afterlife, what it looks like or where it is, but I suspect that there is someone there reciting poetry and chuckling.


Filed under humour, memory, poetry, youth

In the Garden

japanese-garden-buddha.jpgMy 10-year-old daughter wanders out last Saturday to watch me in the garden.  She seems intrigued by my ringing wet shirt.  “You’re sweating,” she observes in a way that suggests that this is mildly inappropriate but also highly unusual.


I remove my hat and, hands on hips, survey the fruits of my labour.  The overgrown and tangled jungle that had blighted the fence is now an empty sandy bed wherein I can allow my imagination –as opposed to the lawn – to run wild.

As if on cue, my daughter asks, “Now what are you going to put there, Dad?”

“Oh, there’ll be about four mid-size trees, some tall grasses of different colours and probably some river stones. “ I pause. “”See that corner, I might put a statue of Buddha there.”

My daughter has remarked on my apparent fetish for Buddha statues before. She says, “Dad, don’t you think God gets offended by all these Buddhas.” I am about to remind her that there are only four in the entire house but instead say simply, “No, I don’t think God would be offended by Buddha.  I mean, he said the same sorts of things that all religions say.  You know, don’t hurt other people, treat them like you want to be treated yourself.  Don’t hang out with bad people.”

She squints up at me as if genuinely struck by a new truth.

“Is that what religions say?” she asks.  “I thought that was just Mum.”


Filed under humour, Religion