I don’t know about you (though you are, as always, welcome to tell me) but I do love a bit of silly.
It was the main thing we all loved about Morecambe and Wise – they excelled at being silly. Remember the silly, silly dance they did hopping around with alternate hands behind their heads – very silly.
I got told off once or twice at school for being silly. Teachers were shocked because I was usually terribly, terribly sensible. Imbued throughout with responsibility, always doing my best, dib, dib, dob, dob, all that.
As a trainee teacher one of the most challenging teaching practices I had, was at a school which had an extra nautical class in each year. So there was year one A, year one B, year one Nautical. In theory this was because the school, which was near the sea, was training future Lord Nelsons. This would have been lovely, but in practice what happened was that pupils who had been excluded elsewhere for unruly behaviour, suddenly evinced a strong desire, advised by their social workers, to go to sea, or, at least, have a quick look, and their families, who had been putting up with them, were inclined to encourage these sudden maritime aspirations. So it was that the toughest teachers taught the nautical classes and so did wet-behind-the-ears-student teachers. Including me. I was nearly stabbed. I was five foot two (I was so tall then, compared with now) and the miscreant was about five foot ten, a lad with ‘it’ on him because something had upset him. He produced a knife and threatened another pupil. I interposed my body, which I was deeply attached to, in a gesture that I would now characterise as Brave-But-Stupid, and held my hand out, palm up, whilst gazing in as stern a manner as I could manage, up his nostrils. The knife, which he had been pointing at the other pupil’s stomach, he rotated so that it was above my hand pointing downwards, grasped in his fist. I stared. He grasped. The universe held its breath.
And carried on doing it for quite some time.
I went on staring and breathing as steadily as I could.
Then he exhaled, turned the knife in his hand and laid it on my hand.
The silly came afterwards. I had a car and had been giving a lift to three other student teachers on teaching practice with me. They all had difficult experiences. One was tied to his chair and had ink bombs thrown at him. He left at the end of term for a different career.
On the last day of that teaching practice, on the road just outside of the school, I drove three times round the traffic roundabout, which was very silly of me, and we all laughed. A lot.
In the current trying circumstances (though they are only trying if you decide they are) I suggest we all need a bit of silly. Here are some silly things to do:
Make a sock puppet.
Do you remember Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop? Lamb Chop was a sock puppet in the shape of a sheep. It was an actual sock, woolly loops and a pair of false eyelashes and she talked to it and it answered and we all believed it. If you know any children who have been brought up on toys that are lumps of plastic I bet they have never even seen a sock puppet.
Get an odd sock (I bet you have a choice). Bend the fingers of one hand to horizontal from vertical, put your thumb under your forefinger and move it up and down. For lo! The puppet talks. Now put a sock on it. Place the heel of the sock over your knuckles, use the fingers of your other hand to poke the toe of the sock back between your forefinger and thumb, eh voila! Sock puppet. Draw eyes with a felt tip pen, or cut and glue eyes from felt, or stick goggle eyes on, sew or stick wool hair. Now practise. Careers have got started this way. Shari Lewis was on television, talking to a sock on her hand. More than once, in fact she was so famous she was on Sesame Street. You can find her on Tinternet.
Do a silly walk.
The government is urging us to go out walking. This is a heaven-sent opportunity to revive the Ministry of Silly Walks as invented by Monty Python. Actually not as invented by Monty Python, my grandmother thought of it first. We used to be walking along, in step, then she would suddenly change feet completely without warning and then point out you were out of step. I always laughed and had to skip to keep up, sometimes several skips with the same foot first. So, silliest walk you can mange please, preferably in front of a shop window. Ah that’s better!
Put tights on over your slippers.
My father in law did this. Shortly after he became a widower, being fond of singing, he joined an amateur operatic group. Very soon they put on something vaguely mediaeval. His costume involved a tabard with loops, which he was provided, a pair of tights with buttons, to fasten on, for modesty on a raked stage, and his own plain-coloured carpet slippers.
He actually went on stage with the tights worn over the carpet slippers because no one had told him different. Every time he wiggled his toes or walked, or tapped his foot to the music, the tabard went up and down. He looked like he’d swallowed a spring.
Sadly the stage manager had a word with him and put him right.
Silly things not to do.
Yesterday I popped into the local post office. Staff at the attached shop had quietly informed regulars that there would be a small delivery of toilet rolls. But someone who was not local, or a regular customer, found them, photographed them and put them on social media. Within ten minutes people drove there from everywhere and bought them all so there were none for locals like me, many of whom are elderly and cannot get to the big stores but walked (some with sticks or frames) to get them. The social media person did it for likes. Can’t say I like someone who would deprive local people of something they need, so that strangers, who are unlikely to be shopping there regularly to keep the business going, can benefit.
I am not only running out of toilet rolls, I have got my big scissors to hand. If the situation warrants it, I shall cut the newspaper into squares and use it as my grandmother did. These are the times when it is appropriate to wipe your tra-la-la upon the face of a politician.
Every cloud – a silver lining.
Be silly, you know it makes sense.
Regular readers – ooh hello – normal postings are weekly, frequently weakly but in the current difficulty more often, so please scroll down*
*The screen, not yourself, I worry about the computer-shy ending up under the desk.**
**Where you will find a coin, a paperclip and a crisp in a flavour you have never had before and will not source again – tasty!