‘Shelf Life’ by Simon Parke

La pire blague du monde : The worst joke in the world.
Stav, the deputy manager (concluding episode):

“I presume you’ve heard,” he says.
” Heard what?”
“A man asks another man whether he minds grass stains on his knees…”
Oh no! It’s the grass stains joke again! Is this what hell is like? But Winston’s well away: “He says – the man who asked the original question, that is – he says, would you like to come camping with me? It’s a gay joke. Well, a joke about gays, to be completely accurate. One of them is gay, certainly. The one who asks – he’s gay. But the one who is asked – well, he could be straight, which would make the joke funnier in a way; more predatory, and therefore more amusing for heterosexuals – unless they are religious obviously. My mother’s religious, and there’s no way she would find that joke funny; no way at all.”
Me and his mum should get together then, because I feel haunted by this gag. Ghosts are quite unable to sense people’s unease at their presence, and this joke is the same. Like the murdered butler in the stately home, it keeps on appearing. Like the ghost of the man drowned in the lake, it follows me around, placing its clammy hand on my shoulder and demanding I laugh. It’s probably an abuse of my human rights.

Taken from ‘Shelf Life’ by Simon Parke (www.simonparke.com). Available on amazon.co.uk (www.amazon.co.uk).

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