Any the wiser? Neither am I.
Wanker Ashman told an interminable joke one dinner in college, and my mind went forth to slay approved dragons and weave baroque fancies of the érotique half way through.
I returned from Cappadocia via both of the girls out of Strawberry Switchblade in time for the punchline, with which I began this post.
Pride precluded me from asking Wanker to explain, so I've spent the last 28 years haunted by what John Paul II's dairy dilemma had been (while hoping it had nothing to do with choirboys and Last Tango in Paris).
The same thing happened today. I lapped into The Tethered Goat at 1630 sharp to take delivery of my quart of Champion's Speckled Johnson, only to hear our local barrister end an anecdote with the scholarly flourish: "... but I have told a donkey to fuck off!"
Cue gummy guffaws from the assembled rustics, but I'm frankly baffled by this rhetorical pay-off. What was the feed line?
- "Have you ever shunned a Shetland?"
- "Do you parlay with ponies?"
- "How about Muffin the Mule?"
The last might be the key to the puzzle, but I was too aware of how the nearby village of Gallowstree Common got its name to distract my quaffing companions from their pewter pots of Abdication Special.
This prompts me to propose a new department of state to this Great Coalition of Ours. I know we are meant to be minding the exchequer and what have you, but frontline public services are a top-shelf priority.
Never mind hospitals and edjucation, I'm talking about re-establishing bonds of respect across the generations and passing on ancient lore from elders to young striplings. We need a Department of Retrospective Anecdote Completion.
This institution would soon replace the National Health and the chaps who leave porn mags under hedges in the public affection. It would not only benefit confused middle-aged drinkers, but also bring slack-trousered youth into the snug bars of Britain to ask their bearded betters about the one that ends "and there was a piece of sweetcorn on the end of it".
Before writing to Theresa May, and not anonymously this time, I'd like to gather some more examples of stories whose punchlines dawdle in the marshalling yard as the set-up and elaboration steam away. Apart from the three cited above, can you Cymru Rouge cadres and fellow-travellers alike think of any others?
One that still nags me in the small hours is "Thank you, Mother Superior, but these Fokkers were Messerschmitts!"
Answers below, please. In the meantime, here's some music: