I have heard a few funny things recently. Do you remember the children’s game known as Chinese whispers?
A group of children stand in a line. The first person whispers a message to the second one. The second repeats it to the third and so on along the line. Then the last person says what they have heard and it is compared with the original message.
Usually it has become so unintelligible it might just as well have been in Chinese. (I wonder what Chinese children call their version of this game.)
For the Sunday service after Queen Elizabeth II reached the landmark date, when she became the longest reigning British monarch, the music, sermon and prayers marked this event. After all, the Queen has an important position in the Church of England. Messages were sent to the choir beforehand that the practice would begin a quarter of an hour earlier than usual, because we would be singing Zadok the Priest. Most of us received the message by email, but one or two people,who do not use computers much, received a telephone call. A message taken by a family member was relayed as, “The organist hopes you’ll be in church on Sunday, because you’re doing Zorba the Greek.”
An overheard remark at a section of Hadrian’s Wall was probably intended as a joke, although no-one laughed out loud. Much of the stone from Hadrian’s Wall was removed centuries ago and reused for other building work in the area. How much building is visible varies along the length of the wall. In places the foundations are just visible above the ground. At one such point someone said, “It wouldn’t have kept many people out.”
Another funny remark was made at the first meeting of the craft group following the summer. Someone asked how we had got on at the flower show. I remarked (perhaps not particularly accurately) that I won a prize with a cactus. My friend’s reaction was, “You knitted a cactus?”
Going back to Zadok the Priest – we had sung it in our service to mark the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. It was composed by Handel for a coronation service and has been sung at every subsequent coronation. Most of the current members of the choir had learned it then (if they did not already know it). This time we sang it after the sermon. The service was being led by a couple; they are retired clergy and members of the choir. They sang from the choir stalls before returning to their places at the front. At the end the congregation burst into spontaneous enthusiastic applause. After the service one of them led the choir in a short prayer, thanked us and then said, in typical British understatement, “I think they liked it.” Her husband said, in a very flat tone, “They clapped.”