Saturday Miscellany: How to tell a joke; French pessimism; Scottish Unesco heritage sites


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How to: Tell a joke

By Oscar Quine

Why did the chicken... Stop! It's time to spruce up your joke-telling skills. One-liner king Milton Jones gives these tips. But is he pulling our leg?

"Find a joke that only you find funny. Then interrupt a conversation and blurt it out to some people who are unlikely to understand or will be offended. (It also works well to just repeat something you heard off the telly.) It helps to have had a few drinks."

"Continually apologise and look awkward throughout. Start with the funny bit, then just peter out... Remember the drunker you are the more people are attracted to you."

"Never practice. Just get everyone's attention and say the first thing that comes into your head. In the unlikely event of it not going well, blame your listeners or start a fight. Or leave it to the professionals..."

Milton Jones's DVD 'On The Road' comes out on 25 November

Forza Tamworth!

By Sean O’Grady

Is it so outlandish to eject London from the UK? With its huge financial-services sector and absurd property prices, London feels foreign. This cosmopolis could exist as a separate city state – a modern Venice.

Which leaves us requiring a capital city, probably just for England, needing a new parliament, a new palace, new industries, and a new start for the rest of us. It ought to be relatively central, and with scope to create the monuments, properties and infrastructure a capital demands.

Yes, that means Tamworth. Best known as the home of the Reliant Robin, a breed of pig, and a reform 'manifesto' by the Tory Robert Peel, it has vast potential and would move the centre of economic growth towards the neglected North. Take this as a new 'Tamworth Manifesto' – and the founding of the London Independence Party.

Instant ethics

By Ellen E Jones

Q. The person who I sit next to in my office won't share any of his easy-peel satsumas with me. Shall I nick one?

A. Never! Office food thieves are the lowest of the low, as everyone should know. Buy your own and shame your stingy desk mate into future generosity by insisting he help himself at regular intervals.


Micro extract: French pessimism

"As early as 1879, Robert Louis Stevenson reported that when travelling in France he heard former grape growers, their vines all gone, declare that ‘the country was going to the devil’."

From Inventing Wine by Paul Lukacs (WW Norton, £11.99)

Four play: Scottish Unesco* heritage sites

St Kilda

New Lanark

Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

Neolithic Orkney

*Unesco founded on this day in 1945