Bad jokes

Cockneys. You must have met them. City people, quick, witty. Dickens wasn't the first to notice their droll way of pretending to be serious while taking the rise out of innocent outsiders. A dark sense of humour. And one of their best jokes got another run-out yesterday: a Kray funeral.

Cockneys. You must have met them. City people, quick, witty. Dickens wasn't the first to notice their droll way of pretending to be serious while taking the rise out of innocent outsiders. A dark sense of humour. And one of their best jokes got another run-out yesterday: a Kray funeral.

It was all there: the hearse and the horses, black, plumed and caparisoned, cleverly subverted by the foot-high floral tributes spelling out, with the traditional mocking irony, "Respect", "Beloved Reg", and, best of all, "Free At Last". Participants were also falling over themselves to be first with those famous panto-style lines: "end of an era", "true gentleman", and, yes, wait for it, "They only ever hurt their own" (to which a crime reporter of our acquaintance once added: "But, by God, did they hurt them!").

Barbara Windsor sent flowers, of course, and they played "My Way", but there were some extra, typically sardonic touches, too. The "security" were still doing their Marlon-Brando- meets-Tommy-Cooper send-ups, but this time they were wearing red armbands to denote the blood shed via Reg and Ron. What larks. And what a pity there are no more of them to bury!

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