Leading article: A clarification

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The Independent Online

Readers will forgive us, in these days of bank rescues and Nobel prizes, for only now recognising a genuine achievement: Gordon Brown made a joke. Now, as the sound of spluttering cereal echoes across the land, be ever more amazed as we record that the gag was off-the-cuff and, although those re-telling it are surely obliged to preface their remarks with the words "you had to be there", it was not bad.

OFF-STAGE AT A RITZY PARTY: (a telephone rings).

THE SERIOUS MAN FOR SERIOUS TIMES: I don't know or not if another bank has fallen!

(CUE LAUGHTER)

TSMFST: You'll be pleased I'll not be giving financial information this evening.

(CUE MORE LAUGHTER)

Alas, such an event is like a comet that momentarily illuminates the night sky before plunging us into darkness once more. The clunking fist will return.

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