i: Letter from the editor 25 January 2011

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The Independent Online

“Show your support for Andy Coulson - leave a message on Sienna Miller’s phone.” It didn’t take long - it never does - for someone’s misfortune to be turned into a viral joke, which I make no excuses for passing on, given that i’s readers are fond of a little levity first thing in the morning. How do I know this? Every day, I read your letters and texts, that’s how. Take this example from Colin Thomas of Maidstone, who admires the concise nature of our offering. “I’ve treated my busy wife to your excellent newspaper with surprising consequences,” he writes. “Tonight I arrived home from work before her to be greeted by a terse note that read: ‘Peel potatoes, light fire, walk dog. X’ I appear to be paying a high price for a low-cost publication.”

Leave aside the fact that there are husbands who would be perfectly happy to have a wife so economical with words (oops, I was channelling Andy Gray for a split second there), I don’t think you can blame us, Colin. Don’t forget to feed the dog, too!

Rich from east London is another who made us smile. He texted us thus: “Just misread today’s banner headline as ‘What has Davros ever done for us?’ He created Cooper Brown, didn’t he? That’s why he has two surnames and no first name.” AT Cairns asks us to take Cooper’s picture off the front page. “It forces me to drink two breakfast pints instead of one,” he says, cryptically.

Back to the Coulson joke. Someone, somewhere must have made that up, and must now wish they can get a royalty every time it is repeated. But how do you trace a joke’s origin? Or how do you copyright it? A friend of mine once made up a joke only to hear it repeated some years later, sadly unattributed, on the radio. It goes: No man is an island - apart from Barry!More tomorrow!

Simon Kelner