December, 2016

Tone-deaf

My elderly father moved house recently and I called to see how he was going:

Me: “Hey dad, just wanted to ask..”

Dad: “Can you speak up please?”

Me: “Hey, I just wanted to a..”

Dad: “Speak up, I can’t hear you!”

Me: “I JUST WANTED TO ASK IF…”

Dad: “Haha just kidding, this is my answering machine. Please leave a message.”

Frog’ll rock

We’ve got the big four banks in Australia: The Commonwealth, the National Australia Bank, the Australia New Zealand, and Westpac, which used to be the Bank of New South Wales with the slogan, “You can bank on the Wales”.

One afternoon, a green tree frog hopped into the Canberra branch of Westpac, on City Walk.

Now, if you know this particular branch at all, it’s got the autoteller machines just outside, there’s the main door to the left and the first thing you meet as you enter is the enquiry desk.

This frog hopped right up to the desk and looked up at the young man on duty there with big frog eyes, and he looked back with his narrow, flinty banker’s eyes, wondering how a green tree frog with such big eyes and big lips would survive in the dog-eat-dog world of banking.

The frog looked up and said, “I’d like to ask about a loan.”

“Certainly, sir,” replied the bank officer, who as well as being polite, had remarkably keen eyesight. “Our loans officer, Mrs Macgregor, will be with you shortly. Just take a seat, please. Can I have your name?”

“Kermit Jagger,” said the frog, and went off to sit by a window, where there might be a few flies.

After a while a young lady appeared, said “Mister Jagger?” and led him into her office.

He hopped in, sat down, and they looked at each other.

“Ah, I don’t want to be rude, but with that surname, and those lips…”

“Yes, yes, I get that a lot. He’s my father.”

“Oh, okay. You know, I just wondered. My name’s Patricia, by the way.”

They shook.

“Now, you want a loan, yes? How much do you need?”

“Thirty thousand dollars. I’d like to buy a new pad.”

“Hmmm. That’s a lot of money. Do you have any collateral?”

“Well, I know the manager here,” the frog smiled. It was a very wide smile. “He’s a good friend of mine.”

“That’s good, but we’d like something you could put up as security.”

“I have an elephant.”

The frog brought out a little ivory elephant, the size of your thumb, beautifully carved, except one of the tusks was chipped.

“Hmmm,” Patricia said, looking at it with a magnifying glass. “The tusk is damaged. I’ll have to ask the manager.”

So she walked into the manager’s office, told him the situation and showed him the tiny elephant. “He offered this as collateral, what do you think of it?”

The manager glanced at it. “It’s a knick-knack, Pattie Mac. Give the frog a loan. His old man’s a Rolling Stone.”

There are 10 types of people in the world…

There’s an old joke, popular with nerds like me:

There are only 10 kinds of people in the world:
Those who know binary, and those who do not.

Very true, but hardly helpful if you don’t know binary. The joke depends on the fact that in binary notation, “10” is actually 2 in the more normal decimal numbering.

I won’t try to teach binary numbers here. It’s actually pretty cool; you can count to a thousand on your fingers, impress your friends. There’s a good Wikipedia article here.

In the human world, it seems to me that there are two ways we can age.
1. We can turn inward, mourning our lost youth, focusing on our own increasing decrepitude, fearful of our impending demise.
2. We can accept the facts, turn outward, help those around us to enjoy their own salad days.

It’s a matter of how one looks at the world, and sad to say that after a lifetime of habits, far too many of us just go on doing what we’ve always done.

As we learnt in a previous blog post, “the one necessary ingredient in every successful joke is a sudden alteration in point of view”.

I see altering our point of view as often as possible the key to learning and developing in the world, rather than growing stale and selfish.

So humour keeps our minds flexible, our outlooks open, our lives joyful. Who do you want to be late in life? The sour old codger sitting glum in the corner, or the happy chap with an audience of children listening to jokes that are new and fresh – at least to them.

Of course, after a certain point it’s not the aches of the body that limit your enjoyment of the world so much as the limitations of the mind:

I went to dinner with my parents, who are getting on a bit, and after the main course, the women went into the kitchen to fetch dessert.

I said, “Dad, that’s a new perfume Mum is wearing, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he said, “she got a bottle of some new brand.”

“I really like it,” I said. “I might get some for the wife. What’s it called?”

Dad thought for a bit, scratched his head, and asked, “What’s the name of that flower you give to someone you love, the one that is usually red that has thorns?”

“Oh, you mean a rose?”

“Yes, that’s it,” Dad said. Then he called to the kitchen, “Rose, what’s the name of that perfume you’re wearing?”

Laughing all the way

I know that this is a joke site, but I’m asking everyone to cross their fingers for me. I’m about to go speak with the bank manager, and if things work out for me, my life will be totally changed. I’m talking hundreds of thousands here, maybe millions. Wish me luck!

I’m so excited I can hardly get the stocking over my head!