Category Archives: Humour


L.    Looking back over the ages and climbing the Lin(d)field tree,

O.    On researching and hunting, good people emerge – though some we don’t care to see;

N.    Notable characters in all walks of life, though of some we haven’t a clue,

G.    Gentlemen born or butchers by trade, doctors, labourers, and pig breeders too!

S.    Some with families small or great, and with names we’ve never heard.

H.    How can it be that we have survived with genes from such a herd?

O.    Over the years their wives have cast a few more genes in the pot!

T.    Thinking it over I’ve come to feel – we really aren’t such a bad lot!

With apologies, Mary Offer.

A Matter of Convenience?

From Eastry Union Workhouse, guardians minutes: At a meeting on 17.5.1853: "It was decided that one sheet of paper per week be supplied to each inmate to stop the use of rag etc. in the water closets.”

and later:

"The Clerk said as it had been decided that waste paper should be provided for the use of the workhouse inmates in the water closets, he had procured half a ream from Mr BAYLEY of Eastry at 4 shillings.

The Clerk suggested that the Goods Tickets issued by the Relieving Officers, of which there is a great quantity in his possession, may be used for the purpose required, first removing the pins, which he considers could be done by the girls, this would effect not only the saving in the purchase of paper but of pins also, which could be made use of again. This suggestion was adopted."

Dated 24.5.1853.

How I became my own Grandpa

Many many years ago when I was twenty-three,
I got married to a widow who was pretty as could be.
This widow had a grown-up daughter
Who had hair of red.
My father fell in love with her,
And soon the two were wed.
This made my dad my son-in-law
And changed my very life.
My daughter was my mother,
For she was my father’s wife.
To complicate the matters worse,
Although it brought me joy.
I soon became the father
Of a bouncing baby boy.
My little baby then became
A brother-in-law to dad.
And so became my uncle,
Though it made me very sad.
For if he was my uncle,
Then that also made him brother
To the widow’s grown-up daughter
Who, of course, was my step-mother.
Father’s wife then had a son,
Who kept them on the run.
And he became my grandson,
For he was my daughter’s son.
My wife is now my mother’s mother
And it makes me blue.
Because, although she is my wife,
She’s my grandma too.
If my wife is my grandmother,
Then I am her grandchild.
And every time I think of it,
It simply drives me wild.
For now I have become
The strangest case you ever saw.
As the husband of my grandmother,
I am my own grandpa!!

The First Millennium Bug

The year, though only the most educated classes realised it, was AD 999. The teenaged Otto III was Holy Roman Emperor, Sylvester II was Pope and Ethelred II was in the middle of his long reign as King of England. But there came warnings of a disaster that could cast Europe into darkness. "We’ve left it too late," moaned Edward the Confuser, the man who had personally been selected by King Ethelred to head his Millennium task force. "The only hope now is to train 20,000 carpenters to make enough abacuses to replace all those being used by small businesses throughout the country." Edward has been warning small businessmen for more than a year of the hazards that faced them when the calendar ticked over from IM (or DCCCCLXXXXVIIII as some preferred to write it) to the year M Anno Domini – or MAD as it was commonly known. Abucuses which had been made with only three beads on them to save space and money were in danger of resetting themselves to the year zero, which never existed in the first place because Arab and Indian mathematicians who knew about zero had not brought the concept to Europe yet. "The time for action is now," said Edward. "Any abacus designed for use with Roman numerals will fail. And they won’t be able to be fixed, as many people seem to think, just by twiddling a few beads. The fault is deep in their operating system and the nation as a whole has not begun to appreciate the seriousness of the problem. Just imagine what will happen when the year M arrives. Abacuses, which code the number as 1000, will need not only an extension to their memory, but three extra zeroes which our number system does not yet recognise. That’s three zeroes for every abacus in the land. Even if we started all-out zero production now we wouldn’t have enough of them ready in time." Ethelred was confused. The idea of producing large numbers of nothings was one he had difficulty getting his head around. "Explain to me again," he asked Edward the Confuser, "how this can bring about a catastrophe. How can a lack of nothing be bad?" "Mark my words," Edward said, "nought shall make us rue. It’s not just the abacus owners but their customers and suppliers who will feel the effect. Have you ever tried buying anything from a shopkeeper with a dud abacus?" The King admitted that he had never tried buying anything from any shopkeeper at all. He had servants to do that sort of thing. "Well I can tell you, my liege," Edward went on, "it’s a disaster.

They simply can’t work out the right amount of change. The butcher won’t sell any meat, the baker won’t sell any bread, and as for the candlestick-maker, all I can say is that if we don’t take drastic steps now, the candles will go out all over Europe and we shall be plunged into the dark ages. It’s Your Majesty’s decision, of course, but if you don’t order a nationwide alert now, you will forever be known as Ethelred the Millennially Unprepared.

The Last Word

Many readers will be familiar with the collections of unintentional humour found in letters to insurance companies, along the lines of “ I drove into the lamp post, then lost control”. It will come as no surprise that family history has its own collection of verbal nonsense, and a good sample was sent to me recently by another researcher called Jack Montgomery, who lives in Canada and who descends from Ebbeth Linfield of the Twillingate branch. Readers might find the following excerpts amusing.

It is hereditary in my family, not to have children…..

Family Bible in possession of Aunt Marie until the tornado hit Topeka, Kansas, now only the good Lord knows where it is .

The wife of #435 couldn’t be found. Somebody suggested that she might have been stillborn. What do you think? .

Any ancestors you can dig up would be appreciated ..

I am mailing you my aunt and uncle and three of their children ..

Enclosed please find my grandmother. I have worked on her for 50 years without success. Now see what you can do ..

My grandfather died at the age of 3 …..

He and his daughter are listed as not being born ….

We are sending you 5 children in a separate envelope .

I would like to find out if I have any living relatives, dead relatives, or ancestors in my family …

The Linfield Library of Humour

The 1995 International Humour Conference is being held at the University of Aston, Birmingham from July 31st to August 4th. Our President, Eric Linfield, has been invited to present a paper on the LINFIELD LIBRARY OF HUMOUR, his collection of books now on loan to the University of Kent Centre for the Study of Cartoon and Caricature. It has been assembled over the last forty or more years as the result of two major influences – his parents’ love of laughter and their sense of humour and his decision to focus his dilettante book collecting passion on one major topic; whilst an undergraduate at Cambridge, 1948-51, he decided to concentrate on humour in all its manifestations. There are some similar collections at San Francisco Public Library, California and at the University of Cork, Eire. Continue reading The Linfield Library of Humour

An Inn Spectre Calls

It was a busy night in the Chequer Inn in the centre of Steyning, with winter around one corner and karaoke around the other. My wife and I were seated at the far end of the Saloon Bar, next to an out-of-tune piano and as far as possible from the strains of ‘Suspicious Minds’ being belted out in the Public Bar with scarce a thought for melody or accuracy. Continue reading An Inn Spectre Calls