The first is about a vicar who spoke to his curate.
“I’m going away today but I’ll be back in time to conduct Sunday morning’s service,” he said. “Will you make sure the hymn numbers are put up? They’re all written on this piece of paper apart from the first hymn.”
“Yes, certainly, but what are we doing about the first hymn?” asked the curate.
“It depends,” said the vicar. “It’s polling day on Thursday. If the Conservatives have a sufficient majority to form a government, it’ll be 283, Now Thank We All Our God.
“If Labour has most seats, then put up number 578, Go Labour On, Spend And Be Spent.”
“Yes, right,” said the curate, “but there’s just one thing. Suppose the Liberal Democrats or UKIP or the Greens have the balance of power, what number would you want me to put up then?”
“Right,” replied the vicar, “in that case, it’ll be 482, God Moves In A Mysterious Way His Wonders To Perform.”
That joke originates from the days when the Church of England was described as “the Conservative Party at prayer”.
I suspect there would be a much broader spread of allegiance today!
The second story tells of an eminent cabinet minister visiting a primary school.
He is taken into the room of a class discussing words and their meanings. The teacher asks the minister whether he would care to lead a discussion on the word “tragedy”, so he asks the class to give him an example.
A little boy stands up and says: “If my best friend, who lives on a farm, was playing in the field and a tractor ran over him and killed him that would be a tragedy.”
“No,” says the minister, “that wouldn’t be a tragedy, that would be an accident.” A little girl raises her hand and says: “If the school bus had 50 boys and girls in it and it drove over a cliff, killing everyone inside, that would be a tragedy.”
“I’m afraid not,” came the response. “That is what we would call a great loss.”
The room goes silent. No child volunteers.
The minister’s eyes search the room. “Can no one here give me an example of a tragedy?”
At the back of the room, a little hand goes up and a quiet voice says: “If a plane carrying you and the rest of the cabinet was struck by friendly fire and blown to smithereens, that would be a tragedy.”
“Magnificent!” exclaimed the minister, “And can you tell me why that would be tragedy?”
“Well,” said the quiet voice, “it has to be a tragedy because it certainly wouldn’t be a great loss and it probably wouldn’t be an accident.”
I hope we are rather more concerned to see people we can respect — people of quality — take on what will be very difficult tasks in a new government on Friday.
One problem has been the suggestion that many of our politicians fail to seek the common good and act from rather too much self-interest.
My final joke could be heard back in the Sixties and comes from Moscow.
Question: What is the difference between capitalism and socialism?
Answer: Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Socialism is the opposite.
I am not so cynical! Please do use your vote wisely on Thursday.