Lifting Spirits

only-joking“Go on, have a laugh.”

I can hear that phrase in my English head with a slightly cockney twang to it. It’s on a par with “Have a cuppa tea,” or “put your feet up, relax, do yerself a favor.” It’s an invocation to step aside for a moment from the world’s challenges and your own preoccupations and re-set your composure.

“The best medicine” suits every ill. I can’t think of a situation where a joke wouldn’t improve the mood, even though the smile may need to be suppressed for the moment and shared later with a friend. Some people joke on their deathbed (I hope to). Laughter dispels tension, diffuses argument and lifts the spirits. What’s not to love about a laugh?

Humor is all around us. We only have to keep our antenna tuned. Children are a great source of humor. Most of the amusing things they say are enjoyed at the time and then forgotten. How I wish I’d recorded more than a few pages of my five sons’ sayings when they were little. I often urge young parents to jot their children’s sayings in a note-book, recording these little gems to be savored in retrospect.

Here’s an example: Driving to their grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebrations in 1981, Patrick (10) described a documentary he’d seen on TV about an African chief who had 100 wives and 600 children. His older brothers constructed various amusing fantasies around this set-up. Then Patrick said, “Imagine, if he has 100 wives and there are 365 days in a year, each wife only has to do it three and a half times a year.” I thought this a precocious speculation for a ten year old, but said nothing. Then he added, “Fancy, all that washing-up for 700 people!” He also thought post cards and stamps would cost a lot when the chief went on holiday.

When he and his twin brother Andre were 9, Patrick took an ice cream tub half full of slugs and snails to school for a nature lesson (our garden had them in abundance). He edged a pane of glass with sticky tape to display them safely. At home later he said the teacher was so pleased with him, he’d given out the slugs to each table and they’d all been able to find the breathing hole. Andre said indignantly, “Yes, his table had all the best slugs. They had one each. We only got one small one between us. And in the second lesson, ours fell asleep!” You can’t make it up. *

But people do make up amazing jokes. Over the last six years I’ve included jokes in every issue of the Dight Times, our monthly family newsletter. So many jokes come my way, forwarded by friends, heard on the radio or read about, that I’m spoiled for choice. Every month I publish the best ones to amuse my family. It didn’t occur to me as I selected them for the Dight Times that I was amassing a collection of my favorite humor. In compiling 80 issues I had gathered sufficient jokes (over 200) for a book.

I organized them into 24 categories (Husbands and Wives, Golf, Funerals, Teachers, Professional, The Armed Forces, Church, Regional, Kids, etc.) to make it easy to select an appropriate joke for an occasion. After dinner speakers or party-goers wanting to share a joke with their friends would find it useful.

As they were selected for a family newsletter, the jokes are never smutty or crude but are often saucy. I subtitled the book ‘Jokes You Could Tell Your Mother’; provided, that is, your Mom is broad minded. Even though I know every joke in the book, editing and proof reading have been light hearted activities accompanied by frequent chuckles.

I have my favorites, but humor is a subjective assessment. I hope there is something to amuse on a broad scale and I’ve priced it low to be affordable, because nothing would please me more than lifting people’s spirits.

* Extract from ONLY JOKING by Eileen Dight,  now available on
Eileen Dight

Eileen Dight

Eileen Dight is a retired British specialist on trading in Spain, now resident in Ireland. Spanish- and French- speaking, graduate (at 46) of International Politics and History; former editor, interpreter and fundraiser. Her five sons and twelve grandchildren live in four different Time zones around the world. She has lived in England, Wales, Spain, France and Virginia, North America for 11 years. In 2012 she self-published her memoir Plate Spinner and Only Joking, 200 pages of collected jokes categorized for easy reference, as well as What’s On My Mind, her first 50 essays published in Like The Dew. All available on