RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Comedy classes on the NHS? The joke is on us

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Comedy classes on the NHS? You’re having a laugh… and the joke is on us

Just as well the NHS hasn’t got much on at the moment. Patients are to be prescribed free comedy lessons to help them overcome trauma. 

GPs are being encouraged to send them on a six-week course, where they will learn to write jokes and perform stand-up routines. 

A pilot scheme is being launched in Bristol this month, designed to help people suffering from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress ‘see the funny side’ of their predicament. 

The courses are being run by comics including Angie Belcher, who is described as Comedian-in-Residence at Bristol University. 

She sounds a laugh a minute. (Somehow I didn’t expect the NHS would be hiring Chubby Brown or Jim Davidson to teach ‘vulnerable’ individuals how to tell jokes.) 

An NHS pilot scheme in Bristol is designed to help people suffering from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress learn jokes to ‘see the funny side’ of their predicament

Comedy isn’t something you associate with modern universities — especially in Bristol, where they are busily ‘decolonising’ the curriculum, airbrushing history, renaming buildings and toppling statues in support of the Black Lives Matter madness. 

Will patients referred to Ms Belcher have to take the knee at the start of every session? That’s if they can. 

One joke I’m pretty certain trauma victims won’t be taught is the old chestnut about the man who goes into hospital to have his leg amputated. 

When he comes round after the op, his surgeon asks if he wants the good news or the bad news. Give me the bad news first, doctor. I’m afraid we’ve cut the wrong leg off. 

And what’s the good news? The bloke in the next bed wants to buy your shoes. 

Guaranteed to put a smile on the face of anyone suffering from post-traumatic stress. 

The courses are being run by comics including Angie Belcher (pictured) who is described as Comedian-in-Residence at Bristol University

Then again, there’s no such thing as a woke joke. These days, so-called ‘comedians’ make the young Ben Elton sound like Bernard Manning.

Still, Ms Belcher insists: ‘We are all naturally comedians. I work with a lot of young people experiencing gender dysphoria, people who have recently come out or have issues with class and race. At the end, they seem six inches taller.’ 

If making people six inches taller is the aim, it would be cheaper to buy them a pair of those ridiculous platform trainers which seem to be all the rage right now. 

We’re not told how much this scheme is costing us. But, hey, who cares? Certainly not the NHS, which has an insatiable appetite for taxpayers’ money and an unlimited ability for finding black holes to throw it down. 

Laughter on prescription is merely the latest manifestation of the money-no-object mentality. 

Down the road from Bristol, in Cardiff, the NHS decided to tackle the obesity crisis by offering free bike rentals. 

GPs sent morbidly overweight patients on 30-minute cycling sessions to help them shed the pounds. How successful this scheme has been is unclear. 

Not very, would be my best guess, judging by photos of some of the punters waddling out of Cardiff’s pubs at closing time (before that killjoy Dismal Drakeford called last orders in Wales). 

‘Comedy isn’t something you associate with modern universities — especially in Bristol (pictured), where they are busily ‘decolonising’ the curriculum, airbrushing history, renaming buildings and toppling statues in support of the Black Lives Matter madness’

Elsewhere, the NHS came up with a plan to pay for golf lessons to encourage middle-aged men to take more exercise. And provided free dance and painting classes for up to a million people suffering from ‘mental health issues’. 

I thought I’d heard it all 20-odd years ago when a clinic in Scotland started handing out herrings to patients with heart problems, on the grounds that oily fish is just as effective as medicine in treating cardiac complaints. 

That was long before the notoriously profligate and terminally useless Public Health England began giving away free condoms at food banks to ‘Silver Singles’ in an effort to reduce sexually transmitted diseases among the over-60s. 

Incidentally, Public Health England, which was supposed to have been abolished, is still going strong. Far from being scrapped, it has been renamed the UK Health Security Agency. 

No doubt it’s already working on some other madcap scheme, such as free skydiving lessons for aerophobics — people with a fear of flying. 

All these fripperies may seem like a mere bagatelle in the context of the £176 billion health service budget. 

But when the NHS is constantly pleading poverty and turning away patients with life-threatening illnesses, the idea that it can still find the time to organise comedy lessons simply isn’t funny. 

They’re having a laugh. And the joke’s on us.

Two Palestinian brothers are putting the finishing touches to a 22-year project to convert a decommissioned Boeing 747 into a restaurant on a mountain in Nablus. 

Is this one of the planes Yasser Arafat’s PLO hijacked in the 1970s?

Taliban: Still chopping, not changing

When Kabul fell in August, there were attempts to convince us that the Taliban had changed. Afghanistan was now in the hands of a cuddly, caring Taliban 2.0, committed to women’s rights and tackling climate change. 

It was time to talk to the mad mullahs, for the Taliban to be invited to join the international community of peace-loving, democratic nations. 

 Television reporters even started talking in hushed, reverent tones about the new-look ‘Dhaalli-baaaan’. 

The soft-headed far-Left were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. As I said at the time: If you believe that guff, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din. 

True to form, the Taliban quickly reverted to type, murdering and raping their way across the country, banning education for girls and kidnapping child ‘brides’ as young as 12 for forced marriages. 

All vestiges of freedom and democracy have been destroyed. They’ve even chopped off the heads of shop window dummies. 

The Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice ruled the mannequins were un-Islamic. You couldn’t make it up. 

It sounds like an Afghan version of one of those popular, yellow ‘How To’ manuals. Beheading For Dummies.

Paganism’s The Job for Andy Pandy

Twelve years ago I brought you news of the formation of a Pagan Police Association. 

At first, I thought it was a joke, especially when I read the chairman was called PC Andy Pandy, who worshipped Norse gods. 

On further examination it turned out his name was Pardy, not Pandy. He persuaded the Home Office to agree to the establishment of a support group for pagans, druids, wiccans and police officers who practise witchcraft.

Now the Pagan Plods have been called in to help investigate an alleged upsurge in far-Right extremists adopting pagan iconography. 

All this appears to coincide with the first anniversary of the invasion of the Capitol building in Washington last year, which featured prominently a self-styled shaman in a Sitting Bull head-dress and covered in pagan tattoos. 

I wondered when our Old Bill would muscle in on that act, just like they did with George Floyd. 

No doubt they claim to fear a copycat pagan invasion of Westminster. 

How long before Andy Pandy is invited to lead a Jolly Boys Outing on an all-expenses paid ‘fact-finding’ mission to America? 

He’ll be the one with horns on his helmet. Mind how you go.

At a marathon wedding in Windermere over New Year, we discovered a delicious local spirit called The Lakes Vodka. It’s fair to say we drank the Lakes dry. 

Since none of us observed social distancing, we thought it prudent to take lateral flow tests on returning home. I tested positive for vodka. Does that mean I have to self-isolate?

Covid has claimed more casualties than first thought. In lockdown, we were encouraged to exercise outdoors. 

But according to new figures, this caused 5,300 people to seek hospital treatment after falling off playground equipment. 

A further 962 fell out of trees and 349 were injured by lawnmowers. Eighteen people were struck by lightning on their daily constitutional. 

If the response to this news matches the over-reaction to Covid, it can only be a matter of time before ministers order all slides, swings and roundabouts to be dismantled; mowing your lawn is banned; and climbing trees becomes a criminal offence. 

No doubt Wee Burney and Dismal Drakeford are already planning to go a step further and force everyone to wear a lightning conductor down each trouser leg every time they leave the house.

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