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W H Oxley



The Parting

‘Where would you like the parting, sir?’

‘I’m not too sure. What would you suggest.’

‘Well, most gentlemen tend to have the parting on the left.’

‘Hmm, I don’t know. I think I’m more inclined to go for the right...’

‘If you’re not really sure, why not compromise and part it straight down the middle.’

‘I hate compromises, and-’

‘Excuse me, Bruv!’

‘What is it, Aaron?’

‘The children are getting restless.’


‘They reckon the Egyptians can’t be far behind, and so they want to get moving.’

‘Right! That settles it; I’ll part the Red Sea straight down the middle.’


‘God! We must have walked at least forty kilometres.’

‘Never mind that; just keep at it.’

‘My feet are killing me...’

‘Now you really are talking nonsense. I’ve been doing this since the age of ten, and my feet are in first class condition.’

‘It may well have been acceptable back in the days of yore, but we’re in the twenty-first century now.’

‘All the more reason for keeping up the traditional way of doing things.’

‘Huh! Wine presses are traditional, why don’t we get one?’

‘Because they brutalise the wine, whereas treading the grapes produces a soft subtle bouquet.’


Having assembled everyone in the library, the famous Belgian detective proceeded to reveal all…

‘Whilst Colonel Mustard’s gambling debts provided him with an excellent motive, the fact that Lord Letchworth had been indulging in an act of intimacy when strangled with a silk stocking pointed to the murderer being a woman. Mrs Arbitrage being crippled with arthritis and Miss Murgatroud in a straitjacket at the time, meant that Lady Penelope and Daphne Bedminster… er... um...’

‘So whodunnit?’

‘I... er… forget…’

‘Come along, Monsieur P, time for your bath.’

‘But, Nurse, I can’t remember…’

‘Well that’s hardly surprising at your age.’

Hot and Cold

‘It’s far too cold!’

‘No way! It’s almost boiling.’

‘Now you really are exaggerating’

‘Just like you.’

‘I merely said it was cold; I would never dream of going so far as to say it was freezing.’

‘Good! Then let’s have a bit more cold.’

‘If we did, I’d probably get frostbite.’

‘Now who’s exaggerating?’

‘No more than you were!’

‘Huh! If that’s your attitude then you may rest assured that it’s the last time I’ll be doing this with you.’

‘Suits me! I always thought it was a lousy idea in the first place, us taking a bath together.’

The Verdict

‘So what do you make of it, Inspector?’

‘Hmm.... not the first time I’ve come across one like this... but it does have certain peculiarities. What say you, Sergeant?’

‘It reminds me a bit of that one we had in Croydon, sir.’

‘Ah yes, the Croydon axe murders... quite a few bodies... and speaking of which, there is undoubtedly no lack of body in this little number.’

‘That’s all very well, Inspector, but you still haven’t given me your opinion.’

‘Undoubtedly a first class pint, Landlord, and I’d recommend that you continue to stock the product of the Bigglesford Brewery.’

The Stage Director

‘They’re doing it all wrong.’

‘You’re always the perfectionist. A couple of minor deviations from the script are of no importance to whom it matters most.’

‘It’s not just a few; I explained it all so carefully: the Bishop should be there, the Cardinal over there and the priests are meant to be in a straight line.’

‘Small unimportant details.’

‘I’m just grateful the Pope isn’t here.’

‘But God is here, Brother Angelo, and God will not be in the least concerned about a few tiny imperfections in the Mass as long as the heart is in the right place.’

Riviera Lowlife

‘Just look at that view.’

‘Yes, it’s very impressive.’

‘It’s more than that, it’s the finest view in Nice – and only a stone’s throw from the beach.’

‘I suppose it is…’

‘Just imagine waking up tomorrow morning and gazing out across the sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean.’

‘At least that’s something to look forward to…’

‘You don’t sound very enthusiastic. Isn’t the location exactly how I described it?’

‘Yes, but it’s just that you didn’t tell me everything when you asked me to join you down here.’

‘Such as?’

‘You never said we’d be sleeping on a public bench.’

Tavern Talk

‘Another boring speech, why don’t they just get on with it?’

‘All this waiting’s given me a thirst. Let’s go for a drink when it’s over.’

‘How about the Red Lion?’

‘Nah, the Lamb and Flag does a better pint of ale.’

‘If it’s all the same with you two, I’d prefer the Crown and Anchor.’

‘Huh! Give me the Unicorn anytime.’

‘Nah! The Blue Boar’s the– ’

‘Look! The King’s head!’




‘It is Charles.’

‘It’s not a bit like him. I knew they’d fake it: that head the executioner’s holding up is not the King’s head.

Wedding March

‘Why are you crying? Do you always cry at weddings?’

‘Of course not, but this one was so special.’

‘Yes, I must say that the bride was looking absolutely radiant.’

‘And don’t forget the groom.’

‘Who will ever forget the groom. It was an honour and privilege to witness his nuptials.’

‘Pity there wasn’t the time for a proper wedding breakfast.’

‘Well, there is a war on.’

‘Not for much longer.’

‘That sounded like pistol shots!’

‘They must have killed themselves. Time for us to get moving. The Führer's last orders were for both their bodies to be completely burnt.’

The Hunt

Me and my boys have been on this guy’s tail for six months. He keeps giving us the slip but we’re closing in... almost caught him a month back but the trail went cold. The big boss back in New York expects a result and I’m determined to get one: nobody gives me the slip... Ah, one of my boys is signalling.

‘Have you found him?’

‘Yes, Boss, he’s down by the river.’

‘Right, lead the way...’

‘Look, is that him?’

‘Yeah, that’s the guy... got him at last... been waiting six months to say this…

Doctor Livingstone, I presume?’


‘What do you make of it, Watson?’

‘The whole thing’s a bit fishy to me, Holmes; it must be a fish.’

‘But what type of fish?’

‘Based upon the evidence of my eyes, I would deduce it as being a kipper.’

‘As always, Watson, you see but you do not observe. Kippers always come in pairs, or to be specific, two halves joined together. Also, they are only lightly salted and smoked, whereas this particular specimen has not been split along the backbone like a kipper and is considerably drier.’

‘So what is it then?’

‘It’s a red herring, Watson.’

In the Nick

Prison’s a funny old place, but the clanging doors and gates, rattling keys and the way the screws always look down their noses at you never bothers me. Visiting day’s always a special treat, something to look forward to, cos I gets to see the old girl again.

She's a good old stick is my missus – grew up together, married in our teens and still in love thirty years on, that’s us.

Here she comes now... looking good too... lost a bit of weight though, but she'll soon regain it once she's home: she's due for release in six weeks.


They’ve given me four months to live, and if old Pennyworth next door thinks he’s going to win that boundary dispute when I'm gone, he can think again. That’s why I’ve got hold of this revolver.

Ah-ha! There he is, sniffing around the fence as usual. Right! No time like the present… safety catch off… here we go… catch him by surprise… Crikey! He’s got a gun!

‘What are you playing at Pennyworth?’

‘I’ve only got six months to live so I’m going to kill you.’

‘Humph! I’ve only got four.’


‘Yes, really…’



‘Er… fancy a beer…’

Small Change

I was standing by the ticket machines at the underground station when he approached clutching a five pound note.

‘Excuse me, guv, could you let me have a fiver’s worth of change?’

‘I think so…’ After fishing around in my pocket, I handed over three pound coins, three fifty pence pieces, two twenties and a ten. ‘Will this do?’

‘Yes that’ll be fine. Thank you very much.’

It was as he walked away still clutching the five pound note that I realised he’d never actually asked me to change it: he’d only asked me for a fiver’s worth of change.

Perfect Partners

Of course I've never been in favour of matrimony and neither has my partner Felicity, which why we've always had a perfect relationship. And so the moment I heard that my best friend was contemplating tying the knot, I was on the first plane to New York – and wasted no time in talking him out of it!

It was when Felicity picked me up at the airport that she pointed out what would happen if my plane had crashed: untangling our affairs would be extremely complicated.

I could see the logic; it made good sense; we’re getting married next week.

Big Mac

That rubbish bin over there outside McDonald’s is always worth keeping an eye on if you’re on the lookout for a bite to eat, risky though: the customers and staff loath us so much they’d kill us if they got half a chance.

Mmm… someone’s just dropped a half-eaten Big Mac in... Irresistible, I can smell it from here. We’re going to have to risk a quick dash. Come on… here goes… halfway there… can almost taste it… Damn! We’ve been spotted: run for your life!

Phew that was a close shave. Why do humans hate us rats so much?

Boat People

‘I say we should send the lot of 'em right back to where they came from.’

‘But they’re escaping persecution.’

‘Persecution? I don’t believe a word of it! It’s just a line they’re spinning us so we'll feel sorry for them.’

‘But there are small children on-board.’

‘So what?’

‘If that leaky old boat sinks they’ll drown.’


‘Enough of this nonsense! I’m chief and my decision is final: they can settle here.’

When they heard the news, the Pilgrims knelt upon the deck of the Mayflower and gave thanks to God for delivering them safely to the New World.