Following the death of Michael Jackson a spate of jokes started doing the rounds....some tasteless...some cruel and some downright funny...but one joke in particular opened up another world for the Right Reverend Ivor Newhouse Vicar of Thistle Bottom in Lancashire.
The Rt Reverend Newhouse takes up the story.
Recently I had watched the commemoration service for Michael Jackson on television and had admired the solemnity of it. Later that night I was in our local pub enjoying a lemonade and a pipe full of herbal tobacco, kindly given to me by one of my parishioners, Jim, when the conversation got around to the Michael Jackson service and it was then one of the locals quipped..." I thought I was watching a rerun of Cool Running but it was just Michael Jackson's brothers wheeling out the coffin.". It started as a smile...then a giggle...then a chortle before breaking into a guffaw until finally I ended up on the floor screaming hysterically with laughter. I just couldn't help myself, the tears were running down my legs...it was terribly embarrassing. I had to have a couple of medicinal brandies to calm myself down before finally I was calm enough to be carried home by some of the locals.
Since that night however my life has changed completely, now I burst into fits of laughter for no apparent reason. I only have to look at something remotely funny and I crack up. I have permanent giggles. It's as if my life has been taken over by something.
Worse still is the fact that I have taken to outbursts of laughter at the most inappropriate moments. Recently during a burial service for one of our parishioners, old Fred Smith, one of the mourners gave a short eulogy where he said"Goodbye Fred... I know you're not dead only sleeping " at this I collapsed on the ground howling with uncontrollable laughter...it was terribly irreverent of me, lying there holding my sides, kicking my feet in the air, helpless with laughter...particularly as later, poor Fred's family had to help me up out of the open grave.
And again during the Sunday service when Mrs Fenwick was taking the collection and tripped over Mr joneses walking stick then fell face first into his crotch.I fell off the pulpit shrieking with laughter. Now normally laughter is infectious, but the congregation just sat there gobsmacked, which unfortunately made me scream with laughter all the more
Though in all fairness to the congregation I don't think the sight off me staggering out from behind the pulpit ,clutching my sides ,with a damp patch on my cassock helped.
This last incident made me realise that these outbursts of frenzied laughter were not natural and so I phoned the Bishop and explained the situation to him He came over straight away and we discussed my predicament. After much debate and prayer he said there could only be one conclusion he could come to ....I was possessed... So he has arranged for me to be exorcised a week on Sunday. As my duties have been cancelled until then, I sit here writing about my extraordinary time. Thankfully I still have some of Jims excellent herbal tobacco left...In fact I don't know what I would have done without my old pipe and Jims tobacco during this strange time ...I really must get in touch with Jim and see if he has anymore...I wonder if he's finished helping the police with their inquiries. yet ....but that's Jim all over...he'd help anyone..
Stop laughing...stop it..Stop it.