Hi, I'm Paul

I'm a software geek, photographer, yogi and dog lover

An evening’s entertainment

2 minutes
February 14, 2006

A few winters back when I was working as a support engineer, I was called to a job at an unusual religious sect’s mountain retreat. It was a complicated job and took me well into the evening. By then the snow had fallen and getting home would be difficult so they offered me dinner and room for a night which I happily accepted.

However dinner was a slightly odd affair with very little conversation and what there was muted. The head of the order explained that they had a highly disciplined regime and the only time for relaxation was after dinner. I was intrigued to see how they would start to relax and the truth was bizarre. They would take it in turns to say a number and there would be polite but muted laughter. I asked what this ritual meant. The head explained they were telling jokes but rather than say out loud any doubtful words or concepts, they would say a number, the members would recall the joke assigned to the number and laugh. ‘Of course the art is the telling of a story heard many times before,’ he said.

‘Can I have a go?’ I asked. ‘Be my guest’ came the reply.

I said: ‘147’ to the group and I was unprepared for the reaction. Tears flowed, sides split; the laughter was uproarious and seemed unstoppable. In bemusement I asked the head: ‘What is so good about 147?’

‘They’ve not heard that one,’ he replied.