When did somebody last tell you a joke? By a joke I mean a funny story which involves the introduction of a couple of characters, some dialogue, some action, a development and a conclusion, preferably a funny one. I can't remember when I last heard one. Comedians do "bits". Funny websites take playground gags and apply them to adult subjects. There have never been more places you can go to for humour. In fact humour pops up in all sorts of places where I'm not particularly looking for it. But jokes? I never hear any.
When I look back I recall what seems like whole days spent telling and listening to jokes. What else did we do in the sixth form at school or in the pub at college? How else did men communicate with each other? The joke was the basic unit of exchange and a young man's head was teeming with comedy Irishmen, cavemen, blondes, psychiatrists and policemen. Jokes, it seemed to me, told you more about narrative than any amount of English Literature. But now they seem to have gone, which seems to me more chilling than even than the decay of handwriting.
My favourite joke. Two rhinos walking through the jungle. One in front. One behind. They walk and walk and walk. Then the one in the front stops. Consequently the one behind stops. The one in front turns his head to the one behind and says "Do you know, I can't help thinking it's Tuesday?"