The family that laughs together

Forget the generation gap – there are lots of things that still bring old and young together in mutual mirth

Recently, my niece overheard me yodelling the lyric of a well-known but hardly current song. Stately as a Galleon (Old Time Dancing to give it its proper title) as performed by the matchless Joyce Grenfell. The song, if you don’t know it, is about a dancing club where the shortage of men means some ladies have to dance together “bust to bust”.

When it came to the unforgettable lines: “I danced with Mrs Tiverton/Light on her feet in spite of/Turning the scale at 14 stone/And being of medium height”, 16-year-old Lucy laughed her head off in recognition of Joyce’s spot-on picture of a woman whose agility defies her age and girth.

Humour doesn’t always transfer between generations but the wit of Grenfell is one of those that still strikes a chord with anyone, teenage, middle-age or old age, with a sense of the ridiculous. In exactly the same vein are authors such as Roald Dahl, who has always been enjoyed by adults as well as children. Not surprisingly, Dahl is one of the authors children’s writer Chris Powling is recommending in our feature on p11 for grandparents to enjoy with their grandchildren.

Stories of an entirely different nature have made Wilbur Smith a highly popular, not to say wealthy, man. As one would expect from a celebrated writer of derring-do stories that traverse the globe, he’s had a few adventures himself.

PS: See Joyce doing the military two-step, Waltz Valeta and dear old Lancers on YouTube. Go to watch?v=clOdyzP9fcw