Jeremy Clarke Jeremy Clarke

Low life | 15 October 2011

A very sporting publisher has put together a collection of Low life columns and is publishing it in hardback on 3 November. In the evening there is to be a drinks party at The Spectator offices in Westminster to celebrate the occasion. The boardroom can comfortably accommodate around 50 vertical drinkers. Of these 50, the editor has asked me to use this column to invite 15 readers to the party, if 15 can be found.

So if anyone wants to risk it, please send your name, address and current favourite joke to The Spectator office. Your joke needn’t necessarily conform to prevailing rules of political correctness. Should fewer than 15 people send in a joke, then everyone can come, and all the more for us. If more than 15, the jokes will be read out to whoever at 22 Old Queen Street is most in need of cheering up that morning, and the best ones will win an invitation. As it is a Low life party, please feel free to submit jokes which are puerile or offensive.

For the remaining 35 places, my allocation is 30 people. For years now I’ve been prone to an egotistical fantasy in which I win the lottery and throw a party for everyone I’ve ever known. In my mind’s eye there’s a free bar, a live band and a crowd of around 500. Not the least pleasurable part of it is the incongruous mixing together of people from different walks of life. A street cleaner is raising a glass with an aristocrat, a football yob with a social worker, a female Eritrean ex-Marxist guerrilla with a vicar. It’s a Utopian rather than socialist daydream. The self-proclaimed socialists I know are all far too class-conscious to truly relax at a party as eclectic as this.

But between the idea and the reality falls the shadow.

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