Someone takes a photo of Joyce and me at a Sergeants Mess Summer Ball, interrupting a funny story Joyce is telling me

“Nobody ever mentions ‘Freddy Parrot Face Davies* anymore!” Surprisingly, Joyce had caught me off guard with this statement as we had been discussing something quite serious. A picture of Freddy Parrot Face immediately came into my head, and I collapsed laughing to the surprise of the rest of Sainsbury’s restaurant. I had no idea what people must have thought as coffee was coming through my nostrils – especially as Joyce continued to keep a poker face.

This is not an unusual experience for me when I am with Joyce, my wife of nearly 40 years. I love live comedy, but I have never seen or heard anyone as funny as Joyce. It is not as if I wasn’t warned, as during our first date she continually tried to out-pun me.

Humour and laughter have always been incredibly important to our family. We are no different, I imagine, from the majority of families who have faced adversity in some form or other. We have had our share of bereavement (some recently), our youngest daughter copes with autism and a learning disability (plus all the challenges that come with being carers), tough financial challenges with a big mortgage during the early nineties – when the interest rates were sky high and much higher than they are now – the list goes on.

Joyce is the leader of our gang, so it helps that not only is she inspirational, but she is also incredibly funny. Humour has got us through some incredibly difficult events.

Mrs Funny Bones makes us laugh by:

  1. Observing people’s behaviour – Some of Joyce’s funniest stories come from her being a regular passenger on public buses – listening to people talking or behaving inappropriately, or even forgetting that they are out in public! It helps that Joyce is a super mimic and good storyteller so that you almost feel as though you are there.
  2. Having A sense of the ridiculous – I am not sure whether it is because she comes from a large family (her siblings are funny too) or if it is because she comes from Manchester, which is renowned for their sharp wit.  Perhaps it is both?  
  3. Being Spontaneous – Joyce will come out with something when we least expect it, and often in a restaurant or at the family dining table, usually when I have just taken a mouthful of food!  
  4. Playing to her audience – Joyce knows what will make us laugh and enjoys that we are a receptive audience. 
  5. By being self-deprecating (a form of self-awareness) – Joyce does not take herself too seriously.  
  6. Keeping a straight face – when she passes a comment that has us all falling about in heaps of laughter. Did I mention Freddy Parrot Face Davies? I then recognise that twinkle in her eye that signals, ‘I’ve got you again’.

Joyce has often given me the credit as being a useful source for her material – you are welcome. 

The Benefits of Humour both at home and the workplace – Six lessons I’ve learned from Joyce:

  1. It releases the tensions – that can build up inside us. We have used this successfully with Bettina, especially during her early years when she struggled to come to terms with her autism and the worry this caused the family. 
  2. It gets things into perspective – It is easy to get things out of proportion. When I am getting uptight about a work situation, Joyce’s reaction is: “Steve has World War III broken out?  Or “Has anyone died?”  Me: “No Joyce”. 
  3. It diffuses hostility – As per my second point, but this time Joyce will roll her eyes or use a facial expression which will make me laugh. Like the best comedians who come on stage, and you immediately start laughing before they have said anything. 
  4. It is infectious – I have often found humour quickly spreads. Bettina has worked through the autism fog of her early years and now embraces humour and is often the instigator of some of our laughter.
  5. Bounce back Better – enabling us all to be more resilient when we have setbacks   
  6. Provides a positive environment – it is a happy environment which brings out the best in you and helps with your own creativity.   

“A sense of humour is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done” – Dwight D Eisenhower

And finally at our holiday hotel in Whitby*

Alison, our server, comes up to our dining table and asks what the matter is? She can see and hear me laughing. (I also have a look of shock on my face too). 

“Joyce has just eaten my favourite chocolate (a violet cream)” –  A chocolate we receive with a coffee at the end of our dinner.

Joyce: “it is because he has not been behaving himself Alison”

Sometimes you can take humour too far – especially when it comes to violet creams.

Our Disney Princess – a picture of Joyce courtesy of Jennifer Raw


* Freddy ‘Parrot Face’ Davies – Sentimental Songs

* Our super hotel in Whitby