When in Frankfurt, do as the Irish do

potato eater


I have yet another story that made my mum scream and laugh until her ribs ached. It’s a bit longer than the previous stories, but I think it’s worth it.

Scenario: me, two Irish blokes, Frankfurt.

I was sitting down at a random table at a micro-Beer Festival in Frankfurt, having a quick chat with my friends over Bratwurst and Radler. Students in Germany always tend to speak English, as it is THE lingua franca – and rightfully so. At one point, one of the heffalumps sitting next to our little group turned around and asked me, in a distinct Irish accent “Oooh, you English?”, upon which I replied that yes, indeed, I come from London.
I’ll take a moment to describe these two individuals, trying however to not be too harsh: they were fucking massive. Two corpulent, slovenly young men in their 20s, with little pea heads. They looked like two barrels of stout. Irish stout. And as if they weren’t Irish enough with their heavy accent and empty glass steins standing desolately in front of them, their names sounded like a joke: Jimmy and Paddy. (I just wanted to add that the latter had an abnormally large gap between his two incisors that resembled the void between Earth and the Moon).
After having a little chinwag, each talking about our lives and so on, we shifted onto a well-loved topic, every Brit’s favourite passtime: corny jokes.
Now, unfortunately the best jokes I know are or extremely rude or about Irish people. So I decided to keep my cake-hole shut and let them make the first move. Jimmy told a joke about Chinese people: faux pas, seeing as one of the friends I was sitting with was in fact Chinese. She got back at him, though, by saying that “all the stereotypes had been confirmed and real Irish people were effectively like the ones you see in films”. After possibly having realised his foolish mistake and pure tactlessness – or probably not- he conjured up another joke, and was not lacking enthusiasm:

“Why did the one-handed man cross the road?” (note to reader: I do hope you’re reading this in an Irish accent)
I said I hadn’t the faintest idea, “scio que nescio”, and Master Spud (Jimmy) looked utterly shocked at my patent ignorance and ended the joke “TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE” and burst out laughing. What a boob.
This joke evoked reminiscences of my year-one days, when the 5-year-old Lord of Banterbury would crack a killer joke like “Why did the chicken cross the road? To eat farts and wee-wee hihihih poo bum boobies hihiihih” and everyone would get hyper and start blurting out naughty words, which always guaranteed insane laughter. Don’t tut, you’ve all been there.
(p.s. Jimmy added a secondo-ending to the joke that I actually found rather funny: “To get to the second-hand shop”)
Now things start to get interesting.
I decided to tell a classic joke that I heard when I was about 12 – so it coudln’t have been that abtruse, as I had noticed that my two new buddies were older, shabbier versions of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Little did I know that I would have started a new Irish Holy war when I asked: “What’s the difference between a Paki and E.T.?”
At this point, Jimmy started jumping on his butt and barking like a morbidly obese baboon, “OOOOH OOOH OOOOH” he shrieked, “I KNOW, ONE’S YELLOW AND THE OTHER’S WHITE”. And the whole world fell silent. An old lady fell off the bench, but that might have just been a freaky coincidence. “W-w-wwha-wha THE HELL?” I stuttered. My friends and Paddy were equally as perplexed. And then Paddy reacted: “What the bloody FUCK are you on about, mate?”
Jimmy shook his head in scorn: “Paddy just think about it for a minute..”
Paddy: “Do you even know who ET is?”
Jimmy: “Oh he’s the American alien”
Paddy: “Yeah he’s fucking PINK”
Jimmy: “Yeah I know and the other one’s yellow”
Paddy: “But who the fuck was white then you spud”
Jimmy: “Yeah I know but pakis….”
Paddy: “Pakis are yellow”
Jimmy: “Where the fuck are Pakis from?”
I was having a hearty old laugh, I couldn’t believe my ears. Complete and utter nonsense. Delightful. I whipped out my “Bad Motherfucker” wallet and pointed at it, saying that people from Pakistan generally had a similar skin colour. Since I had the feeling that their brains were on the brink of melting or becoming jacket potatoes, I told them the rest of the joke. They laughed and asked for more. Since they were two light-hearted chumps, I figured that they could not have got remotely offended by my favourite Irish joke. And here it goes:
“Paddy and Murphy are walking down the street. Paddy has a little bag of doughnuts, and says to his friend: ‘Murphy, if you guess how many doughnuts are in here, I’ll give you both of them.” For the more serious readers, I’d just like to make clear that this IS the joke, it’s all centered on that “I’ll give you BOTH of them”.
What seemed to be a pretty straight-foward pun turned out to be an arcane enigma for my two confuzzled chums. Jimmy, for example, was mind-blown. Flabbergasted. He was gaping at me, trembling all over, when he shouted “BUT THERE WERE FUCKING TWO OF ‘EM”. I was lost for words. Paddy joined in: “YEAH TWO OF ‘EM, THERE ARE TWO DOUGHNUTS IN THE BAG!”. I didn’t really know how to behave, what to do or what to say. Give them a golden star sticker? A pat on the head? In the end I went for an extremely basic explanation: “Yes boys, Murphy was meant to guess how many there were, but Paddy said ‘BOTH’ so it means there are obviously TWO”.
They remained silent for 10 seconds, gazing around in a pensive mood, with a stern, concentrated face. I let them take their time this time round, after all they did have to count for this one. Suddenly they starting roaring with laughter. My Irish was a success – better late than never, I guess.

From the German Chronicles, 3rd June 2015


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