MY SCHOOL days in the 1950s were not the happiest days of my life, but they were, on occasions, the funniest.

One day in class a boy, who had been absent from lessons, produced a sick note written by his mother.

The teacher read the note and said to the boy: "According to your mother you've been suffering from dysentery which is hard to believe because it's a tropical disease."

In response the boy said: "Me mam can't spell diarrhoea."

"She can't spell dysentery either," said the teacher.

The eruption of laughter that followed provided a moment of joy in an otherwise austere environment.

Geoffrey Lindley