There was a book, a slim volume with a drawing (or was it a woodcut?) on the front, that would make my dad laugh until he cried. He’d sit on the settee with his shoulders shaking and tears sauntering down his cheeks, pointing at the book as though it contained The Secret of Comedy and beckoning at me to come and just read a couple of lines to make my life complete; he’d have liked to read them out loud himself but he was scared that if he did he’d become an exploding mirth-bomb that would vapourise the street. I’d glance at the book and force out a dry chuckle that sounded like a faulty wardrobe door closing in a distant room. I was a sensitive arty teenager and I didn’t find the book funny at all; my dad would wave me away and collapse in a howling heap.