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Many Happy Returns

by Archie de Bear (1933)

Today is my birthday
Today is my birthday

This story brings another age-related joke to mind (see The Gambler) where a woman is in a casino for the first time. Standing at the roulette wheel she says, "I have no idea what number to play."

A young, good-looking man nearby suggests she play her age. Smiling at the man, she puts her money on number 32.

The wheel is spun, and 41 comes up. The smile drifts from the woman's face as she faints.

Down at the school house at Runcorn,
The 'eadmaster walked in one day
Looking all 'appy and cheerful,
Which wasn't his habit, they say.

The boys were completely dumbfounded,
And whispered "Hello, what's to do?"
But the headmaster still went on smiling
And said, "Boys, I've some good news for you:

"It's like this. Today is my birthday,
So it's no time for classes and such -
You can go," but the boys were too staggered
To even say "Thanks very much."

They could scarcely believe their own ear'oles
As they welcomed these tidings so bright;
But soon they all cheered to the echo,
And very near busted with delight.

Said headmaster "Now there's no hurry,
Before very long you'll be free;
But seeing as how it's me birthday,
How old would you take me to be?"

Well, the boys didn't like this delaying,
And one of the younger ones swore
At the silly old fool of a master,
And the satisfied smile that he wore.

He didn't swear any too loudly,
Or he'd have been out on the mat
For calling the master a silly old beggar -
Or something that sounded like that.

"I bet you won't guess it correctly,"
The headmaster went on with a wink,
"'Cos I've got a sort of a notion
I'm not quite as old as you think."

A new boy jumped up and guessed twenty,
In the hopes that he'd get off for a week;
While another one guessed ninety-seven -
Although with his tongue in his cheek.

School's out
School's out

Said the headmaster "Don't let's be funny,
Or you'll be here all day I can see;
So who'll give a serious guess now,
Come on, just between you and me."

Then in walked the junior tutor,
In a very old mortar board hat.
He said "I hear there's a game on,
Well, I'd like a basin of that."

Said the headmaster "Mind your own business,
And kindly do not interfere -
Or you'll lose half your rasher of bacon,
And all your allowance of beer."

The tutor said "Don't be a cad, Sir,
I don't wish to make any noise;
But you might at least try to be sporting,
If only in front or the boys."

With that he swept out of the classroom,
Fearing the look that he saw -
For he knew that in less than two seconds,
He'd get such a sock in the jaw.

Then in came the language professor,
French teaching was one of his jobs,
So he bowed to the Head and said "Bonjour,"
And the Head said "Bonjour, avec knobs."

"But if you've come here to give lessons,
You can take it from me - it's no bon
Because today's a holiday. Savvy?
So you might as well allez-vous en."

Then a small voice called "Sir, why it's easy,
Forty-four is your age I should say."
Said the master "Now what a remarkable thing,
You've guessed my right age to the day."

Said the boy "Well my brother is just twenty-two"
Said the headmaster "What's that to me?"
'Well, Sir, if he's twenty-two you must be forty-four,
'Cos he's only half barmy - see."

Then the whole class joined in the school anthem
Which nobody wanted to shirk:
"For he's a jolly good fellow,
So long as we don't have to work."


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