Darling does stand-up. And dies

Budget day, eh? Not being fantastically fiscally-minded, I can’t claim to have waded through the news in full. But clearly it was a bad day for cider drinkers (though a good day if you were wondering what had happened to The Wurzels: still around, and still driving their combine harvester). It was also, I understand, an ominous day for Michael Ashcroft Belize billionaire types. (That’s several of my best mates in trouble then…)

But, hang on. What was that story about the famously dour Alistair Darling amusing the Cabinet just before delivering the budget? If you missed it, this is how the Daily Telegraph reports it:

Chancellor Alistair Darling raised laughs from fellow-ministers at this morning's Budget Cabinet meeting by comparing his position to that of a North Korean finance minister who was executed by firing squad for bungling a currency reform.

ln his opening remarks at the 40-minute meeting, Mr Darling said that as he was preparing the Budget a news agency clipping was placed on his desk, reporting the fate of Pak Nam Gi. 

To laughter from colleagues, Mr Darling said that he hoped he would not share the unfortunate minister's fate. Pak was accused of ruining the secretive east Asian country's economy with a redenomination of its currency last year, which was supposed to bring inflation under control but reportedly left angry Koreans with piles of worthless banknotes.

Reports last week said he was executed by firing squad in Pyongyang in punishment for the blunder

Tres amusement, non? Found! Mr Darling’s sense of humour. In excellent condition. Hardly used.

Oh, wait a minute. Someone just got taken out and shot by a totalitarian regime. The Telegraph print edition heads the story with “Gallows humours raises a laugh”, but isn’t gallows humour where the condemned person themselves makes a joke about their predicament? Not quite the same as looking on and laughing.

If the laugh-a-minute Mr Darling gets bored of browsing today’s budget news he might come across reports about how a man in Texas has just narrowly been reprieved from execution and how Hamas is set to execute alleged “collaborators” with Israel. All good material for his routine, eh?

Next week Amnesty’s got a whole report about worldwide executions – thousands of them. I’ll let you know how many hilarious stories I find in there.

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