13 October 2007


In the old town of Hull, not far from The Land of Green Ginger and The Old Bluebell Inn, there is a Victorian shopping arcade called Hepworth's Arcade. When I was a young lad, I loved that arcade because of its Hi-Fi shop, its bookshop, the amazingly cheap workers' cafe that sold substantial meals for next to nothing and above all its joke shop - the world famous Dinsdales! Never heard of it? Well isn't that usually the case with world famous things?

I would press my nose up at the window and marvel at the display - itching powder, fart cushions, rubber masks, rubber dog turds, rubber bacon and fried eggs, eyepatches, vampire teeth, stage blood, luminous paint, fake cigars, exploding cigarettes, plastic flick knives that retracted when you stabbed people with them, indoor fireworks, wigs, false beards and moustaches, lifelike bluebottles and snakes, hands that pulled off and bloody bandages you could put over uninjured digits. Above the door it said "We Sell Laughter".

In this ever-changing world, things have a tendency to disappear - old haunts, old pubs, fields you used to play in, people you used to know - but Dinsdales never seems to change. Perhaps if I win the Lottery I will buy out that joke shop and become the new Mr Dinsdale. What could be better? Running a shop that is all about making people laugh, mischief, silliness. I might even introduce some new joke products - such as:-

The computer that continuously loses its Internet connection - Ha! Ha!

The TV set that shows programmes that are worth watching - No way!

Official letters you can post to your worst enemies telling them they are HIV positive or landing them with enormous utility bills. Hilarious!

The mobile phone that gives you cancer of the inner ear! Haw! Haw! The possibilities are endless for the next Mr Dinsdale!


  1. never mind the joke shop... is the Land of Green Ginger quite a hippyish sort of place? Is is a chain? It's just there's one in Tynemouth and I thought it was a one off.


  2. The Joke Shop Man has lots of gags
    Like plastic ears, exploding fags
    A million laughs to give your friends a treat
    Ho ho, hee hee, ha ha

    The Joke Shop Man has lots of gags
    He wraps them up in paper bags
    Like sneezing powder, snakes and rubber feet

    Joke Shop Man, help me if you can
    It's all so very hard to understand
    Joke Shop Man, make me Desperate Dan!

    God bless Viv Stanshall.

  3. Can't remember ever seeing the Hepworth Arcade when I was a student in Hull. Looks like I missed something!

  4. JENNYTA - The arcade was probably constructed long after you left uni! (...Only kidding!)
    MUTTERINGS - Another Land of Green Ginger? The one in Hull is not a hippyish place. I understand the street name harks back to Hull's trading past.
    STEVE - Typically, it is impossible to be entirely original. A well-remembered echo.

  5. never was much of a jokester.. like that. I like to "tell" jokes but don't do it very well. I love to laugh though.. One of my favorite things to do.. always.. even when I"m in the throes of depression .. I can laugh and cry at the same time.. hehe much like a drunk.

  6. arcade still there, the old town always amazes me, 'ull must have been quite a site b4 being flattened in the war. there is a new arcade just opened right next to hull truck theatre, no interesting shops though.

  7. Hmmm... the kinds of gags I'd like to sell are the ones that would make silly noises go off when someone's cell phone rings during one of my performances.

  8. I grew up in Cottingham & can remember trips to Hull city centre on saturdays as a kid, and not being able to wait to get to Dinsdales. As you rounded the corner there would be a horde of schoolkids glued to the window & clambering over each other to choose what they wanted b4 going inside to buy it. Inside was equally intrigung as you stared at the huge range of masks & higher quality jokes & tricks way out of your pocket money budget,the owner would find what u wanted from a vast wall of wooden drawers containing each different novelty-brilliant,I'll never 4get that place as long as I live!


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