The popular joke about the whole Cabinet being behind the PM while all holding knives is to be given listed status to protect it from misuse.
The joke was first used at some point in the mid-nineteenth century and is still in operation today, most recently used on a topical comedy show by a comedian who’d long since lost all passion for his profession.
“Ah yes, the knives joke,” chuckled Simon Williams, Professor of really old jokes at Oxford University.
“That has some genuine historical significance. It was first used regarding Arthur Wellesley in around 1838 during a popular music hall event of the time known as a ‘panel amusement’ in which entertainers of the day would appear on stage to read out topical jokes written by other people and compete to see who could be the most smug.”
The listed status means that the joke is protected against misuse.
“Yes, it’s a lovely old thing and people are clearly very fond of the joke, so it should be treated with the respect it’s due,” continued Professor Williams.
“So, it will no longer be overused. I think there was a week recently that I heard it three times. If you keep doing that, it will wear out and be no good to anyone.
“There will be official delivery guidelines, no more rushing the pause between ‘right behind the PM,’ and ‘all holding knives’.
“Most importantly of all, the joke will be displayed in the British Museum for everyone to enjoy. It will no longer solely be the preserve of hack comics who can’t be bothered to write new jokes.”
Sadly, the similarly antiquated ‘village missing an idiot’ joke has not been granted listed status and many experts fear that it will soon become so overused it will no longer qualify as a joke.