Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex

Lateral Thinking

The other day a friend explained to me that they had a lovely neighbour, a dear old lady who always really entered into the spirit of the changing seasons. She loved May Day and Christmas, but her favourite time of year was Halloween. This year she pulled out all the stops, decorating her front room with lots of cobwebs, filling it with scary creepy-crawlies and even putting a skeleton in the armchair to scare the passing children who peered in. My friend knocked on her door a few times this week to compliment her on her excellent decoration, but there was no answer.

One of the techniques used by humorists is misdirection. A sudden change in direction can bring a smile.

Lateral thinking is similar to this type of misdirection. Instead of a waiting for a comedian to take us down an unexpected route, when we think laterally we are trying to spot these unusual routes ourselves.

Lateral thinking is always interesting and sometimes amusing, not least in navigation. I recently added a Tweet about how you can find a florist in town by tracking down the much easier to find hospital in any area.

This snippet was seized upon by wags who pointed out that secondary schools would point the way to chip shops (thanks Bruce Stanley) and churches act as signposts to pubs (thanks Tomo Thompson). If you want to buy a newspaper or magazine in London, follow a bus. There are normally newsagents very near to bus stops. (Thanks to John Pahl).

Please do send any more you can think of my way, funny or serious, and I’ll add them here.