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Dead funny! Why are accidents so amusing? Oliver and Matt Pritchett have the answer

Blog | By Oliver Pritchett | Jul 11, 2023


I’ve often wondered what members of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) do for a bit of fun.

How rollicking are their Christmas parties? I am sure they are not a patch on the larks we have at SPoMA, the Society for the Promotion of Minor Accidents.

We were founded to celebrate the joy of grazes, bruises, trips, twisted ankles and barked shins, which can, let us admit, be funny to witness and even better to talk about later.

The black eye, the exaggerated hobble, the arm, in a sling or the larger-than-necessary plaster will always get the conversation going. It can be a particularly rewarding pastime for the elderly to share. A much better topic than, say, the unseasonal weather. You can always delight your friends with your swollen upper lip and the story to go with it.

My own special party trick is to squirt one of my pills from its blister pack, then spend a minute or so crawling round on the floor looking for it, bump my head on the furniture as I haul myself to my feet, then get a dizzy spell and lurch about the room. My ungainly skating across the kitchen on a stray ice cube, ending in a collision with the stove, has also been much appreciated.

Comedy would be all the poorer if there were no minor accidents. Life would be drab if no umbrella was ever blown inside out and no pedestrian was ever drenched by a puddle and a passing car.

I am not sure if a banana skin has ever actually upended a pompous gentleman, but there is still hilarity to be found when your (or someone else’s) flailing downfall is brought about by damp autumn leaves or a discarded slice of pizza on the pavement.

New members are always welcome at Mishap House, the headquarters of SPoMA. You will feel at home as soon as you arrive in the quaint, dimly-lit, low-beamed and highly polished entrance hall and you are sure to get a warm greeting from our Hon Sec Mrs Hardacre, known affectionately to all as Butterfingers.

Membership entitles you to join in our many risky activities, such as pulling a muscle or stubbing a toe in the Tuesday Unfitness Class. Or you may choose just to have a relaxing drink in our licensed bar, Spillages, down the steep staircase in the basement.

On many occasions, you will hear the familiar sound of cutlery, plates, saucepans and assorted vegetables hitting the floor as Mrs Hardacre holds one of her ‘drop-in’ mornings.

And on the last Friday of every month, we celebrate Minor Burns Night, a ‘show and tell’ occasion for people who have blisters from their cooker or their iron. Noteworthy scalds are also a feature.

Join SPoMA today and get a free gift. For men, it’s the society’s tie with its attractive gravy, toothpaste and raspberry-jam motif. For women, it’s a stylish, leaky pen.

So take care – but not too much.

Oliver Pritchett wrote for the Sunday Telegraph for 40 years. His son Matt is the cartoonist on the Daily Telegraph