I’m sorry, but this just isn’t a laughing matter. This sort of crude so-called humour is not acceptable in this day and age, and strong action is needed as a matter of urgency.
Vile Twitter trolls rounding on whichever unfortunate finds themselves in the public spotlight? Stand-ups with no self-control going for gags against vulnerable groups? Mrs Brown’s Boys from start to finish? No, none of the above.
I speak, with the pain that is still sharp after years of suffering, about puns in shop titles.
Now a pun is a lovely thing, and I am very fond of wordplay that provokes a knowing smile or a groan of grudging recognition.
But a pun should be like a snowflake – beautifully-constructed, a delight in the right place and in the right measure, but essentially ephemeral.
Which is why puns in shop titles will never be right, and should be discouraged at every turn.
I can see how the temptation can be hard to resist. You’re a small business trying to make an impact, you come up with what you think is a bright idea that will appeal to punters and make you more memorable, and you don’t have the experience of working with words that would tell you how quickly a quirky catchphrase becomes a tedious yawn.
Hair salons have traditionally been the keenest purveyors of the pun above the door – and in the days before the internet and social mobility they could get away with it.
But we all know that there’s no such thing as an original joke, and nor does the original pun exist.
So anyone who thought that calling their business Fringe Benefits or Curl Up And Dye was purely the result of inspiration on their part is sadly mistaken.
Take, for example, the shop which apparently sports the best pun in the country.
That would be Junk & Disorderly, a supposedly shambolic secondhand store on Market Street in Chesterfield, of course – well, it would be according to an online poll after a shortlist was culled from a database of 700,000 businesses.
Presumably that database mining didn’t flag up the fact that there’s a Junk & Disorderly if not in every town then in every other town in the UK.
Others on the shortlist included Pane In The Glass, Abra Kebabra, World Of Woolcraft, Sofa So Good and Heaven Scent. Oh, my aching sides.
To be fair, World Of Woolcraft is a new one on me – but I fear it will return to haunt me.
If you ask me, all business names should have to be registered with a man in a grey suit in a grey office somewhere, and the registration process should involve lots of repetition of the name on the part of the hair salon, coffee bar or fast food outlet concerned in a bid to make them realise that nothing goes stale quicker than a not particularly ribtickling joke.