Dear Auntie Ora,

Ok then, we seem to have covered riddles, so what about puns?

Your obedient servant,
Eric Hunt.


Dear Mr Hunt,

Dear me, what a fun name you have!

A pun is a play on words, usually done by assigning new meanings by way of the context in which the words are used. At times the meaning can be subtle, and at other times the joke is in the shock effect of the pun.

Let me illustrate the second type with story.

Sand Crab and Mud Crab had been friends since they were born, and loved to play together in the surf. One day, a speed-boat passed over the top of where they were playing. The propeller caught Sand Crab and Mud Crab, and they were smashed to smithereens...

'Ohh goodie, a Fairy Tale', said Cassandra McBlonde, reading over Sibyl's shoulder as she clacked away at the old IBM Golf Ball. 'I just love Fairy Tales.'

'It's not a fairy tale, Cassie, it's a play on words. Why don't you make us both a nice cup of coffee. You can read the letter when I've finished.' Said Sibyl kindly.

'Sure thing boss,' said Cassie.

'Now, where was I? Oh, yes,' said Sibyl...

Now Mud Crab had always been a good little crab, said his prayers every night, and always helped others, so he went to Heaven. Sand Crab, on the other hand, had been very naughty. He would make ugly faces behind the teacher's back, and pinch little girl's bottoms when they weren't looking. There was only one place for him, and that place was Hell...

'Hi, Sibyl, Cassie tells me you are writing a Fairy Tale', said Pythia, walking into the office. 'So how's it going?'

'It's NOT a Fairy Tale, it's a play on words. Geez, don't YOU start!' said Sibyl irritably.

'Sorry,' said Pythia, flopping on the couch. 'I'd like to see how it comes out though. Do you mind?'

'Just don't interrupt me, that's all I ask.'

'OK, I'll be as quiet as a mouse.'

'Good!'...

Mud Crab was very happy in Heaven, and for a few hundred years, he did his chores without complaint. Each morning he happily fluffed up all the clouds, and in the afternoon would polish the rainbows. He missed Sand Crab though, and one day he approached St Peter, asking if, since he had been so good, could he take some time off and visit his old friend Down There.

St. Peter scratched his head for a minute.

'This is highly irregular you know,' he said kindly. 'But yes, you have been very good, and the clouds have never been fluffier, and the rainbows never brighter.'

He thought for a minute, then said: 'Alright Mud Crab, you can visit your friend on two conditions: first you must take your Harp with you, and secondly, you must be back by midnight.'...

Cassie tip-toed into the room, carrying a tray with coffee and biscuits, She looked questioningly at Pythia, who put her finger across her lips, silently urging Cassie to be quiet. She mouthed the words 'Fairy Tale', palm pointing in the direction of the clacking typewriter. Cassie grinned and placed the drinks on the table...

Happily clutching his Harp, Mud Crab slid down a passing rainbow and soon arrived at the Gates of Hell. He asked the gatekeeper if he knew Sand Crab, and was very pleased when the gatekeeper told him that of course he did. 'Everyone here knows Sand Crab,' he said. 'He runs the biggest Disco in Hell, right over there.

Mud Crab ran to the Disco, and soon found Sand Crab, who was, of course, overjoyed to see his old friend. They played games and talked about old times for hours, till, at two minutes to midnight, Mud Crab had to leave as it was late already. Hurriedly saying goodbye, he ran outside the Gates of Hell, and luckily caught a passing cloud that whisked him straight back to Heaven.

St Peter was standing at the gate looking at his watch. 'Just in time, Mud Crab,' he said, then he peered at Mud Crab. 'But wait, where is your Harp?'

'Oh dear,' said Mud Crab. 'I left my Harp in Sand Crab's Disco'.

***

Grinning, Sibyl ripped the page from her typewriter.

'I've got to say that I'm very pleased with this,' she said. 'Here Pythia, what do you think?' she handed the page to Pythia who read it, then handed it to Cassie.

'Aren't Fairy Tales supposed to have a moral or something?' asked Pythia.

'Yeah, and it doesn't even have a happy ending,' said Cassie, handing the page back to Sibyl.

'But it's a pun, it's not supposed to have a happy ending or a moral or... oh never mind.'

Slowly and carefully, she rolled the page into a little ball and lobbed it into the bin.