Notes from West London · Reading

Vegans and Oxbridge Graduates

Here’s the first part of my favourite joke from recent years:  

“Why did the vegan cross the road?”  

I was asked this by a very polite, well-brought up woman in her 30s, who I have known since she was 3. Immediately after asking me the question she looked worried and said, “Oh, you’re not a vegan are you?”, as if I would be offended. I’m not, and see no reason for anyone to be offended by the punchline. Here’s the joke in full. 

Q: Why did the vegan cross the road? 

A: To tell you he was a vegan.  

If you are inclined to take offence at this, perhaps it would help to see it as aimed at male vegans, not all vegans, but really, it’s just a joke.  

When I shared it with my brother he said that he had heard a similar take on this idea: a couple were planning their wedding and discussing the dietary requirements with the caterers.  

“So, we’ll have vegetarian options, and vegan options … But how will know who the vegans are?”  

The world-weary caterer replies: “Don’t worry, they’ll let you know.”  

According to a character in John le Carré’s “The Night Manager”, it’s the same with Oxbridge graduates: Jonathan Pine is advised that you never need to ask anyone if they went to Oxford or Cambridge. They’ll tell you, without being asked. Le Carré was a graduate of Lincoln College Oxford, so I imagine he was making a joke partly at his own expense. I enjoyed the joke too, and diligent readers of this Blog will know that I was fortunate enough to study at Cambridge. I have mentioned it once or twice.  

So, for those of you who don’t want to risk offending vegans, here’s an alternate take:  

Q: Why did the Cambridge graduate cross the road? 

A: To tell you he went to Cambridge, of course.  


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