Catchphrases · Memories

“You won’t get much for 50p”

4 April 1980, 43 years ago today, was a Good Friday. My mother and I took our usual trip to Woolworth’s for Easter eggs, and a local bakery for hot cross buns. Attempting to cross the High Road, I was hit by a car and thrown several feet into the air. I wrote about it over seven years ago in this piece, recalling the first four Good Fridays of the 1980s.

Towards the end of my memories of 1980 I wrote, “We sat around the kitchen table drinking tea, eating hot cross buns and telling jokes. John told the best one …”

I gave away the punchline in the original piece, but I want to record the joke as our friend John told it. He made it sound like something that had actually happened, and it was only at the very end that we twigged that this might not be the case. His wife Rosemary was sat at the table while he told his story, and she enjoyed it as much as the rest of us.

“So I took the wife shopping, up the West End you know, parked up near Marble Arch, went to Marks & Spencer. I knew how long she was going to be, and I hate shopping, so I went for a walk. Ended up in Soho, on some quiet street, and this prostitute got chatting to me, asked if I was interested in a bit of business. Well, I wasn’t, but I asked her how much it was. 10 quid for this, 15 quid for that, 20 quid if she … I said, ‘£20? That’s a bit steep isn’t it?’ ‘Well, how much would you expect to pay?’ she asked. ‘50p?’ I said. ‘You won’t get much for 50p,’ she told me.

“And that was that, I went back down Oxford Street, met the wife again, and as we were heading back to the car we met the woman I’d met in Soho. Bit awkward, as you can imagine, but before I could say anything she took one look at the wife and said, ‘I told you wouldn’t get much for 50p’.”


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