I’ve been thinking about Paddy Englishman, Paddy Irishman and Paddy Scotsman. What crazy adventures they’ve had together! How they’ve thrilled and delighted legions of children and unimaginative adults! We owe them a great debt of gratitude. But times are hard and we must face an unpleasant truth that we’ve been avoiding for decades: one of the boys is redundant and will have to be let go. Every three Paddys routine works in the same way. Paddys one and two assess their situation – stranded on a desert island, say, or lounging in a brothel – and between them establish a pattern of appropriate behaviour. Then Paddy number three comes along and makes a fundamental error of judgement, frequently fatal. It makes no difference which Paddy performs which role. That’s a matter of taste and personal prejudice. But I think you’ll agree that Paddy number two contributes nothing, regardless of his nationality. As soon as we hear how Paddy number one reacts, we can assume that Paddy number two will follow suit. We skip over him in our minds, eager to see how Paddy number three makes out. This is clearly wasteful. Henry Ford wouldn’t have put up with it, you can be sure. To drop a Paddy is a drastic step, I know, but think of the savings in breath, in time, in effort. Future generations will thank us. And if it works out, maybe we could streamline some other comedy staples. Knock, knock jokes, for example, are carrying dead weight of their own. Come on now – do we really need that second knock?