I first came across the magazine “Punch” while in a Harley Street dentist’s waiting room. There were the usual combination of out-of-date women’s weeklies, auto monthlies and Readers Digest’s but it was Punch that I picked up and browsed while waiting for the orthodontic, masochistic butcher to carry on the ‘good work’ started my regular dental macellarius.

During the years that followed I became a regular reader reaching its zenith during the tenure of Alan Coren as editor. I avidly devoured Coren’s articles, such as “A little bit of Harry in the night”, “Where do flies go in the wintertime?” which was about saving his daughter’s Venus Fly Trap that was on it’s last legs (Leg. Venus fly trap only have one leg.) and another where, while on holiday and getting a little ‘tired and emotional’, did his best to not hold a conversation with a woman’s naked bosom.

Hunter Davies introduced us to his family in “Father’s Day”, his wife (the old trout) and his children (Caitlin, Jake and Flora). Miles Kington’s “Let’s Parler Franglais” column and brilliant articles and, not forgetting, the fantastic Keith Waterhouse.

Although my IQ increased and my wit evolved, my teeth continued to deteriorate. For this I blame the dentists (for my teeth not the reading matter). For nearly half a century they (the dentists not the magazine contributors) have drilled, filled, capped, crowned and pulled their way around the inside of my mouth. But that’s another story.

Punch went downhill fast after Coren was forced out by the idiots who ran the magazine, who, it seemed, didn’t realise what they had. Punch folded in 1992 only to be purchased by the Her Majesty The Queen‘s grocer, the self-promoting and general wack-job, Mohamed Al Fayed.

Punch finally gave up the ghost in 2002.

However, it can still be found in quiet corners if t’internet. Firstly, Below the Salt (me) will publish my favourite Punch cartoons gleaned from the annuals and books that I possess. I’ll put them into random posts as well as on their own . Secondly, Lee Jackson, the novelist, librarian and web-monkey, has started a site ‘The Punch Project‘. This will complement his other similar sites ‘Dictionary of Victorian London‘ and ‘The Cat’s Meat Shop‘. Lastly, Project Gutenberg where volunteers are creating ebooks to download for free. Here you’ll find a downloadable copy of the very first edition of “Punch, or the London Charivari” from 1841 along with many editions going into the 1920’s.


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