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What's the difference between a post box and lavatory? Read a rag mag to find out; OPINION: that'stypical.

Byline: Steve Groves

YOU, like me, will be both celebrating and mourning today - praising the anniversary of that great plumber Thomas Crapper who effectively launched the longest list of schoolboy double entendres while bowing the head at the missing, presumed dead, student rag magazines.

We don't actually know when Mr Crapper was born but we know that he was baptised on September 28 in 1836 so today will have to do. For aficionados of daft names, Crapper takes the chocolate Hobnob.

It's a myth that he invented the flushing toilet, but he did patent the floating ballcock and he was a dab hand with manhole covers. It's a myth that the first syllable of his name was the source of the slang word - that had been around since the 15th century.

For the hard of remembering, rag mags were published as charity fund raisers by students' unions. Hairy types in ill fitting jumpers used to sell them on street corners for about sixpence. The only rule was that the jokes they contained had to be as tasteless, crude and offensive as possible. It was that'stypical Steve Groves None of this myth-busting need matter to those of us who have now realised that we've been wasting our time with the subtlety of double entendres, that time is now too short and that we ought to go straight for the entendre.

It's in that vein that I've just started to miss the juvenile humour that used to be encapsulated in the rag mags that were passed around the playground as if new tablets of wisdom had just come down from the mountain.

a sign that standards had slipped if there wasn't an allusion to Thomas Crapper's name somewhere in its pages.

Rag weeks were legendary in student towns and cities for their big parades of sometimes stunning floats and for a series of events which raised cash for worthy causes.

I'm told the rag events continue, but it's a long, long time since anyone has tried to flog me a rag mag. And more's the pity. I'm still using the gags I learned by heart in the playgrounds of the late '60s and early '70s. It's got to the stage now where some of us tell jokes only by the punch lines, so familiar are we with the preamble that leads to the guffaw.

The jokes would start by asking ridiculous questions like "how do you circumcise a whale?" or "what's the difference between a post box and a lavatory?" They'd have answers like "it must be duck with a hat on" or "it was there when I found them". (Don't try putting these together - they're not from the same jokes. I wouldn't want to spoil your fun.) There've been problems with rag mags, of course - some universities fought to stop some pretty awful stuff getting out, and quite rightly the appallingly racist jokes would never see the light of day now, although from what I've seen on the internet, being as sexist as you like is no problem.

But the bottom line is that we must raise a glass to Thomas Crapper. (Flushed with success, round the U-bend - you get the picture.) Tomorrow: Steve Dub Way out West
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 28, 2009
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