Search

‘It takes us away from all the bad news,’ says Norfolk joke shop owner

PUBLISHED: 14:07 15 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:16 15 June 2020

World of Fun, aka Britain's Largest Joke Shop, has reopened at Hunstanton as lockdown eases and so-called non-essential retailers can reopen  Picture: Chris Bishop

World of Fun, aka Britain's Largest Joke Shop, has reopened at Hunstanton as lockdown eases and so-called non-essential retailers can reopen Picture: Chris Bishop

Archant

It sounds just the place if you want to cheer yourself up amid all the doom and gloom.

Paul Beal, the owner of World of Fun at Hunstanton, with some of his best-selling jokes  Picture: Chris BishopPaul Beal, the owner of World of Fun at Hunstanton, with some of his best-selling jokes Picture: Chris Bishop

For as lockdown eases, Britain’s largest joke shop has re-opened its doors.

Owner Paul Beal saw a steady stream of customers at World of Fun in Hunstanton on his first day back in business.

MORE - Hunstanton mayor’s ‘go local’ appeal

Paul Beal has run World of Fun at Hunstanton for 42 years  Picture: Chris BishopPaul Beal has run World of Fun at Hunstanton for 42 years Picture: Chris Bishop

MORE - EDP launches Love Local campaign to support the region’s businesses

Mr Beal, who has run the shop on St Edmund’s Terrace near the Princess Theatre for 42 years, said the old favourites were as popular as ever.

“We’ve got whoopee cushions, foam in the mouth sweets, sweets that turn your mouth blue, car exhaust whistles,” he said.

Jokes galore at World of Fun in Hunstanton, including many time-honoured favourites  Picture: Chris BishopJokes galore at World of Fun in Hunstanton, including many time-honoured favourites Picture: Chris Bishop

“It takes us away from all the bad news, we’ve all had plenty of TV and alcohol lately.”

More fiendish tricks include non-tear toilet paper, along with other lavatory humour.

“I prefer magic tricks,” said Mr Beal, who sometimes conjures at social events.

Signs inside World of Fun remind customers to socially distance to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus   Picture: Chris BishopSigns inside World of Fun remind customers to socially distance to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus Picture: Chris Bishop

“Here,” he says, taking a loop of string out of his pocket. “Imagine this is a lady’s necklace.

“Put your thumb up, loop it round it and if you can hold onto it you can keep it.”

Somehow the string slips away before Mr Beal whips it back into his pocket.

Wigs of all kinds are on sale at World of Fun  Picture: Chris BishopWigs of all kinds are on sale at World of Fun Picture: Chris Bishop

Mr Beal and other traders in Hunstanton are pinning their hopes on the tourists returning to town after losing the first half of their summer season to lockdown.

“The town’s open to welcome them,” he said. “I just hope the caravan sites open soon, that’s what we all need.”

Hunstanton’s population doubles in he summer season, as visitors move into thousands of caravans, chalets and holiday lets.

Make-up, fake tattoos and wounds at Worlf of Fun at Hunstanton  Picture: Chris BishopMake-up, fake tattoos and wounds at Worlf of Fun at Hunstanton Picture: Chris Bishop

While day trippers have returned to town overnight stays remain against government guidance.

Coronavirus has already claimed one high profile business in Hunstanton, with the Golden Lion on The Green ceasing trading after its parent company Shearings collapsed.

MORE - Golden Lion ceases trading after coach firm collapses

Mr Beal got into the joke business by what he calls a happy accident more than 40 years ago, buying a box of jokes and tricks at a trade show to try on the pavement outside his cafe.

Signage outside World of Fun in Hunstanton asks customers to socially distance  Picture: Chris BishopSignage outside World of Fun in Hunstanton asks customers to socially distance Picture: Chris Bishop

Teams of footballers were in town to compete for the Old Tin Can - a now defunct competition to remember First World War soldiers from Hunstanton and London kicking old cans about in the trenches.

Players snapped up the lot in a weekend and World of Fun was born.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press