MY DAD nearly died laughing once. Literally, to use a much misused word.

Eyes bulging, chest heaving he fell onto all fours on the living room floor.

I was ten-years-old and had no idea what was happening. His face became redder and I shouted for mum.

She came running from the kitchen and gave him an almighty, and medically questionable, thud on the back which appeared to these young eyes to be more a punishment for stupidity than an attempt to extend his life.

But it was serious enough and a hour later, sitting on a kitchen stool he was still glassy eyed and short of breath, albeit out of danger.

It was Laurel and Hardy’s fault.

Seconds before his attack they had driven their car into a puddle in the middle of the street and improbably disappeared, vehicle and all, up to their bowler hats. These remained floating on the greasy water.

That was the cue for hysterics.

Me and my dad were big Laurel and Hardy fans. We used to watch those wonderful 20 minute Hal Roach produced two-reelers every Christmas on the BBC.

Forget what snobs say about the art of Chaplin and Keaton, Laurel and Hardy were the real comic deal, taking slapstick and bringing a profundity and depth to the study of human relationships that rivalled the great 20th century playwrights.

And unlike Charlie and Buster they took the move from silent to talkie in their stride and just got better and better.

There, got that off my chest.

The truth is that almost 100 years after they made those great shorts they’re still making new generations laugh out loud. That is truly remarkable.

The film we were watching when dad nearly died is called The Perfect Day. It rises to levels of surrealism the like of which the great master Luis Bunuel would have been proud.

Stan and Ollie are loading up their car with a picnic, assorted wives and a grumpy uncle with a bandaged foot on account of the gout, for a day out.

As their neighbours watch on, something is always stopping them leaving the street, the car won’t start, uncle’s foot gets slammed in the door (several times of course) and pointless rows escalate.

At one stage Stan hits Ollie over the head with the clutch. Don’t ask.

Of course Laurel watches all this happen, does nothing to stop the blow coming and even feels the pain a second later than he should. Beautiful timing as always. At last the picnic party gets underway, turns the corner and hits what should be just a normal shallow puddle in the road.

But the car sinks slowly while our heroes wear gormless looks which tell us they’re not sure what’s happening but they’re going to do nothing to stop it anyway. It was those looks of mysterious powerlessness which finally sent my dad to a possible early rendezvous with his maker.

For another classic example of this helplessness have a look at Busy Bodies in which our bungling heroes have to flee their jobs in a timber mill.

Unfortunately they drive their getaway car straight into a large vertical bandsaw which slowly cleaves the vehicle in two.

Look at their faces as they watch each other disappear behind the whirling blade to emerge with half a car each. I agree with DJ Danny Baker who says if you don’t find that funny you have a hole in your soul.

Why do I mention all this? Well to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the great Stan Laurel’s birth, four of their films are to be shown in UK cinemas in newly remastered HD.

Disgracefully just one cinema in Sussex is considering taking the four films so you’d have to go to Portsmouth to be sure. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

But nevertheless make the journey. It will not be wasted. For down through the decades Laurel and Hardy’s power to lift the spirits has not diminished. Just don’t die laughing.

The Argus:

Look I know Hove resident Adele saved the music industry with her last album.

I know she can belt out a ballad while standing in black and white forests being assaulted by wind machines.

But did the launch of her new one have to be given such incredibly slavish coverage by the BBC?

I watched aghast last Friday as the 10 o’clock news gave more than five minutes to her PR album launch assault without so much as a searching question.

It was advertising that money couldn’t buy and this was the news, not the Graham Norton show where we would expect such fluff. Perhaps I’m just out of time.