A gracious reply

The global issue of jokegate seems to be resolved. I received an apology from Victor Lewis Smith, so that's fair enough I'd say. Now, as that seemed to work, I'll write a letter to the Israeli government, then one to Robert Mugabe, and see if we can sort out the rest of the world as amicably. 

Cher Mark,

Mean culpa mea culpa mea maxima culpa. Some years ago I wrote in The Guardian re Chris Morris stealing great chunks of my R4 stuff - "imitation is the sincerest form of being a thieving bastard". You may use that line any time gratis.

I generate 99.9% of my own material, but I sometimes (almost without knowing) like to add 0.1% from elsewhere, to enrich the mix (bit like maintaining an old 2 stroke engine). Usually I give an attribution, but because this was a short-form scatter-gun piece, there wasn't room for such civilities on this occasion. In the case of your line, I did know you'd said it, but I didn't know you'd written it for the Independent, or used it in your stand-up shows. You used it in an interview you recorded with Keith Allen for the 'Unlawful Killing' film I produced about five years ago, and because I thought it was a brilliant off-the-cuff remark, and the film seems to have been suppressed, I thought it deserved a wider audience. Apparently, it has already had one.

Barry Crier once said to me that all jokes are on lease with no known owner. Just the other day I watched one of your fellow stand up performers recite -word for word - 2 paragraphs of old tat I had written years ago for the Standard. What should one do? I mean, Willie Hamilton MP, made almost exactly the same observation as you on Radio 4 about The Monarchy and the Tower in the 1970s. What should one do?

But, hey, we anti Monarchists mustn't fight. I am doing an Establishment Club gig (backed by Lin Cook) with Keith on 23 jan at Ronnie Scott's. There is a fee... are you about? It is kicking off.

Fuck the Pope