Monday, November 25, 2013



"I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is a delicate exotic fruit, touch it and the bloom is gone." 
~The Importance of Being Earnest, 
Oscar Wilde

Joey – the innocent, heroic young man presently providing much needed nourishment for the contestants in ‘I’m a celebrity …’ comes to mind when I hear this quote.

A favourite Joeyism:

I don’t confrontate.’ 

Noel Coward:

When asked why he would not "come out" in his final years and announce his sexual preference:
"Because there are still three old ladies in Brighton who don't know.”

Bea Lillie:
Noel and I were in Paris once. Adjoining rooms, of course. One night, I felt mischievous, so I knocked on Noel's door and he asked, "Who is it?" I lowered my voice and said, "Hotel detective. Have you got a gentleman in your room?" He answered, "Just a minute, I'll ask him."

John Lahr:
"We're talking about a style that became a way of being for a lot of people. English cultural history between the world wars is, in some extremely large part, Noël Coward. He put himself into the narrative the English tell themselves about their struggles, their suffering, their triumphs. In the first half of this century he wrote the songs that homogenized, as it were, English public sentiment; he wrote the great historical pageant of the time (Cavalcade) and the era's great romantic story (the film Brief Encounter, 1945)."

A favourite of mine was when Coward was watching with a friend the Queen’s Coronation procession and saw the quite large Queen of Tonga passing in a carriage.

Who’s that with her,’ asked the friend.

‘Lunch,’ said Noel.


Jane Austen:

‘I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice though, not in principle.’


Dodie Smith:

Contemplation seems to be about the only luxury that costs nothing.’


Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.


Dorothy Parker


If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised.


Have you got a favourite example of wit? I’d love to hear them.




kenju said...

I know, of course, who Noel Coward is (I even know he was gay) but I am not familiar enough with his wit - and it seems I need to remedy that. Too funny!!

Guyana-Gyal said...

You've read my mind! Again! Yesterday I was thinking of Dorothy Parker.

As she was stepping through a doorway, a young woman, stepping back to let her go first, said, "Age before beauty."

Dorothy replied, "Pearls before swine."

Exile on Pain Street said...

Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage

Twelfth Night
Act 1, Scene 5

Pat said...

Judy: he could be hilariously childish; taking tea in Bexhill with some cronies including one named Cole he had the resident colonels spluttering on their crumpets when he whined:
'Coley - Noely 'asn't got a 'poon,'

GG: I think she would priceless as a lunch date - maybe not so good over the distance.

Exile: great! I didn't know that.

Ms Scarlet said...

Did you know that Richard Burton and Sophia Loren starred in a remake of Brief Encounter? This is either true or one of my very disturbing, yet witty dreams.

Pat said...

Scarlet: I didn't know that. It takes the wildest leap of imagination. Richard could have done it. His forte was looking tortured but Sophia with her - er- abundance - for want of a better word. No I just can't see it. And anyway it is quintessentially English.

Ms Scarlet said...

It is true though...! I just checked on Google, and I have seen it.... you are correct about Sophia.

Pat said...

Scarlet : it must have been a whole different film. Even aged 16I thought the heroine was a trifle tight a---d - in the nicest possible way:)

angryparsnip said...

Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward always makes me laugh.
Great post today.

cheers, parsnip

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I LOVE Noel Coward and have always thought he was a Genius, and I know I am not alone in that! One of my very favorite songs of his--"I believe...." I know that is not the correct title----"IF LOVE WERE ALL" just came to me. Such a wonderful special song.
Have you read the book of letters? It is GREAT!!!
And Bea Lillie----she was such a talented witty woman---do very funny and that dry way....
Dorothy Parker on Katherine Hepburn in some play on Broadway...."Her emotions run the gamut from A to B....". Very very witty and sometimes downright cruel lady. Love this post, my dear.

Pat said...

Parsnip: were they the same era? I wonder if they ever met. Maybe at the Algonquin?

Pat said...

Naomi: I have just watched an excellent version of this with fascinating photos. Will try to post it.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Excellent. I can't thinking the BBC would be better if it was Noel Coward instead of Julian Clary on our screens. More of Dorothy Parker's wit here: