Lanzarote Grapevine Issue 2 - Page 94

Issue 2 | The Lanzarote Grapevine 2014 Whenever I log on to my Facebook account I am entertained by the hilarious lampooning of politicians. These days the butt of humour tends to be American President Obama. The luckless leader is invariably bettered by his arch rival, Russia’s hard-man President Vladimir Putin. HAVE I OFFENDED YOU? There is nothing new in we plebeians mocking our so-called betters. It has been going on for centuries. Newspapers editors too could hold their own in any bout of verbal jousting with politicians. Lord Sandwich, the king’s flatterer, didn’t mince his words when he addressed the editor of The North Briton. “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of the pox.” Editor John Wilkes replied: “That depends, sir, on whether I embrace your politics or your mistress.” This exchange has wrongly been attributed to Gladstone and Disraeli. Over time the wit in English language has become an art-form. Most will have smiled at the exchange between Winston Churchill and Lady Astor who had said to him: “If you were my husband I would give you poison.” He replied, “If you were my wife I would take it.” Many notorious jibes have been wrongly attributed to Winston Churchill. Among the best examples are, “He is a modest little person with much to be modest about.” My favourites must include Clarence Darrow’s: “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” by Mike Walsh If you think red-top tabloid verbal flippancy is something new reflect on William Faulkner’s summing up of Ernest Hemingway: “He has never been known to use a word that might send the reader to a dictionary.” The war correspondent’s retort was abrasive: “Does he really think that big emotions come from big words?” One hapless author received a memo from Moses Hadas. “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. I’ll waste no time reading it.” Mark Twain was renowned for his sharp wit. “I didn’t attend the funeral but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw detested Churchill. Well aware that the object of his ire was better known for his cohorts than his friends, he wrote: “I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play. Bring a friend, if you have one.” Winston replied, “Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second, if there is one.” Those in a poor relationship may take heart from Stephen Bishop’s remark: “I feel so miserable without you. It is almost like having you here.” Equally sardonic the opinion of Irvin S. Cobb: “I have just heard about his illness. Let us hope it is nothing trivial“. Attributed to Oscar Wilde: “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” There are times when the ‘f’ word is permissible; at least the international diva Maria Callas thought so. She despised her mother. When asked why she attended her open coffin she replied: “To make sure she was f****** dead.” This brings us to the subject of the afterlife which prompted Jack E. Leonard to surmise; “There’s nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won’t cure.” Thomas Brackett Reed might easily have been talking of today’s celebrities when he said, “They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” As for enthusiasts of pop music Billy Wilder spoke for many: “He has van Gogh’s ear for music.”