Wednesday 28 December 2011


This is one of several dozen books I picked up at various car boot sales this year but one which I've only now got round to perusing. All his most acerbically entertaining ones are here - as well as new ones (at least to me), many of which raised a smile  Though I haven't been through the entire book yet, this is one which I hadn't known and which begat a loud guffaw this very morning.

The background is that Churchill and playwright Bernard Shaw enjoyed a mutual antipathy which went way beyond politics - the playwright was profoundly socialist, while Churchill, at around this time in his early political career (1914) was hopping back and forth between the Conservative and Liberal parties.

The London premiere of Shaw's latest play was a major event and Churchill was already a prominent politician by this time.

Thus, in telegrams:-

GBS to Churchill: "Two tickets reserved for you, first night Pygmalion. Bring a friend. If you have one."

C's reply: "Cannot make first night. Will come to second. If you have one."

                           ( Sounds like a case of 'handbags at dawn'!)     


  1. Who knew Churchill could be so snarky?

  2. Tai, so pleased you liked it. I wasn't sure if this kind of dry humour would 'translate', but I'm now happy knowing that it does.

  3. Oh Bob, he was absolutely famed for his put-downs. Trying to get the better of him was futile. He could always trump a critical remark by being so much more catty - and far funnier.

  4. I had never heard this quote either. I love it!

  5. Yes, Mitch. It's a gem. And it's just one of a great many.

  6. Reading this, I was reminded of your post about Noel Coward's put-downs, which was a fun read and not unexpected for those of us who take pleasure in his works. But Churchill?

    An unexpected bonus was learning the British term for our term 'garage sale' - 'car boot sale.' Love it!

  7. Paul, it had actually crossed my mind if 'car boot sale' would be known outside this country. It's certainly very literal. In turn, I wasn't sure about the term 'garage sale' - so we're both wiser now.

    Yes, as I say in my reply to Bob's comment above, Churchill was renowned for his withering retorts, and I'm a little surprised that this fact isn't better known. Maybe he's a bit out of fashion now, but he'll return.

    Here for you are a couple more which are probably better known but still worth repeating:-

    On Clement Attlee at a time of his his being leader of the opposition Labour Party:
    "A modest man who has a good deal to be modest about."

    At a function to which both he and Lady Astor had been invited (separately), their not being able to abide each other-
    Lady Astor: "If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee".
    Churchill: "Madam, if you were my wife I would drink it!"

    And, probably most famously, on encountering the formidable and 'large' politician, Bessie Braddock, after having visited the bar of the House of Commons:-
    BB: "Mr Churchill, you are drunk!"
    Churchill: "And you, Madam, are ugly - but I shall be sober in the morning!"

    (Actually although there is little doubt that Churchill actually said the latter I have seen the same answer ascribed to W.C. Fields way back in the 1930s. It's still a classic, though.)

    Thanks for visiting, Paul, and a wonderful 2012 to you.

  8. The post that keeps giving and giving.

    Thanks for sharing these retorts and giving me an additional laugh, which I can use.

    And to you, the best of everything in the year 2012.

  9. Thanks for your return visit (and good wishes), Paul. Pleased to have, courtesy of W.C., given you some pleasure. :-)