CHARLOTTE, NC: When they put their minds to it, nobody can get to the heart of a matter quicker and more accurately than the Brits. Sarcasm is a national sport in the United Kingdom, and no culture in the world does it better. From Oscar Wilde to Winston Churchill, British words keep it chippy!
To the untuned tin ears of many Americans, we can become so infatuated with the eclectic variety of British accents that we are frequently sliced and diced by cutting rhetoric that actually sounds polite when uttered behind the disguise of a charming smile.
Brits love mysteries, and one of their greatest weapons is the use of the English language to kill off verbal challenges by using words as their blunt instrument weapon of choice. But if the British public has mastered the skill of retort, then clearly its media, writers, and politicians have perfected the art.
Arguably, the United Kingdom’s greatest quipster was Winston Churchill. The Bowler wearing politician with the always perfect squelch at hand:
“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”
Lady Nancy Astor: “Winston, if you were my husband, I’d poison your tea.”
Churchill: “Nancy, if I were your husband, I’d drink it.”
Churchill: “Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?”
Socialite: “My goodness, Mr. Churchill…Well, I suppose…we would have to discuss terms, of course “
Churchill: “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?”
Socialite: “Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!”
Churchill: “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.”
A young man after seeing Churchill leave the bathroom without washing his hands: “At Eton they taught us to wash our hands after using the toilet.”
Churchill: “At Harrow they taught us not to piss on our hands.”
Other brilliant British masters of the language include George Bernard Shaw, Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde:
- “I am not young enough to know everything.” – Oscar Wilde
- “A good friend will always stab you in the front.” – Oscar Wilde
- “The world is a stage and the play is badly cast.” – Oscar Wilde
- A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy. — Noel Coward
- Never trust a man with short legs. His brains are too near his bottom. — Noel Coward People are wrong when they say opera is not what it used to be. It is what it used to be. That is what’s wrong with it. — Noel Coward
- “I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.” — ― Noel Coward
- “Only fools repeat the same things over and over, expecting to obtain different results.” — George Bernard Shaw
- “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” — George Bernard Shaw
- “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” — George Bernard Shaw
Brit humor in action
Using this premise as a backdrop, click on the following link to watch a two-minute television editorial commentary by Alan Jones on Sky News about young people protesting against climate change.
Regardless of which side of the climate debate you support, this editorial says more about the hypocrisies of our contemporary lifestyles than it does about the weather. In that sense, it is dead-on accurate, even though Jones himself was not the author of the piece.
You see what is really going on here is a return to common sense and logic.
True, looking back on history, perhaps those ideas never really existed either. But, clearly, whatever semblance of the order came before the mindless chaos of modern-day living eroded virtually any notion of virtuous thinking in the ebb-tide of banality. There must have been someone other than Auguste Rodin’s bronze image of The Thinker who could actually use his brain.
Satire and sarcasm have earned their right to hold a spotlight up to the absurdities that today’s social media has thrust upon us.
Where is Sherlock Holmes when we most need him to solve the crimes against common sense thoughts in our vast contemporary wasteland of ideas?
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News
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