Once upon a time, insults were delivered with class
Bill Cooke

Neighbor Grover sez a beauty shop is where women curl up and dye. T hese “glorious insults with class” are from an era before the English language got boiled down to four-letter words.

The late Joe Hedrick, longtime friend, coach and superintendent at Franklin, a keen collector of wit and wisdom, first shared them with me and I have shared some with you, but not in a long time.

This list, sent my way by Hal Reagan, has a few newer entries.

• An exchange between Winston Churchill and Lady Astor:

She said, “If you were my husband I'd give you poison.”

And he replied, “If you were my wife, I'd drink it.”

• A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.”

Disraeli replied, “That depends, Sir, on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”

• “He had delusions of adequacy."— Walter Kerr

• “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."—Winston Churchill

• “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.”—Clarence Darrow

• “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”—William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

• “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it.”—Moses Hadas

• “I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”—Mark Twain

• “He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.”—Oscar Wilde

• “I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.”—George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second, if there is one.”—Churchill’s response

• “I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here.”—Stephen Bishop

• “He is a self-made man and worships his creator.”— John Bright

• “I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial.”—Irvin S. Cobb

• “He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.”—Samuel Johnson

• “He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.”—Paul Keating

• “In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.”—Count Charles Talleyrand

• “He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.”—Forrest Tucker

• “Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?”—Mark Twain

• “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”—Mae West

• “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”—Oscar Wilde

• “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts, for support rather than illumination.”— Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

• “He has Van Gogh's ear for music.”—Billy Wilder

• “I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it.”—Groucho Marx

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2013-01-31 digital edition

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