I discovered Noël Coward as a teenager and have been besotted ever since.
Who could fail to love the poignant ‘Brief Encounter’ or the hilarious ‘Hay Fever’? His songs are breathtaking too with the classic ‘Mad about the Boy’ having got me through many a hopeless yearning for one I can’t have. I also love Noël’s wit and bon mot. Three of my favourite quotations are as follows:
“My philosophy is as simple as ever. I love smoking, drinking, moderate sexual intercourse on a life diminishing scale, reading and writing (not arithmetic)”
“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”
“It’s not that I’m homosexual constantly, it is just that I give them a helping hand from time to time.”
I also found the following little gem the other day. It’s an extract from his diaries from May 1958 and I love it. The man was pure genius. Not only did he write fantastic plays, look rather dapper, pen sublime films and some corking good poems but he was also a very wise man:
“It is hard to imagine, considering the inherent silliness, cruelty and superstition of the human race, how it has contrived to last as it has. The witch hunting, the torturing, the gullibility, the massacres, the intolerance, the wild futility of human behaviour over the centuries is hardly credible. And the laws, as they stand today, are almost inconceivably stupid. With all this brilliant scientific knowledge of atom splitting and nuclear physics etc. We are still worshipping at different shrines, imprisoning homosexuals, imposing unnecessary and completely irrelevant restrictions on each other. Hearts can be withdrawn from human breasts, dead hearts, and, after a little neat manipulation, popped back again as good as new. The skies can be conquered. Sputniks can go round and round the globe and be controlled and guided. People are still genuflecting before crucifixes and Virgin Marys, still persecuting other people for being coloured or Jewish or in some way different from what they apparently should be. There are wars raged at the moment in Indonesia, Algeria, the Middle East. Cyprus etc. The Pope will make pronouncements against birth control. The Klu-Klux-Klan is still, if permitted, ready to dash out and do some light lynching. God for millions of people is still secure in his heaven…”
I think Noël’s words still ring true today and sadly lots of things haven’t changed in over 50 years. A true iconic figure and one of the original and best dapper gay men of the Twentieth Century.
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Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He’s usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.