I was lucky enough to see a brilliant performance of “Private Lives” by Noel Coward the other day at the fantastic Nottingham Playhouse. We’re lucky to have a regional theatre in the area that produces such top quality drama and I’ve been fortunate enough to see many outstanding and innovative productions there in the last 15 years. The play was beautifully staged and the acting was superb, keeping pace with a rapid and witty script. It was a very superior piece and well worth catching if you can get tickets, although it finishes in a week.
I love Noel’s wit and bon mots. 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 the sublime “Brief Encounter” 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 Hearts can be withdrawn from human breasts, dead hearts, and, after a little neat manipulation, popped back again as good as new.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 Noel’s words still ring true today and sadly lots of things haven’t changed in over 50 years.