One of the (many) signs of our cultural decline is that verbal insults, these days, are almost invariably scatological or sexual, provoking a blizzard of asterisks whenever A wants to put the smackdown on B. Once upon a time, it was not so. Once, the ability to come up with a clever insult that could be repeated in polite society was thought an important, if not necessarily essential, component of being a gentleman.
Take, for example, two masters of English repartee and wit, George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill. Shaw, prior to the opening of one of his plays, sent Churchill a telegram: “I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.”...READ MORE