Written by Erskin Quint

Saturday, 22 April 2017

image for Letters To The Editor About Noel Coward "He used to nibble at blocks of Cheddar Cheese." Charlie Chaplin, yesterday.

Dear Sir,

We really enjoyed the Noel Coward lyrics you printed in your last edition. Please let us have more of these rollicking Noel Coward pieces. They really brighten our day. They reminded us of that jolly movie "The Italian Job".

Also we remember the days when Noel used to play "Down at the Old Bull and Bush" on the piano, while Lord Boothby was the strict Head Teacher and we were the very naughty boys.

Happy days!

Ronnie and Reggie Kray

Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to the letter from Messrs. Kray in your recent edition.

Rollicking? Dear Noel? Rollicking?

Noel was a dear friend. I worked with him many, many times. The first time was in The Knight of the Burning Pestle in 1920.

Noel said of his part as Ralph, that "I had a very, very long part, but I was very, very bad at it", and I had to agree with him.

Noel praised my Jasper Merrythought to the skies, however, and again, I had to agree with him.

They really were marvellous times in the Roaring Twenties. Marvellous, but subtle. Hardly "rollicking". Noel was the very devil when he had a banjo in his hand, and his limericks were absolutely delicious, but he was never "rollicking".

We used to leave the "rollicking" to that odious little Charlie Chaplin (a notably vulgar man: he used to sit in his string vest in his dressing room and nibble at blocks of cheddar cheese).

Sir John Gielgud

Dear Sir,

I just had to write, after reading the letter from Sir John in your latest edition.

Noele was a great and lovely friend. She was certainly never "rollicking". And yet she was no prude or "stick-in-the-mud" type.

I remember when I first worked with Noele in Peep Through My Porthole at the Batley Empire. I took her round to the digs I was sharing with Everard. He was in a brown study, was Everard. He'd failed his audition for The Chocolate Soldier, you see. I introduced them and Everard looked Noele up and down and hissed: "about time you got here. Look at the muck in this place. Grab that brush and give it a good sweep, will you, love?"

Well, I just wanted the floor to swallow me up, but Noele didn't bat an eyelid. Quick as a flash she said: "Be careful, sonny. I'd shove that brush up your tight little arse if I didn't think you'd enjoy it, you little sod."

Oh and the tales I could tell about Puss In Boots at Rottingdean! Watching Noele as matronly Meg Mortimer in Crossroads, you'd never think she had it in her.

Larry Grayson

Dear Sir,

much as I loved reading dear Larry Grayson's letter and tribute to Noele Gordon, I have to correct his representation of her as "certainly never rollicking".

If you, like me, had seen Noele dancing topless on a table to Gary Glitter's Rock 'n Roll Parts 1 & 2 at the Crossroads Christmas Party, while a loinclothed Paul Henry, who played Benny, smeared her legs with peanut butter, then you, like me, would certainly want to correct Larry's representation of Nolly as "certainly never rollicking".

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby,
Archbishop of Canterbury,

Dear Sir,

having read your recent editions with interest, I feel moved once again to write to you on the subject of Noel (sic) Coward.

It is incumbent upon me to point out that dear Noel never appeared in the television "soap opera" called Crossroads. Furthermore, dancing "topless" on a table was never a feature of an "off duty" repertoire remarkable more for its scintillant and satiric wit than for any hint of the raucous or the "rollicking".

I speak as one who can recall a luminous evening in Montmartre, where Ralph Richardson and I sat transfixed as Noel accompanied Greta Garbo in a series of his own versions of Brecht songs.

It is a pity to have to mar the perfect image by mentioning that the dreadful Chaplin fellow was also present, lying on the chaise longue in his string vest and hob-nailed boots, drinking brown ale and eating bread and dripping.

This was utterly "in character" for Chaplin. Ralph was once touring in Devonshire Cream with Cedric Hardwicke. In Birmingham they stayed at an exclusive hotel. Ralph had invited a rather strapping member of the lighting crew back to the hotel for a drink. What a vision greeted Ralph when, entering the bathroom in the morning, he was confronted by the Chaplin creature cutting his toenails in the bath and crying out: "Wotcher cock! Had a hard night?"

Sir John Gielgud

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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