THE POCKET SHAW
POST 6: SHAW – THE EXTENDED PLAY
By Neil Titley
‘THE INTELLIGENT GOLFER’S GUIDE TO GBS’
+ Introduction and the FILM. + Timeline: The Life of Bernard Shaw + Bibliography (1200w)
The Reminiscences: ‘Guff and Bunk and Bugaboo’. (20,400w)
The Ideas: ‘P.P.E. and G.B.S!’ (11,600w)
Ten Talks on Music: ‘Music for Deaf Stockbrokers’. (24,700w)
GBS Quotations: ‘A Shavian Scrapbook’. (15,100w)
The Play: ‘The Intelligent Golfer’s Guide to Bernard Shaw’ (11,500w)
The Abridged Play ‘Shaw’s Corner’ (4,300w)
THE POCKET SHAW
POST SIX: THE GBS MONOLOGUE
By Neil Titley
‘THE INTELLIGENT GOLFER’S GUIDE TO GBS’
An entertainment from his works.
It is with regret that we interrupt our programme to report the death of the
playwright, Mr. George Bernard Shaw. He died today at his home in Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, aged 94.
He was famed as the writer of over fifty plays, including St. Joan, Heartbreak House and Pygmalion. In his long lifetime, he was on intimate terms with many of the world’s leaders and personalities.
Tributes have arrived from many countries. In Los Angeles, the comedian, Danny Kaye, said ‘G.B.S. was one of God’s chosen few to attain legendary fame in life. It was my honour to have known him”.
A message to the Associated Press came from Moscow “Bernard Shaw was a great friend of the Soviet Union’.
In England, Mr. J.B. Priestley said “Now that we have lost Shaw, the world will seem a smaller and drearier place. I first saw him almost forty years ago. He was giving a lecture in a hall in London……………
LIGHTS UP. ENTER SHAW
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and possessors of complimentary tickets. Looking at all these serried ranks of expectant faces, I feel an irresistible desire to sing an operatic aria. But, for all our sakes I will resist it.
I had better introduce myself – if that is really necessary. I confess that I am not addicted to the modest cough of the minor poet. I am G. B. S. And, for nomenclatary purposes, I may be called a Fabian Communist and a Creative Evolutionist, if I must have a label at all. At present I am stuck all over with labels, rather like a tourist’s trunk.
Though my trade is that of playwright, my vocation is that of prophet, with occasional lapses into what uncivil people call buffoonery. I was described recently in America as a dignified old monkey, shying coconuts at the public in pure senile devilment. I will deal with America later on.
Well, tonight I have come to give you a long, arduous and detailed lecture on economics and if you don’t agree with me, well never mind. Only don’t interrupt while I’m improving your mind. I am a conciliatory sort of gentleman and am willing, as I always am, to make every concession in return for having my own way. And it will of course be put with all the tact for which I am famous.
Well, that’s me. Now, how about you?
It is an age we are told of stress and strain – of fierce struggle for existence in which men come to the theatre exhausted by work and requiring something stimulating, amusing and easily intelligible.
If you search for a typical apostle of this view you will generally find him to be a gentleman some six or seven stones over his proper weight who, not being permitted by his wife and housemaids to lounge about the house after breakfast, goes down in a first class carriage to his office in the City where he receives a number of illiterate letters and dictates equally illiterate answers to his clerks; meets his fellow citizens and tries to get the better of them in that dull sort of whist without cards which he calls ‘business’; takes a heavy meal called ‘lunch’; tries a little more whist; orders something new to wear; goes to his club for afternoon tea and the evening papers until it is time to go home to dinner; and finally turns up at the theatre under compulsion of his fashionable wife and daughters in the character of a victim of brain pressure.
Still, I am sure that this could not possibly be applied to anyone present at my lecture tonight.
My usual invitations to speak come from those strange universities where they seem to allow anybody to lecture provided he will do it for nothing. I am not an M.A. nor otherwise decorated, all attempts to educate me having proved utter failures. So no university was permitted the dubious delights of my student-hood. Not Oxford, nor Cambridge, Dublin or Glasgow. Not even those Non-Conformist holes in Wales.
And I thank every deity in the universe for the fact. I might have ended as a don. Most dons represent the survival at a university of the members least fitted for the world who appear eminent to men too young to know what eminence at full stretch really means.
Otherwise, I have to lecture at places like the one last week at the model village of Bessbrook. It’s the village where the inhabitants neither swear nor get drunk – and look as if they would like to do both.
I have made much more money criticising than I ever have lecturing.
Years ago, I decided to become a music critic partly out of a desire to eat occasionally, and partly because whatever my shortcomings in the kingdom of the deaf the one eared man is king. You could chain a terrier to the conductor’s podium at the Albert Hall and force it to listen to all the symphonies of Beethoven without changing its opinions one jot as to the relative delights of classical music and rat hunting – and the same thing is true in its degree of the British public.
Let me give you some idea of music in the nineties. The programme of choral concerts often reminded me of an old Drury Lane playbill of the days when the evening’s entertainment was opened by a melodrama, continued by one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, relieved by a good Christmas pantomime, and concluded by a screaming farce.
I looked in on one such concert at the Queens Hall; it was a charity performance for something or other. I found the band of the Coldstream Guards desperately playing one selection after another to keep the audience amused until the arrival of the artists who were first on the bill. The missing philanthropists did finally arrive led by Mr. Bertram Latter who greatly distinguished himself by singing a duet with a baby. His intention was to sing Sullivan’s ‘Thou’rt Passing Hence’ as a solo, but the baby joined in at the end of the first line and continued to a little before the end when it collapsed, leaving Mr. Latter master of the situation.
He was followed by several distinguished vocalists in a guest appearance pot pourri of song. Melba, De Reszke and Lassalle sang in French, Ciampi and the chorus sang in Italian, and Miss de Lussan sang in whatever language seemed to have the best of it for the moment. Some glee singing was provided by the London Vocal Union. These gentlemen, despite an occasional tendency to get out of time and glare reproachfully at each other, acquitted themselves quite fairly.
Colonel North wound up the concert by a blunt and warrior-like speech in which, after remarking that this classical music was all very well but that we wanted something that we knew something about, called upon Madame Remenige to give us ‘Home, Sweet Home’. Our millionaire compere could hardly conceal his emotion at the line ‘Be it ever so humble’ of his favourite air. Unfortunately some of the audience expressed their appreciation of the ballad’s sentiments in the most practical way – and I have to admit that I was amongst them.
Infant phenomena were rife then but I managed to avoid them until once, at Mr. Streliski’s concert at the Portman rooms, a bright, nimble, sure fingered boy pupil of his in the usual black velvet tunic and antimacassar rattled off Mendelsohn’s Violin Concerto. He evidently did not think much of it and no doubt deemed us fools for wanting to listen to it – in which he had my hearty agreement.
I saw Madame Adelina Patti the time she kissed farewell in her artless way to a prodigious audience come to bid her goodbye before her trip to South America. The concert was a huge success. There were bouquets, raptures, effusions, kissing of children, graceful sharing of the applause with obbligato players – in short, the usual exhibition of the prima donna in the part of Titania and the British bourgeoisie in the role of Bottom.
She was the most wonderful singer but obsessed by applause. She would get up and bow to you in the very agony of stage death if you only dropped your stick accidentally.
That night, she flirted outrageously over the encores. After three curtain calls the conductor attempted to start the next piece – unavailingly. He appealed to the sentinels of the green room to bring forth Madame Patti once more. They suggested that they dare not, could not approach her again. He tried again. This time the sentinels waved their hands expansively in the direction of South America to indicate that the prima donna was already on her way thither. At this the audience showed such sudden signs of giving in that the diva tripped out again, wafting kisses and successfully courting fresh storms of applause.
While on the subject, I must also mention bouquet throwing. I suggest that the hurlers should study the score beforehand and offer their tributes at the proper opportunity. At one performance of ‘Faust’ bouquets dropped promiscuously throughout the performance, and one bearing a message of peace and charity fell most inappropriately into the hands of Mephistopheles.
I must be getting old. The staging of opera is beginning to irritate me. There was a time when I did not greatly mind seeing Violetta laid up with consumption in a small bed in the middle of an apartment rather larger than Trafalgar Square and consequently worth about £6000 a year in a fairly good neighbourhood of Paris. I accepted it, as I accepted her going to bed in white kid boots with high heels or retaining all her vocal powers with her lungs in ribbons or any other trifles that might save trouble.
As for the prison doors that would not shut and the ordinary doors that would not open, I do not complain of that; it is the stage way of such apertures. One gets at last to quite look forward to Valentin attempting a dashing exit and recoiling, flattened and taken aback, to disappear ignominiously through a solid wall further along.
But as I get on in life my powers of make believe fail. Gretchen’s gigantic prison cell or the Count’s bedroom three times as large as the inn which contains it appeared in the first act – these things stick in my throat now as they never did before.
I also looked in on one of the Guildhall School of Music’s concerts. The surroundings always give me an uneasy sense of having been summoned before the Lord Mayor’s Court for some misdemeanour. There was the inevitable infant prodigy. There was the regulation young lady with the flexible voice, the high range and the un-awakened artistic sense, mechanically using Schubert as a stalking horse. There was the intelligent young gentleman cautiously playing the flute obbligato. And of course there was the Champion Pupil who after setting every muscle in her neck and jaws as if she wanted to crack a walnut with her glottis, turned on a blast from her lungs sufficient to whirl a windmill.
I also heard Mozart’s Figaro Overture played inside of three and a half minutes and in order to do it made all play of artistic feeling impossible. However, the overture so treated was undeniably useful to boil eggs by, though I prefer them boiled for four minutes myself.
Still, enough of music; I came here to talk about economics. But I’d best set the stage for it by telling you about my youth. In Ireland.
I suppose I come from a slightly odd background. In fact, my mother, even now, is turning to spiritualism and holding weekly seances in Blackheath. She spends most of the time interviewing Oscar Wilde.
My family were what would be known as Bohemians. My father certainly was. A boy who has seen his father with a half wrapped goose under one arm and a chewed ham under the other, butting at the garden wall in the belief that he was pushing open the garden gate and transforming his top hat into a concertina in the process, and who instead of being overwhelmed with shame and anxiety by the spectacle, has been so disabled by merriment that he has hardly been able to rush to the rescue of the hat and pilot its wearer to safety, is clearly not a boy who will make tragedies of trifles instead of making trifles of tragedies. If you cannot get rid of the ancestral skeleton, you might as well make it dance.
What sort of gravity could a boy maintain with a family like that? Anyway, I showed my appreciation of my native land in the usual Irish way by getting out of it as soon as I possibly could. It is only the Irishman whose enthusiasm for his birthplace increases the further away from it he is. How many of all those millions who have left Ireland have ever come back to it or wanted to come back? The only sensible institution in the Emerald Isle was absenteeism.
On top of that, we had Ulster. If you have never been to Ireland you do not what Protestantism is. I once exhorted the Irish Protestants to take a chance, trust their grit, and play their part in a single parliament ruling a united Ireland. They did not take my advice. Probably they did not even read it, being too deeply absorbed in the latest irrefutable proof that all the evil in the world is the work of that malevolent underground conspiracy called the Jesuits. I argued for the two sides to meet to discuss common ground, but that too was ignored.
Admittedly the spectacle of a number of Ulster gentlemen trying to look as if they thought there was a great deal to be said for transubstantiation, confronted by a row of Catholic prelates trying to look on the bright side of Martin Luther, does not bear much contemplation. But the windbags of the two rival platforms are utterly insufferable. It requires neither knowledge, character, nor conscience to thump the Nationalist or Orange tub. Nay, it puts a premium on the rancour and callousness that has given rise to the proverb that if you put an Irishman on a spit, you will always find another Irishman to baste him.
The other day it was proposed to me that I should help uplift my downtrodden country by assembling with other Irishmen to romance about 1798. I do not take the slightest interest in 1798. Until Irishmen apply themselves seriously to what the condition of Ireland is to be in 1998, they will get very little patriotism out of G. B. Shaw. Still, there is hope for Ireland. You can always rally a nation that has some wit left in it.
When I arrived in England, it provided a different lunacy. If you eliminate smoking and the element of gambling you will be amazed to find that almost all an Englishman’s pleasures can be – and mostly are – shared by his dog. The brain, as English society is at present constituted, can hardly be considered to be a vital organ. Talk to an Englishman about anything serious and he listens to you curiously for a moment, just as he listens to a chap playing classical music. Then he goes back to his golf or his motoring just like a bit of stretched elastic when you let it go.
There is nothing that the English hate more than brains. For brains and religion you have to go to Scotland – and Scotland is the most damnable country on earth. Still, God help England if she had no Scots to think for her and without the Irish she would die of respectability within two generations.
Well, when I came to London in 1876, I tried my hand as a novelist and turned my back on money. It returned the compliment. I wrote five novels, one after the other, and I quite freely admit that they were dreadful. Anybody who could read ‘The Irrational Knot’ could read anything, Still, you can’t learn to skate without making yourself ridiculous and I kept trying.
My third novel was rejected by Macmillans with the comment that ‘they would be glad to look at anything else I might write of a more substantial kind’. Now you must admit that when one deals with two large sociological questions in a novel and throws in an exposition of modern German Socialism as set forth by Marx as a make-weight, it is rather startling to be met with an implied accusation of triviality.
Anyway, try as I might, I could not find a publisher. Until of course after I became a successful playwright when publishers started printing anything they could find that bore my name. Suddenly these youthful horrors were resurrected for public consumption. But the buffoons started printing them in the wrong order, starting at the last one and working back to the first.
I learnt from the American newspapers that the list of book sales in the U.S. was headed by a certain novel called ‘Cashel Byron’s Profession’ by Bernard Shaw. This was unmistakably Opus Five. Apparently the result was encouraging, for presently the same publishers produced a new edition of ‘An Unsocial Socialist’ – Opus Four – in criticising which the more thoughtful reviewers, unaware that the publisher was working backwards, pointed out the ‘marked advance in style, the surer grip, the clearer form, the more mature view of the world’ and so forth.
I was never attracted to the professions as a young man – except the Law. For about three days. The ordinary man – we have to face it – is an Anarchist. He wants to do as he likes. He may want his neighbour to be governed but he himself doesn’t want to be governed. We all wish to be free from government interference but we soon find that without it we shall be either savages or the slaves of ruffians. And the result of that is that people will welcome any tyranny that will rescue them from chaos.
So we all need laws and the proper exercise of them. But it’s the people who administer the law who are the problem. Judges are generally odd fish. They are usually worn out barristers and as everybody knows barristers are generally failed actors.
Lord Gorell was one of the oddest. He was known as a ‘strong man’ because he was not afraid to hang someone. Well, of course he wasn’t afraid to hang someone. Where’s the risk in that? With the law on his side and the whole crowd at his back longing for a lynching as if it were a spree. He went into politics and still carried with him so much of the cloistered innocence and carefully sheltered dignity of the Bench that it was plainly visible that he regarded the entire Houses of Parliament as being one long monstrous contempt of court.
For myself, I have rarely been involved in court proceedings but I did once put up the bail for the Communist MP Willie Gallacher when he was charged with sedition.
“Are you worth £200?” asked the magistrate.
I replied that I would hardly like to say that but I’d got £200, if that was what he meant.
In any case I was too interested in sex to bother about the professions by that time. I repeat sex, NOT romance. Don’t talk to me about romance. I was sent into the world expressly to dance on it with thick boots. Romance is the great heresy to be swept from art and life. Idealism is only a flattering name for romance in politics and morals.
It is a most strange thing but people do seem to take the most gratuitous interest in my sex life. I am described by the newspapers as an ascetic. Everybody who does not live in a prostitute’s bed and on a diet of cocaine is called an ascetic these days. But although I did delay the end of my celibate state till the age of twenty nine, I suppose I was as amorous as most men.
Herbert Tree once said to Stella – Mrs Patrick Campbell as you might know her better – “Let’s give Shaw a beefsteak and put some red blood in him”.
She replied “he is bad enough as it is; but if you give him red meat, no woman in London would be safe”.
But what they did not realise was that I was raised in Ireland, and they did not understand that my natural flirtatiousness was misunderstood by English women.
If you pay an Irishwoman a gallant compliment, she grins and says: ‘Arra, g’long with you’. An Englishwoman turns deadly pale, and says in a strangled voice: ‘I hope you meant what you just said?’ And it’s devilish difficult to explain that you didn’t.
Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity. But real married life is too often the story of the youth and the maiden who pluck a flower from the mountainside and bring down an avalanche on their shoulders.
In marriage the important thing is the recognition of the other’s limitations. I remember Annie Besant was the most frightful romantic in this respect. She found that she could not be the bride of Heaven and therefore became the bride of Mr. Frank Besant who was hardly an adequate substitute. She followed this by becoming infatuated with me – who was an even worse one.
In my early forties I developed what I thought was a gangrenous foot together with the effects of falling down an entire flight of stairs. In this woeful condition I met Charlotte Payne-Townshend – my green-eyed Irish millionairess. Charlotte and I were determined not to marry. However, under the impression I was dying, I did offer her widowhood. Even on recovery I have stayed married to Charlotte for a reason I never thought possible; namely that I thought more of somebody else than I did of myself. I got to like her so much that it would have been superfluous to fall in love with her. And we have been happy. There was never any question of breeding though. She had a morbid horror of maternity – and she was forty anyway.
We’ve spent a lot of our married life travelling around the country and staying with friends. At one place – I think it might have been the Webbs – Augustus John painted six magnificent portraits of me in eight days. Unfortunately, as he kept painting them on top of one another until our protests became overwhelming, only three portraits have survived and one of these got turned into a subject picture. I went to sleep while I was sitting and John, fascinated by the network of wrinkles made by my shut eyes, painted them before I awoke and turned a most heroic portrait into a very splendidly painted sarcasm. He entitled it ‘Shaw Listening to Someone Else Talking’. It made me look like an inebriated gamekeeper.
We also used to spend Christmas away most years. Christmas celebrations get worse every year. If the scene in the stable were repeated today, the three kings would bring a turkey, a bottle of whisky, and a pound of greasy sausages as their contribution.
Once we were in the country at William Morris’s old English manor house and we all agreed to try and forget the festive season. We were not altogether successful. On the very first evening we were invaded by the mummers. They were local labourers who went through an operatic performance which I did not quite follow as they had neglected to provide me with a libretto. One of them sang a ballad expressive of his aspiration to ‘live and die a farmer’s boy’. This he delivered with such a concentrated lack of conviction that I at once concluded that he actually was a farmer’s boy; and my subsequent inquiries as to the rate of wages in the district confirmed my surmise.
I do enjoy the country though – except for some of its more barbarous aspects like hunting. I was once asked by an elderly country gentleman:
“I suppose you’re one of those chappies who are against killing for pleasure, eh?”
“Oh no” I replied. “It depends on who you kill.”
Anyway, I came here to talk about economics. So I’d better get started or I’ll never get finished.
I studied economics and became a Socialist forty years ago because I had curiosity enough to find out how it was that some people got money for nothing, whilst others slaved for £13 a week or less and died in poverty after working hard all their lives.
Now lots of people don’t like Socialism but I do not consider public control is a bad thing in itself. I greatly prefer it to the irresponsible and sometimes vicious private control which is the only real alternative. Socialism is in fact absolutely vital, even within the capitalist state.
For instance there are many most necessary things that private companies and employers will not do because they cannot make people pay for them when they are done. Take for example a lighthouse. Without lighthouses we would hardly dare go to sea and the trading ships would have to go so cautiously and so many of them would be wrecked that the cost of the goods they carry would be much higher than it is. Therefore we all benefit greatly by lighthouses.
But the capitalists will not build them. If the lighthouse keeper could collect a payment from every ship that passed, they would build them so fast that the coast would be lighted all the way round like Brighton sea-front. But as this is impossible and the lighthouses must shine on every ship impartially without the captain having to put his hand in his pocket for it, the capitalists leave the coast in the dark.
Therefore the Government steps in and collects taxes from everyone and builds the lighthouses. Here you can see Capitalism failing completely to supply what to a sea-faring nation like ours is one of the necessities of life, and thereby forcing us to resort to Socialism.
All the time we are denouncing Socialism as a crime every street lamp and pavement and water tap and police constable is testifying that we could not exist for a week without it.
The people of the Capitalist countries use the words Socialism and Socialist to denote everything vile – while honour, privileges and authority are heaped on rich and ‘well connected’ persons who have hardly the brains or skill to knit socks. Although the country is up to its waist in Socialism because there are so many vital public services out of which capitalists can make no profit, they assume Socialism is as impossible as it is wicked.
I must remind you that they are not all hypocrites or confidence tricksters, deliberately lying for their own ends. They are mostly quite decent folk just parroting the noises they have heard around them all their lives and see printed in their newspapers every day.
This fraud is possible through the manipulation of the Press. The Press is in the hands of men who would not insert a single paragraph against their own interests even if it were a royal command. People get their opinions so much from newspapers that a free press is vital. But the Press is not free. As it costs at least £500,000 to establish a daily newspaper in London, the newspapers are owned by rich men. And they depend upon the advertisements of other rich men. Editors and journalists who express opinions in print that are opposed to the interests of the rich, are dismissed and replaced by subservient ones. The result is that there is no cowardice like Fleet Street cowardice.
A politician may try to stand for the great abstractions – for conscience and virtue, for the eternal against the expedient – but he will be held in check by the Press which can organise against him the ignorance and superstition, the timidity and credulity, the gullibility and prudery, the hating and hunting instinct of the voting mob, and cast him down from power if he utters a word to alarm or displease the adventurers who have the Press in their pockets.
Let me say something on what Capitalism does not just to the economy of a country but to its very fabric. Capitalism takes it as a matter of course that the proper use of cleverness in this world is to take advantage of stupid people to obtain a larger snare than they deserve of the nation’s income. It is claimed that success and failure in capitalism are the reward of moral qualities. It is true that certain vices and weaknesses make us poor but it is also true that it is certain other vices that make us rich. It is not the ability for moneymaking that is rare but the taste and selfishness for it. Dickens, in Uriah Heep, made a character narrow and mean and greedy and cowardly enough to think of nothing else but how to make money for himself and become much richer than the better citizens for whom money making was only an irksome necessity. Commercial ability is often really mere spiderish-ness.
But people are inexorably drawn into the meshes. There is a period of life which is called the age of disillusion, which means the age at which a man discovers that his generous and honest impulses are incompatible with success in business –that he must join the conspiracy or go to the wall. Capitalism has destroyed our belief in any effective power but that of self-interest backed by force.
What is to be done with the people whose talent is for money-making?
History and daily experience teach us that if the world does not devise some plan for ruling them, they will rule the world. And it is not desirable that they should rule the world, for the secret of money-making is to care for nothing else and to work at nothing else that is not profitable to itself. As the world’s welfare depends on operations by which no individual can make money whilst its ruin by war and drink and disease and debauchery is enormously profitable to money makers, the supremacy of the money maker means the destruction of the nation.
We cannot go on this way. A society which depends on the incentive of private profit is doomed. We would have died of capitalism already had not our country been built up on the ten commandments and on the Gospels and the reasoning of jurists and philosophers all of which are flatly opposed to the concept of private profit. Let these principles go and Capitalism which has destroyed many ancient civilisations will destroy ours, if we are not very careful.
I am at heart an inveterate world betterer. There is an eternal war between those who are in the world for what they can get out of it and those who are in the world to make it a better place for everyone to live in. I have utter contempt for the mean-minded little egotists whose idea of government is to appoint committees of myopic skinflints, whose notion of natural economy is to cut off our education, our locomotion, and our recreation; who believe that human nature is so poor that it is useless to try and improve anything; who think that life is nothing else except not being stone dead and then, through chattering teeth, stammering the words ‘Survival of the Fittest’.
A curse on them and their petty little minds. We must leave the world better than we found it or this war ravaged planet will fail to pieces about our ears.
LIGHTS UP. SHAW STANDS IN SPOTLIGHT.
So we stand amidst the ruin of Europe. Everyone considered that the Germans would cave in quickly. But the Germans had powerful allies, chief amongst them being the British War Office. I don’t know why it is being called the Great War. It’s a big war but that’s not the same thing. The historians will shower us with reasons why it has happened but the reality lies in the stupidity of the statesmen and the moral void in the human heart.
The statesman who wishes to head off a popular movement can do it infallibly by drawing a war across its path. War makes a Prime Minister’s job easy because it brings every dog to heel. However loudly a reformer may sing the praise of Jesus as the Prince of Peace, the firing of a single cannon shot will change the hymn to The Son of God Goes Forth to War’. Catherine of Russia when she was faced with a revolt against the misery of her people said not ‘Let us relieve their misery by appropriate reforms’, but ‘Let us give them a little war to amuse them’.
Then there was the susceptibility of the masses to war fever. Acres of print were spent in convincing us of the morality of our cause. In starting this war there was about as much ethical content as the collision of two trains. Any person who has persuaded himself that sixty five million human beings can possibly differ from any other sixty five million belonging in the same hemisphere and in the same civilisation; and that of two customs houses a few hundred yards apart one is full of murderers and villains and the other of angels and heroes, clearly ought to be in Broadmoor and not editing a newspaper.
It must not be imagined that the soldiers are all for the war though. The contrary would be nearer the truth. It is by the soldiers that we are told that if we could see one day of war we should never want to see another. It is the civilians and women who keep up the romantic prestige of war and hand out the white feathers. Last month the Royal Flying Corps sent a wreath to the grave of Von Richoven, the German flying ace, when our squealing civilians would have buried him at the cross-roads with a stake driven through his heart.
But the soldiers are driven on by the inexorable mad logic. The mechanisation of modern war greatly reduces the power of the human conscience to keep abuses in check. It would be hard to induce a youth of ordinary good nature to take a woman with a baby in her arms and tear the two to pieces with a Mills bomb in full view of the explosion. But the same youth thousands of feet up in a war plane, preoccupied with the management of his machine and accuracy of aim, will release a bomb that will blow a whole street of family homes into smithereens, burning, blinding, mutilating scores of mothers and babies, without seeing anything of his handiwork except the glow of a conflagration which is as pretty as a fire-work. The hospital surgeon sees what the pilot has done but it is the pilot and not the surgeon who releases the bomb.
I can answer for at least one person who found the change from the wisdom of St. Francis to the morals of Richard III extremely irksome. I could not divide my conscience into a War department and a Peace department. And so I printed my opinions in a pamphlet called ‘Common Sense about the War’.
Of course, the response to this essay was predictable. I was attacked as being pro-German – a pro-German being any person who kept his head amid the prevailing lunacy. Henry Arthur Jones said that England was his mother and I had kicked her on her deathbed. I was excommunicated from every tennis club, every golf club, and even from the County Wexford Bee-Keepers association, an organisation that I had not the faintest memory of ever joining. In short, I had been giving exhibitions of moral courage surpassing those achieved on the battlefield but so far I have not received the Victoria Cross. It is true that suggestions have not been lacking that I should receive the Iron Cross.
Of course not even something as hideous as the trenches can be totally without humour. I heard one story recently about two German prisoners of war. The British troops gave a little concert and asked that their two prisoners might be allowed to be present. The officer consented and went off to attend to some other matter. On his return, he found the two prisoners standing with a modest air in front of the audience and the sergeant announcing: “And for our next item our friends Hans and Fritz will nar hoblige wi’ the Hymn of Hate”.
If we did not die of laughter at the humours of war we should die of horror. Europe in fact is dying of horror though she does not know it. And at the end of it all – the waste. The stupid, mind staggering brutal waste. It’s a sickening business this sending lambs to the slaughter because we are governed by bloody fools, wire-pulled by damned thieves. Nations are like bees. They cannot kill except at the cost of their own lives.
And this is not a mere British consideration. To the civilised man the slaughter of German youth is as disastrous as the slaughter of the English. Fools exult in the German losses. They are our losses as well. Imagine exulting in the death of Beethoven simply because Bill Sykes dealt him the death blow. At times I feel like the Arab who was so ashamed of our civilisation that he took out his European false teeth and crushed them to bits.
Today I heard that Stella’s darling son Beo has been killed. Wait a week and I will be clever and broadminded again.
But now. Oh, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, DAMN!
And Stella. Dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear……dearest.
SHAW SEATED AT DESK. (TIME – 1946)
‘Lady Pulman will be At Home on Thursday at 5pm.’
So will Bernard Shaw.
I seem to spend my entire life replying to letters these days. I had one yesterday from the Woodford Amateur Dramatic Society: ‘Can we play Candida?’
I replied that I did not know, but they could try.
It is incredible how the days fly past, like telegraph poles on a railway journey. I see there is a tendency to treat me like an archbishop. I fear that, in that case, I must be becoming a hopeless old twaddler. Good God, I am twenty years older than the Albert Memorial.
Old men are dangerous – it doesn’t matter to them what is going to happen to the world. To most men age brings not wisdom, but golf. And age makes us so egotistical. In my case, I’ve never had any difficulty in being that at any age. But it affects the others as well. We become serious and concerned for the opinion of posterity. Thomas Hardy had a portrait destroyed because it depicted him laughing.
I still get requests to speechify. I was asked to speak on the Decay of Decency. I replied that at my age I would prefer to speak on the Decency of Decay. Last week I had to go up to London and tackle a conference with the London County Council about the National Theatre project. The effect of my visit as a gibbering ghost to the scene where I was once the star tub thumper was so ghastly that I stupefied the meeting. The leader of the opposition rose chuckling and said that his presence was superfluous as the opposition was now in the hands of that fine old Tory, Mr. Bernard Shaw.
There was talk of private endowments. The Carnegie Trust wanted the whole thing put in the hands of a theatrical committee. All I could say was that if Mr. Carnegie proposed to be guided by a committee composed of critics, actors, actresses, managers, and students of the stage, the sooner Mr. Carnegie is made a ward of court and strictly looked after, the better.
Fortunately, my teeth did not drop out and I got through without forgetting what I was talking about and who I was talking to – a great triumph at ninety. But it was positively my last appearance. I dare not try it again.
Years and years ago Charlotte and I visited a village in Hertfordshire called Ayot St. Lawrence. We wandered around until we came to the graveyard. There we found a tombstone bearing the inscription:
‘Jane Eversley. Born 1815. Died 1895. Her time was short’.
I felt that a place where the inhabitants who died at eighty were considered short-lived had the right sort of climate for me. So we bought a house there that I have called Shaws Corner.
I am certainly not lonely here. No such luck. I could do with a little solitude. Ayot is like the editorial office of a big newspaper on the eve of a great war – what with the telephone ringing, the doorbell buzzing, the door knocker banging, and the number of people who try to force their way in or climb trees to take snapshots of me as I totter about the garden. I believe life on Piccadilly Circus would be relatively monastic.
When Charlotte died I didn’t order any black things. Dying is a troublesome business. There is pain to be suffered – and she suffered a lot – and it wrings the heart. But at the end it is a warfare accomplished, a beginning all over again. You can always see that in their faces. My father found something in a funeral which tickled his sense of humour and this characteristic I have inherited. I never grieve. But I do not forget.
Suppose I sat down and howled after all this bravery. You may ask why I shouldn’t cry but it is not my line. Bad taste is what I am good at. Bad taste dries tears. Just a little touch of it in the right place is sovereign for a melting heart especially when everyone else is in such an ecstasy of good taste that you just want to scream.
And you can come and close my eyes too when I die and see me with my mask off as I really was. I almost envy her.
So I’m living alone again, just as I did all those years ago. I decided quite early in life that I would never allow myself to be persuaded that I was enjoying myself when as a matter of fact I was not enjoying myself. And I decided to apply this maxim when I became a theatre critic.
From the first I loved the theatre. It is essentially the most vivid and real of all ways of story-telling. I spent some lovely years as a drama critic. I relished those deadly vendettas that arose out of reviews. When I was reviewing for the Pall Mall Gazette the barbarous amusement of skinning minor poets was in vogue. An auto da fe took place once a month or so with a batch of them, the executioner being sometimes myself, sometimes Oscar Wilde, and sometimes William Archer.
Archer became one of my closest friends and a constant source of amusement. He had a habit of wearing a winged collar which gave his head the appearance of being wedged by the neck into a jam pot. Any play by any author invariably sent him to sleep as surely as any drug. To any other drama critic this would have been a grave drawback, and indeed it did lead to an unfortunate incident for Archer.
At the first performance of one play, one of its characters holding a revolver falls asleep. Someone touches him on the shoulder. He gives a convulsive start and the pistol goes off with a roar. Archer, suddenly aroused from slumber, started wildly to his feet with a thin scream and automatically buried his clenched hands in the hair of the lady in front of him. To Archer’s consternation and horror the lady’s hair came off and Archer was left standing there holding the wig in his hands.
My Victorian contemporaries considered Shakespeare to be a lame dog to be helped over the stile by the inventiveness of the actor manager. And of course the chief amongst these was Sir Henry Irving.
Now I liked Henry, though he was without exception the stupidest man I ever met – simply no brains – nothing but character and temperament. Henry did not merely cut Shakespeare; he disembowelled him.
So I went into the attack. If he was going to play Richard the Third, I knew who was going to play Richmond. He gritted his teeth through my comment on his ‘Romeo and Juliet’ scenery:
‘The design of Friar Lawrence’s cell is interesting, though I rather doubt that a simple friar’s cell often ran to the luxury of a couple of frescoes by Giotto’
But he was reportedly livid over my comment on his latest ingénue:
‘Miss Lilian Swain plays the part of Puck. She announces her ability to girdle the earth in forty seconds in the attitude of a professional skater, and then begins the journey awkwardly in a swing which takes her in the opposite direction to that in which she had indicated her intention of going. As an actress she is about as interesting as a steam hammer closing licked stamps’.
After my comment that he started his own applause by drumming the stage with his boot heels, he retorted that he would pay the cost of my funeral anytime. It was the most glorious theatrical storm in a liqueur glass.
But there was a real point to my objections. The longer I live the more I lean to the time-honoured theory that the true position of all of us theatrical people should be together with the rogues and vagabonds.
Well, the actor with a specific acting talent was being driven off the stage by the walking toff. A typically nineties play was a tailor’s advertisement making sentimental remarks to a milliner’s advertisement in the middle of an upholsterer’s and decorator’s advertisement.
The actor, in striving to make himself a gentlemen, was only succeeding in making himself eligible for stockbroker’s dinner parties. It was ironic that Henry Irving’s knighthood was announced simultaneously with Oscar Wilde’s conviction.
One thing that is almost beyond conception is the ignorance of theatrical people of any world besides their own, however important. But Henry’s single-mindedness reached new realms even for theatre. For example his marriage to Florence O’Callaghan ended in less than a year. While riding home in a carriage after his first night sensation in ‘The Bells’, she said:
“Are you going to go on making a fool of yourself like this all your life?”
Irving ordered the driver to stop and without a word jumped from the carriage and never returned to his home and never spoke to her again.
Still for two reasons I keep fond memories of Henry Irving. One was for his life-long friendship with my dear Ellen Terry. If any actress ever deserved the epithet ‘Divine’ it was Ellen.
While appearing at the Theatre Royal, Bradford, Henry collapsed and died. The news of his death reached Ellen in Manchester. The next night she ordered the curtain to go up on J.M. Barrie’s new play as usual. She managed to act almost to the end, when she came to the lines:
‘It’s summer done, autumn begun, farewell summer, we don’t know you anymore. I had a beautiful husband once, black as the raven was his hair…..’
Then she broke down in grief for her old love and friend and partner while the stagehands quickly lowered the curtain and the audience filed out of the theatre in respectful silence. It was a scene Henry would have appreciated.
The other reason was for telling me his favourite anecdote. During his performance as Othello, while engaged in throttling Desdemona he asked the actress playing the part what they were having for supper. As she breathed her last groan, she muttered: ‘Stuffed turkey’.
Nothing is more significant than the statement: ‘All the world’s a stage’. The whole world is ruled by theatrical illusions.
So I finally decided to write plays for the stage. It was not difficult. But there are a few things that one must remember when play-writing. One of them is to find the right title. Managers spend their days drudging through manuscripts, 99% of which are hopelessly bad. But they naturally turn first to the plays with promising titles and something like ‘The Vegetarian’ will not do.
Once accepted, make it plain to the director that he must play what you have written and not what he thinks you ought to have written. And to avoid confusion one must write clear stage directions for the actors to perform. I remember a fabulously awful stage direction in one play:
‘Sir William turns his back to the audience and conveys that he has a son at Harrow’.
It makes life very difficult for the Thespian community.
After my first few ventures into play writing, none of which had been seriously produced, I wondered whether it was worthwhile going on. But man is a creature of habit. You cannot write three plays and then stop.
Then came success. And with success of course came the detractors, like seagulls after a fishing boat. I was accused of producing ‘Pygmalion’ in Germany instead of London so that I would not be detected in plagiarism of Smollett in my plot. This showed a touching ignorance of English culture. The one place where I should have been absolutely safe from detection was in fact London.
After the opening night of ‘The Apple Cart’, I received a rather appealing letter of complaint from a greengrocer who wrote that he was disappointed in the play because, having bought a ticket, he could not find a single reference to apples anywhere.
The one play that attracted praise everywhere from the start was ‘St. Joan’. To begin with I was not really interested in the subject. I had been looking around for an historical character. Hesketh Pearson suggested a Protestant play about the Dutch leader William the Silent. But I found the idea of William being Silent at the top of his voice for four hours too bizarre even for me.
I would have preferred to write a play about Mahomet rather than St Joan but was worried in case some Arab fanatic should decide to assassinate me for blasphemy – assassination being the sincerest form of censorship.
However at Charlotte’s suggestion I wrote ‘St. Joan’ and immediately found myself the object of veneration from the most unlikely quarters. The play certainly changed things. Before it, people used to laugh when I was serious. Now the fashion has changed. They take their hats off when I joke – which is even more trying.
Anyway, let them take it as they will. Play writing is fun and I’ve never taken myself that seriously. Also I possess a small secret. Every time I see a Chekhov play, I want to go home and burn one of mine.
For someone who loathes travelling I seem to have done an inordinate amount of it. While I would have happily stayed at Ayot, Charlotte was determined to see every country possible. Before my marriage I would draw the line at Broadstairs.
Europe is terribly dreary. I was held up in Lyons for two days in the rain and if you don’t know what that means, you know nothing of life’s tragedy. To my mind, the French would be a tolerable nation if only they would leave art alone. It’s the one thing for which they have no capacity.
If you are ever tempted to go to Athens I advise you not to bother. Just buy a few second hand classical columns and explode a pound or two of dynamite amongst them. And there you are.
In Sweden, I did achieve the impossible – a meeting with the playwright, August Strindburg. After a few words of conversation consisting mainly of embarrassed silence and a pale smile or two from Strindburg, and floods of energetic eloquence in a fearful lingo – half French, half German – from myself, Strindburg took out his watch and said in German:
“At two o’clock, I am going to be sick”.
I accepted this delicate intimation and withdrew. It coincided with my feelings on abroad.
No, I think I’ll stay with England and the English. The English do have some standards. You can win in London what is called a ‘moral victory’ – that is, if your venture is recognised as aiming high you can come out of a financial failure with an enhanced reputation.
Whereas when we come to the United States of America if you spoke of a moral victory they would not understand what you are talking about. There, the only success is financial success. If an American hears the words ‘morality’ or ‘immorality’, he immediately thinks of ladies underwear.
Unfortunately America is even more riddled with bugaboo than we are. I have become accustomed to regard the usual American President as a statesman whose mouth is the most efficient part of his head.
The Americans hark back to the principles of 1776 with ludicrous reverence. The America of George Washington is as dead as Queen Anne. Admittedly America has no Star Chamber and no feudal barons. But it has Trusts and it has millionaires whose factories, fenced in by live electric wires and defended by Pinkerton retainers with magazine rifles, would have made a radical of George the Third. Would Washington or Benjamin Franklin have lifted a finger in the cause of American independence if they could have seen its reality?
I have never wished to visit the Statue of Liberty. I may be a master of comic irony but even my sense of irony does not go as far as that.
But do not mistake my attitude to America. The average American still has illusions about modern progress and liberty and God’s good intentions and stray preference for the principles of July the Fourth. It is puzzling to him to be regarded as a thief and a scoundrel, supporting a government which would disgrace the quarter deck of a pirate ship. It seems to him that he is up against a monstrous prejudice against America. He is wrong. He is up against a simple dislike of the doctrine of laissez-faire. It simply means that America is just as bad as Europe.
They also seem to be acquiring a weird fascination for the English Royal Family. Now I have a personal view that the English kings are a useful political device but fascination is hardly the emotion they inspire in my breast. I accepted George V quite frankly as a complete lowbrow and as such was not at all surprised when he decided to go to the Cup Final instead of to the inauguration of the Stratford Memorial Theatre.
I received a letter from a bus driver chiding me over the fact that I had not written in the newspapers over King George’s death. Twice, he wrote, he had nearly run me over, the next time he would do so.
‘And you’re not the only one’ he went on. ‘I only just missed that Mr. Churchill the other day’.
I rather like old Winston. He is a romantic militarist who throughout the war quite splendidly kept up the spirits of the nation. What makes him dangerous in peacetime politics is that he sincerely and honestly believes what he says and doesn’t realise that he’s talking nonsense. But he is a man of independence and humour. How he managed to avoid expulsion from the Conservative Party during the Thirties, I cannot imagine. I can only conjecture that he contributed very liberally to the Party funds.
But Winston’s a war man. I was born with the Indian Mutiny rattling around my ears and I’ve lived to see Hiroshima. God knows what’s next. The newspaper I read at breakfast this morning contains a calculation that no less than twenty three wars are at present being waged to confirm the peace.
Oh, those breath-bereaving idiots. I wish a medium could raise the spirit of the Unknown Soldier, the politicians gather to hear him, and he answers in German.
I keep an agent and a solicitor and on the strength of these calamities I am supposed to be fabulously rich. When I refused the Nobel Prize money hundreds of people, especially Americans, wrote to suggest that as I was so wealthy I might lend them something. This added to the burden of my life. I am now practising a complicated facial expression which combines universal benevolence with an obviously savage determination not to save any American from ruin by a remittance of five hundred dollars.
I was voted the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925. Heaven knows why they chose 1925? It must have been to reward me, because it was the one year that I hadn’t written anything. I don’t believe in titles and flummery. The Labour Party offered me a peerage but nothing would induce me to accept. I should have to pay more for everything.
Titles can also be embarrassing. I remember when the Pall Mall Gazette argued for a knighthood on behalf of the conductor Mr. Augustus Mann. It led to one disreputable person – I can’t recall who – going around the concert halls saying:
“A Mann’s a Man for a’ That”.
As I grow older my biographers crowd thicker and faster. What on earth they will find to write about, I don’t know. I am not that interesting biographically. I have never killed anybody and nothing very interesting has happened to me. I have had no heroic adventures. All my happenings have taken the form of books and plays. Read them or spectate them and you have my whole story. The rest is only breakfast, lunch, dinner, sleeping, waking and washing, my routine being just the same as anybody else’s routine.
I am not a Superman, certainly not the man of romance. I am the typical suburban who goes off to work every day, respectable, debt paying, and secretly proud of the fact that my roses are the reddest in the road – only in my case, it happens to be plays and not roses.
One curious fact has emerged though. Nearly all my biographers are Tories. And while they are painstaking on such subjects as how many pairs of socks I possess, they have an odd habit of skating over such minor topics as Socialism or the Salvation of the World. They practically ignore them while praising me for irrelevancies. It is as if I told them that the house was on fire and they replied:
“How admirably monosyllabic”.
It may amaze you to learn that I am still regarded as a sort of sex symbol by young women. It certainly amazes me. There is no remedy for the fact that a saintly old age makes a man the sport of every flapper. Women lose all sense of shame when their prey is over seventy. My secretary has a soulless way of putting letters from ladies into the waste paper basket when they run to more than thirty pages and are directed to my eternal salvation or breathe a hopeless adoration for my person, under misapprehensions as to my age and the colour of my hair.
The dancer Isadora Duncan quite openly propositioned me. She begged me to call on her when she declared that she would dance for me naked. I gravely made a note of the appointment but forgot to keep it. All that was so long ago. I always saw women openly but with one eye only – the other was enchanted. Now the enchantment is gone. And I can no longer tell myself love stories.
Anyway, why should they bother? Old men’s kisses are like dust.
I am often asked for my advice to the young. The golden rule is that there is no golden rule. However, I am convinced that a taste of poverty is absolutely vital to enable a young man to develop his views. There are far too many powerful people who were born rich and middle aged. They are timidly conservative at the age when every healthy human being ought to be obstreperously anarchic. If you don’t begin to be a revolutionist at the age of twenty, then at fifty you will be the most appallingly fossilised old bore that ever devastated a Rotary Club. If at twenty you are a revolutionary then you will have some chance of being up to date when you are forty.
One young man has written to me that he is considering suicide. Well, if he is convinced that he is not worth his salt and is an intolerable nuisance to himself and everyone else, suicide is a solution to be considered. But I would always advise such people to put this off until the next day in case something interesting turns up in the evening.
Unhappiness is a warning to move on, not sit down. You may think you can’t move on but you can. At those sort of hopeless moments people are like the old prisoner in the Bastille sawing the bars of his little window with a watch spring so intently that he does not notice that the door has long been wide open.
To consciously pursue happiness is the nearest route to frustration and suicide. Happiness is not the object of life. Life has no object. It is an end in itself. And courage consists of the readiness to sacrifice happiness for a more intense quality of life. Live dangerously. Do not attempt to plan to the exclusion of risk in life. Without risk and work life is not worth living. If you lose heart, get interested in something. Become a learner. The future is with the learners.
The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation. Occupation means preoccupation and the preoccupied person is neither happy nor unhappy but simply alive and active, which is pleasanter than any other happiness.
And now, my friends, I must go and irritate the vicar.
SHAW IN BED. (TWO SASHS ON HEADBOARD)
Somebody was talking to me before I slept. Who was it? No matter. When they left, I bet they said ‘the old blighter’s dying’, eh? Well, they’re all getting old too and trying to make a merit of it, as usual…………..
Now, where did you all come from, and what did you come to see? An old man who was once a famous playwright and talked about everything on earth and wrote about it. Well, here is what is left of him – not much to look at, is there?
I want to go with my regalia around me. This is the regalia of St. Pancras Council and this – I am still an Irishman and quite unreasonably intensely proud of being Irish – this, the insignia of Dublin. I accepted the invitation to become a Freeman of Dublin because she alone has the right to affirm that, in spite of my incessantly controversial past and present, I have not disgraced her. And I’ll be the only Viking in Valhalla wearing the St. Pancras Borough Council sash………..
Last night, I dreamt that I was talking to Lawrence. In Arabia. Frightful! I don’t believe there is a world beyond the grave, and the last person I’d want to talk to if there were would be Lawrence. Oscar, yes. Chesterton, yes. But not Lawrence. Charlotte and I gave him that motor cycle. The one he was killed on. With his mania for drowning himself in speed, it was like handing a loaded pistol to a suicide. Such a dear fool….…………
Even H.G. Wells has gone. He used to complain about all my busts and portraits. He said that you couldn’t move anywhere in Europe without bumping into an effigy of myself. ‘When I am dead, my dearest / Sing no sad songs for me / But cast my spells on Mr Wells / And ask a handsome fee ……….…
All those lovely people. I miss them. I miss them………… No, I don’t. The only man I miss is the man I used to be………
Any regrets? Not many. Anyway, if God starts giving me examination marks for my activities on earth, there’ll be wigs on the green, I promise you. And I’ll stand four square for Socialism as well. My political ideas and writings have remained the same for seventy years; the only thing that’s changed has been the book prices. No, no regrets or apologies…………
If I were not a gloriously successful man, in England they would have dismissed me as an Irishman, and in America as a Socialist. Well, I did not fail and that’s all there is to it. In fact I have been the most salutary influence in England in the last fifty years. Now, alas, my prophecies are forgotten in the excitement created by their fulfilment………..
Yesterday, Fleet Street decided I was dead until I denied the allegation over the telephone……….
Where’s that damned nurse? She’s meant to be making me coddled eggs. I’ve been waiting hours. How long, Oh Lord, how long? ………..
Do you ever study the cinema? I, who now go to the ordinary theatre with effort and reluctance, cannot keep away from the cinema. If I had to start my career all over again I would prefer cinema scripts and television over the platform. Gabriel Pascal, my personal film director, rang me to say that in box office terms I am now bigger than Greta Garbo. I suppose this is meant to cheer me up. The Hollywood people suggested Garbo to play St. Joan. I am convinced that, if the play was about the Blessed Virgin Mary, they would suggest Mae West…………….
What the devil is to become of you all without your shepherd, God only knows. But the world contrived to get on before I was born – I don’t quite know how – and I dare say it will make some sort of lame shift after I am dead. Good luck…..
Of course the real joke was that I was in earnest. I didn’t go to all this trouble simply to amuse the public………..
Alfred Hitchcock, the tubby Cockney film director, called on me one day and after the first handshakes said affably:
“One look at you, Mr. Shaw, and I know there is a famine in the land”.
“And one look at you, Mr. Hitchcock, and I know who caused it”……….
I feel nothing but the accursed happiness I have dreaded all my life long; the happiness that comes as life goes, the happiness of yielding and dreaming instead of resisting and doing; the sweetness of the fruit that is going rotten……
Oh, look here, I am getting talking. I must stop. Well, it is very pleasant to have seen you all here and to think that you are my audience and all that, because I am a born actor myself. I like an audience. I am like a child in that respect……..
You know, Leslie Howard was not right as Professor Higgins. He didn’t have the strength of will. When we do the remake, we must have Charles Laughton. Remind me to tell Pascal……….
Look up, my dears, look up to the heavens. There is more to life than this. There is much more………..
RADIO ANNOUNCEMENT CONTINUED
Our political correspondent states that it is expected that a funeral ceremony will be held at Westminster Abbey. The question is being discussed by the Prime Minister and the Dean of Westminster today. Shaw will be cremated at 4p.m. on Monday at Golders Green Crematorium.
A week ago, the Third Programme telephoned Mr. Shaw to ask him whether in consideration of his work for the cause of music he would like the BBC to play a record on the wireless for him. He did make a request but tragically died before we could broadcast it. We would now like to play it in his memory.
MUSIC — ‘Knock ‘em in the Old Kent Road’ by Marie Lloyd.