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Who first said "Intellectual agility of a small soap dish"?

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Benzadmiral, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

    Insult: So-and-so has "the intellectual agility of a small soap dish." I've seen someone on the 'Net use the expression, and it's triggered a memory I can't trace down. The phrase seems familiar. Don't think it's a Dorothy Parker line, though it could be. Does anybody know who used it first?
    hatsRme likes this.
  2. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Benz, I don't know about the soap dish quote, but I remember that in J.K. Rowlings' "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", Hermine Granger told Ron Weasley that “Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have.”
  3. I think it's most likely an alteration of Edmund Blackadder's memorable line "I should have known better than to trust a man with the mental agility of a rabbit dropping."
  4. "Thick as a whale omelette" is another great one from Blackadder, though if memory serves George, Prince Regent, uses it to describe himself.
    Edward likes this.

  5. Indeed - though it's a line worthy of the Black Adder himself. One of Georgey Porgie's all too rare moments of insight!
  6. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    It is one of those memory jogging remarks that's hard to recall. There's another similar one that an internet search comes up with so many different authors.
    "Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt."
    The following are all said to have originated the expression.
    Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Biblical Proverb, Maurice Switzer, Arthur Burns, John Maynard Keynes, Confucius, Anonymous.

    We had a politician, Denis Healey, who once said of his political opponent, Geoffrey Howe: ‘it's like being ravaged by a dead sheep’
  7. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

    "Better to remain silent" sounds like a Twain line, or maybe a Lincoln. America's politicians used to be a quotable lot. The story goes that Calvin Coolidge was asked whether he'd caught any of the fish in his pond at the White House. His reply: "Not yet; but I've pretty much got them surrounded."

    As for my "soapdish" line, unless I run across it somewhere, I'll ascribe it to Dorothy Parker. She was always being credited with remarks that she didn't say * as well as those she did, so what's one more?

    * Supposedly Dorothy was harangued by a junior editor at some magazine (possibly the New Yorker) who said their senior editor was demanding the piece she, Dorothy, was working on. Dorothy said, "Tell him I'm too ****ing busy, and vice versa." Her biographers think it doesn't sound like her, and I agree; it's too easy -- anybody could have come up with that.

    There's also the story of how her friends were worried about her drinking, and so she went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and came back full of praise for the organization, the people, etc. "Well, are you going to join?" Robert Benchley asked, to which Dorothy replied, aghast, "Certainly not. They want me to stop now!"

    Now there's a great line . . . but her biographers all suggest this as occurring some time very early in the Depression, around 1930 or -31. The problem is that AA wasn't founded until 1935.
  8. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    More Dorothy Parker quotes:
    • “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to”.
    • “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”
    • “One more drink and I'd have been under the host.”
    • “You can't teach an old dogma new tricks.”
    • “It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.”
    • Katharine Hepburn delivered a striking performance that ran the gamut of emotions, from A to B.”
    I think I'm developing a crush on that woman.
  9. hatsRme

    hatsRme I'll Lock Up

    Almost sounds like a Barney Frank line. Although (I am) not always a Barney fan, he did/does have an entertainingly acerbic way about him. A line I have since used myself, Barney once told Ralph Nader, “You get to luxuriate in the purity of your irrelevance."
  10. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    Sounds like a road show S. J. Perelman
  11. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Sidney Perelman was a noted humourist who wrote many a script for the Marx Brothers. But did you know that he bought a car like mine whilst out in the Far East, drove it back to the UK, and then entered it into the Paris-Peking (as it was then named) rally. Not for this thread, I know, but if you are fascinated by Perelman's exploits you can read up on them here.
  12. I know I could probably just Google it and find out....but what's the fun in that when I can share with you good people. The faintly remembered quote was in the following situation..........A man and a woman where having a confrontation and the woman says " If you were my husband I would poison your drink!" and his reply was "If you were my wife I would drink It!" It's only a faint memory but I seem to recall that the people and the quote were notable....? Anyone?..........

  13. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Easy peasy.
    Nancy Astor, Britain's first female MP, told Sir Winston Churchill that: "If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee," Churchill famously replied: "Nancy, if I were your husband I would drink it."

    Churchill was as famous for his put downs as he was his wartime speeches.

    Bessie Braddock who was something of a left wing firebrand, once, in The House of Commons, accused Churchill of being 'disgustingly drunk.' The Conservative Prime Minister responded: 'My dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober.'

    To understand one of his most famous insults you need to know, or look up the rank, of The Privy Seal. You also need to know that the privy, generally out of use these days, was wartime slang for the toilet.

    His most famous put down was when he received a call from the Lord Privy Seal while sat on the toilet: “Tell him I can only deal with one sh*t at a time.” Churchill was famous for blunt speaking.

    Once, he ripped into Stalin, the interpreter tried to translate. Stalin raised his hand and said: "I don't understand a word, but I do admire your spirit."
  14. @GHT :) LOL Thanks........I knew in the back of my mind that the quote and the people where notable!.........Churchill really had a sharp tongue!

    thanks again

  15. CSL

    CSL New in Town

    I'm pretty sure I originated that one myself, and used it quite a bit, starting in the mid 1980s on USENET newsgroup forums. I was reaching for a Monty Pythonesque insult, and thinking of the Firesign Theatre "Dead Cat Soap" sketch when I first wrote it. I used several names on USENET over a couple of decades, but usually retained "There's a seeker born every minute." in my signature (a Firesign Theatre quote).
    Maybe that rings a bell?

    What brought me to this forum is, someone used the phrase in an online comment to a newspaper article a couple of days ago, which surprised me. So I googled it, and this forum thread was one of the first things that came up.
  16. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab


    Welcome to the Lounge! I was not into USENET or anything "online" until the advent of mailing lists in the early '90s, so I don't know about those days. But it's quite possible that your wonderful line has bounced on to achieve a kind of e-immortality.

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