Wednesday 10 July 2013

Bathos Part Three

Bathos is one way of being ironic. You set the reader up – then you pull away the chair just as he’s about to sit down. Or is it paraprosdokian: “a sentence whose latter part is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe the first?”

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." Groucho Marx

“Yes, sir,” said Jeeves in a low, cold voice, as if he had been bitten in the leg by a personal friend. (P.G. Wodehouse, Carry on Jeeves 1925)

[The actor had] the screen presence of a roll of lino. (Patrick McCarthy, Guardian June 27, 2007)

[Boxer] Joe Louis is a credit to his race—the human race.  (journalist Jimmy Cannon)

After more than a decade I can say: beneath the snooty unfriendly façade, Paris is a snooty, unfriendly city. (FT)

Aida is usually staged with pomp, ceremony and models of sphinxes. (The Week)

An ordinary suburban life, local comp, 2.4 tortoises. (artist Nick Relph)

Andrew Gimson charts the meteoric downfall of Chris Mullin, a Labour gentleman, as revealed in his new volume of diaries, Decline and Fall. (Telegraph 17 Sept 2010)

Arcane words are put to use, often accurately. (Gore Vidal on Henry Miller)

At age 13 they enrolled her in a convent school in San Antonio, Texas, in an effort to curb her rebellious ways. This worked as well as one might expect. (

Blood is thicker than water – but only if you add cornflour and Bovril. (Spike Milligan)

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine. (Robert C. Gallagher)

Cherie singing Like a Virgin in a Gaultier basque? Come on, you want it as much as I do. (Rupert Smith, Guardian December 8, 2005)

Discretion is the better part of valour; the other parts of it are called “Run for it,” “help”, “I surrender” and “Christ, here they come again.” (Spike Milligan)

Don’t forget she lives in dire wealth. (Muriel Spark)

Expectations ran low [for WNO’s subtextual Fledermaus]. (Rupert Christiansen, Telegraph 2002)

For those of you who don't remember Dick Emery, count yourselves lucky. (@VictorianLondon/Lee Jackson)

Giving up on a relationship is easy. But staying together when it looks like everything's falling apart - that takes real stupidity. (@GreySkyThinking)

Hans Pfitzner's opera Palestrina: like Parsifal without the jokes. (Anon)

Have spent literally minutes trying to unpick the Tory logic of "marriage taken too lightly these days, so gays who want to marry mustn't". (Ian Martin ‏@IanMartin)

He rose without trace.
(said of David Frost)

His voice rose to a murmur. (Simon Hoggart)

How do you find America? Turn left at Greenland. (John Lennon) See also: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!

I mean, who hasn't accidentally killed their secretary with a submachine gun at least once?  (Theunis Bates)

I tried using my Bible for a roadmap. It was unfortunately vague regarding the location of Guildford. (digitig@cix/Tim Rowe)

If this pianist is not heard again in Shanghai, he will carry away with him the grateful thanks of our music-lovers. (Shanghai Mercury c. 1919)

If you've never seen Arachnoquake on SyFy Channel, keep up the good work. (@GadsdenJazz:)

It was an argument based on a solid foundation of ignorance. (JP)

Mr. Attlee is a very modest man. Indeed he has a lot to be modest about. (Winston Churchill He was also known as a “sheep in sheep’s clothing”.)

Mr. Benjamin, intentionally or not, gives us a good lesson in the politics of cynicism where everyone is less than they seem. (Darrel Puls)

Nothing sounds sweeter than the sound of someone not playing the bongos. (‏@DemetriMartin)

Pure as the driven slush. (Dorothy Parker)

Re X Factor: the tension is utterly bearable. (@londonette/Sarah D)

Sherpas fell loyally into crevasses. (Clive James on a programme about the Himalayas)

So I visited Niagara Falls yesterday. The city is like a mini Vegas but without the taste. (@steveparnell)

Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that. (Bill Shankly)

Such a talent richly merits anonymity. (Susan Peak)

The '80s were about as harmonious as a particularly lengthy piece of Schoenberg. (Patrick Strudwick/‏@PatrickStrud)

The Barbican’s lack of a front door was "part of a boldly stupid plan" to put all London's pedestrians at first-floor level. (Leo Benedictus, Times September 2006)

The boundless, puppyish optimism of the performers is deeply depressing. (Lyn Gardner, Guardian June 10, 2008)

The Irish tenor - known and hated the world over. (Spike Milligan)

The makers of the 2010 version of a classic TV series have taken the best parts of the original and discarded them. (Guardian April 9 2010)

The plot dilutes, Chief Constable! (The Body in the Library, TV version)

The proposed city – snappily titled the Integrated Resort Tourism, Business and Back-up City – would be sited on an existing airport close to Osaka. (The Week)

The vast minority of our time should be spent on this. (JG)

They used to laugh when I stood up to speak - now they gag me. (Albert Campion)

Think the U.S. marines, minus the sensitivity. ( on La Légion Etrangère)

This book fills a much-needed gap on the subject. (Dorothy Parker)

This incident-packed novel gave much entertainment, most of it intentional, to its many readers. (Nicholas Parsons on A Lady of Quality by Frances Hodgson Burnett – no, not that Nicholas Parsons)

This is not a book to be cast aside lightly – it should be thrown with great force. (Dorothy Parker)

Tim Henman remains utterly unspoilt by failure. (Joe Joseph Times June 12 06)

We shall not see their like again, thank goodness. (Max Hastings on sporting dukes who shot 6,000 rabbits in a morning.)

You may recall his one big hit - if you're unlucky. (Simon Hoggart Guardian April 12 08)

More here.

And here.


  1. This is assigned to Rossini, I think, but I do like 'Monsieur Wagner a de beaux moments, mais de mauvais quarts d'heure - Wagner has some lovely moments, but also some bad quarters of an hour'

  2. Thanks! Also "Wagner is the Puccini of music".