Sunday, March 24, 2013


Despite having been written in 1927, this whimsical opus seems 
almost too-well in tune with the present, doesn’t it?

What’s Going to Happen to the Tots? (1927)

Life today is hectic.
Our world is running away.
Only the wise can recognize
The process of decay.
All our dialectic
Is quite unable to say
Whether we’re on the beam or not,
Whether we’ll rise supreme or not,
Whether this new regime or not
Is leading us astray.

We all have Frigidaires, radios,
Television and movie shows
To shield us from the ultimate abyss.
We have our daily bread neatly cut,
Every modern convenience but
The question that confronts us all is this:

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
Having been injected with some rather peculiar glands
Darling Mum’s gone platinum
And dances to all the rumba bands.
The songs that she sings at twilight
Would certainly be the highlight
For some of those claques that Elsa Maxwell
Takes around in yachts.
Rockabye, rockabye, rockabye my darlings,
Mother requires a few more shots.
Does it amuse the tiny mites
To see their parents high as kites?
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?

Life today’s neurotic, a ceaseless battle we wage;
Millions are spent to circumvent
The march of middle age.
The fact that we grab each new narcotic
Can only prove in the end

Whether our hormones gel or not
Whether our cells rebel or not,
Whether we’re blown to hell or not,
We’ll all be round the bend
From taking Benzedrine, Dexamyl,
Every possible sleeping pill
To knock us out or knock us into shape.
We all have shots for this, shots for that,
Shots for making us thin or fat,
But there’s one problem that we can’t escape.

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
Thanks to plastic surgery and uncle’s abrupt demise,
Dear Aunt Rose has changed her nose
But doesn’t appear to realize
The pleasures that once were heaven
Look silly at sixty-seven,
And youthful allure you can’t procure
In terms of perms and pots.
So lullaby, lullaby, lullaby my darlings,
Try not to scratch those large red spots,
Think of the shock when mummie’s face
Is lifted from its proper place,
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
It’s bizarre when grandmamma, without getting out of breath
Starts to jive at eighty-five and frightens the little ones to death.
The police had to send a squad car
When daddy got fried on vodka
And tied a tweed coat round mummie’s throat
In several sailor’s knots.
Hushabye, hushabye, hushabye my darlings,
Try not to fret and wet your cots.
One day you’ll clench your tiny fists
And murder your psychiatrists.
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?
~ Noel Coward (1899-1973) 
Thanks again to Jez for providing a link to the text


  1. The Roaring Twenties -- another bizarre time.

    I'm not a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I will be posting one of his short stories soon. The theme of that story is along the same lines as these words by Noel Coward.

  2. This morning, Mrs. AOW read me the poem. She made me guess when it was written. I was way off on every guess I made!

  3. Most of great artists in all branches of the Arts, since Civilization brought itself up to speed, tend to be accurate prophets -- or reflections -- of what is to come, and like Cassandra before them usually live to see their nightmare visions made manifest.

    Tragedy occurs repeatedly, because the rank and file possess shriveled, undeveloped souls, and, as GBS said, remain "feverish little clods of ailments and grievances complaining the world will not devote itself to making them happy." A such they remain ignorant, insensitive and uninterested in anything but their miserable little selves, and invariably MISS the true significance of life.

    By consistently abusing The Gift of Life they consign themselves to misery, and eventually sign their own death warrants.

    Noel Coward was no exception. Oh he couched his wisdom and expressed his Vision in terms of brittle, witty, world-weary sophistication, and cast himself as a Figure of Fun -- an elegant Court Jester -- but underneath he saw the TRUTH very clearly.

    Unfortunately, he fell prey to the very mentality he elegantly satirized, grew increasingly dissipated and cynical as the years wore on, and died of his excesses -- and of heartbreak too, I suspect -- at much too early an age.

  4. Always have been a fan of Mr. Coward.

    Loved his remark to Peter O'Toole after having seen him in "Lawrence of Arabia."

    Coward: "If you'd been any prettier, it would have been Florence of Arabia."

  5. Good morning, MR. AOW! Thanks for participating. I try not to spread too much Doom and Gloom, but more and more from what we see all around us -- especially what we see and hear from the NEWSMAKERS -- pessimism seems warranted.

    I love quotations attributed to the really smart people of the past. It's amazing to see that what "they" were saying three and four hundred years before Christ sounds almost exactly like what they' are saying right NOW.

    Was it Ecclesiastes who wrote, "There is nothing new under the sun" hundreds and hundreds of years ago?

    The only thing that really seems to change about us human beings is FASHION -- the "style" we choose for our outward appearance to each other. Clothing, architecture, furnishings and the development of "creature comforts" has changed across continents throughout history, but the outlook on life for most people seems frozen in the Dark Ages.

  6. We are all tyrants at birth, and return to that state in the dotage which accompanies old age. As Simba would say, "It's all part of the circle of life."

  7. Now... how far would Noel have gotten w/o proper diction...?

  8. ... how far would Noel have gotten w/o proper diction...?

    A fair question that touches on one of my favorite themes -- the eminent desirability of shedding baseborn regional and ethic accents.

    Nothing irritates me more than graduates of Harvard and other prestigious academies who have acquired much learning but failed to rid themselves of thick Brooklyn accents or Yahoo Twangs, etc.

    The "Natural Man" is rarely the Man at His Best.

    We need cultivation in order to be fully cultivated.

    Here's a great motto I wish we'd adopt:


  9. How about this motto:

    "Authenticity, albeit important, is over-rated."

    The purpose of all civilization and work is to "hide" (or better - eliminate) the "stains" of nature.

  10. ... or especially, from hurting ourselves.

    I've come to a new realization. Americans aren't screaming FOR socialism. They are screaming for "individualism without consequences"... and the negative consequences that result from poor choices.

    We need to stop "indulging" these fantasies.

  11. Brilliant find!

    "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

    btw, I'm one of those guys who still holds on to his "yahoo twang," but I didn't go to an Ivy League school, so I guess I'm OK...


  12. Not sure I'd classify this as adult advice "to the tots" per se, but I will give him credit for reciting all that in a three minute thirty second time slot. Seems to be done more in mockery of the tots when in reality it's the tots that have to eventually live in the world left for them by the so-called adults.

    Put me down as not a fan of Noel Coward, for whatever reason ... maybe just his name.

  13. Tragedy occurs repeatedly, because the rank and file possess shriveled, undeveloped souls, and, as GBS said, remain "feverish little clods of ailments and grievances complaining the world will not devote itself to making them happy."

    -----Interesting quote from GBS, another individual whom I detest. Granted, he like any writer should be able to display a talent for stringing nice-sounding words and phrases together in describing some aspect of the world in which they live. GBS comes across to me as a sneering condescending hater of something in this world. It's shown in your chosen quotation, IMO.

    From my understanding of the man and his writing, in the context of his political beliefs, his expressed primary interest in life is the spreading of his political vision—Fabian Socialism. Secondary to that were his writing of plays which provided him with an audience and the funds to advance his political cause.

    Didn't he wonder at the people who sat in the audience at his plays cheering and laughing at his wit and wisdom, while he, himself stood aside trying to understand this, as he was laughing at them and their stupidity?

  14. Waylon: persinally i find my own stupidity hilarious
    FT: I just think there's more than one type of nice voice. That's not the same as saying all voices are nice.

  15. Somehow I don't detect that level of introspection in you JEZ. I detect more the snide, sneering condescending type of intellect ( sort of the mini GBS type) in what you say, attempting the snide put down through a phony self deprecation, I guess.

    That's what you might consider the view from "the colonies", so to speak.

  16. "I just think there's more than one type of nice voice."

    I couldn't agree more, Jez.

    But, as you seem to admit, many many many varieties of "English" are deplorable. Some have tin ears, and apparently do not notice this or care to learn about it.

    Nothing I could do to change that, but this current notion that ALL forms of EVERYTHING should be regarded as "equal" is despicable -- in my never humble opinion.

  17. " I'm one of those guys who still holds on to his "yahoo twang,"

    Somehow, I doubt that very much, Conan. ;-)

    Give me a call someday -- if you dare -- and let me hear and judge for myself.

    I doubt very much if I could ever identify you with rednecks or plain old garden variety trailer trash, which is the sort of thing I have in mind.

    If you sound like Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, I might lower my opinion of you.

  18. "Nature, Mr Alnutt, is something we were put into this word to fight against."

    ~ Katharine Hepburn as "Lizzie" in The African Queen (1952)

    Sorry, Thersites, but I tend to agree -- to a certain extent.

  19. Waylon: I accept any comparison with GBS as a compliment.

  20. Well, guys, if "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," so -- very probably -- is everything else worth considering, I should think.

    Possibly the greatest aspect of Christianity is the way that religion encourages --nay demands -- we examine our own faults each day in an attitude of humility and contrition.

    In abandoning or disregarding that we quickly become vain, conceited, arrogant and probably destructive.

    Something to think about anyway ...

  21. Sorry, Thersites, but I tend to agree -- to a certain extent.

    Nietzsche, "Gay Science" (110)

    ...The thinker is now the being in whom the impulse to truth and those life-preserving errors wage their first conflict, now that the impulse to truth has also proved itself to be a life-preserving power. In comparison with the importance of this conflict everything else is indifferent; the final question concerning the conditions of life is here raised, and the first attempt is here made to answer it by experiment. How far is truth susceptible of embodiment - that is the question, that is the experiment.

  22. "if "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," so -- very probably -- is everything else worth considering, I should think."

    you relativist! ;)

  23. JEZ, thanks for confirming what I thought.

    Do you like the idea GBS being the wolf in sheep's clothing, as one of the leaders of the Fabian movement. At least Lenin was honest enough to openly advocate what he desired, while GBS, although seeking the same ends, was more cunning about it.

    How about that famous piece of art: The Fabian Window. GBS and Sydney Webb framed in stained glass for posterity hammering the world on an anvil;, to "create a world closer to our hearts desire". Does that give you joy as well.

    My admonition to you now: Go smash that window, boy!

  24. You confirm your own thoughts: don't drag me into it.
    What clothing? Can one read GBS and fail to cotton on to his socialism? Or is it as plain as CS Lewis' Christianity?

  25. Oh Jeeze, JEZ, I thought you knew something about George Bernard Shaw. Obviously you don't, or at least only know superficial stuff.

    I was mistaken. You aren't the man for to understand the bigger ideas represented by GBS.

  26. Well yes, why would I care about the long dead inner man, when only his glittering artistic surface remains?

    I am certainly not the man to come to for GBS scholarship, I've merely read (and admired) a smattering of his works. I don't recall claiming any deeper familiarity than that, so please don't feel too cheated.

  27. Jez, add this to your bank of GBS knowledge. He is disappointed that America hasn't listened to him when he advised abolishing its constitution when he visited the country earlier. Add to that his admiration for imposing absolute socialist tyranny, his admiration for both fascism of the Mussolini/Hitlerian variety and the communism of Lenin/Stalin and you'll get a glimpse of his actual character.

    Over the past few years more and more people are getting a first hand aquaintance with GBS and seeing that there was much more to the man than just flowery phraseology trumpeted by media people who as usual are better at hiding hideous reality of this sort that exposing when it should be sterilized in the sun light. Both Glenn Beck and Alex Jones have done some excellent exposes of GBS, INO.

  28. I urge everyone to give a close examination to Donald Vroon's article "On Spiritual Matters" posted yesterday.

    I also urge everyone to cultivate an attitude of CURIOSITY rather mere indulgence in reflexive CONDEMNATION.

    Though we welcome honest expression of the broadest possible spectrum of opinion, absolutism -- of any kind -- tends to feel as though doors are being slammed and tends, therefore, to stifle further discussion.

  29. Well it raises an interesting question: how much support can an artist/activist show for a fascist like Moseley before it taints his artistic output? I guess it depends on how much we require agreement with our suthors.

  30. The key to creating and sustaining a happier, more gracious, more productive atmosphere would be found in cultivating CURIOSITY while resisting CONDEMNATION.



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