‘My dear you are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly’
His wartime speeches and radio addresses have seen him remembered as one of the great orators of the 20th Century.
Winston Churchill’s ability to lift the spirits of the British people in times of adversity were, however, neatly balanced with a sparkling line in withering put-downs.
Now Churchill has topped a poll of history’s funniest insults with a famous jibe directed at either the socialist MP Bessie Braddock or the Conservative Lady Astor, the first female MP (depending on which version of the story you hear).
When accused by one of them 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 and you will still be disgustingly ugly.’
It’s unclear which of the two politicians Churchill directed his comment at – and there is even debate over whether he said it at all. Churchill quotation expert Richard Langworth claims that one of the Prime Minister’s bodyguards confirmed the exchange had taken place with Bessie Braddock after the MP had said: "Winston, you are drunk, and what&’s more you are disgustingly drunk."
Though widely quoted many experts now believe that most of the retellings of the story are fictional, according to the website ‘Quote Investigator’.
Churchill is the only person to be on the list twice.
His second entry is for a put-down delivered when he received a call from the Lord Privy Seal while he sat on the toilet: “Tell him I can only deal with one s**t at a time.”
There are also notable entries for the modern-day wits Noel and Liam Gallagher, whose insult skills, possibly refined by years of bickering with each other, see them twice on the list – although not for jibes directed at each other.
Noel Gallagher is on the list for his pop at Robbie Williams during the years of their infamous feud: “You mean that fat dancer from Take That?”
Meanwhile Liam just sneaks in at number 10 with his dig at Victoria Beckham&’s aspirations to become an author: “She can’t even chew gum and walk in a straight line, let alone write a book.”
Elsewhere, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Groucho Marx all make appearances on the list. The poll was Poll was carried out to mark the release of Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra.
Liberace himself makes an appearance at number three in the list with his response to a critic: ‘Thank you for your very amusing review. After reading it…I laughed all the way to the bank.’