From classical music fans to football hooligans there is always a suitable riposte

Photo credits: Fine Art America and

I have heard a number of wonderful ripostes in person, while others have been recited to me second-hand. Some of them are probably well rehearsed and used repeatedly and others are the result of quick thinking. Some are thoroughly justified put-downs while others are a bit unkind.

I first became aware of the concept of a “riposte” when I read a “joke” on an England´s Glory matchbox at the age of about nine. “You´re wearing odd socks”. “Yes; this kind of thing can happen when you have more than one pair”.

One of my favourites is the response of a Scotsman whose sexual attraction was called into question by a male colleague saying. “I can´t imagine you making love”. “Well, you don´t have to; maybe you can find something else to dream about”.

For the typical one-upmanship snob: “I don´t like your curtains”. “Well, I bought them because I like them, not because you don´t like them”.

There are also suitable reactions to attempted cultural points-scoring. I was with a classical music enthusiast who knows that I like Beethoven. He asked me: “What do you consider his greatest symphony?” As he had asked me the same question before, in order to demonstrate his admittedly considerable knowledge, I had worked out a response this time.

I replied “For me the greatest is the one that I like the best”. “Which is that?” “The one I am listening to now”. “But you are not listening to any”. “Then, the one I last listened to”. “Even if it´s the First?” “Yes; because when I listen to the First, the others are not in my mind; therefore I can´t sense them”. In fact, the simple answer is that it depends on my mood at the time.

For those striving for intellectual superiority, I heard this one at a cheese and wine party: “Do you know who discovered Guam” “No”. “Well, it was Magellan”. “What a good memory you have!”

And, of course, the travel boasts. I heard this snippet in the departure lounge at Gatwick Airport: “Where are you flying to?” “Munich”. “Ah, we´ve been to Munich too. I don’t suppose you’ve been to Vienna?” “Not this year, but I lived there for three years in the eighties”.

The more aggressive response of an over-sensitive soul: “I find that just about incredible”. “Are you calling me a liar?” Conversely a cool rejoinder must be best for an aggressive accusation or insult, as heard in a Berkshire pub: “You dirty sh*t”. ”Did you ever hear of a clean one?”

An unsavoury England international footballer, when arrested for hooliganism and assault in Greece, allegedly said to the police; “Do you know who I am?” To anybody with that kind of ego, there is only one response, and I heard this: “ I don´t care who you are but I can see what you are”.

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