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A 63-year-old rap song. Noel Coward asks “What’s going to happen to the children when there aren’t any more grown-ups?”

From an email today: “Saw a woman, who appeared to be a late twenty-something, with her cute youngster in Panera today.

She was wearing a short-sleeved blouse that permitted all to see a sizable tattoo on the back of her upper right arm (that must have been painful!). It appeared to me to represent a bikini-clad woman in hip boots who was holding something (a heart?) in her (the tattoo’s) left hand and something else (a guitar? Hard to say.). This tattoo featured a—get this—skull head, with black eye sockets, adorned with some kind of weird headgear.  

This young mother also had one of those “spider web” tattoos on much of her exposed left arm, front and rear, with all kinds of stuff ostensibly “caught” in that web. Hard to make out. Whereas the bikini skull “tat” was monocolor, the left arm was multicolor.”

Noel Coward performing “What’s Going to Happen to the Tots”

When? In 1955. But it hasn’t aged at all. In fact, it is slightly ahead of the decline.

[Emphasis added]

Life today is hectic
Our world is running away
Only the wise can recognize
The process of decay
Unhappily, 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 as 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?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ghostsniper June 16, 2018, 7:01 AM

    “What’s going to happen to the children
    When there aren’t any more grown-ups?”

    Well, by then the whole world will have adapted to this trend, and all of it will have become one big daycare center full of safe places, nice words, rainbow kitty’s, and candy at every meal.

    All of the realists will have distanced themselves from this monstrosity by going galt as they can.

    And then the bad men will come in and torture, rape, and kill everybody and then the good men will come in and kill all the bad men and the world will start to be that which it originally was before insanity swept the land.

    It’s cyclical, and if you’re reading this your job is to stay out of the fray, survive the approaching whirlwind, then go forth and replenish the earth in all ways until next time…..

  • DWEEZIL THE WEASEL June 16, 2018, 8:48 AM

    In reference to the above email re: the tatted-up bitch, I have to concur. As soon as it started warming up here in Rawles Land, the ink started being displayed. All ages, all genders. But, what is one to do? As Yoda said: “…night must fall. It is the way of things.” The only wake-up call will be a massive economic “correction” which no one can predict with any certainty. Bleib ubrig.

  • Howard Nelson June 16, 2018, 9:10 AM

    Moral sickness is in
    Ethics are not what they’ve been
    Anything goes is the coward’s code
    Group’s acceptance is the goad.
    So if without talent you’re at the top
    It’s ’cause the world’s upside down,
    and you’re still only slop.

  • JiminAlaska June 16, 2018, 9:26 AM

    Or to paraphrase Robert Browning:
    Grow young along with me
    The best is past you see
    The first of life
    Must always be replayed.

  • RosalindJ June 16, 2018, 10:58 AM

    RE: Tattoos

    I’ve begun to consider the use of temporary tattoos to further help blend in as a gray person. It’s ridiculous. I did a casual count recently, and out of approximately 50 co-workers (ages 22 to 80), I am one of three that has none. Of the other two, one is 80 and the other is the owner of the business.

  • Howard Nelson June 16, 2018, 11:15 AM

    To make a case for marriage before the baby carriage look to the psychological problems and crime statistics re children from single parent homes.
    Skipped parents vs disease and wartime parent deaths — I wonder what the numbers show for the effects on children.
    How do you measure all the ways of caring?

  • Howard Nelson June 16, 2018, 11:26 AM

    RosalindJ, use your survey as a guide to long
    long life(80+) and business ownership and self
    You’re looking good?

  • DrTedNelson June 16, 2018, 12:51 PM

    The audience is laughing, but the have no idea how right he is.

  • Ann Barnhardt June 16, 2018, 2:00 PM

    Noel Coward was, of course, a sodomite. When the British fags of 60 years ago are a completely unrealistic fantasy of the kind of virile moral leadership we would like to see in today’s world… well, stay confessed, and as St. Peter said, “Be sober and watch…”

  • ghostsniper June 16, 2018, 2:12 PM

    She’s right, again.

    “Coward was homosexual but, following the convention of his times, this was never publicly mentioned.”


  • dhmosquito June 16, 2018, 2:50 PM

    Gerard, you left off my closing comment regarding the encounter:

    “Do people like this ever consider that people like me do not think them rational in any way, shape, or form? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20”

  • TheRiver June 16, 2018, 4:11 PM

    I’m too old to date if my dear wife were to pass away. But if I were younger and dating I am thankful for ‘tats’. One tat or a couple of small discrete tats don’t matter but an entire arm of multiple on each arm of between the chin and the breasts, etc. are indicators. They scream, don’t date me I am a crazy bitch and I will screw up your life. I need/demand attention and I will do crazy things to get it. I am (probably) bi-polar and the first few weeks of dating will be a rush but after that when I come down watch the hell out. Think I’m wrong??? Try it and see. My advice is enjoy the rush and as soon as you see the down coming get the hell out. But don’t let her know where you live. Either that or never bgo back home again. Throw away your phone, get off facebook and leave town. Don’t worry, her obsession with destroying your life will only last until she finds another male black widow to devour. But don’t think it is over, her “obsession” will be over but given circumstance and opportunity she will still screw up your life because she owes you. So after it’s “safe” still steer clear of her.

  • JamesG June 16, 2018, 6:15 PM

    People like Noel Coward helped the British to survive World War Two. For too long a time they were the only Europeans fighting the Nazis.

    Here’s the opening verse to his Don’t Lets Be Beastly to the Germans.

    We must be kind
    And with an open mind
    We must endeavour to find
    A way-
    To let the Germans know that when the war is over
    They are not the ones who’ll have to pay.
    We must be sweet-
    And tactful and discreet
    And when they’ve suffered defeat
    We mustn’t let
    Them feel upset
    Or ever get
    The feeling that we’re cross with them or hate them,
    Our future policy must be to reinstate them.

    As for his homosexuality I don’t think too many of the people who enjoyed his work suspected he was a flaming hetero and few of them gave a damn.

    This hetero grandfather wonders why a person would seem to think it important to mention (on a thread like this) in most disapproving terms the sexual preferences of a long-dead accomplished human being who during his life time gave great pleasure to many thousands during those dark times when Hitler’s Germany was trying to literally kill them all.

  • JamesG June 16, 2018, 6:25 PM

    As the Wiki article explains Noel Coward was an important and greatly appreciated entertainer during Britain’s darkest years when Hitler’s Germany was doing its best to destroy them. Note that his home was destroyed by Hitler’s bombers.

    This hetero grandfather wonders why anyone would think it important to go on a thread such as this to note in disapproving terms the sexual preferences of a long-dead accomplished human being .

    Having lived through those years I assure you that most of us knew as much and most of us didn’t give a damn.

  • JamesG June 16, 2018, 6:26 PM

    As the Wiki article explains Noel Coward was an important and greatly appreciated entertainer during Britain’s darkest years when Hitler’s Germany was doing its best to destroy them. Note that his home was destroyed by Hitler’s bombers.

    This hetero grandfather wonders why anyone would think it important to go on a thread such as this to note in disapproving terms the sexual preferences of a long-dead accomplished human being .

    Having lived through those years I assure you that most of us knew as much and most of us didn’t give a damn.

  • Vanderleun June 16, 2018, 6:41 PM

    To abjure art depending upon the sexual inclination of the artist is to leave you with art that is, at the bottom, fascist/communist/Stalinist.

  • ghostsniper June 16, 2018, 6:45 PM

    Character flaws always matter, whether you are aware of them or not.
    And you see what happens when people “don’t give a damn”, they take a foot.
    (give em an inch and they take a foot)
    Cancer needs to be eviscerated as soon as it’s detected, always.

  • ghostsniper June 16, 2018, 6:47 PM

    GV: bullshit. I don’t think you believe that.

  • Vanderleun June 16, 2018, 6:47 PM

    Auden, for instance, was a flaming homosexual in the classic sense of an English “Poofter,” and yet… and yet…

  • Vanderleun June 16, 2018, 6:49 PM

    Sniper, be assured that I do.

    “May I, composed like them
    Of Eros and of dust,
    Beleaguered by the same
    Negation and despair,
    Show an affirming flame.”

  • Rob De Witt June 16, 2018, 8:55 PM

    It is absolutely undeniable that if you demand a life absolutely free of homosexuals, you will condemn yourself and your loved ones to a life without art. For some of us the necessity of including art in our daily lives has meant a lifetime of struggle against the narrow minded philistines who raised us.

    I sing classical music professionally in San Francisco. Do you have any idea of what that means, or will you willfully deny the evidence of your senses? I’ve known homosexuals of every stripe for 40 years; some of them have been honorable (if horribly misguided in my view) men and women who struggled to live an ethical life having been dealt a very painful and difficult hand. Some have been bitchy assholes who lived to share their misery with others. They’ve all recognized that I like girls, and some of them just couldn’t stand it.

    Because I didn’t have a good place to start, I’ve had to decide for myself what matters, and what matters is getting as close as my talents will allow to the real thing, the highest level of music. I came here with a backpack and I’ve made it all up myself. I find myself at this age able to separate the art from the artist, but it’s been a long ride.

    None of this is new; Mozart and Bach had to deal with homosexuals too, you know. Guys and girls who loudly insist that they’re “normal” are always the ones you learn not to trust, because their fear of themselves makes them dangerous.

  • Ann Barnhardt June 17, 2018, 5:09 AM

    This question of homosexuals in art is a very good and worthwhile discussion. Might I recommend to GvL a separate post? It certainly isn’t limited to the 20th century – Tchaikovsky, Michelangelo (probably, but repented), really half of Renaissance Florence. I would submit that the moral licitness of consuming art created by sodomites (male and female) is contingent on the work itself – specifically, does the work put forward a “homosexual” esthetic or glorify sexual perversion in any way? The trouble with Noel Coward was that he was flamboyantly camp, and inspired “West End chorus boys” to act out in public. Does Dusty Springfield singing “Son of a Preacher Man” present or glorify a “lesbian esthetic”? I would say no, but it is worth discussion.

  • pbird June 17, 2018, 10:12 AM

    I have known my fair share of gays or sodomites as Ann would have it. Some of them died in the early 80s.
    My attitude is that it is their problem. Not mine. Its between GOD himself and them. I dare not poke my nose in there between them. Like other sinners some are very nice and productive people and some are poisonous bastards.

  • ghostsniper June 17, 2018, 12:38 PM

    Been less than 20 years since jethro klinitn and already some have forgotten the reason character matters.

    Now, it’s not just about what they do in private but rather that they insist that you acknowledge, accept, and encourage their behavior. Look at where it was and where it’s at now. You see where this is going don’t you?

    Do as you wish, as will I.

  • Bunny June 17, 2018, 3:12 PM

    Didn’t Orwell say all art is propaganda? All art at least attempts to convey some sort of meaning or message and these days, especially, it’s helpful to have some inkling of the artist’s life to aid our interpretation of his art. It helps to be aware. “The distinction between the moral and artistic aspects is fundamental, but no less important is the connection between them. Each conditions the other in a profound way.”
    “‘Separate The Art From The Artist’ Is A Con Man’s Principle
    ‘Look Closer'”

  • Rob De Witt June 17, 2018, 6:37 PM

    First of all…..

    Ann, I’m flattered to begin a possible colloquy with you; I have long admired your work and your insistence on the truth. I too have become a Catholic – at age 66 – and your writing was a powerful influence. I completely agree that Noel Coward and his ilk are/were the perfect example of the English glorification of flamboyant homosexuality. It’s mostly just superficial and distasteful to me, and keep in mind this is the opinion of someone who has undoubtedly known more homosexuals than anybody you’ve met.

    Beyond that, to all of you: I have been rescued from a life of pain and abuse by the music of J.S. Bach, a composer who dedicated his life and work to worship. When Johann Bach was satisfied with a piece of music, he wrote the letters SDG at the bottom of the page – Soli Deo Gloria – For the Glory of God Alone. Frankly, to compare this work and this world to the likes of Noel Coward and Kevin Spacey in any way is to resoundingly miss the point. It pleases me see that Paul Bois, in the piece linked by Bunny, sees this distinction clear, and has the humility to cite both St. John Paul II and the medieval artists who literally created the world we hope to save.

    In my adult life, wherein I have become apparently the only self-taught musician in a world of family-supported, conservatory trained artists, I have known a great many dedicated Bach proponents who were homosexual. What I know about singing Bach is that it only takes everything you’ve got, and no serious practitioner is superficial in any way I’ve been able to identify. Art on this level has saved my life, which was founded upon a childhood that more than one psychologist has told me was destined for self-destruction – “You have the background of a serial killer” was the final characterization. I thank God hourly for the ability and opportunity to hear the truth, and to recognize the fraudulence of modern “culture,” which most certainly includes any and all television and any and all “music” since the dawn of rocknroll, which is transparently the glorification of the worst of Negro culture.

    If Orwell’s notion that “all art is propaganda” is correct, then it’s necessary to recognize that the purpose of the “propaganda” of the Renaissance and the Baroque was to advertise and glorify the existence of God and the truth. Catholics recognize that some human beings are born with problems to address, among which is homosexuality. The issue is how that problem is expressed and hopefully solved. It’s a knotty problem, and one I’m grateful I don’t have to deal with.

  • MtnExile June 18, 2018, 10:44 AM

    “It is absolutely undeniable that if you demand a life absolutely free of homosexuals, you will condemn yourself and your loved ones to a life without art.”


    Seriously, this is one of the most fatuous assertions I’ve heard in years. I’ve been an artist all my life, and spent a great deal of time around other artists, none of whom were homosexuals. I am mind-boggled trying to imagine the mental gymnastics necessary to even frame that thought, let alone assert its truth.

  • ghostsniper June 18, 2018, 1:04 PM

    “….none of whom were homosexuals.”
    That was my point above.
    It is none of my business what they do with their genitals and reject their notion that I have to accept them. By pushing their agenda so, it’s one more feather in the cap of those that claim faggotry is a mental disease.

    “I went for the art but he made me visualize the act.”

  • Anne March 12, 2021, 9:30 PM

    My mom was sweet. She was independent. A little on the autistic scale, she was “excitable”. In 1951 she (accompanied by her second husband) took out on her own to go to California. She went because there were “jobs and opportunity, and sunshine”. She made it– working her own little 2 chair beauty shop in a space rented on Lake Stree. Dear Gerard if you look back deep inside your memory you will see her little beauty shop. Right there on Lake St. attached to the grocery store, when you and I were kids in Benjamin Franklin Elementary school. She only had six years of schooling my mom, but she had beauty operator schooling. But, my mom had courage, and hope, and she was TRULY independent. The kind of “get in the car and go” 1950’s independence. I was not a wanted child. But, I was taken care of–she made my clothes and dropped me off to Episcopal choir on Thursdays and church on Sundays. I had what I loved the most (a horse riding class on Wednesdays) and the rest of the time I was just a part of life. Neither good, nor bad. I was not a problem–and I was allowed to run free. Beginning when I was 12 I was free to get on the city bus (corner of Lake St. and Western) and go downtown to Los Angeles or to Beverly Hills. I would go to the Greyhound terminal and switch buses in Glendale. It took about 1.45 minutes each way. I was always free to take a bus too somewhere.When I was 14 I went all the way to the theater where “Gigi” was on it first original screening! All I had to do was tell her where I was going. The expectation was that nothing bad would happen and I would be home for dinner. Episcopal church two days a week, the barn two days a week, and Hollywood and other parts two days a week. Not bad for a little kid growing up with a mom, who only knew how to work hard and have faith. GD I was a lucky kid!

  • Kevin in PA March 13, 2021, 3:44 AM

    During a conversation, years ago, with a co-worker from the Dominican Republic, I was informed of what my co-workers grandmother said about tattoos;

    “Tattoos are for sailors and prostitutes.”

    I tend to agree. I absolutely hate to see ink on a female. It screams – cheap, trashy and tawdry, attention whore.

    In the Orient tattoos were originally a way of marking slaves and criminals. In Japan, there are many places that will not allow entrance to customers with tattoos. In the Philippines, when applying for employment, female applicants are required to strip naked for inspection. Any woman with a tattoo is rejected for employment, as they are assumed to be tied to criminal gangs. In modern America, idiots get full sleeves, inked everywhere one can imagine and think they are cool. Many of these inked idiots can barely cover their rent….but look at me – “I’m cool.”

    What a culture.

  • Tom Hyland March 13, 2021, 11:00 AM

    @ Kevin in PA… I concur. The peer group pressure to “be cool” is a disease during the teenage years. I entered high school my freshman year autumn of ’69. Back in those days it was very uncool to be over weight. We were wearing hiphugger jeans, bell bottoms, sandles, and growing hair as long as could be. My peer group, the hippy group, could only differentiate between two types of human. You were either a pot smoking hippy or you were a narcotics agent. I chose to be a hippy. There were a couple of other groups… cowboys, farmers, jocks, status-seeking cheerleaders, but the music was so amazing then being a hippy was pretty easy. When LA gangstas began wearing baggy clothes to conceal guns and such, this caught on everywhere and thus obesity became acceptable and could be contained within the shapeless garb. Then the tats gained popularity. I see fat young mamas pushing their babies in prams covered in tats… and now they’re wearing masks! They think the tats make them look tough and edgy but big bad germs is the new gangsta everywhere. Mask refusal is very uncool and that’s my new and tiny peer group.

  • gwbnyc March 13, 2021, 12:37 PM

    Sir Noel put me to mind of today’s “companion animals” being clutched to a person’s bosom, and seeing adults pushing their dogs around in baby strollers.

    Occasionally I’ll be correctly informed (that would be everytime) to “shut up and live”. It works.

    As to web tattoos- in prisons, when applied to an elbow it denotes the wearer has killed soneone.

    I don’t think there’s room for much plagiarism there.

  • james wilson March 13, 2021, 1:35 PM

    It may be perceived that democracy, especially in it’s latter stages, has a stupifying effect upon the mind and the very willingness to think; thought is easily herded. I suspect that the role and even the character of homosexuals was and is very different in non-democratic times and places. Lord Keynes, a notorious sodomite and member of the Bloomsbury Group, had the grace to write this before his death–

    “We repudiated all versions of the doctrine of original sin, of there being insane and irrational springs of wickedness in most men. We were not aware that civilisation was a thin and precarious crust erected by the personality and the will of a very few, and only maintained by rules and conventions skillfully put across and guilefully preserved. We had no respect for traditional wisdom or the restraints of custom…As cause and consequence of our general state of mind we completely misunderstood human nature, including our own.”

    The Weimar Republic existed for merely fourteen years, and see what it let loose on its people.

  • Bunny March 13, 2021, 5:23 PM

    She literally wrote the book on the death of the grown-up. If you have a spare hour…

  • ghostsniper March 13, 2021, 6:30 PM

    don’t forget to spring ahead.
    IOW, forfeit an hour of your life
    don’t worry, they’ll give it back in about 6 months
    unless you die first, then you get nothing
    buzzards gotta eat…same as the wormz

  • LP March 13, 2021, 7:04 PM

    ghost sniper,
    “don’t forget to spring ahead…forfeit an hour of you life…”

    To me, it’s worth it even if I have to forfeit an hour of my life, because from here on forward (until we change the clocks in the Fall) we’ll get an extra hour of sunlight! We’ll have sunlight until 9 pm in high Summer!

  • ghostsniper March 14, 2021, 4:55 AM

    Since I don’t rely on timepieces of any sort, thinking they are mostly novelty, I get my sun exactly as I want it, though never enough of it. There’s a clock on my office wall that says 6:50am and it’ll still say that at this exact time in Oct. FWIW, I was just outside and the sky was gray and cloudy and the air was about 32 degrees, so outside activities today will be limited. No problem, I have a lot of CAD work to do so I’ll stay busy. I do however wish for some sun for the new lettuces I am sprouting.