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Page:Chesterton - Alarms and Discursions (Methuen, 1910).djvu/212

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is considerable difference between a wit making a fool of himself and a fool making a wit of himself.

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The true explanation, I fancy, may be stated thus. We can all remember it in the case of the really inspiriting parties and fooleries of our youth. The only real fun is to have limited materials and a good idea. This explains the perennial popularity of impromptu private theatricals. These fascinate because they give such a scope for invention and variety with the most domestic restriction of machinery. A tea-cosy may have to do for an Admiral's cocked hat; it all depends on whether the amateur actor can swear like an Admiral. A hearth-rug may have to do for a bear's fur; it all depends on whether the wearer is a polished and versatile man of the world and can grunt like a bear. A clergyman's hat (to my own private and certain knowledge) can be punched and thumped into the exact shape of a policeman's helmet; it all depends on the clergyman. I mean it depends on his permission; his imprimatur; his nihil obstat. Clergymen can be policemen; rugs can rage like wild animals; tea-cosies can smell of the sea; if only there is at the back of them all one bright and amusing idea. What is really funny about Christmas charades in any average home