Beachcomber (writer)

group of column writers

Beachcomber was a nom de plume used by successive writers of the humorous By the Way column in the Daily Express. The column was founded in 1919 by John Bernard Arbuthnot, and taken over first by D. B. Wyndham-Lewis and then by J. B. Morton (easily the longest-lasting Beachcomber). On Morton's retirement in 1975 the column fell into abeyance, but it has recently been revived by William Hartston.


  • The court had to be cleared owing to the roars of ribald laughter which greeted the appearance in the witness-box of the twelve red bearded dwarfs all in a heap. Their names were read out amid growing uproar. The names appeared to be: Sophus Barkayo-Tong, Amaninter Axling, Farjole Merrybody, Guttergorm Guttergormpton, Badly Oronparser, Churm Rincewind, Cleveland Zackhouse, Molonay Tubilderborst, Edeledel Edel, Scorpion de Rooftrouser, Listenis Youghaupt, Frums Gillygottle.
Cocklecarrot: Are these genuine names?
A Dwarf: No, m'worship.
Cocklecarrot: Then what's your name?
Dwarf: Bogus, m'ludship.
Cocklecarrot: No, your real name.
Dwarf: My real name is Bogus, your excellency.
(At this point the court had to be cleared) (A Diet of Thistles, p 194; Frayn, The Best of Beachcomber, p 96)
    • One of Beachcomber's regular reports from the court of Mr Justice Cocklecarrot. "Churm Rincewind" was the inspiration for a character in the works of Terry Pratchett.
  • Money talks, and we are always listening. (Dr. Smart-Allick, in Frayn, The Best of Beachcomber, p 199)
  • If I don't marry her, I won't marry anyone - at least, hardly anyone. (Captain Foulenough: Frayn, The Best of Beachcomber, p 100)
    The story to fit this sensational headline has not turned up yet. (Frayn, The Best of Beachcomber, p 173)
  • Erratum. In my article on the price of milk, "Horses" should have read "Cows" throughout. (Sideways through Borneo, p 202)
  • HEROISM UNDER TORTURE. It is being said of a certain poet that though he tortures the English language, he has never yet succeeded in forcing it to reveal his meaning. (Frayn, The Best of Beachcomber, p 113)
  • TAILPIECE. One disadvantage of being a hog is that at any moment some blundering fool may try to make a silk purse out of your wife's ear. (Frayn, The Best of Beachcomber, p 57)


  • Justice must not only be seen to be done. It must be seen to be believed.
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