[Taste is a very personal thing, and therefore it’s not surprising that most people take their own sense of taste quite seriously. In his autobiography Alec Guinness recounts the following story (told to him by his friend Ralph Richardson) involving a clash of automotive tastes between the famous actor and the writer J. B. Priestley, both of whom were car fanciers. Putting yourself in Richardson’s shoes, would you have given your honest opinion to Priestley when he asked for it? And had you done so, would you consider offering some sort of apology on finding you had given so much offense?]
Beautiful cars were a joy to [Ralph] but he objected to the ostentatious. He told me once, with a lot of chuckling laughter, of an outing he had with Jack Priestley who was at the wheel of his brand new and flashy car. Priestley, appreciating Ralph’s knowledge and love of cars, was seeking his approval and suggested a ‘jaunt to Brighton.’ After several miles of driving in silence Priestley turned to him and said in his broadest Yorkshire accent, ‘Well, what do you think of the bus, eh?’ Ralph hesitated before taking the bull by the horns. ‘I’m sorry, Jack. I’m really sorry. I don’t like it.’
‘Why not?’ snapped Jack.
‘It’s all very fine—but this dashboard! It’s hellish! All these little bits of glass that look like fake diamonds and emeralds! And all this gilt work. I’m sorry, but it’s vulgar!’
There was a horrible pause before Priestley said, ‘I asked you out to enjoy yourself, not to criticize.’
They turned round and drove home. Ralph said it was months before Jack would forgive him.
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