The Last Word

An eclectic collection that made us pause for thought.

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When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.

— Prince Philip

As I sat, strapped in my seat waiting during the countdown, one thought kept crossing my mind … every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.

— John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth and a US senator for 24 years

I love a shag in the breeding season.

— Chris Packham, Spring Watch BBC 2 11 June 2020

Definition of Social Media: A window for narcissism

— Matthieu Ricard, Lunch with the FT

Eternity is awfully long, especially near the end.

— Yahne le Toumelin (French artist), FT 6 June 2020 – interview with Matthieu Ricard

If governments don’t take care of food security and we leave it to the big private companies, we are going to be in for a very nasty surprise.”

— Jose Andres, chef & food philanthropist, Financial Times – Lunch with the FT – Edward Luce 23/24 May 2020

A liberal is a man who leaves the room when the fight begins.

— Timo Soini, founder of the Finnish populist party, True Finns, Financial Times – Lunch with the FT 16/17 May 2020

I would feel rather more rested after a two-week break if I didn’t have to take myself on holiday with me.

— John Crace, The Guardian

Physics is not a religion, If it were, we would have a much easier time raising money!

— Leon Lederman, physicist, 1922-2018, BBC Radio 4

John Humphrys is the sort of man who, if you lent him five grand and then didn’t see him for some years, you’d think it was money well spent.

— Garry Richardson on the day John Humphrys retired as a presenter of the Today programme on Radio 4., BBC Radio 4

I was fined £60 for straying into a bus lane for five seconds. I thought I’d go to Oxford Circus and lie down for four hours today and get my money’s worth.

— Gary Richardson, BBC Today Programme, Mail on Sunday

The best thing about the Earth Is if you poke holes in it oil and gas comes out.

— US Congressman Steve Stockman, Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything

You are never going to be younger or healthier than you are now.

— Michael Martin, investment manager, in the Financial Times

Preserving a facade and rebuilding a new building behind it is like keeping your dead grandmother’s false teeth on the mantelpiece in her memory.

— Michael Manser RA, Building magazine

I’m very much down to earth, just not this earth.

— Karl Lagerfeld, who died 19 February 2019

People who think they know everything are profoundly annoying to those of us who actually do.

— Anon: a barrister, Law Society Gazette

Mother to 4 year old daughter: “Why are you crying?”

Daughter: “I’m a child and I am meant to cry.”

— Anon

Not to find joy in difference is a surrender to ignorance.

— Howard Jacobson, BBC Radio 4

Dates are the pegs on which to hang your history

— Alan Long schoolmaster

Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.

— Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

When a thousand people believe some made-up story for a month – that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years – that’s a religion.

— Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.

— Yuval Noah Harar, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Clichés are where the truth goes to die.

— David Runciman, from his book How Democracy Ends

La démocratie est le système le plus bottom up de la terre. (Democracy is the most bottom-up system in the world)

— Emmanuel Macron, President of France

Jewish imagination is paranoia confirmed by history.

— Unknown, Simon Schama BBC4

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

— Stephen Hawking

A widow in search of a new man should look for one who has a full head of hair – and a full bank account.

— anon

My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.

— Stephen Hawking

Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.

— Stephen Hawking

You enter time when you enter a town – you rush through it. In a village time enters you slowly, naturally.

— An unnamed poet, Akenfield by Ronald Blythe. (published 1937)

Wall Street wants to combine its experience with the clients’ money and turn that into Wall Street’s money and the clients’ experience.

— Anon, Bill Priest interview in FT

At Kew on the right bank of the river, man created a garden of Eden, at Brentford on the left, he created a Hell.

— Cecil Roberts, The Road to Bath

Our backs have to be against the wall before we can read the writing on it!

— Helen Zille, prime minister, Western Cape, BBC Newsnight, discussing the Cape Town drought.

I’ve been able to have a very relaxed philosophy, which is to enjoy yourself as much as you can without damaging other people.

— Diana Athill at 100, Guardian interview 16.12.17

A Palestinian and an Israeli asked God whether there would ever be peace between them. He replied “Of course, but not in my lifetime.”

— With thanks to Simon Schama

“It was so cold in Ottawa last winter that I even saw a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets!”

— W.P.

“I never wanted to be old, but I couldn’t stop it.”

— Edna O’Brien, Interview in FT July 2017

The day you are not angry any more, you are getting old and you will die.

— Matthieu Pigasse, Interview in FT

Religion is the frozen thought of man out of which they build temples.

— J Krishnamurti, With thanks to Harry Eyres, FT

Indecision is the key to flexibility.

“Did you have a good holiday?”
“Well, there’s no point in having a bad one, is there.”
(Overheard on a ship-to-shore radio, Doubtful Sound, New Zealand.)

Christmas Day – that special day for spending with those we love – or,failing that, our families.

— Julie Burchill, The Guardian

People who live by a riverside have always two pleasures to command: they can look both upstream and down.

— Freya Stark Baghdad Sketches 1937

“Available” means “Not Unavailable”.’
Definition in a PFI contract prepared by a City law firm.

I used to think I would like to be rich, but now that I’ve met some rich people I’m not so sure about that.

— Mma Makuti in The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith

I always respect other people’s opinions, even when I think they are talking bollocks.

— Mick Channon – from his biography

Definition of a Commission: “A group of men that keep minutes and waste hours”

Definition of a lawyer: “A lawyer is like a rhinoceros – shortsighted, thick-skinned, and ever ready to charge”.

— Sir Malcolm Rifkind

If a law is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law.

— Henry David Thoreau

Overheard at a funeral: “Are you a friend of the corpse?”

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