The Last Word

An eclectic collection that made us pause for thought.

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Don’t look for a needle in a haystack. Buy the haystack.

— John Bogle, founder, Vanguard Group, FT 4.5. 2024

Power is a great aphrodisiac.

— Henry Kissinger, FT 2.12.2023

Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed, and one country’s success is an opportunity for the other.

— Xi Jinping, President of China, A meeting in California with US President Joe Biden

I agree that they [economic forecasts] are not worth the paper they are written on.

— Lord Mervyn King former Governor of the Bank of England, BBC World Service, interview by Stephen Sackur on Hardtalk 13.11.2023

Muhammad Ali walks into a restaurant for a cup of coffee.
Waitress: “We don’t serve black people”
Muhammad Ali: “And I don’t eat them!”

— Muhammad Ali, boxer, BBC Michael Parkinson show.

We know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it.

— Jean- Claude Juncker, when prime minister of Luxembourg, Bronwen Maddox, FT 221202

‘I’m going to get married,’ he heard himself say, and the doors to his future clanged shut in his face.

— Anita Brookner, Incidents in the Rue Laugier

Cartography is another name for stories told by winners.

— Elif Shafak, The Island of Missing Trees

Legends are there to tell us what history has forgotten.

— Elif Shafak, The Island of Missing Trees

The problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win.

— Seth Godwin, Seth’s Blog

I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started.

— Donald Rumsfeld.

If I know the answer, I’ll answer you, if I don’t I’ll just respond.

— Donald Rumsfeld, BBC

What’s troubling is not the magnitude of our problems but the smallness of our politics.

— Barack Obama, The Guardian

We are already on the last bus, but if we all got together and acted now and governments followed, then we still have a chance.

— Randal Plunkett, Baron of Dunsany, interviewed on his rewilding of 750 acres at Dunsany, Louise Walshe, Irish Times Feb 2021

Economics, essentially a faith-based discipline, represented itself as a hard science.

— Philip Stephens, FT 20.2.2021

We may be the first species to document our own extinction.

— Lily Cole, author of Who Cares Wins

Donald Trump is a genius, that’s what the J stands for!

— A supporter of President Donald J. Trump interviewed in Washington DC on the day his supporters stormed the Capitol., TV

We have a very Darwinian menu. Whatever sells, we put on the menu; whatever doesn’t sell, we take off.

— Chris Kempczinski, CEO of McDonalds, FT weekend 28/9 Nov 2011 (Lunch with the FT)

I spent a big chunk of my life studying philosophy and I’m still recovering.

— Robert Armstrong, FT Life & Arts 7 November 2020

There is no liberty without morality, and no freedom without responsibility.

— Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks who died 7th November 2020, BBC Radio 4

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)
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