The Last Word

An eclectic collection that made us pause for thought.

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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?”

A retreat from the rule of law, human rights and civil liberties is short-sighted and unthinkable. Yet such a retreat is precisely what is taking place. A quiet and relentless war is being waged on our rights.

— From the opening chapter of Just Law by Helena Kennedy QC

A weed is a flower in the wrong place.

— Anon

The evil heart of humankind is the cause, religion is the excuse.

— Angela Dixon

Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.

— Plato (427-347 B.C.)

The difference between a good garden and a bad one is a fortnight.

— Attributed to Bob Flowerdew on Gardener’s Question Time, BBC Radio 4

“How do you make God laugh?”
“Tell him your plans for the future.”

— Ken Dodd on BBC Radio 4

The greater the number of species that become extinct, the closer we become to extinction.

— Gerald Durrell

Life is too short to stuff a mushroom.

— Shirley Conran

All science is either physics or stamp collecting.

— Ernest Rutherford

Jean Paul Sartre to waitress in cafe: “Coffee with no cream, please.”
Waitress: “We have no cream today, monsieur”.
Sartre: “How about coffee with no milk?”

— With thanks to Duncan Campbell in The Guardian

Every garden, however small, should have at least 20 acres of rough woodland.

— Lord Rothschild

A verbal contract is not worth the paper it is written on.

— Samuel Goldwyn

Married woman, overheard at a party: “When one of us dies, I’m going to live in the south of France.”

Today is better than tomorrow.

— Participant in the documentary film “Iraq in Fragments” by James Longley, With thanks to Peter Aspden, Financial Times

Description of Marketing: “Cast your bread upon the waters and wait for it to come back as a ham sandwich”.

A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

— Attributed to Everett Dirksen

He who waits for a roast duck to fly into his mouth will be waiting a long time.

— Old Chinese proverb

How very stupid of me not to have thought of that myself.

— Thomas Huxley, on reading Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species

Tourism is sin, walking is virtue.

— Werner Herzog, Quoted by Bruce Chatwin (with acknowledgements to the FT).

Death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down.

— Anon, Quoted in ‘More on Oxymoron’ by Patrick Hughes

People have one thing in common: they are all different.

— Robert Zend

Architecture is frozen music.

— Goethe

Definition of the Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think.

— Ambrose Bierce

Those who watch television lose the world, those who read gain it.

— Werner Herzog, Interview with Brigid Grauman, Financial Times

Sustainable Development – that’s an oxymoron, isn’t it?

— Antony Gormley, Interview with Peter Aspden in the Financial Times

Be careful how you treat those on the way up as you might meet them on the way down.

— Anon

He believes his future as a politician is behind him.

— Comment by Sir John Major’s spokesperson on the suggestion he might run as mayor of London

Never give more than one excuse.

— Sarah Hegarty

The only thing that makes writing fun is the anticipation of applause.

— Tom Wolfe, Interview with Trevor Butterworth, Financial Times

It is slowly dawning on us that the human population is growing, and our need to burn things in order to survive is going to outweigh the ability of new things to grow.

— Antony Gormley, Interview by Peter Aspden, Financial Times
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