The Last Word

An eclectic collection that made us pause for thought.

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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

He who has a yacht has a different wife every night.

— Modern Greek proverb, according to Taki, The Spectator

Asked by a young couple on a country lane in Essex how far it was to the next village, a local man working in a field paused and then replied:
“If you walks for ‘alf an hour and sits down for ‘alf an hour, it’ll take longer.”

— GD

Definition: Non-executive Directors
“They are like bidets – no one knows what they’re for, but they add a touch of class.”

— Martin Lukes (author: Lucy Kellaway)

What matters is not how well you are playing when you are playing well, but how well you are playing when you are playing badly.

— Martina Navratilova, As quoted by Clive James on BBC Radio 4

Formula for success: Rise early, work hard, strike oil.

— John Paul Getty

Bear in mind the gambler’s advice: If you don’t know who is the patsy in the room, it’s you.

— John Kay, Financial Times

We fought for freedom and all we got was democracy.

— Comment from the floor at an election rally in South Africa, As reported by Pieter-Dirk Uys

Definition of Humour:
A weapon of mass distraction.

— Pieter-Dirk Uys

In the old days we was nice to the nice people and we was nasty to the nasty people. Nowadays we have to be nice to everyone.

— A recently retired policeman, With thanks to Theodore Dalrymple, The Spectator

“Human Relations are difficult -and some of our relations are not even human.”

Definition of a stockbroker: ” Someone who invests your money until it is all gone.”

Blackpool is what America would be like if it were poor.

— Simon Hoggart, The Guardian

At my age I do what Mark Twain did: I get my daily paper, look at the obituaries page and if I’m not there I carry on as usual.

— Patrick Moore

I have a slight feeling that politicians are all bastards in the end. To be successful in politics you have to be a compromiser and you have to lie.

— Helen Mirren (FT Magazine)

It’s just 99% of lawyers who give the rest a bad name.

— Clive Anderson, Simon Hoggart, The Guardian

It is sad to grow old but nice to ripen.

— Brigitte Bardot

In terms of progress, history has confirmed that the future can be a lot worse than the present.

— Lucy Kellaway, Financial Times

She is the most balanced person I know – she has a chip on both shoulders.

— AB

I have the body of an eighteen year old. I keep it in the fridge.

— Spike Milligan

Take a bottle of Napoleon Brandy, pour into a silver salver, swill and throw away.

— The opening words of a recipe for trifle, attributed to Mrs Beeton, but probably apocryphal.
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