The Last Word

An eclectic collection that made us pause for thought.

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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.

All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.

— Spike Milligan

Definition of a helicopter:
“Magimicks belong Yesus”

— From Papua New Guinea

Asked why banks traditionally have large and impressive head offices, a partner in a top acocunting firm explained:
“They need to disguise the fact that banking is no more than an accounting exercise!”

Why did God create economists?
In order to make weather forecasters look good.

— With thanks to the Financial Times

Debt is like a crazy aunt we keep down in the basement. All the neighbours know she’s there, but nobody wants to talk about her.

— Ross Perot, With thanks to Jeff Randall, Daily Telegraph

Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.

— Gorge Bernard Shaw

Why am I so good at playing bitches? I think it’s because I’m not a bitch. Maybe that’s why Miss Crawford always plays ladies.

— Bette Davis, With thanks to Julie Burchill

There is no exception to the rule that every organic being naturally increases at so high a rate, that if not destroyed, the earth would soon be covered by the progeny of a single pair. Even slow-breeeding man has doubled in 25 years, and at this rate, in a few thousand years, there would literally not be standing room for his progeny.

— Charles Darwin, On the Origin of the Species, published 1859

My month without alcohol went so well that I finished early.

— Tim Dowling (The Guardian)

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one’s trousers to the seat of one’s chair.

— Kingsley Amis

The way to make a small fortune in publishing is to start with a large one.

— Anthony Blond, publisher

If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

— Dorothy Parker

War is God’s way of teaching the Americans geography.

— Heard on BBC Radio 4

Mr Walsh [BA’s Chief Executive] is not available for interview this morning…

— James Naughtie, BBC Today Programme, on the morning after the disastrous opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow

Opportunity only gives you knockers once.

— Pamela Anderson when asked what is the most important lesson life has taught her., With acknowledgements to The Guardian

In uncertain times like this, all you can do is look for the cloud at the end of the tunnel.

— Anon (a financial adviser)

We want to give flyers an experience they will remember.

— A BA (or BAA?) spokesman before the ill-fated opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow, With thanks to Clive James

Better perfect than not at all!

— A tailor in Jermyn Street

A Chinese judge told the defendant that if he wanted a fair trial he would have to pay the judge 10,000 Yuan. When the defendant asked why, the Judge replied:
“Because that is what the claimant has paid me!”

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.

— Woody Allen

No longer young, knowing life is a brief flash of light, the poet finds in the gaze and the lips of the beloved everything he needs to keep going.

— Harry Eyres on the poet Vincente Aleixandre (Financial Times)

If you want to grow your business, remember that 1 plus 1 is 11, not 2.

— A Chinese entrepreneur

Memorial services are the cocktail parties of the geriatric set.

— Harold MacMillan

I’m in sales, not management!

— Bishop Gene Robinson when asked if he could do anything about the appalling weather while standing in a bus queue at Hay-on-Wye in his ecclesiastical garb, in pouring rain and wind., With thanks to The Guardian

Success has many parents but failure is an orphan.

— Greek proverb

We will become independent of nature.

— The Cyprus Minister of Agriculture, when discussing his Government’s plans to deal with the island’s severe water shortage

As her 4×4 was brought to her at a valet car park, the driver was overheard to remark:
“I don’t know what all the fuss is about – if it’s so bad for the environment, why does it have climate control?”

— With thanks to the FT Letters page

It is amazing what you can achieve when you don’t care who gets the credit.

— Accredited, appropriately, to a number of different people including Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and George C. Marshall

“Besides, its very simple: if I didn’t have servants I couldn’t knit any more for the poor” said that excellent lady at that excellent luncheon.

— Andre Gide.

When told by his host that it was a great honour to have accepted his invitation to lunch on his 90th birthday, Sir John Gielgud replied: “Oh, I’m delighted to have been asked. All my real friends are dead, you know.”

— Gyles Brandreth (who was the host)

Definition of an economist:
“An economist is a fellow who knows 101 ways of making love and doesn’t have a girl.”

— Dr. William C.Freund, former chief economist for the New York Stock Exchange, As recounted by P.J.O’Rourke in his book On the Wealth of Nations

A good book is a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed in secret.

— Angela Dixon

There are three sides to every argument: my side, your side and the truth.

— Anon

I want America to know that I’m, like, ready to lead.

— Paris Hilton, commenting on the McCain advert in which she featured

I like working on holiday because it makes me feel important.

— Tim Dowling, writing in The Guardian Weekend

Extremely ugly blocks..arranged with most unpicturesque taste.

— Description of the Pyramids at Giza by 19th century artist William Holman Hunt, With thanks to Tate Britain where some of his paintings of Egypt are currently on show

The gestation period for an elephant is about the same as a Financial Services Authority consultation.

— Ian Morley, chairman of Carazon Capital, writing in the Financial Times

Where the wind of the argument goes, there we must follow.

— Plato’s Republic, With thanks to Katherine Whitehorn

Better a genius without faith than a believer without talent.

— Father Alain Couturier, the Dominican monk, commenting on the selection of artists and architects for French church buildings in an article in Harpers Bazaar., With thanks to Jackie Wullschlager, FT, reviewing work by Georges Rouault

If you get arrogant, you lose your way and start making mistakes.

— Richard Fuld, CEO of Lehman Brothers, 2005 interview with Euromoney

As profits grow incrementally, do losses accumulate excrementally?

— Tim Moss, letter in the Financial Times

For more than two centuries, the US and Europe have exercised an effortless economic, political and cultural hegemony. That era is coming to an end.

— Philip Stephens, Financial Times

A Churchillian comment on the financial crisis:
“Never has so much been owed by so few to so many!”

— Anon
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