“I fear stasis, when the body is still vital but the mind sets like cement. Whenever I hear people clucking about the decline of civilisation, what’s wrong with young people, how vulgar popular culture is, how confusing and frightening they find the internet, alarms go off. I know I’m around somebody whose hinges are rusting…for me this early harbinger is more fearsome [than death], because a part of one’s spirit and openness and ability to learn and grow disappears.”
John Katz, A Dog Year
“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.”
I can’t remember where I heard this. It wasn’t the original (Santayana, apparently)
“One woman, opening the parliament, deprecates the former inactivity of women in political and public life – ‘remaining always at home attending to our distaffs and spindles, even though many of us are no good about the house'”
Celtic Women, Peter Berresford Ellis quoting Párliament na mBan, a text circulated underground in Ireland in the 1690s, where women “seize political power” and set up their own parliament
“I tweet, therefore my entire life has shrunk to 140 character chunks of instant event and predigested gnomic wisdom. And swearing.”
“Yes, Theresa May blames her failure on communications data, counter terror, Europe and immigration all on a fight with Nick Clegg. Conference this is the man who rolled over on tuition fees, top rate of tax, Syria, the bedroom tax….The man couldn’t fight his way out of a plastic bag No wonder he wants to tax them.”
Yvette Cooper’s shadow Home Secretary speech at the Labour Conference, September 2013
“’Whether the British ruling class are wicked or merely stupid is one of the most difficult questions of our time.’…I have no hesitation in saying that in this area, the present government has been both wicked and stupid. And it’s our job to put it right.”
Lord Willy Bach (quoting Orwell) at LAPG panel on Legal Aid, Labour Party Conference, September 2013
“No politician likes to look silly. They’re very touchy on that subject; that’s why they confuse their egos with the national interest so often.”
Iain Pears, The Immaculate Deception
“No one had ever determined if cats were actually clairvoyant or if they just enjoyed being furry little shit disturbers”
Claire Hansen, Tanya Huff, The Second Summoning
“People say to me, “Oh Bill, leave them alone. They’re so good, and so clean-cut, and they’re such a good image for the children.” Fuck that! When did mediocrity and banality become a good image for your children? I want my children listening to people who fucking rocked! I don’t care if they died in pools of their own vomit! I want someone who plays from his fucking heart!”
Bill Hicks on pop music
“After years of study he was privately convinced that there was not a single bank director or celebrity corporate executive who wasn’t also a cretin…A bank director who blows millions on foolhardy speculation should not keep his job. A managing director who plays shell company games should do time”
Stieg Larsson, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo
“The only thing…worse than the baying of the newspaper columns is the hypocrisy and self – advertisement of various backbenchers who will attempt to get their names in the Press by asking ridiculous questions”
Home Office civil servant in David Dickinson’s Death at Jesus Hospital
“It’s my belief most of us would only be too pleased to chuck these community hysterics if the beastly newspapers didn’t run it for all it’s worth.”
Captain Fentiman, Dorothy L Sayers, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club
TV show, Lost Girl:
The Norn: No, you wouldn’t dare.
Kenzi: Oh yes, I would. I’m human remember? We drive SUV’s, and we dump raw sewage into pretty lakes, and we will burn this planet to the ground if it means just one more cheeseburger.
“George Osborne has the economic literacy of a stick of rhubarb. Full-time workers in all regions in the UK have seen the value of their earnings drop when they have a job.”
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny
“It is a well known fact in any organisation that, if you want a job done, you should give it to the person who is already very busy. It has been the cause of a number of homicides, and in one case the death of a senior director from having his head shut repeatedly in quite a small filing cabinet.”
Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals
“…all the pains I’d learned. Cooking blunders I’d had to eat anyway. Equipment and property constantly breaking down, needing repairs and attention. Tax insanity and rushing around trying to hack a path through a jungle of numbers. Late bills. Unpleasant jobs that gave you horribly aching feet. Odd looks from people who didn’t know you when something less than utterly normal happened. The occasional night when the loneliness ached so badly that it made you weep. The occasional gathering during which you wanted to escape to your empty apartment so badly you were willing to go out the bathroom window. Muscle pulls and aches you never had when you were younger, the annoyance as the price of gas kept going up to some ridiculous degree, the irritation with unruly neighbours, brainless media personalities, and various politicians who all seemed to fall on a spectrum somewhere between the extremes of ‘crook’ and ‘moron’. You know. Life.”
Jim Butcher, White Night
“We’re forever whining about either the weather or the traffic, or both. It seems to me that people who don’t like the weather should leave. That by itself would probably go a long way towards fixing the traffic woes. And then, the next time some elected officials ask for money to fix the roads, the complainers who stay on should all belly up to the bar and offer to pay their fair share.”
J A Jance, Long Time Gone (written about Seattle)
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
“…as doctors seldom take their own prescriptions and divines do not always practise what they preach, so lawyers are shy of meddling with the law on their own account, knowing it to be an edged tool of uncertain application, very expensive in the working, and rather remarkable for its properties of close shaving, than for its always shaving the right person.”
From Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop but, because I find Dickens really dull, I saw the quote in the Law Society Gazette (which I don’t find dull because I’m twisted like that).
“Laughter is good for you. Nine out of ten stand-up comedians recommend laughter in the face of intense stupidity”
Harry Dresden, Jim Butcher, Proven Guilty.
“Morality can only be asserted from the safe retrospection of twenty years or more. Parliaments have far too short a life to do any long-term good. It is up to corporations to do what is best for everyone. The tenure of an administration may be five years – for us it can be several centuries, and none of that tiresome accountability to get in the way”
John Henry Goliath V, Jasper Fforde, Something Rotten
“”A cat predicted my death” “Cats make terrible doctors. Oh no. Wait. That’s women. You’re screwed.””
“St Pancras International. Some wisecracker had announced in the 1830s that, what with the Houses of Parliament having burnt down, there should be a competition to build the replacement. St Pancras was one of the entries. If British mps wore sweeping cloaks and cackled at the moon, it would have been the perfect place for government.”
Kate Griffin, The Midnight Mayor
“The law is full of the most amazingly large and expensive grey areas, so that seen from the air it resembles nothing so much as the Confederate army camped on a shale beach on a cloudy day.”
Tom Holt, Faust Among Equals
“‘How did you get here?’
‘On our bicycles,’ Dtui told him.
‘All this way? And you with your arthritis, Madame Daeng.’
‘Can’t let a little chronic pain spoil a day out, comrade,’ she told him”
Colin Cotterill, Curse of the Pogo Stick.
“Jacqui Smith clearly does not do irony. If she did, then she would not, on that ground alone, have picked 42 as the answer to the biggest question facing her since she assumed the mantle of Home Secretary.”
Roger Smith, Gesture Politics, Law Society Gazette, 17/01/08 (on detention periods)
“Thou hast not given us hearts to hate, nor hands to kill one another. May the trifling differences in the garments that cover our frail bodies, in the mode of expressing our thoughts, in our ridiculous customs and imperfect laws not be used by us as a signal of mutual hatred and persecution”,
Voltaire in his letter (as he puts it) to God, A Visit from Voltaire (book featuring the ghost of Voltaire – some are genuine quotes, some are fiction but I don’t know which are which), Dinah Lee Küng
“It is not and cannot be the business of Government to bail out financial concerns whose imprudence or wickedness has left them unable to meet their obligations. I do not need to tell you, Roseberry, the outcry that would erupt in the House of Commons if members felt that taxpayers’ money was being used for these purposes”
PM in a novel written in 2003 & set in 1897: David Dickinson, Death and the Jubilee
I’ve also put a brilliant quote on home ownership from George Orwell’s Coming up for air in a separate post. It’s too long to put on this page but well worth a read.