Archive for the ‘Quote Of The Day’ Category

Simon Hoggart: Gallery Play at its finest

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

I’m working my way through Simon Hoggart’s parliamentary sketches, published in book form under the Guardian Books label.

It’s wonderful stuff – and not just for political junkies (but then I would say that, wouldn’t I…?)

So, for today, I’ll give you a few quotes from ‘Playing to the Gallery’, which deals with the first four Blair years.


About William Hague, former Tory (opposition) leader, on the 2000 campaign trail:

‘Finally Mr Hague was among us, wearing a brown, rustic sort of jacket, suitable for gassing badgers on a chilly night.’


About Kenneth Clarke, grand old Tory:

‘Ken Clarke rolled up, literally. Everything about him is round. His face, his body, his belly, his eyes, even the movements described by his torso as he circles a room, are all spherical. If Lucian Freud had been there, he’d have grabbed his brushes, ripped Ken’s clothes off and shouted: “I want a crack at that!” ‘


About Margaret Thatcher, being accosted in the street, by an impertinent voter:

‘Then it all goes haywire. The face is deathly white these days, and her dark brocade outfit looked as if it had been run up from the curtains in a posh undertaker’s. The effect is crepuscular, until the eyes blaze like a panther with a coke habit.’


About Gordon Brown speaking at a New Labour conference:

‘Was he contrite? No, he was not. His speech was as packed with contrition as a frog is full of toothpaste.’


About Tony Blair (1), making his first Labour Party conference speech:

‘The Prime Minister walked on to the music of Saint-Saëns, specifically the part used as the theme for Babe. This is the popular film about a shy talking piglet who learns to round up flocks of docile, disciplined sheep. Just a coincidence, of course.’

About Tony Blair (2), at a newspaper conference:

‘Not for the first time, I was struck by the way that a Blair speech is closer to a musical composition than to mere rhetoric. Like a piece of music, its aim is not to inform but to create good feelings. It’s no more about facts and policies than the Pastoral Symphony is an examination of the common agricultural policy.’

About Tony Blair (3), when asked, in the Commons, to give a brief characterization of his underlying political philosophy:

‘Tony Blair with a philosophy? A political philosophy? And a philosophy that underlay anything at all? You might as well ask Ludwig Wittgenstein whether he’d voted for Gareth or Will on Pop Idol.’

Epidurals: The werewolf principle

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

I already posted something, earlier today – but I just read this Charlie Brooker column in today’s Guardian…

… and if this ain’t Quote Of The Day Material, I’d better scrap this sub genre now.

As it is, here’s your QOTD fix for the day. Enjoy:

‘I fail to comprehend why any sane 21st-century human would refuse an epidural. OK, you might view the full, unvarnished experience as some kind of precious rite, but come on: I heard the screams from the natural birth centre. It sounded like a werewolf exorcising a roomful of crucified sopranos.)’

Let all us language animals burn Khomeini’s beard in effigy (and blow googly raspberries at Imran Khan)

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

(Midnight’s Children, indeed…)

I’m not a huge Salmon Rushdie fan.

I’m perfectly happy to agree with all his many millions of admirers that he is a great writer but with books it can be the same as with music: some stuff, however well made, just isn’t for you.

So, his famed second novel (and the first one I read), Midnight’s Children didn’t quite do it for me and neither did any of the other books I subsequently worked my ever more weary way through.

When the Satanic Verses got all that free publicity from the Beady-Eyed Bearded One I decided to read it, just to see what all the fuss was about…

… but I found it quite boring and worse, childish. Giving some whores the same names as Mohammed’s wives is just a bit too Benny Hill for my taste – but, as our Ayatollah didn’t quite say, ‘Chacun à son goût’, before lustfully stroking his beard while watching his neighbour’s gouty goat.

Anyway, so, what I wanted to say is that though I’m not a huge Rushdie fan, that doesn’t mean I take kindly to the now dead-parrot-y Mad Mullah and all who still sail on him.

Like the imbecile Imran Khan, who refused to be in the same postal code area as Rushdie because the latter had caused immeasurable hurt to all Muslims.

(Take it from me, Cobblers Khan, if you can’t measure it, it ain’t happened.)

Anyway (part deux), all of the above is just the amuse-bouche to today’s Quote Of The Day’s sublime spread.


… well, let’s start quoting – if not Quite Quoting Yet – from the Guardian:

Salman Rushdie has called on Indiansto wake up and fight for free speech because “voices are being silenced” and “a combination of religious fanaticism, political opportunism and public apathy is damaging that freedom upon which all other freedoms depend: the freedom of expression”.

Which sets the tone and brings us to the actual quote – or: Quote.


‘The human being is essentially a language animal. We are a creature which has always used language to express our most profound feelings and we are nothing without our language. The attempt to silence our tongue is not only censorship. It’s also an existential crime about the kind of species that we are. We are a species which requires to speak, and we must not be silenced.’


(One who kicked the bucket… and one still alive and kicking righteous ass…)

Finding good reasons for conventional beliefs, we are defined by what we deny (or: Gray is the colour that we need)

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Here’s another Quote Of The Day post – with six loosely related quotes from my favourite philosopher, John Gray, bookended by two cartoons by one of my favourite cartoonists, Leigh Rubin.


‘The core of the belief in progress is that human values and goals converge in parallel with our increasing knowledge. The twentieth century shows the contrary. Human beings use the power of scientific knowledge to assert and defend the values and goals they already have. New technologies can be used to alleviate suffering and enhance freedom. They can, and will, also be used to wage war and strengthen tyranny. Science made possible the technologies that powered the industrial revolution. In the twentieth century, these technologies were used to implement state terror and genocide on an unprecedented scale. Ethics and politics do not advance in line with the growth of knowledge — not even in the long run.’

‘The mass political movements of the 20th century were vehicles for myths inherited from religion, and it is no accident that religion is reviving now that these movements have collapsed.’

‘Not everything in religion is precious or deserving of reverence. There is an inheritance of anthropocentrism, the ugly fantasy that the Earth exists to serve humans, which most secular humanists share. There is the claim of religious authorities, also made by atheist regimes, to decide how people can express their sexuality, control their fertility and end their lives, which should be rejected categorically. Nobody should be allowed to curtail freedom in these ways, and no religion has the right to break the peace.’

‘Secularism is like chastity, a condition defined by what it denies.’

‘As commonly practised, philosophy is the attempt to find good reasons for conventional beliefs. In Kant’s time the creed of conventional people was Christian, now it is humanist. Nor are these two faiths so different from one another. Over the past 200 years, philosophy has shaken off Christian faith. It has not given up Christianity’s cardinal error — the belief that humans are radically different from all other animals.’

‘If Darwin’s discovery had been made in a Taoist or Shinto, Hindu or animist culture it would very likely have become just one more strand in its intertwining mythologies. In these faiths humans and other animals are kin. By contrast, arising among Christians who set humans beyond all other living things, it triggered a bitter controversy that rages on to this day.’

It was hundred years ago today: With Keynes interest

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

(John Maynard Keynes)

With thanks to Atticus, of the Times*, this marvellous quotation, more than worthy of Quote Of The Day status:

 ‘[H]ow long it will be necessary to pay City men so entirely out of proportion to what other servants of society commonly receive for performing social services no less useful or difficult[?]’

Yes, I know; it’s not exactly a novel thought, these days.

Point is, speaking here is no other than John Maynard Keynes…

… a cool hundred years ago!


*Paywall, I’m afraid.

(Just a little bit late, boys…)

Silk stockings brushing across upholstery (+ 5 x Doo Wop)

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Here’s my Quote Of The Day for you, with thanks to Bruce Springsteen and the Telegraph:

‘[T]he most sensual music ever made, the sound of raw sex, silk stockings brushing across upholstery, bras popping, running mascara, tears on your pillow. [Doo wop] dripped from the late night gas stations and pool halls, the temples of life and mystery in my home town.’


The Temptations: My girl

The Marcels: Blue moon

Spaniels: Goodnite, sweetheart, goodnite

Barry Mann: Who put the bomp

There is only one God and you are not it

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Today’s Quote Of The Day comes from a Guardian video, with Irshad Manji, author of ‘The Trouble with Islam Today’ and ‘Allah, Liberty and Love.’

After you’re done here, go watch the video:

“I am not looking to do away with fundamentalists. I’m looking to remind them that there is only one God and they are not it.”

(And now go buy the book…)

Remains, remaindered

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Today’s Quote Of The Day, with thanks to SF Gate’s Jon Carroll:


“We’re all going to be somebody’s annoying corpse someday.”


(Honestly, how could I have resisted…?)

A.A. Gill: On religion, Stonehenge and Bill Clinton

Monday, February 20th, 2012

I have not much time to write anything today. In two hours’ time some friends will arrive, expecting to be fed – so, for now, I will just go through my quite extensive files of random quotes.

Well, I already did that, obviously, so, I’ll leave you with three quotes by Times columnist A.A. Gill.

They are not at all connected but feel free to go all-out Zen over them, linking them, yourself and the sound of one hand clapping to your heart’s content:


1) ‘Scientists try to disprove faith by scientifically taking apart the evidence, but the faith is not in the liturgy. It’s the practice that binds people to the ethereal.’

2) ‘Barbecues are to cooking what Stonehenge is to architecture: a start.’

3)'[I]f an island could be a person, then Cuba would be Bill Clinton.’


Our self is an object full of dissatisfaction

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Just a short Quote Of The Day post. I give you Michel Eyquem de Montaigne:

“Our self is an object full of dissatisfaction, we can see there nothing but wretchedness and vanity. So as not to dishearten us, Nature has very conveniently cast the action of our sight outwards.”

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