Top quotes

If I’d didn’t employ madmen I’d never get a paper out — former Evening Standard editor John Leese (as told by Richard Littlejohn)Do me a favour Frank, I’m the bloody coach driver — Frank Bough, looking for players to interview after a rugby international.

If I blew my nose the Daily Express and the Daily Mail would say that I am trying to spread germ warfare — Ken Livingstone

Being an Expressman was not a religion, it was a cult. We were members of an exclusive club, first on the story, last to leave. It was never a job. It was a way of life — Reporter John King who died in 2002 aged 79

Rupert Murdoch, demoting Times Editor Frank Giles to Editor Emeritus after the Hitler Diaries scandal: "What on earth is that?" asked Frank. "It's Latin Frank," said Rupert. "E means exit and Emeritus means you deserve it.”

Beer: Helping ugly people have sex since 3000 BC — W C Fields

More than one newspaper has been ruined by the brilliant writer in the editor’s chair — Newspaper publisher Lord Camrose 1879–1954 

There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want — cartoonist Bill Watterson 

Gentlemen, include me out — Sam Goldwyn

If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair — Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm

The next time I send a dumb sonofabitch to do something, I go myself 

— Michael Curtiz

I want my sons to surpass me, because that's a form of immortality.

— Kirk Douglas

Bring on the empty horses — Michael Curtiz, while directing The Charge of the Light Brigade in 1936

A man may fight for many things: his country, his principles, his friends, the glistening tear on the cheek of a golden child. Personally, I’d mud wrestle my own mother for a ton of cash, an amusing clock and a sack of French porn — Edmund Blackadder, played by Rowan Atkinson in the eponymous TV series (script: Richard Curtis and Ben Elton).

If you can’t drink it, for God’s sake don’t cook with it — the late TV chef Keith Floyd 

(as told by Rick Stein).

When I see lovers' names carved in a tree, I don't think it's cute, I just find it strange that so many people have knives on a date — Bill Murray

They tried to kill us. We survived. Now let’s eat — Jewish irony

I want a man who's kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire? — Zsa Zsa Gabor

Sometimes I wonder if men and woman really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit, now and then — Katharine Hepburn

You find out who your real friends are when you're involved in a scandal — Elizabeth Taylor

Most woman set out to try to change a man, and when they have changed him, they don't like him — Marlene Dietrich

The problem with people who have no vices is that, generally, you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues — Elizabeth Taylor

Man doesn't control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him — Groucho Marx

Only good girls keep diaries; bad girls don't have time — Tallulah Bankhead

Money you haven't earned is not good for you — Robert Maxwell

The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue

 —Dorothy Parker

I’m not a heavy drinker. I can sometimes go for hours without touching a drop — Noel Coward

I love children, especially when they cry, for then someone takes them away — Nancy Mitford

The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so — Gore Vidal

Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt....President Herbert Hoover

The prospect of a lot of dull MPs in close proximity, all thinking for themselves, is what no man can face with equanimity — W.S.Gilbert

Nanny, nanny, it's that lefty off the telly!...One of Jacob Rees-Mogg's children running away after opening the door of the family home to Channel 4 Newsreader Jon Snow.

Hv gvn p vwls fr Lnt — Lenten resolution in The Times

It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing — Gertrude Stein

Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the Bible says, love your enemy — Frank Sinatra

Weapons are like money, no one knows the meaning of enough — Martin Amis

The average man is more interested in a woman who is interested in him than he is in a woman with beautiful legs — Marlene Dietrich

Youth is wasted on the young — George Bernard Shaw

I don't mind living in a man's world, as long as I can be a woman in it — Marilyn Monroe

It's not good to cross a bridge until you get to it — Dame Judi Dench 

A man would prefer to come home to an unmade bed and a happy woman than to a neatly-made bed and an angry woman — Marlene Dietrich

I like being over the hill, I've discovered there's a whole new landscape — Jane Fonda

Marry someone as unlike you as you possibly can or you are going to drift away from sheer boredom — Fay Wheldon who is on her third husband

Modest about our national pride, and inordinately proud of our national modesty — Ian Hislop on Britain

I drink too much. Last time I gave a urine sample it had an olive in it — Rodney Dangerfield

Love makes the world go round? Not at all. Whisky makes it go round twice as fast — Compton Mackenzie

When I read about the evils of drinking I gave up reading — Henry Youngman, American comedian  

So many times I have a speech ready, but no dice. Always the bridesmaid, never the mother. Now I win, I have no speech — Michael Curtiz accepting the Oscar for directing Casablanca  

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy — Dorothy Parker 

Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way — Daniele Vare

There are two kinds of fools. One says: 'This is old therefore it is good.' The other says: 'This is new therefore it is better.' — William Ralph Inge

Money isn't everything. I've got money and I've got everything and they are not the same — Robert Maxwell

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana — Groucho Marx

If things were half as bad as some people persist in believing, I'd have retired with a bottle of scotch and a pistol a long time ago — Robert Maxwell

Two fish in a tank, one says to the other: You drive; I’ll man the guns — Tommy Cooper

Scatter my ashes in Fleet Street. Who knows, the breeze might carry my mortal remains to an unseen crevice, some forgotten ledge where my sprit will hear again the laughing voices in the night — Derek Jameson in his autobiography Farewell to the Last of the Hot Metal Men

If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair — Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do — Jerome K Jerome

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language — Henry James

Caution: This truck is full of political promises — Sign on the back of septic tank lorry

The only thing I regret about my past is the length of it. If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes — only sooner — Tallulah Bankhead

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words — Mark Twain 

I hate writing. I love having written — Dorothy Parker

Isn't that the excitement of growing up: to think you know it all and then realise you don’t — Claire Fox 

Nobody who says: "I told you so" has ever been, or will ever be, a hero — Ursula K Le Guin

I checked the actuarial tables and the lowest death rate is among six-year-olds. So I decided to eat like a six-year-old. It's the safest course I can take — Warren Buffett, the world’s third-richest man who eats McDonald's chicken nuggets three times a week.

I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin — Oscar Levant, actor, composer and actor.

God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road — Karen Blixen

Everyone feels 25 until the day they die — Martin Kemp, Spandau Ballet

It is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring — Marilyn Monroe

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity — Dorothy Parker 

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for some people 

— Thomas Mann

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work 

— Stephen King

My approach to newspapers was based on the idea that when you looked at the front page you said: 'Good heavens', when you looked at the middle page you said: 'Holy smoke', and by the time you got to the back page well, I'd have to utter a profanity to show how exciting

— Arthur Christiansen

If you drink, don't drive. Don't even putt — Dean Martin

Politicians and diapers must be changed often and for the same reason — Mark Twain

If you don't tell the truth about yourself, you can't tell it about other people — Virginia Woolf

Woke up, watched Grandstand. Wrote Candle in the Wind. Went to London, bought Rolls-Royce. Ringo Starr came for dinner — Diary entry by Elton John

The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you are finished — Nelson DeMille

Even I don't wake up looking like Cindy Crawford — Cindy Crawford

When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading — Paul Horning

24 hours in a day and 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?  I think not! — H L Mencken

Age is just mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter — Mark Twain

Don’t just do something, sit there! — Ronald Reagan to eager presidential aides

Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster. For when  you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you — Friedrich Nietzsche

Who's this Greek chap Clitoris they're all talking about? — Lord Albemarle telling friends in the Turf Club about an obscene libel trial in 1918

The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn't make a decision — Anon in the Telegraph

Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact — George Eliot

If I've learned one lesson from life it is: if you don't stand for something, you'll stand for anything — Ginger Rogers

A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it   

— Bob Hope

Streets full of water. Please advise — Robert Benchley’s telegram to his editor at the New Yorker on arrival in Venice

You can have friends or you can correct people's grammar — Author and sub-editor May Norris

Many congratulations. Can I be a bridesmaid? — Robert Cameron Corbett on hearing of his brother Arthur’s engagement to April Ashley, a transexual

Sometimes, when I reflect on all the beer I drink, I feel ashamed.  Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I did not drink this beer they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. I think, it is better to drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver — Babe Ruth

Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men 

— Joseph Conrad

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age — Lucille Ball

In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag — W H Auden

In Heaven, all the interesting people are missing — Friedrich Nietzsche

If you want to know what God thinks about money, just look at the people he gave it to — Dorothy Parker

A journalist who has never worked for the Express is like a soldier who has never marched to the sound of gunfire — Brian Inglis

Tell him I was too fucking busy — or vice-versa — Dorothy Parker

Inside most people you read about in history books is a child who fiercely resisted toilet training — George Packer

I never gave anybody hell! I just told the truth and they thought it was hell — Harry S Truman

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy — Benjamin Franklin

When we drink,we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. So let's all get drunk and go to heaven — George Bernard Shaw

Please stop publishing pictures of Theresa May in embraces with EU leaders. They seem to be false, gratuitous, disingenuous, if not to say pervy. They are so unnecessary when the reality is that they all hate each other and must detest kissing her while she probably fears another Barnier snog — letter to the I newspaper 

Negotiate with them? But they want to drive us into the sea, to destroy us. The destruction of Israel is not negotiable — Menachem Begin  explains why he will not talk to the Palestine Liberation Organisation

As I sat, strapped in my seat waiting during the countdown, one thought kept crossing my mind — every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder — astronaut John Glenn.

When the white missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land — Desmond Tutu

America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked — David Letterman

I'm not a paranoid, deranged millionaire. I'm a billionaire — Howard Hughes

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so — Douglas Adams

The only reason they say 'Women and children first' is to test the strength of the lifeboats — Jean Kerr

When a man opens a car door for his wife, it's either a new car or a new wife — Prince Philip

I've been married to a communist and a fascist, and neither would take out the garbage 

— Zsa Zsa Gabor

The best cure for sea sickness, is to sit under a tree — Spike Milligan

Everybody was so gaga about Steve Jobs, but I picture him in hell running from demons who want a selfie — Jim Carrey

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing Emo Philips

With so many things coming back in style, I can't wait until morals, respect and intelligence become a trend again — Denzel Washington 

If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what then is an empty desk a sign?   — Albert Einstein

I have kleptomania but when it gets bad I take something for it — Robert Benchley

Some of the best advice I've been given: Don't take criticism from people you'd never go to for advice — Morgan Freeman

Having more money doesn't make you happier. I have 50 million dollars but I'm just as happy as when I had 48 million — Arnold Schwarzenegger

My wife just left me because of my obsession with cricket. It’s really hit me for six — Anon

Every family is a war but some are more civil than others — Novelist Namwali Serpell

There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz SL500 — Frank Sinatra

We code named it Operation Arse so we'd all be clear who we were talking about — Scottish Tories who organised a stop-Boris plot

It was the only thing she ever stole in her life, except, of course, husbands — Richard Burton after his wife Elizabeth Taylor, who for a dare,  nicked a book from Foyles

I'm going to be the greatest prime minister since Bonar Law. Though I may be more Boner than Law — Rory Bremner giving an impersonation of Boris Johnson 

There's always someone out there whose parents were killed in a car crash while swerving to avoid a chicken crossing the road — Frank Skinner on how it is almost impossible to tell a joke without offending someone

You never love your children more than when they're unconscious, but still breathing — Michael McIntyre

A diplomat's job, if it is anything, and especially in Trump's America, is to make damn sure it never speaks truth to power — Tom Peck

Kill one man and you're a murderer, kill a million and you're a conqueror — Jean Rostand

If life were fair Elvis would still be alive today and all the impersonators would be dead — Johnny Carson

Every hero becomes a bore at last — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have never in my life learnt anything from a man who agreed with me  — Dudley Field Malone

Education is what remains when we have forgotten all that we have been taught —  Lord Halifax

Wood burns faster when you have to cut and chop it yourself — Harrison Ford

There are two types of people; those who do the work and those who take the credit.  Try to be in the first group, there is less competition there — Indira Gandhi

We don't serve lager because we don't get many women in here — Michael Caine after asking for a half of lager in a tough Newcastle bar in 1971

Donald Trump thinks the Bill of Rights is just one more invoice he doesn't have to pay — Christian Britschgi

Lawyers believe a man is innocent until proven broke — Robin Hall

We are here on earth to do good unto others. What the others are here for, I have no idea — W H Auden

I don't believe in astrology. I am a Sagittarius and we're very skeptical 
— Arthur C Clarke

Hollywood must be the only place on earth where you can be fired by a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a baseball cap —Steve Martin

Home cooking. Where many a man thinks his wife is — Jimmy Durante

If you're calling Paddy Ashdown, please leave a message after the high moral tone — Charles Kennedy teasing one of his predecessors as Lib Dem Leader

Willie Whitelaw, former Home Secretary touring a prison asked one inmate what he was in for. "I'm a contract killer,” said the prisoner. Whitelaw, already dreaming of a Scotch, replied: "Splendid! Splendid! Keep up the good work!”

After one look at this planet, any visitor from outer space would say. I want to see the manager — William S Burroughs

Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister? That’s the worst idea I ever heard, and I’ve heard some terrible ideas. Don’t forget, I used to work for the Daily Mirror — Expressman Mike Graham on his TalkRADIO showJeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister? That’s the worst idea I ever heard, and I’ve heard some terrible ideas. Don’t forget, I used to work for the Daily Mirror — Expressman Mike Graham on his TalkRADIO show.

If God had intended us to fly he would have made it easier to get to the airport — Jonathan Winters

The first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone — George Roberts

America is so advanced that even the chairs are electric — Doug Hamwell

Nick Clegg is “a revolting character." Former Brexit Secretary David Davis is “thick as mince” — Two character assessments  by Boris's new senior adviser Dominic Cummings

If things were simple, word would have got around — Jacques Derrida

Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else — Judy Garland

I suppose lesbian sex is a bit like cricket, in that it goes on forever and there's a lot of men watching it at home, alone, on the internet — Comedian Catherine Bohart

Every generation, civilisation, is invaded by Barbarians — we call them children — Hannan Arendit

I was once caught on the boundary in a local cricket league match by a fielder who had transferred his cigarette from right to left hand, put the pint of bitter he was drinking on the ground and took the catch with his now free right hand.  He then acknowledged the applause by picking up the pint and raising it to the spectators — Paul Thomas in a letter to The Times 

That will teach the English to try and behave like Frenchmen — Charles de Gaulle on the Profumo affair


© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre