As my daughters and their kids and I are together for the first time in years, this is an early-morning cop-out. Enjoy! Though you might not get them all if you’re not British . . .
The Times Diary Quotes of the Year
“1) When in doubt, ascribe everything to George Bernard Shaw, except when obviously Shakespeare, the Bible or Kipling. 2) However sure you are that you have attributed a quotation correctly, an earlier source will be pointed out to you. 3) An earlier formation of a joke can always be found in Punch.”
Nigel Rees, the Radio 4 presenter, gives his three rules for compiling quotations.
“Hats are like lingerie for blokes. They don’t just look good, they change how you feel.”
The advertising guru Rory Sutherland on how to dress up for Zoom meetings.
“They both had red uniforms and generated their wealth from slave labour.”
Alexei Sayle, the comedian, on why his parents thought Father Christmas was like Joseph Stalin.
“If they can raise the dead they can save the living.”
Kathy Lette, the novelist, notes that Pfizer makes Viagra as well as vaccines.
“It sounded delicious until he added garlic — ghastly — and salad. I shall have to stick to my deep-fried Mars Bar.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg is tempted to try a chicken parmo, a Teesside delicacy, until a fellow MP describes it to him.
“Police reported several hundred protesters on Saturday and a few thousand of them were arrested.”
The former chess champion Garry Kasparov gives a cynical take on Moscow politics.
“There were days I considered doing him in to bump a bad story off the front pages.” Katie Perrior, director of communications when Theresa May was prime minister, on the affection for Larry the Downing Street Cat.
“I played Gandalf, who was 7,000 years old, and no one said I was too young.”
Sir Ian McKellen on complaints about him playing Hamlet aged 81.
“Remind me, which ones are the orange johnnies?”
A former colleague of Boris Johnson at The Telegraph recalls the prime minister’s confusion as a journalist, not over contraception but Northern Ireland politics.
“I am so glad your father has been re-elected.”
What President Truman’s mother said to Princess Elizabeth, as she was then, when she and Prince Philip visited Washington in 1951, told by Gyles Brandreth.
“The language you learn in the House of Lords is very bad.”
Lord McNally apologising for swearing while appearing online in parliament.
“The difference between you and us is we bribe them in office and you bribe them after.”
Baroness Warsi’s father on corruption in Britain and Pakistan.
“Each doctor I’ve had recommended I give up. Each of them has now died.”
David Hockney on the pleasure he gets from smoking.
“Liz Truss is like lettuce: one of God’s great mistakes.”
The former MP Jerry Hayes on the new foreign secretary.
“He constructed the worst working environment I’ve ever been in and I’ve been in some bad ones.”
The Tory MP Johnny Mercer, who did three tours in Afghanistan, on working with Dominic Cummings.
“There are only so many ways that I cannot answer the question.”
David Williams, new permanent secretary of the MoD, shows MPs that he is a natural Sir Humphrey.
“I’ve polled 1,000 women asking if they would sleep with Boris. Twenty per cent said: ‘Never again’.”
The pollster Frank Luntz, a university contemporary of the prime minister.
“Honey, there have been enough boobs in the White House without mine.”
Dolly Parton tells Gavin Esler why she won’t run for US president.
“My writing is very neat. I think it’s the only thing that stopped me from becoming a doctor.”
Paul Merson, the footballer, on the road not travelled.
“I went to the doctor the other day and he said ‘You’ve got hypochondria’. I said: ‘Oh God, not that as well’.”
The comedian Bob Mortimer on his health problems.
“It’s lucky for us all that she has a miserable life because otherwise the music wouldn’t be any good. If she ever falls in love and stays in love we’re doomed.”
The BBC’s Nick Robinson shows his appreciation for the work of Adele.
“Not even up to Pret standards. And the sausage rolls run out fast.”
ITV’s political editor Robert Peston moans about the free food at Cop26.
“Politicians know the right thing to do. They just don’t how to get re-elected when they’ve done it.”
Martin Rees, the astronomer royal, on why politics always focuses on the short term.
“Eat quickly before you are caught.”
The final instruction in Boris Johnson’s recipe for cheese on toast for a Conservative Party cookbook.
“I spent the first day looking for idealism, the second day looking for inspiration and days three, four and five looking for Harriet’s coat, which she had misplaced on day one.”
The former Labour leader Ed Miliband recalls his first party conference working as a researcher for Harriet Harman, who is standing down as an MP.
And here’s a quote from Richard North this morning, which I echo:-
I will do my best to relax through this day. I will enjoy the food so carefully prepared by [me] and partake in a glass (or 2) of fine wine, thinking kind thoughts about goodwill to all – without actually putting it into practice. Soon enough, hostilities will resume after the Christmas truce, and we can resume beating our heads against the metaphorical wall, as we attempt to divine some sense from this utterly mad world.
Finally . . .
A topical card from RN’s page today:-
Have a great day!
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