(‘The proper basis of marriage is a mutual misunderstanding’. Oscar Wilde)
Many mention Oscar’s wit but few praise his courage.
Oscar Wilde was far too clever for his own good.
Homosexuality adds to the gaiety of nations.
Optimism is more precious than platinum.
Pleasure and pain are Siamese twins.
It rang a few bells but I couldn’t name the church.
Irony and hypocrisy are often opposite sides of the same coin.
You can’t have your cake and eat it. That’s why it’s better to buy biscuits.
We live in an age where the court jester has become more important than the monarch.
Why was the new royal baby so slow to appear?
Because he was supposed to be the reincarnation of Nelson Mandela.
You can’t bottle charisma but you can bank it.
In life there are an awful lot of snakes and hardly any ladders.
He’s as slippery as an oil-smothered eel.
Necessity is the smother of intention.
Brevity is the soul of wit but levity is the whole of it.
Alliteration is the lowest form of lit with assonance the higher half of it.
Every man has his vice.
Fortune favours the fortunate.
Familiarity breeds contentment.
Least read, soonest lended.
Thrift is doubtless a great virtue but on the other hand, who wants to hang out with the thrifty?
Only begin winnable wars and try not to fight on too many fronts simultaneously.
We know our neighbours well. We’ve got the scars to prove it.
Having good or bad neighbours is the difference between heaven and hell.
Sworn enemies meet in narrow streets.
The only useful advice my father ever gave me was: ‘Present a moving target and keep the buggers guessing.’
Just like my father, I am my own man. It never did him any good either.
Don’t let the bastards wind you up!
A cyber spider is someone who spends their life on the world wide web.
Genius is relatively common. My gardener is one.
Geniuses often live in poverty and die in squalor. Their only recompense is immortality.
Baudelaire’s mother wished that he had been a nice, well-adjusted boy who had never become a poet. Being the parent of a genius is seldom easy.
To say that someone is a genius is to supply almost no information about them.
’What’s it like living with a genius?’ ‘I don’t know. You tell me.’
People who always tell the truth usually lack imagination.
People who always lie usually lack moral fibre.
He is a liar, a perjurer and an adulterer but his wife is still lying by him.
Some of my best friends are Americans.
Since the advent of colour, Hollywood films have become more black and white than ever.
In America the system is brutal but the people are kind. In Britain it’s the opposite.
To a certain extent we are hard-wired to be xenophobic. Historically strangers rarely represented good news.
Colonialism gets a bad rap these days but East Africa (to name only one region) was far better governed by the British than it has been since.
Gandhi said that self-government was more important than good government. He was wrong.
I hesitate to criticize Gandhi but unlike the pope he was not infallible.
Perfectionists are admirable but impossible to live with..
She played the computer keyboard exquisitely.
She taught me Schubert, the trout.
I don’t really believe in organ transplantation. We tend to need most of the organs we’ve been given.
Everybody knocks marriage but where would we be without it? Life without women would be unendurable.
Many so-called spouses are actually life-support systems.
Marriage is like learning the same lesson over and over again.
Men who can’t cook or keep house tend to get married.
Women who can’t cook or keep house tend to stay single.
Anyone who has to ‘work hard’ at a marriage has almost certainly married the wrong person.
I wouldn’t say she was a bad cook but she regularly produced what I used to call ‘a sauce of great sadness.’
She was one of those women who was always scoffing cake and then complaining that her excess weight was entirely glandular.
Why keep a frog and croak yourself? (Zen koan)
Working-class childhoods are often happier than middle-class ones.
I used to be religious but I’ve grown out of it, thank God.
Thank God also for Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins who have shown me the way, the truth and the light.
There is nothing certain in life except debt and taxis.
Life is a bowl of cherries. Stone me!
Life should be wonderful but very rarely is.
Life is a marathon rather than a bounty.
While there’s life, there’s expense.
Heaven is a happy childhood.
The colours of heaven are burgundy, gold and green.
The colours of paradise are pink, white and blue.
Hell is inside ourselves.
The colours of hell are black, brown and crimson.
Life disappears down the funnel of time.
I find that time goes past quite fast.
I find that time flows past so fast.
I find that time flies past too fast.
I find that time is future, present, past.
Time could be an illusion. It’s too early to say.
The turtle of time hurtles towards extinction.
The index finger of time points at nothing.
The adder of time slithers towards oblivion.
The javelin of time flies nowhere.
The arrow of time sits in the quiver of eternity.
We are all on borrowed time.
Heaven exists – if only in Norway.
Hell exists – if only in Syria.
Angels exist – if only in Los Angeles.
Fairies exist – if only in San Francisco.
The devil exists – if only in Las Vegas.
Unicorns do not exist – except when one is really drunk.
UFO’s and extra-terrestrials exist. Successive US governments have expended considerable money and energy trying to conceal this fact.
Human beings were probably genetically engineered by aliens. The fossil record does not support a theory of human evolution.
If, like Aristotle, I occasionally contradict myself, I apologize.
Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were all fine philosophers but if I had to grade them, I’d place Plato first, Socrates second and Aristotle third.
Aristotle was a genius but even he believed that the sun went round the earth. (Apart from God, only Bill Bryson, Stephen Fry and Melvyn Bragg are omniscient!)
A little knowledge is a desirable thing.
Knowledge is powder.
A soft answer may turn away wrath but it isn’t much use in an exam.
Humans know next to nothing. Socrates admitted that he knew nothing and we know far less than he did.
His ignorance was encyclopedic.
It is possible to be intelligent without being clever and vice-versa.
We are, essentially, our brains. Everything else is secondary.
The human brain is the ultimate black box. We understand stars better than our own brains. Even simpletons have complex brains.
Pascal’s wager is still valid. If we believe in God and are wrong, we have lost nothing but if we don’t believe in God and are wrong, we are in deep trouble.
Golf is basically outdoor billiards on a grander scale.
Cricket is not a spectator sport.
Fishing is about as sociable as farting.
Football: Hull stumbled but Newcastle fell.
Television: As soon as I leave the room, a man scores or a woman takes her clothes off.
Nudism: Very few people look better naked.
Descartes: ’I’m pink therefore I’m ham.’
Joke: What did the sick French duck say? Je suis Mallard!
Europe: The Spanish practise where the Scots squat, the Poles vault, the Czechs bounce, the Irish jig, the Greeks groan, the Germans joke, the Portuguese poke, the Italians whine, the Austrians sign, the Maltese cross, the French strike, the Dutch duck, the Swedes sweat, the English lose, the Finns win, the Welsh sing and the Swiss watch.
Econonomy: If the economy is a motor, then money is the oil which lubricates it. If you turn off the tap too suddenly then the engine will inevitably seize up.
Punctuation: I dotted his eyes and crossed his teeth.
There is a statistically significant vector of vile people on this planet and I seem to have met most of them.
Brown eyes will kill you in anger but blue eyes will kill you in cold blood.
Eyes are the dormer windows of the soul.
Evil is all too real.
Words like ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ strike terror into the heart of the average Tory.
When people love hunting, shooting, fishing and Formula One, you just know that they vote Conservative.
Labour MP’s fiddle their expenses for wide-screen TV’s; Tories for moats, swimming pools, tennis courts and helipads.
When a minority has so much and the majority have so little, you would need to be a moral cripple to believe that the status quo was remotely acceptable.
I prefer to live in a society where the strong help the weak rather than one in which they help to destroy them.
Those who believe in inequality are invariably on the right side of the equation.
One way to reduce global warming would be to ban Formula One plus all other petrol processions.
There is no activity so pointless that someone somewhere isn’t doing it.
Every year I try to lose weight and gain money but the reverse always occurs.
I have found both Chinese and Western astrology to be true.
People who think that astrology is ridiculous usually turn out to be earth signs.
To those who dismiss astrology, all I can do is to echo Sir Isaac Newton: ‘I have studied the subject and you have not.’
’Astrology’s nonsense!’ ‘Are you a Capricorn?’ ‘How on earth did you know that?’
Reality is an illusion caused by corporations.
Thousands of students throughout the world are under the illusion that they are studying philosophy at university.
In Britain we are individually clever but collectively stupid which is why our grands projets usually fail and why London is so much uglier than Paris.
According to the French, the only place superior to Paris is paradise.
France is the most civilized nation on earth. Where else would you get a mandatory two-hour lunch-break?
When they enter a bar or a restaurant, the French generally say ‘Bonjour’ to everyone which immediately breaks the social ice.
France has a relatively low crime rate which is just as well as the French police are useless.
In an ideal world the police would be redundant anyway.
The French are heavily into exhibitionism. Even their urinals are on public display.
It is amazing how many right-wing Britons settle happily in France conveniently forgetting that it is, at heart, a socialist state.
It is astonishing how many famous writers have died in their forties. From Poe, Baudelaire and Maupassant to Bruce Chatwin and Douglas Adams, the list is endless.
A fascinating book could be written (preferably not by me) on the number of French writers who have succumbed to syphilis.
Fortunately condoms have now increased the average life-expectancy of French writers – at least those who ignore he advice of the pope.
The three countries that have contributed most to world literature are Britain, France and Russia.
Does War and Peace lose anything in translation? Yes, incomprehensibility.
Britain is broke and broken whereas France is solvent and civilized. Yet in many ways Britain is still the more important country.
The archetypal city of the nineteenth century is Paris, of the twentieth, New York and of the twenty-first, Dubai.
When somebody says they are ordinary, that observation requires more insight than the ordinary person usually has. Consequently, many ordinary people are extraordinary and vice versa.
It’s amazing how many utter mediocrities believe themselves to be geniuses.
Very few people are stupid where their own personal interests are concerned.
Ninety-nine per cent of people are followers and copiers.
The older I get the more I prefer trees to people.
Our subconscious minds always supply the answers – usually when it’s far too late.
When it comes to the more complex computer operations I’m like a monkey in a nuclear power station.
Humans always need something to look forward to, however trivial.
Consistency can be the hallmark of a narrow mind.
Inconsistency can be the hallmark of senility.
An original mind is a dangerous thing.
What is genius but epic talent.
What is genius but a profound capacity for sustained original thinking.
Large minds seek similarity; small minds fixate on difference.
Terrorists have tiny minds.
One man’s terrorist is another man’s neighbour.
Inheriting an historical mess is no excuse for terrorism especially when the people who caused the mess are long dead.
The aim of terrorism is to kill one and frighten a million. Because fear is highly contagious it is a surprisingly successful strategy.
It is far worse to lose your life to terrorism than to an avalanche or an earthquake. The latter are merely acts of God whereas the former reeks of human agency and human evil.
Bullies, like bad wines, don’t travel well and usually only manage to poison their local neighbourhoods.
Attempts to correct old injustices often simply create new ones.
Achieving a simple life is seldom easy and achieving an easy life is seldom simple.
We can all coin original cliches but even if accepted as legal tender, they soon become devalued.
We often buy books as a substitute for reading them.
It’s a wonderful book. I’m so glad it was remaindered.
The best place to hide a book is in a library.
I attended Oxbridge whereas my brother left school at fifteen with no qualifications. Guess who’s the millionaire? I’ll give you a clue – it’s not me.
These days I get more begging letters from Oxford than from Oxfam.
Mantra of a self-made millionaire: School’s for fools and Uni’s for loonies.
Money doesn’t make you happy – so the rich constantly reassure us.
Mediocrities are generally much richer than geniuses.
Moderation never killed anyone but why take the risk?
If I won the lottery I’d start working.
I have nothing to declare but my debts.
If debt is slavery then most of us are slaves.
Those who are not born into wealth are born into servitude.
The only people crying at my funeral will be my creditors.
Thrift is doubtless a great virtue but who wants to hang out with the thrifty?
If you look after the fifty-pound notes, the pennies will look after themselves.
Anybody can be a celebrity.
Thanks to ghostwriters, celebrities are acquiring a reputation for literacy, even eloquence.
Many celebrities claim to have had miserable childhoods so they can gain our sympathy as well as our money.
If it wasn’t for the tabloids, celebrities would never be exposed for the shameless hypocrites most of them are.
’He’s got a way with words.’ ’ He’s also got away with murder!’
‘Doctor, I feel terrible.’ ‘You should stop smoking.’
‘I don’t smoke!’ ‘In that case you should start smoking and then stop.’
A critic is someone who knows the value of everything and the price of nothing.
A poet who can’t rhyme is like a painter who can’t draw.
In Britain a poet with contacts but no talent will get published whereas a poet with talent but no contacts will not. This has not gone unnoticed by the British public who no longer buy contemporary poetry.
Most British poetry editors wouldn’t recognize a good poem if they tripped over one and trod in another.
When it comes to recognizing good poetry, the British public is streets ahead of British publishers.
The British Poetry Establishment is a cesspit of cronyism.
The British Poetry Establishment gives corruption a bad name.
You get more arse-licking within the British Poetry Establishment than at the Battersea Dogs’ Home.
Arse-licking is the sincerest form of flattery.
The British Poetry Establishment manages to be both racist and politically correct simultaneously. Quite a feat!
Political correctness is a kind of cowardice.
You can be honest or popular but not both.
The British Poetry Establishment treats struggling poets like lepers.
If Tony Blair’s mantra was ‘education’, the British Poetry Establishment’s is ‘exclusion’.
To what shall I liken the British Poetry Establishment? It is like unto a jar of scorpions who, when they aren’t mounting each other, are trying to sting each other to death.
British poetry is like golf or tennis in that a tiny handful of people win all the prizes.
A rejection slip is like a rich man saying to a beggar ‘I personally am not going to help you but I sincerely hope that someone else will.’
Emily Dickinson only published a handful of poems during her entire lifetime which is why she was a true poet.
Emily Dickinson wrote poems like a pear tree produces pears.
Poets tend to die far younger than novelists or non-fiction writers, mainly because they either starve or drink themselves to death.
The greatest poem ever written is The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. I must have read it a thousand times and yet it still fills me with delight. Most modern poetry is abject rubbish in comparison.
Most contemporary poets are ludicrously overrated.
If it isn’t about him (or her) it isn’t happening.
Despite having the most appalling anal fixation, he was one of the leading poets of his generation.
I always suspect that men who are obsessed with women’s alimentary canals are secretly slightly gay.
Three rules for writing poetry: make it clear, make it cohere and, most importantly, make it sincere.
Good writers often have bad teeth.
I am not remotely judgmental. I’d be a total hypocrite if I were.
Shop not that ye be not shopped!
Whenever I hear the name Derrida, I reach for my duvet.
Whenever I hear the word ‘modernism’, I reach for my anorak.
Whenever I hear the phrase ‘promising young poet’, I reach for my running shoes.
Poets write ‘above themselves’. Otherwise we would be able to produce poetry at will.
True poetry bubbles up from the subconscious mind. The right-handed poet writes with his left hand and vice versa.
You could say we go with whatever comes.
Early fame is the worst thing that can happen to a poet. The limelight distracts them.
A poet is without honour in his own country. That’s why Auden went to America and Eliot came to England.
Poet, prophet, priest, philosopher, psychologist are all fingers of the same questing hand.
Proverb, aphorism, adage, maxim and epigram are all fingers of the matching hand.
Schopenhauer said you can tell whether a writer is worth reading within a couple of pages. Most fail the test.
Tolstoy thought that Shakespeare was overrated and I’m strongly inclined to disagree with him.
If Shakespeare were alive today he probably wouldn’t be able to get published.
The most fertile century for British poetry was the nineteenth; the most futile the twenty-first.
I used to think that I was an egomaniac until I started hanging around with other poets. In comparison I was modesty and humility personified.
Most psychoanalysis is Fraud and Junk.
Earth is an angiogram of heart.
The two most useful words in the English language are and and but.
For the hard of hearing, a pair of socks is a paradox.
For an American, parity is a parody.
No news is usually bad news.
Things are so interconnected that it’s sometimes impossible to disentangle cause from effect.
Nightmares are the brain’s way of percolating the body’s poison.
Dreams demolish walls.
Two dreamed aphorisms:
The past is a closed book.
The thought that lies behind the words.
We have much less time than we think.
In Life as in Art it is not quantity that matters but quality.
The artist who doesn’t please himself rarely pleases anybody else.
We fear death but we often fear life more.
Life is often an unwanted gift.
What is life? Tedium punctuated by crises!
Life is completely pointless – which is why it is worth living.
Pro-lifers see no contradiction in also being pro-capital punishment.
We are all in the gutter but some of us are prone and others supine.
Anyone who doesn’t believe that the human condition is essentially tragic should visit a hospital or an old people’s home.
When we see a beautiful child we know that they will gradually grow old, ugly, hairless, toothless and eventually die of a debilitating disease.
He: ‘Read it out, I’m not wearing my glasses’. She: ‘I can’t, I haven’t got my teeth in’.
Anyone who thinks that life isn’t essentially a comedy has no sense of humour and has never read Balzac.
Life is a series of concentric circles and eccentric people.
Nietzsche philosophized with a hammer but would have been better off using a file. I philosophize with wise saws and modern instruments.
Schopenhauer thought he was being a realist but others called him a pessimist.
Schopenhauer was an existentialist a century before Sartre.
Sartre didn’t marry De Beauvoir because he was unattractive.
Sartre was a frog who looked like a toad.
Heard compliments are sweet but those unheard are sweeter.
Death-bed conversions are invariably futile – or so we believe!
Being born again is no stranger than being born once.
Reincarnation is no weirder than deincarnation (otherwise known as death).
We only live once. We live forever but we only live once.
If the Buddhists are right, we have already been judged thousands of times.
People have committed murder to escape ennui.
People have committed suicide to escape debt.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Suicide is usually a bad idea but not always.
If we had any evidence that suicides were living in paradise, there would be no one left on planet earth.
I am not a catholic so I have to confess to my wife. The spare room is surprisingly comfortable.
Religions that permit contraception tend to have smaller congregations.
Wars will continue until we get our population under control. Wars are nature’s way of decimating humankind.
The human race continues because men are always looking for somewhere to put their penis and women are always looking for something to put into their vaginas.
There would be fewer wars if we were more lethargic. Most of the world’s trouble is caused by energetic types.
The christian church has caused much more misery than happiness during the last two thousand years.
Greed, selfishness and envy are the salient characteristics of human beings.
You can’t advantage one ethnic minority without disadvantaging another.
The only thing worse than the tyranny of the majority is the tyranny of a minority which is what usually happens.
The only ethnic group that it is perfectly legal to discriminate against are White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. I should know as I am one.
Although I am very sympathetic towards Aboriginals and Native Americans, no one has ever offered me free land on the grounds that my ancestors were pauperized by William the Conqueror.
Most people are economically conservative and socially liberal. Conversely, I am economically socialist and socially conservative.
Most people are not evil but they are petty, jealous, greedy, insecure and spiteful which can sometimes amount to the same thing.
Capitalism is a euphemism for raping the earth.
Poor people rarely marry rich people and seldom inherit so the twin motors of matrimony and inheritance mean that inequality is increasing inexorably.
I would far sooner know things than have them.
The Buddhists believe that ultimately we all get exactly what we deserve. I sincerely hope they’re right.
There are at least six major religions and only one God. All religions are interesting but none contains the whole truth. A true religion would combine the best elements of each faith.
When I was younger I wanted to create a new world religion. The reason I didn’t was because a) I wasn’t good enough, b) I didn’t know enough and c) I was bone idle.
God’s motto: I usually need to be cruel in order to be kind.
If life is a question then death must be the answer.
Life is a dream and death is a delusion.
We have less time than we think – especially after bolting a curry.
Champagne and caviar create more human happiness than most things.
Rose and roe are excellent substitutes for champagne and caviar.
Few things provide as much pleasure as a full English breakfast.
A pullover is a woollen trap cunningly designed to catch all the food that falls from one’s fork.
If you drop a knife you will get a male visitor; if you drop a spoon you will get a female visitor and if you drop a fork you will get a transsexual visitor.
I can resist everything except chocolate.
Why is it socially more acceptable to be dependent on caffeine than alcohol? Logically speaking, dependency on alcohol is no more shameful than dependency on oxygen.
Choose your poison: milk is mildly alkaline whereas wine is weakly acidic.
Tea drinkers outlive coffee drinkers and wine drinkers live longest of all.
‘I could never be an alcoholic.’ ‘No, you just don’t have the necessary commitment.’
My preferred places are beds, baths and bars.
Baths are for meditation and showers for stimulation.
Eating regularly is the best revenge.
Although other animals sometimes suffer boredom and restlessness, they never seem to experience guilt, shame or even embarrassment.
I feel more guilty about masturbation than most men feel about murder.
Our lives are so dominated by trivia that it is a wonder we ever achieve anything at all.
Sex is very strange. We frequently find ourselves making love with people we dislike.
Some bodies invite respect rather than desire.
We can desire someone we don’t like and vice-versa. That’s why honey-traps and gold-diggers are often successful.
Newsreaders should be easy on the eye as well as the ear.
Like many men I have a thing about female newsreaders.
My favourites are Carrie Gracie, Mary Nightingale and Anjali Rao.
Like many men I have a thing about female tennis players.
My favourites are Steffi Graf, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams.
Like many men I have a thing about lesbians.
My favourites are Sandi Toksvig, Alice Arnold and Peggy Reynolds.
Stieg Larsson wrote about lesbians because he looked like one.
The taboo against lesbianism has been smashed by an unholy alliance of feminists and male pornogagraphers.
Pornography equals erotica equals sex equals love.
For the want of a nail, the beauty pageant was lost.
Women inspire men to works of genius and then make them do the washing-up.
Love is never wrong.
Do what you love and love what you do.
Just as roof is a near anagram of floor, so love is a near anagram of evolve.
Live, love, move, rove, save, have and give.
Why do so many positive words begin with L? Lucky lovers luxuriate in laughter, life and light.
Why do so many negative words begin with P? Paranoid, pockmarked, plague-ridden, poverty-stricken peasants plead pathetically.
Why do so many royal words begin with H? Harry Henry Hewitt haphazardly hunted hundreds of hen harriers.
I have never been able to resist taking the piss from a safe distance.
Every solution has its problems.
Minor problems tend to go unmended.
Sleeping is healing and healing is sleeping.
The Chinese are interesting but the Japanese are fascinating.
Sweden was the most boring country in the world even before they made prostitution illegal. Now it has no competitors.
Men need money because, by and large, women are much better looking. (Compare Nigella Lawson with her father and brother.)
Attractive women who marry paupers are fools. My wife is one.
Are women mercenary? Yes, and for the sake of their children, they need to be.
Men are the stronger gender but women are by far the smarter.
She married the money and not the man.
There are basically two types of women: those who like men and those who don’t.
The old joke: ’I’m not getting married again. I’m just going to find a woman I dislike and give her a house’ has an uncomfortable ring of truth to it.
Perhaps the purest expression of the male/female dynamic is prostitution.
One of my best friends is an ex-prostitute who assures me that most working girls are paragons of virtue.
Men are fascinated by prostitutes for obvious reasons and a surprising number of women fantasize about joining their ranks.
Prostitutes understand men better than professors of psychology.
Renting your body can lead to selling your soul.
Society is an organized hypocrisy and nowhere more so than in Britain.
To be born British is to win the booby prize of life. Everybody else feels they have the right to hate us. The Germans are carefree in comparison.
The Welsh are the only celtic nation who aren’t homicidally hostile towards the English.
The British are obsessed by the weather because it spares us the embarrassment of more intimate intercourse.
Tony Blair apologised for the Irish potato famine but he never said sorry for the war in Iraq.
Morally capitalism is like leaving everything you have to your oldest child and letting the others starve. There is nothing wrong with capitalism if you don’t mind starving.
Why do free markets always depend on wage slaves to service them?
Life is not fair. The rich have made sure of that.
The rich say ’I’ll buy this and this and this!’ whilst the poor say ’I’ll buy that or that or that.’ There’s a vast difference.
If the fates dictated that we could die famous at forty or anonymous at eighty, most of us would choose the latter.
If love of money is the root of all evil, then love of fame is the root of all folly.
I’ve no desire to be famous but on the other hand I don’t want to be completely ignored either.
I’m not competitive – I just like winning.
I used to play cards with a friend and I always let him win because it gave him so much pleasure. When he belatedly realised that I was losing deliberately, he refused ever to play with me again.
The more we give, the more we have.
The proportion of the world’s population that genuinely prefers giving to receiving is probably less than one per cent. For every giver there are over a hundred takers.
Watching the naturally selfish attempting to be altruistic is a bit like watching a monkey trying to drive a car.
We reserve our best wine for visitors but fortunately don’t receive many.
I don’t have any children, my wife doesn’t drink and we don’t get many visitors so my cellar should be reasonably safe.
The days when an artist could enjoy the best wines in the house and then demand to make love to the host’s wife are, unfortunately, long gone.
I can’t see the point of having children. They only grow up and criticize you – often from quite a young age.
John Updike said the disappointing thing about having children is that they just turn into other people.
John Updike also said that great literature depends upon guilt, shame and embarrassment.
Although he broke several commandments, I can’t believe that a man who gave the world so much can be anywhere other than in heaven.
Parricide and matricide are the ultimate ingratitude. You are removing life from the very people who gave it to you.
My father enjoyed writing poetry whereas I enjoy having written it. There is a huge difference.
(Three from my late father:)
‘My dear boy, one has to remember that salesmen, although individually invertebrate, do represent the backbone of the market economy.’
(When his boss promised to ‘clear out all the dead wood’)
‘Speaking on behalf of the dead wood, I’m not very happy about this.’
‘Some yob yelled out “corduroy suit!” which didn’t seem to me to rank very highly on a scale of vituperation.’
I have no money or children. All I have are my poems.
I have given my poetry to the world – on more than one occasion!
Poetry is prose that rhymes and scans – or not as the case may be.
Prose is plain speech whereas poetry is closer to song – or vice versa.
Poetry is a frog and prose is a toad.
Prose is an oak and poetry is a rowan tree.
The distinction between prose and poetry is now so blurred that most modern poetry is really prose under a pseudonym.
What’s the difference between poets and rock stars? Rock stars are rich selfish bastards whereas poets are poor selfish bastards.
Words matter. Sometimes they are healing hands and sometimes hand grenades.
When it comes to prose, clarity is everything.
Attractive ideas are often dressed in rags.
If a book were a building, a brick would be a paragraph.
We must build our lives with the materials to hand.
It is remarkable how many prose writers wrongly believe they are poets. Some even become poet laureate.
Oxford University seems to have found itself up a well-known creek without a Padel.
I read prose and I write poetry and I’m very pleased it’s that way round!
You don’t need discipline to write poetry. You just need a drink.
Plagiarism is a tax that the barren exact from the fertile.
Plagiarism is the literary equivalent of child abduction.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then plagiarism is the sincerest form of theft.
Plagiarism is the first refuge of the scoundrel.
Stop riding on my rainbow!
I have written down less than one per cent of what I have seen in the watches of the night.
Half of my dreams actually happen. The trouble is I never know which half.
The one person we can never get away from is ourselves.
With manic depressives it’s all ‘me, me, me, me!’ whereas with schizophrenics it’s all ‘us, us, us, us!’
We all have our prejudices but some of us are much better at concealing them than others.
List of phobias:-
Acrophobia – Fear of circuses
Agoraphobia – Fear of violence
Arachnophobia – Flies’ fear of flying
Claustrophobia – Fear of Germans
Ergophobia – Fear of Descartes
Girophobia – Fear of employment
Gynophobia – Fear of going without
Gymnophobia – Fear of exercise
Homophobia – Fear of pubic opinion
Panphobia – Fear of cooking
Pogonophobia – Fear of poets
Androphobia – Fear of poets laureate
Photophobia – Fear of being forced to admire other people’s snaps
Radiophobia – Fear of disc jockeys
Xenophobia – Fear of Eastern religions
I love the way cats exit a room, leaving their tails behind momentarily.
Dogs don’t contradict us but cats do.
Dogs bark; cats mark.
Dogs demur; cats purr.
Dogs crap; cats nap.
Dogs dawdle; cats cradle.
Dogs are dogmatic; cats are categoric.
Dogs are macho; cats are camp.
Dogs are straight; cats are great.
Dogs are New Labrador; cats are Conservative.
Dogs are Protestants; cats are Catholic.
Dogs are right-pawed; cats are left-footed.
Dogs are Hindus; cats are Buddhists.
Dogs are sunny; cats are moony.
Dogs are funny; cats cost money.
Dogs are legal; cats are regal.
Dogs are loyal; cats are royal.
I don’t have any pets but my wife does.
Brains tend to outlast beauty.
In Britain brains still play second fiddle to brawn.
The criminal lacks all virtues save courage.
Crime pays if you don’t get caught.
Many a family fortune is due to criminal ancestors.
Wilde says that we regret what we haven’t done far more than what we have. Many prisoners would disagree with him.
If people genuinely feared incarceration we would have far fewer criminals.
Prison is a clumsy solution to an intractable problem.
Intelligent people tend to have few children which is why society is inexorably deteriorating.
Pontius Pilate was a liberal.
Oscar Wilde was a genius.
Energy is eternal effort.
Energy is consciousness and consciousness is energy.
I owe that observation to Einstein and Joseph Campbell.
There is no God.
God is a mass of contradictions.
Religion is nonsense.
Philosophy is a waste of time.
Travel broadens the mind.
French cuisine is the best in the world.
British cuisine is the worst in the world.
Swedish women are always beautiful.
Spanish men are always handsome.
Men are more intelligent than women.
Women are more sensitive than men.
Men and women are the same.
Women and men are radically different.
Men are better chefs than women.
Women are worse chauffeurs than men.
Men are more logical than women.
Women are less licentious than men.
A sex-change will improve your life.
Country folk are nicer than townies.
The earth is four and a half billion years old.
The universe is thirteen and a half billion years old.
Anybody can become an artist.
Anybody can become a painter.
Anybody can become a poet.
Anybody can become a musician.
Anybody can become a mathematician.
Anybody can become an athlete.
Anybody can become an actor.
America embodies the future.
Russia represents the past.
Hollywood films are worth watching.
There are three classes of aphorism: original, derivative and shameless plagiarism.
My favourite aphorists are Samuel Johnson, Arthur Schopenhauer and, of course, Oscar.
Wilde was heavily influenced by Johnson who was heavily influenced by Shakespeare who was heavily influenced by Chaucer who was heavily influenced by the Bible.
Oscar didn’t like women much; I do.
Teaching is ninety per cent personality.
Listening to someone is very different from hearing them.
Talent is no longer considered necessary for success in the arts.
It is the Arts Council that creates the intellectual atmosphere of our age.
We should support the arts by voting with our wallets.
The supreme vice is selfishness.
Experience is a euphemism for our errors.
Getting exactly what one wants often proves fatal.
Regrets, I’ve had plenty.
Although I often wish I’d done things differently, I don’t actually hate myself.
Religion is the last refuge of the desperate.
Christianity is the last refuge of the confused.
Re-reading is usually a waste of time.
Science is necessarily amoral.
Criticism is far easier than creation.
Charity rhymes with clarity but does not resemble it.
The main aim of charity is to ease the conscience of the rich.
You can’t choose your family – or your friends.
For an aphorism to have any real force it needs to be true or at least feasible.
Every form has its traditions: limericks are sexist, satire is reactionary and aphorisms are cynical.
All aphorisms are original but some are far more original than others.
Aphorisms depend on pith, paradox and plausibility.
Untrue aphorisms fade like cut crysanthemums.
An aphorism is a memorable saying.
Aphorisms are addictive.
Aphorisms are the written record of a wasted life.
Copyright Simon R. Gladdish 2009
The right of Simon R. Gladdish to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.