A. A. Gill quotes and sayings
June 28, 1954
December 10, 2016
A country scratching a lazy irritation at sagging doorjambs and late trains, whose greatest attribute is a collective, smelly tolerance, where a chap will put up with almost everything, which means he won't care about anything enough to get out of a chair.A country of public insouciance and private, grubby guilt, where you can believe anything as long as you don't believe it too fervently. A country where the highest aspiration is for a quiet life.
Americans think the only funny Brits are John Cleese, Benny Hill and whoever makes our toothpaste. They're not laughing with us, they are laughing at us.
Beautifully shot, impeccably paced, it was a clear, unrelenting look at the National Trust, its friends and enemies, and it makes you want to burn your passport and beg the Luftwaffe to have another go.
All people from small islands dance funny.
Really, I like the future. I appreciate my automatic alarm-call necklace in case I get lost and confused in a mall. I appreciate the watch that tells the hospital my blood pressure's gone ballistic. I like my computer, just as long as it doesn't get ideas above its workstation.
The trouble with righting some wrongs is that it makes the remaining ones seem even more unbearable.
He is the last man standing on the beach commanding the glaciers' melt waters to go back.
We like to see death as an unfair conspiracy, and what we want is a magic practitioner, a combination of Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes.
Being able to afford everything you desire is not, by any means, the worst thing that can happen to you. But, depressingly, and more profoundly, neither is it the best.
Learning Jimmy Carr riffs off by heart is not the way to anyone's heart, unless you're Jimmy Carr. And remember, the two most attractive things in a man is a sense of danger and being able to make a girl feel really safe.
Television is a constant stream of fact, opinions, lies, moral dilemmas, plots: an infinitely complex and sophisticated torrent of information. How could it not make you cleverer? The only people who ever thought television rotted the brain and made kids dumb were those with a vested interest in other ways of learning, or those who were intellectually insecure, usually about books.
The Creation Museum isn't really a museum at all. It's an argument. It's not even an argument. It's the ammunition for an argument. It is the Word made into bullets. An armory of righteous revisionism.
This is the trouble with cheating: there are no acceptable rules, or laws. It could be a smile, or dancing to a song that you considered to be indefinably 'ours'. It can feel like cheating to go to a restaurant that you used to go to with someone else. Keeping photographs of exes can infuriate, like retrospective cheating.
It's a great historical joke that when the Spanish met the Aztecs, it was a blind date made in serve-you-right heaven. At the time, they were the two most unpleasant cultures in the entire world, and richly deserved each other. Still, the story of how stout Cortes blustered, bullied and bludgeoned his way to collapsing an entire empire with a handful of contagious hoodlums is astonishing.
I walk up a dune to a beach and look out to sea, but it's 100km away. The ships lie askew in their dry beds, at anchor for ever. Today is my son's birthday. Thousands of miles from here, his healthy lungs are blowing out candles. I should be there but I'm here with another boy, who puts his face close to mine and laughs. I smile back but realize he can't see it, because I'm wearing an antiseptic muzzles to protect me from his breath.
Gordon Brown is a character from a tragic opera, twisted by ambition and a Presbyterian sense of fateful destiny. He has waited 13 years, mostly in Tony Blair's shadow, for this poisoned chalice and has a pessimist's luck.
Gifts are an important and necessary part of our collective lives. We need to give and we need to allow others to give.
Twenty is a tough age because it slips past in the middle of so much else - university, gap year, leaving home, getting jobs.
So, being a good man is not an exam or a qualification, it changes, and it incorporates being a good friend, a good father, a good employee, a good boss, a good neighbour and a good citizen.
No 13-year-old or over should ever be seen in trousers that finish above the ankle. It doesn't matter how good your legs are, or if you're on a beach in Bermuda where they invented the things.
Money has to be an explosion of excitement and opportunity, yet we already secretly know that it doesn't do what it promises. Nothing has ever given us as much pleasure as our pocket money when we were 12, or our first wage at the end of that first exhausting week, paid in folded cash.
You don't have a choice about fashion or aesthetics - you're in it, whether you like it or not.
No British TV company could ever make a series like 'The West Wing' about British politics. It would beggar credibility. No one could write it with a straight face, or perform it without giggling.
Science fiction is never about the future, in the same way history is rarely about the past: they're both parable formats for examining or commenting on the present.
Nobody ever forgets their first night in the bush. It's among the precious, meagre handful of life firsts that remain indelible.
I don't remember ever stealing things, but I suppose I was endlessly borrowing money off people.
When Americans come to London they usually say how much they love the history, the tradition, the splendid tumpty-tum of things whose very repetition has become their point.
The real question is: if you knew there was a god, would you behave any differently? And if the answer is yes, then perhaps you should assume there is.
I can tell very quickly when people are lying.
A lot of London's image never was. There never was a Dickensian London, or a Shakespearean London, or a swinging London.
I don't know how long a child will remain utterly static in front of the television, but my guess is that it could be well into their thirties.
A broadsheet obituarist once pointed out to me that veteran soldiers die by rank. First to go are the generals, admirals and air marshals, then the brigadiers, then a bit of a gap and the colonels and wing commanders and passed-over majors, then a steady trickle of captains and lieutenants. As they get older and rarer, so the soldiers are mythologised and grow ever more heroic, until finally drummer boys and under-age privates are venerated and laurelled with honors like ancient field marshals. There is something touching about that.
Celebrity is a national drama whose characters' parts and plots are written by the tabloids, gossip columnists, websites and interactive buttons. The famous don't actually have to turn up to their own lives at all.
Like most parents, I've been stumped by homework, the big questions, such as: 'What is the point of geography - the pilot always knows where we are going?'. Answer: 'If you didn't know any geography, people would think you were an American, and you wouldn't be able to put them right because you wouldn't know where they live.'.
People who know there is a god and people who know there isn't live in exactly the same world. Same number of hours in the day, same weather, same football results. They both love their children and die of the same diseases.
Penicillin and plastic bags help a lot, fridges and hot water make manliness more comfortable and Tom Ford's fragrance range makes it smell better, but the idea that has pushed our lives into the light more than any other -ism or -ology is feminism.
Is it a particularly British trait to so utterly adore truly appalling men, from Tony Hancock through to Steptoe and Alf Garnett, Captain Mainwaring, Rigsby, Del Boy, Victor Meldrew and on to David Brent from The Office. The most deeply adored characters are all simply vile.
The more there is on offer, the more you don't want. Fifty options of cereal does not hone an epicurean expertise in the finer points of puffed rice, it murders appetite.
The answer is that if God exists, he doesn't seem to mind if you believe in him or not.
Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life.
There were moments when I wondered at the gossamer veil that stops licence from being libel. I suspect that taking on the job of England manager puts you outside the protection of the courts. It must be part of the job description that you will be held hostage by media speculation and can have your character tortured, molested and finally executed at the public whim, in exchange for a lifetime's supply of money.
There are five great ages of man - five moments when you need to reevaluate everything, clear out the cupboard and the wardrobe, and most importantly, your head. They are 13, 20, 30, 40 and 60. All men need to know this.
The one thing politicians will always vote for is more politics, so in 2000 they invented the post of mayor of London without ever really thinking what it was a mayor would do.
Have you ever wondered why the rich and privileged care about, or even bother with, the gift bag? Because they don't need this stuff. If they wanted it, they could afford to buy it, without blinking. But they love the gift bag, beyond reason.
Men and women understand different things about personal boundaries. What men call privacy, women know as secrecy.
In fact, everybody should wake up smelling nice. I go further, there is not an excuse, ever, not to smell nice, particularly your feet.
Only people who live outside cities realize the size of them. London turns out to be huge; there are great swaths, vast panoramas, a whole diaspora I'd never imagined. The place I live in tends to be manageably small, a few familiar journeys and destinations.
The truth is a mayor can actually do very little to alter the course of a huge city run by the free market that is home to banking - the engine room of capitalism.
The usual sniggering examples of animal behavior were brought in to explain cheating. Funny how the behavior of shrews and gibbons is never used to explain table manners or road safety or gardening, only sex. Anyway, it was bad Darwinism. Taking the example of a monkey and applying it to yourself misses the point that animal behavior is made for the benefit of the species, not as an excuse for the individual. Being incapable of sustaining a stable pair and supporting children is really not in the interests of our species. Neither is it really in the best interests of the philanderer.
I don't do dinner parties. I have people come to share the food I've cooked for the family.
Facts are what pedantic, dull people have instead of opinions.
All my life I've been aware of the Second World War humming in the background. I was born 10 years after it was finished, and without ever seeing it. It formed my generation and the world we lived in. I played Hurricanes and Spitfires in the playground, and war films still form the basis of all my moral philosophy. All the men I've ever got to my feet for or called sir had been in the war.
Texting isn't writing. It's not like letter writing. Texting is short scriptwriting. It's a collaborative soap opera where nothing happens.
The measure of a man's life is how he copes with the terrible wall of fear.
If New York is a wise guy, Paris a coquette, Rome a gigolo and Berlin a wicked uncle, then London is an old lady who mutters and has the second sight. She is slightly deaf, and doesn't suffer fools gladly.
Gift giving is one of the oldest forms of human interaction. It is a behavior all cultures and all classes share.
The reason that chefs become chefs is that they're not allowed into rooms with windows.
The French are never happy coming to London; this is an ancient and comforting enmity.
A cravat is the only item of named after Croatians. Balkan mercenaries were brought to Paris by Louis XIV. Their strange and exotic attire attracted the French bon hommes, who were wearing formal ruffs, and who immediately took to the simple and relaxed military cloth tied at the neck.
There's no pleasing the British, or winning their favor. They simply hate politicians. All politicians. Hatred goes with politicians like mint sauce with lamb. It's as old as Parliaments.
The pleasure in lovers' gifts is that they are often covert and secretive, worn next to the skin, hidden under pillows.
I'm frightened of my innate vanity. I mean: the suits lined with scarves? Even I know the warning signs. I could quite easily end up in a tiny Playboy mansion, all on my own.
Every man imagines that he will turn his suit like a double agent, that it can be twisted to his will with irony or comedy, that the man can undermine its origins.
The only acceptable cravat is the original Croat one.
You see, the problem with Dave Cameron is that people know who he is. The less people know about him, the more he's likely to get re-elected.
I've often been accused of dressing too well. I've always been fascinated by fashion, though I don't think I'm particularly fashionable.
Writing, for me, is the great organiser. It's while writing that I think most deeply about things.
I generally only eat one meal a day, which is pretty unusual for a restaurant reviewer. It's not that I have a problem with food; I'll eat anything that doesn't involve a bet, a dare, or an initiation ceremony.
I don't go to the openings of shops or parties given by people I don't know.
The Lib-Dems are sidekicks. They were born to be sidekicks and that's what they should concentrate on being.
Making a programme that appears to condone a positive stereotype actually enforces all the negative ones as well. It says that they all have a valid point. To assert that Americans are naive, Germans humorless and the French arrogant is one thing: they're big enough to take it. But to say that there's a conspiracy of Jewish bankers, that gypsies are thieves, Pakistanis are dirty and refugees are muggers is something quite else.
You either get the point of Africa or you don't. What draws me back year after year is that it's like seeing the world with the lid off.
We have to thank the members of the Romantic movement for the sober colors of suits. It was their love of the Gothic that put us in grey and black but the suit stuck.
Have you noticed that almost all the change in the world goes to women? When was the last time you had a five pence piece? Exactly. In a Christmas pudding. All the rest of it is in women's handbags.
When I joined the Sunday Times the people I was competing with were all 10 or 15 years younger, they all had double firsts from Oxford or Cambridge, they were all bright as new pins.
When you look at traditions closely, examine what they really are, you realize they're made up of layers and layers of deferrals, delays, indecisions, tomorrows and long lunches.
Because there is no better tool for writing than experience. It has very little to do with grammar and everything to do with knowing.
Mr. Obama is the only popular politician left in the world. He would win an election in any one of the G-20 countries, and his fellow world leaders will do anything to take home a touch of that reflected popularity.
To a British politician, a police officer is as invisible as the railings.
An American has invented a remote control that will turn off any telly within a 20ft radius. What a marvellous device! What a splendid invention! What a really helpful and improving way of devoting your time to building something that turns off culture. Next week, I'm instigating Burn a Book Week, to encourage even more conversation. I've come up with a fantastic little device which I'll call a box of matches.
So much of life is not about whether you're good or bad, or right or wrong, or can afford or not afford - it's just about timing.
Sport is how poor kids from poor countries pass through the eye of the needle to riches and recognition.
I don't know if English is the only language where some expressions only and solely mean the opposite of what they say but we do have an awful lot of them.
Shorts are silly. Men in shorts are silly men. And silly is the very worst thing a man can be.
The super-rich watch each other like envious owls, to see who's got a slightly better loafer, a pullover made from some even more absurdly endangered fur. They will go to any lengths to find the best tailors.
Television in the 1960s and 70s had just as much dross and the programmes were a lot more tediously patronising than they are now. Memory truncates occasional gems into a glittering skein of brilliance. More television, more channels means more good television and, of course, more bad. The same equation applies to publishing, film and, I expect, sumo wrestling.
Nature gave you your look and there's only a limited amount you can do about that, but what you wear is the skin you choose for yourself.
Mehmet Murat Ildan
Gilbert K. Chesterton
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
H. L. Mencken
Charles Caleb Colton
D. H. Lawrence
Orson Scott Card
Robert A. Heinlein
Jonathan Safran Foer
Ursula K. Le Guin
Alain de Botton
Laurell K. Hamilton
G. Campbell Morgan
Dick Van Patten
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