Overheard on a trip to the UK February 2020

On a train to Liverpool St. (two women talking):

‘Two miles. That’d be like mine to Tesco’s.’

(describing a mobile phone) ‘Not like that farty little thing of mum’s.’

At Clapham Junction station:

‘…I went to Slough today to get a seal for my oven door, and they were all in Sainsbury’s. Slough’s over-run with them.’

In a Brighton pub:
‘Kenneth Branagh!’
‘What, the actor?’

On a bus:
‘Even when I’m on a diet, Wednesday night is curry night … and Friday night is pub night.’

On a Wimbledon-bound train:
‘That’s why he is where he is today.’
‘Living by himself in Colliers Wood.’

On a bus:
‘It was the best Scotch egg I’ve ever had … I couldn’t finish it.’

At Stansted Airport:
‘I’m with Diabetes UK now.’
‘I thought you were with RN…?’
‘RNIB? Yes, I was, until November. Then I joined Diabetes UK. I’m with the major donors team. Lots of untapped sources. Lots of wealthy people with diabetes. I’m very excited.’

The problem of keeping a sense of perspective in life …

On the one hand:

‘… birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.’ Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot.

On the other:

‘Trousers should shiver on the shoe but not break.’ Advice to Arnold Bennett from his tailor.

Miscellaneous quotes that will need sorting out at some stage

‘Sir Jasper Finch-Farrowmere?’ said Wilfred. 
‘ffinch-ffarrowmere,’ corrected the visitor, his sensitive ear detecting the capitals.

P.G. Wodehouse Meet Mr Mulliner (1927)

‘Surely: the adverb of a man without an argument.’

Edward St Aubyn, Bad News

To the dumb question ‘Why me?’, the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, ‘Why not?’

Christopher Hitchens, Mortality

‘The General bade me discourse fair words to you, sir, anent traffic circuits.’
‘What the hell do you mean?’
‘I don’t know, sir,’ said Greening. ‘That’s exactly how the General put it.’

Anthony Powell, The Soldier’s Art

His own relations with the opposite sex took an exclusively commercial form. ‘I’ve never had a free poke in my life,’ he said. ‘Subject didn’t seem to arise when you’re talking to a respectable woman.’

Anthony Powell, The Military Philosophers

Phillip Larkin, bemoaning the sort of letters he didn’t receive:

“Dear Mr Larkin , I expect you think its jolly saucy for a schoolgirl to …”

“Dear Mr. Larkin, my friend and I had an argument as to which of us had the biggest breasts and we wondered if you would act as …”

Larkin on himself:

My sagging face, an egg sculpted in lard with goggles on … none of my clothes fit, when I sit down my tongue comes out.  

Both from an essay in Martin Amis’s The War against Cliché

No such thing
as innocent

Seamus Heaney, from Mycenae Outlook II. Cassandra

He was a Frenchman, a melancholy-looking man. His aspect was that of one who has been looking for the leak in a gas pipe with a lighted candle.

 P.G. Wodehouse, The Girl in Blue

Only take this for a corollary and conclusion; as thou tenderest thine
own welfare in this and all other melancholy, thy good health of body
and mind, observe this short precept, give not way to solitariness and
idleness. “Be not solitary, be not idle.”

Richard Burton, the final lines in The Anatomy of Melancholy

The ten commandments should be treated like an exam; only six should be attempted.

Bertrand Russell

The World is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel.

Horace Walpole

There is infinite hope, but not for us.

Franz Kafka

Chotto monoganashii A Japanese term for the small tug of sorrow at things passing and changing.

Some favourite misprints

She had a small cruel moth.
I look forward to seeing you shorty.
I’ve been off work with a swollen prostitute.

For lunch I had Scotch, eggs and salad.

The police found the rugs in the back of the accused’s car.                     


Mid-air refuelling is as easy, according to one Vulcan pilot, as ‘sticking wet spaghetti up a cat’s arse’.

Early in their careers, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise are said to have stood outside the Glasgow Empire after one of their shows, listening to the comments of the departing audience, one of which was, “I suppose they were all right – if you like laughing”.