Gyles Brandreth

Britain’s best one-liners, from Oxford’s 2013 edition

A selection from the latest edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, edited by <em>Gyles Brandreth</em>

Britain's best one-liners, from Oxford's 2013 edition
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Modest about our national pride — and inordinately proud of our national modesty.

—Ian Hislop

I always invest in companies an idiot could run, because one day one will.

—Warren Buffett

I find it easy to portray businessmen. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me.

—John Cleese

I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realise I should have been more specific.

—Lily Tomlin

I don’t work that way .... The very idea that all children want to be cuddled by a complete stranger I find completely amazing.

—Anne, Princess Royal

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.

—Garrison Keillor

On nudity

The part never calls for it. And I’ve never, ever used that excuse. The box-office calls for it.

—Helen Mirren

Football is a simple game: 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end the Germans win.

—Gary Lineker

I’m the kind of person who embarks on an endless leapfrog down the great moral issues. I put a position, rebut it, refute the rebuttal and rebut the refutation. Endlessly.

—Tom Stoppard

Sex has never been an obsession with me. It’s just like eating a bag of crisps. Quite nice, but nothing marvellous.

—Boy George

I don’t know what art is, but I do know what it isn’t. And it isn’t someone walking around with a salmon over his shoulder or embroidering the name of everyone they have slept with on the inside of a tent.

—Brian Sewell

Wherever there is suffering, injustice and oppression the Americans will show up, six months late, and bomb the country next to where it is happening.

—P.J. O’Rourke

Good God! I have never drunk a vintage that started with the number two before!

—Nicholas Soames

I got into moisturiser when I played football. If you’re out in all weathers you have to take care of your face.

—Vinnie Jones

I treat opinion polls with a pinch of sugar.

—Ed Miliband

The marvellous thing about a joke with a double meaning is that it can only mean one thing.

—Ronnie Barker

There are moments when we in the British press can show extraordinary sensitivity; these moments usually coincide with the death of a proprietor, or a proprietor’s wife.

—Craig Brown

If I am doing nothing, I like to be doing nothing to some purpose. That is what leisure means.

—Alan Bennett

Of Camille Paglia

The ‘g’ is silent — the only thing about her that is.

—Julie Burchill

The thing about high-tech is that you always end up using scissors.

—David Hockney

Shut up Arnold [Wesker] or I’ll direct this play the way you wrote it.

—John Dexter

According to legend. Telford is so dull that the by-pass was built before the town.

—Victor Lewis-Smith

The green belt was a Labour idea and we are determined to build on it.

—John Prescott

I don’t have time to sit down and write. When I think of a melody I call my answering machine and sing it.

—Britney Spears

You just have to work with what God sends, and if God doesn’t seem to understand the concept of commercial success, then that’s your bad luck.

—Michael Frayn

They say the definition of ambivalence is watching your mother-in-law drive over a cliff in your new Cadillac.

—David Mamet

Garter, darling, can’t you be just a little more elastic?

—Lord Snowdon to Sir Anthony Wagner, Garter King of Arms

I wouldn’t say I was the best manager. But I was in the top one.

—Brian Clough

On Nick CleggLike some cut-price edition of David Cameron hastily knocked off by a Shanghai sweatshop to satisfy unexpected market demand.

—Boris Johnson

If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it.

—Ken Livingstone

It’s important to realise that I was actually black before the election.

—Barack Obama

My first rule of consumerism is never to buy anything you can’t make your children carry.

—Bill Bryson

The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (5th edition) is published on 16 October at £20.