Here we try to put together things we considered and still consider funny. To be shared with anyone who cares to stop by for a moment or two. We hope you like one or two of these tidbits of human wisdom.
"Of course we are allowed to think for ourselves"
said the Intourist guide crossly
in answer to a tourist's question.
Later, a little Russian man tapped the tourist's arm,
"But wise parents tell their children
— if you think, don't speak.
If you must speak, don't write.
If you write, don't sign.
And if you sign — don't be surprised !
London Diary 1987, Franey & Co. Ltd., London
Shaw sent Churchill two tickets for the first night of St Joan, "one for yourself, one for a friend — if you have one." Expressing regret at not being able to attend, Churchill replied by requesting tickets for the second night... "if there is one".
American economist John Kenneth Galbraith remarks: "Nearly all US political comment originates in Washington. Washington politicians after talking things over with each other, relay misinformation to Washington journalists who, after further intramural discussion, print it where it is thoughtfully read by the same politicians. It is the only completely successful closed system yet devised for recycling rubbish."
Reader's Digest, March 1977, p. 79
A lawyer appearing in a case asked the witness: "Now, Mr James, did you or did you not, on the date in question or at any other time, previously or subsequently, say or even intimate to the defendant or anyone else, whether a friend or acquaintance or in fact a stranger, the statement imputed to you, whether just or unjust, and denied by the plaintiff, was a matter of no consequence or otherwise ?
Answer ! Did you or did you not ?"
The witness pondered for a little while and then asked: "Did I or did I not what ?"
Le Grand Cirque 2000, Mémoires d'un pilote de chasse FFL dans la RAF, par Pierre Clostermann,
Editions J'ai Lu, p.527:
Jaco tente de m'épeler un nom hollandais à multiples syllabes, imprononçables pour un chrétien normal: Herto quelque chose... sur les bords de la Maas ! Comme cette langue n'a ni père ni mère, de guerre lasse Jaco me donne les coordonnées géographiques: 51° 42 N et 5° 18 E !
Dear Mr. Clostermann,
's Hertogenbosch ? Easy, leave it to me ! You are a magnificent gentleman and your book is a great read and full of even greater lessons. Highly recommended. I hope an English translation is in print.Pierre Clostermann was born on 28 February 1921 and passed away on 22 March 2006.
Notre petit garçon est très bon élève, sérieux, appliqué, très bonne conduite, tout ceci motivé par une véritable adoration qu'il porte à sa jolie maîtresse. Il boit littéralement ses paroles et s'évertue à lui donner toute satisfaction.
Mais un petit défaut apparaît dans cette litanie de louanges: il tutoye sa maîtresse ! Les observations et les réprimandes de celle-ci n'y font rien, il la tutoie sans sourciller.
Un jour, excédée, elle se résoud à le punir: "Tu me copieras dix fois: Je ne dois pas tutoyer ma maîtresse."
Le lendemain matin, très fier, il lui tend sa feuille. "Comment, dit-elle étonnée, je t'ai demandé dix lignes et tu en as fait vingt ?"
Alors, levant vers elle un regard où se lisait toute son admiration: "C'est pour te faire plaisir !"
Pierre Rodier, Montpellier
Sélection, oct. 1982
A letter from Prof. Bev Littlewood in "The Guardian", a UK newspaper,
13 March 1980 :
Sir,— Braine got it wrong
(Letters, March 12). It was
e.e. cummings, and the cor-
rect version is better: "A
politican is an arse upon
which everyone has sat
except a man."—Sincerely,
The City University,
London, EC 1.
From "Quote Unquote" in The Independent, London, UK, 19/10/1996:
I must confess that most of the time I do not understand my own regulations.
— Emma Bonino, the European Union Fisheries Commissioner.
Hammer and Tickle, Clandestine Laughter in the Soviet Empire,
translated and narrated by Petr Beckmann, Golem Press, 1980
When it was clear to just about every German that the war was lost, the Nazi leadership used various methods to terrorize soldiers into continuing the fight and to defeat defeatism. Here follows a quote from p. 176 of "The Fall of Berlin 1945" by Antony Beevor, Viking Penguin, 2002 (ISBN 0-670-03041-4):There was, however, one group who could demonstrate their feelings about the war without fear of reprisal. German wounded who had lost hands or arms would say 'Heil Hitler' and raise their stumps ostentatiously.
Sunday Express (London, UK),
16 January 1977:
flight out of the Soviet Union
was far from being a tense
affair despite his being hand-
cuffed. Hilarity completely
took over when the K.G.B.
men with the Russian dissi-
dent discovered that his
handcuffs were inscribed
Made in the U.S.A.
From THE WEEKEND REVIEW, The Independent (London, UK), 26/9/1998:Sweet of the Week
The Altoid, hottest mint in the
world, favoured by Monica
Lewinsky for inappropriate
LE RÉGENT, par ordre duquel Voltaire était à la Bastille, lorsqu'on représentait sa tragédie d'Œdipe, fut si content de la pièce qu'il rendit la liberté au prisonnier.
Le jeune poète vint sur-le-champ en remercier son Altesse Royale qui lui dit:
— Soyez sage, et j'aurai soin de vous.
— Je vous suis infiniment obligé, répondit l'auteur, mais je supplie Votre Altesse de ne plus se charger de mon logement.
From The Daily Mail (London, UK), 3 Nov. 1976:A LAST lament from Mr Carter's mother :
'Mr Ford is such a nice man that I sometimes
wished we had something worse to run against.'
Bureaucracy gone berserk !
"Nous vivons dans un pays béni
par les dieux, où le vin et les
promesses électorales coulent à
"We live in a country blessed
by the gods, where the wine and the
electoral promises flow like rivers."
Un historien a relevé, dans le
Bulletin des armées du 7 mars
1917, cette perle adjudantesque:
«Le pied qui est en arrière ne
doit abandonner le contact avec
le sol que lorsque celui qui est
devant y a déjà pris appui.» C'est
comme cela qu'on gagne les guer-
res. A preuve...
Le Soir, Bruxelles, 10.10.1981
Bill Bryson with something about Thurso, the northernmost town on the British mainland:The big event in Thurso, according to civic records, was in 1834 when Sir John Sinclair, a local worthy, coined the term 'statistics' in the town, though things have calmed down pretty considerably since.
«Notes from a Small Island», 1995, p. 351 in my Black Swan 2015 edition. Highly recommended. In fact all his books are superb.
The much regretted Sir Peter Ustinov in his hilarious autobiography Dear Me about his life in the army and his "Comp'ny Sar'nt-Major" on p. 134 of the Penguin edition of 1977 (ISBN 0 14 00.4940.1):"Stand up then," he said, and added: "Ow's the new billet, U'nov?" (The last word is my name.)
"Oh, much better, sir, thank you," I replied. "It's much less congested."
"I know," he snarled, as though I had uttered an unworthy imbecility, and then, on reflection, he added, "More room too, i'n there?"
Most recent update: 21 April 2021