Famous Quotations

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

What is another word for thesaurus?

As brilliant as that question appears to be I did not think of it all by myself: I borrowed it from some other jerk’s writings. It was likely from the works of our old friend Anonymous, he and Anon never seemed to shut up. He was always running on about something (he could have been a she). Women have been known to say clever things too. Don’t forget it was Helen of Troy who said, ‘Hey, Paris, guess what I’ve got under this toga?’ and that little remark started a war that lasted ten years.

Wasn’t it Anon who said, ‘I wish I knew where I was going to die and I’d never go near the place,’ and, ‘I never saw a man with one short leg but that the other was longer’ and ‘Them’s mighty big oranges. It wouldn’t take too many to make a dozen.’ He also said, ‘You show me yours and I’ll show you mine’ Oh no, that was one of mine.

It always amazes me how many great lines, sayings, adages, aphorisms, apophthegms (now that’s a good one, try saying that without your teeth in) axioms, bywords, dictums, gnomes*, maxims, mots, mottos, precepts, proverbs, remnants, saws and slogans, or just plain stupid statements, can be attributed to so many different people. (I always thought a gnome was a little runt like me that lived under a bridge – or was that a troll?)

I have only said one thing that was worth stealing and that was ‘I don’t know who invented the bra but they had to be Canadian. Who else would design an article of clothing that opened in the back? That’s like building a Cadillac with no doors and the only way you can get into is to climb through the back window.’ I said that in a speech back in the 80s. The trouble is, did I really make that up or did I steal it from someone else? I have the original speech in the computer and I am pretty sure it’s mine; but it seems far too brilliant for a bozo like me. Plus I never saw a bra in my life until my neighbour hung one on a clothesline in 1997.

I hate to be picky but I have a problem with politicians being credited with making famous statements. The problem is not who said it, but who wrote it. JFK’s ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ may have been said by the U.S. President but did he come up with it in the first place or was it written by a speechwriter? I guess it doesn’t matter really He paid for it. Nixon’s ‘I am not a crook!’ I’m pretty sure was his.

‘Is sex dirty? Only if it is done right.’ and ‘The lion and the calf will lie down together, but the calf won’t get much sleep’ have to be Woody Allen’s lines. I have always been a great fan of Woody, I know his personal life was, and maybe still is, a bit of a shambles but his humour is brilliant. I used to refer to him as a great youth worker (he took off with his stepdaughter who is decades younger than he is – 35 years as a matter of fact) but no one remembers that today. Plus the line wasn’t that funny to begin with.

Sometimes rather than read a book, I will browse through three or four books of quotations and before I know it the afternoon has gone and I have accomplished nothing. Then I realise I accomplish not much of anything even on a good day and now I have some quotations I can steal and claim for my own. Does that make sense? I didn’t think so.

Shakespeare has stacks of quotations in dozens of book and if you didn’t take high school literature you have no idea what any of them mean. Come to think of it even if you did study his plays and sonnets you will have to find an English teacher to translate them for you. For instance, his ‘Let’s kill all the lawyers.’ may seem like a good idea if it’s your ex-wife’s lawyer but the local law society look on such a deed with a jaundiced eye and you may have to settle for just wounding him.

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