Archive for the ‘quotes’ Category

From Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam:

Something struck in Moist’s head, causing him to say, “May I ask, Missus Bradshaw, if your handwriting is good?”

She looked down her nose at him and said, “Indeed yes, Mister Lipwig. I used to write a beautiful cursive script for my dear late husband. He was a lawyer and they expect excellence in the writing and use of the language. Mister Slant was always very…particular about that, and no one appreciated the judicious use of Latatian better than dear Archibald did.

“And, may I add, I was schooled at the Quirm College for Young Ladies, where they are very solid on the teaching of foreign tongues, even though Morpokian rather seems to have become the lingua quirma of late.” Mrs. Bradshaw sniffed. “And in working for my husband I learned a lot about people and the human condition.”

I do agree that working in law teaches you, among other things, an awful lot about the human condition. There is nothing quite like standing aside and watching people argue about stuff, or listening to try to understand what people argue about, how people argue, why relationships break down.

All of that makes me quite introspective about life in general, and very circumspect about the things in life that one should or should not worry about.

So I spend a fair bit of time trying to convince my children that whatever they are fighting about is just sometimes simply not worth their effort. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Pick your fights wisely.


The Buddha: What are you doing?
Me: I am soaking out Sentosa Tranquility ink out of my fountain pen.
He: Wasn’t that what you’ve been doing for some weeks now?
Me: Nope. Last week I was soaking out purple. Different ink. Different pen. Different day.
He: It seems like you are forever washing out ink from somewhere. I think you are a bit obsessive about this. Maybe if you just use a normal pen…
Me: That’s like saying “Maybe if you just drive a normal Toyota Corolla…”
He: Good point.

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We missed out on an opportunity to be part of something important today.

Rather, we made a conscious effort to price ourselves out of the situation.

It is a lovely offer, a wonderful opportunity to be part of something bigger, to get on the map.

But we thought about it honestly and decided that while we could do a great job, it is a very difficult job to do. We were too low on resources to contemplate taking it on.

I suppose that’s part of growing up: knowing when to pull back and say no, knowing your own limits.


Incidentally, to fortify my soul to go into work today, I opened my Laudate app and very coincidentally, one of the daily readings was Wisdom Chapter 7 as follows:

In Wisdom is a spirit
intelligent, holy, unique,
Manifold, subtle, agile,
clear, unstained, certain,
Not baneful, loving the good, keen,
unhampered, beneficent, kindly,
Firm, secure, tranquil,
all-powerful, all-seeing,
And pervading all spirits,
though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle.
For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion,
and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity.
For she is an aura of the might of God
and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty;
therefore nought that is sullied enters into her.
For she is the refulgence of eternal light,
the spotless mirror of the power of God,
the image of his goodness.
And she, who is one, can do all things,
and renews everything while herself perduring;
And passing into holy souls from age to age,
she produces friends of God and prophets.
For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom.
For she is fairer than the sun
and surpasses every constellation of the stars.
Compared to light, she takes precedence;
for that, indeed, night supplants,
but wickedness prevails not over Wisdom.

Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily
and governs all things well.

I prayed for wisdom before going into work for another crazy day.


I choose words for a living; choosing them very carefully is a life skill.

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From Haruki Murakami’s Underground:

Now, as one psychoanalyst defines it: “Human memory is nothing more than a ‘personal interpretation’ of events.” Passing an experience through the apparatus of memory can sometimes rework it into something more readily understood: the unacceptable parts are omitted; “before” and “after” are reversed; unclear elements are refined; one’s own memories are mixed with those of others, interchanged, as often as necessary. All this goes on perfectly naturally, unconsciously.

Simply put, our memories of experiences are rendered into something like a narrative form. To a greater or lesser extent, this is a natural function of memory — a process that novelists consciously utilise as a profession. The truth of “whatever is told” will differ, however slightly, from what actually happened. This, however, does not make it a lie; it is unmistakably the truth, albeit in a different form.

…As a result, the stories told by people who simultaneously experienced the very same scene often differ on small details…these discrepancies and contradictions say something in themselves. Sometimes, in this multifaceted world of ours, inconsistency can be more eloquent than consistency.

The Buddha had always said that who wins the trial depends on who is a better liar. I’ve always thought that it was a little bit unfair to put it that way.

Then I remembered how when I was a pupil, I’d heard The Bollywood Star tell his client that we only needed him to tell the truth on the stand because there is only one truth, and I thought that it was inaccurate to put it that way too.

I have also heard The Stallion tell his clients what the official version of the truth should be based on documents. I’d thought that wasn’t really how it works either.

I supposed that only one truth is that there will always be more than one perception of truth. Unfortunately, in most of my trials, there are usually up to five perceptions of the truth in the courtroom: the plaintiff, the defendant, their respective counsels and the judge; the most immaterial being their respective counsels’ views and the most material being the judge’s.

So I guess it was a really good thing that we didn’t even bother to go on today. We argued preliminary issues and dismissed the claim, then went off to lunch and got on with life. That is way clearer than trying to figure out which of the five perceptions of the truth should triumph.

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the truth about hot dogs

Because the truth about hot dogs is this: no smell in the world promises so much and delivers so little. Even as a kid when you buy it you find it tastes of nothing at all. Absolutely nothing. The biggest zero ever. A warm, bland mush as far removed from the perfume it adds to the night air as a lotus flower from the slime that spawns it.

It’s as if some master perfumer and necromancer had foreseen all the broken promises of your life to come, all the pangs of unrequited love and unreturned letters; the torment of watching a phone that never rings; the bright expectancy of fresh hope at breakfast, in ruins by sunset…it was as if he took all these things and blended them into a single fragrance and called it whatever the French is for Disappointment…Désolé or Chagrin or something. The smell of hot dogs on the Prom at night. The scent of pure Chagrin.

Malcolm Pryce

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But I said nothing because forcing a smile on to a face that sees little reason to smile and getting on with it is all part of the job.

I feel you, Louie Knight.

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Conversation between The Buddha and I sometime last week in the presence of Champagne Truffle, after some protracted discussion about a point of law

He: I know the meaning of bona vacantia.

She: Which is a really problematic concept in relation to personal property law. Have you ever wondered when you crap, what gives the State the right to dispose and destroy it? Is crapping an act of abandonment? Or what about the guy who took the coins out of fountains and lived for many years on it? Is he guilty of theft? Can he be guilty of theft? Against who?

[Champagne Truffle looks like he’s thinking hard. The Buddha stares at me blankly.]

He: I just told you that I know the meaning of bona vacantia to show you that I am clever.

She: You mean you didn’t want to have an intellectual discourse with me on the problems relating to the concept, which incidentally is something I am interested in?

He: No. I only wanted you to know that I am clever.

She: Oh well. That means I just wasted some intellectual effort there. At least you can now go forth and consider the problems with bona vacantia when you crap every morning.


From Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov:

Odd times to be a child in. An odd country, an odd life which he had no desire to make sense of. To endure, full stop, that was all he wanted.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so connected with a protagonist. I feel so much for Viktor Alekseyevich, maybe because in some way, I am reminded a little of myself. Outlandish things happen to him and he just sighs, makes tea, and gets to work on them.


There are presentation slides to be made, emails to answer, and a new secretary to train. Mustn’t tarry. Must carry on.

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on beauty and stupidity

From Nevsky Prospekt by Nikolay Gogol:

Stupidity, however, can be particularly appealing in a pretty wife. At least, I know of many husbands who are delighted by their wives’ stupidity and see evidence in it of childlike innocence. Beauty can work perfect miracles. Instead of inspiring revulsion, all spiritual defects in a beautiful woman become unusually attractive: even vice can be attractive in them. But should beauty fade, then a woman needs to be twenty times cleverer than her husband to inspire, if not love, at least respect.

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on wasting time

From The Dragon Revenant by Katherine Kerr

Salamander to Jill on pressing charges against Baruma:

If you want to waste a great deal of other people’s time, Jill my turtledove, there’s no better way than starting a lawsuit.

How true.

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the duties of a guest

First of all, don’t expect too much. In this way you will not be disappointed at the end of the meal — a thing which is very harmful to the digestion. A day before the party, assess your host at his true value. Calculate, and I am afraid this is a little cynical, just what you are likely to get.

If your host cooks himself, if he is a cordon bleu…see that your preceding meal is a very light one, or skip it altogether.

On the other hand, if you have accepted, from a sense of duty, the invitation of a culinary ignoramus, have a drink before you leave home and a small snack. In this way you will arrive suitably fortified and you will avoid the pangs of hunger, so delightful before a good dish but so dangerous a prelude to a doubtful dinner.

– Edouard de Pomiane

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almost closure

From One of our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde:

I thought for a moment. Of the untidy chaos I had seen in the RealWorld; of not knowing what was going to happen; of not knowing what, if anything, had relevance. The RealWorld was a sprawling mess of a book, in need of a good editor. I thought then of the narrative order here in the BookWorld, our resolved plot lines and the observance of natural justice we took for granted.

‘Literature is claimed to be a Mirror of the World,’ I said, ‘but the Outlanders are fooling themselves. The BookWorld is as orderly as people in the RealWorld hope their own world to be – it isn’t a mirror, it’s an aspiration.’

‘Humans,’ said Sprockett, ‘are the most gloriously bizarre creatures.’

‘Yes,’ I said with a smile, ‘they certainly are.’

One of my overdue judgements was released last Friday and collected and delivered to me in the course of this morning. I sat in my desk restlessly, paced around the office, and generally loitered suspiciously around until I received it in my hands and read it all the way through.

In the afternoon, I went to Court to attend one matter, then sat in the bar room, had a cup of tea, and read the last 3 chapters of my book to escape.

There’s nothing else left to do. Tomorrow is another day.

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