simon hoggart quotes


It's sad that the BBC is toning down Dennis the Menace for a cartoon series. He is losing his weapons, catapult and peashooter, will no longer pick on Walter the Softy, and his ferocious grimace is to be replaced by a charming, boyish smile.


I cannot be alone in being pretty nauseated by Red Nose Day, or at least its television manifestation. Do I think that wretchedly poor children in Africa should get food and life-saving drugs? Of course. Do I want to be hectored into contributing by celebrities who earn more in a 10-minute slot than many of these families get in a year? Nope.


A married vicar is likely to regard his vocation as a job - a tough and ill-paid one, to be sure - but a priest is seen as a pillar of the community, answerable only to his parishioners and his God, rather than to a wife and children.


I know of no wars started by anyone to impose lack of religion on someone else. We have lethal Sunni v Shia, Catholic against Protestant, but no agnostic suicide bombers attack crowded atheist pubs.


Living in New York is like being at some terrible late-night party. You're tired, you've had a headache since you arrived, but you can't leave because then you'd miss the party.


I think the great thing about grandparents is seeing another home, realising that people you love can have different priorities, different diversions, different opinions and lead quite different lives from the ones you see every day, and that is immensely valuable.


Some government expenditure actually makes a profit. Our theatre leads the world. Loads of tourists must be attracted by the fact that you could spend a week in London doing nothing but visit superb museums and galleries, free.


Life was so much simpler in pre-video days when everyone refused invitations because the 'Forsyte Saga' was on. Now we all just have a long list of unwatched shows, all of which, it seems, our friends are raving about. I feel as outdated as if I wore a Fair Isle sweater, ate Pot Noodle and had a two-bar electric fire in the sitting room.


Kind 'Guardian' readers have been forwarding me round robin Christmas newsletters for years now: lengthy missives full of perfect children, exotic holidays, talented pets and endless, tedious detail. The notes that accompanied them revealed they had inspired in the original recipients everything from mild irritation to absolute rage.


The Tory party is like a rugby union match in which all 30 players are wearing the same strip. They're not sure who they are grabbing round the knees, but they're having a lot of fun doing it.


Jim Sheridan, the MP who wants to ban sketchwriters from the Commons for being rude about politicians, is a blithering idiot. Sorry, scrub that - clearly a very thoughtful person with whom I might conceivably disagree on some marginal issues. A blithering savant, perhaps.


I also learned to play Fruit Ninja on an iPad. It is quite hypnotic, and I hope one day to get past 100 points. I remembered that David Cameron admits to being an addict. I wonder if it helps him in his work. 'Great, just destroyed a pineapple! Reminds me, shall we send those grenades to the Syrian rebels?'


One of the pleasures of staying with friends is that you get to browse their shelves. I always arrive with a book, but I almost never read it. It would be like sitting at their dinner table and opening a packet of sandwiches.


To be fair to the Inquisition, they only used confessions extracted after the torture had ended, which let them claim that admissions had been freely given; the fact that the torture would have started again if they hadn't confessed was a minor detail.


British diplomats who worked in Iran during the 1980 hostage crisis are deeply upset by Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning film 'Argo,' which suggests they refused shelter to the group who managed to get out of the U.S. embassy.


Denis Healey refused to contribute an article to the 'Guardian' about his intentions, and was punished by the electorate - and then all Labour MPs - for his presumption in assuming they already knew everything about him. He became famously the best prime minister we never had. Perhaps.


When you visit a foreign city you are in it, but not of it, separated by a glass wall. Once, while a student, I was getting dressed in my ground-floor room when a family of Italians crossed the grass to watch, as if I were laid on for their amusement and instruction.


During my own gap year, I learned an invaluable lesson - that I was a lousy teacher. Even though the children I 'taught,' in upcountry Uganda, were desperate for qualifications, they largely ignored me. Until, that is, I realised that they wanted to hear about other young persons around the world.


I think Tony Blair has to come down on one side or the other. You can't be a half-hearted supporter of the possible attack on Iraq. You're either with George Bush or you're against him.


My colleague Bill Keegan has written a very short book ('Saving the World?') on an unlikely topic - he is the first economist to try to rehabilitate Gordon Brown.


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