Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life.— A. A. Gill
The most sublime A. A. Gill quotes that will activate your desire to change
The interesting adults are always the school failures, the weird ones, the losers, the malcontents, this isn’t wishful thinking. It’s the rule.
You either get the point of Africa or you don't.
What draws me back year after year is that it's like seeing the world with the lid off.
A lobster bisque ought to be the crowning glory of the potager.
And this one was excellent. Silky as a gigolo's compliment and fishy as a chancellor's promise.
Beautifully shot, impeccably paced, it was a clear, unrelenting look at the National Trust, its friends and enemies, and it makes you want to burn your passport and beg the Luftwaffe to have another go.
Like most parents, I've been stumped by homework, the big questions, such as: 'What is the point of geography - the pilot always knows where we are going?'. Answer: 'If you didn't know any geography, people would think you were an American, and you wouldn't be able to put them right because you wouldn't know where they live.'
Facts are what pedantic, dull people have instead of opinions.
My father was a film-maker. He always said he wanted to go like Humphrey Jennings, the legendary director who stepped backwards over a cliff while framing a better shot.
I don't know how long a child will remain utterly static in front of the television, but my guess is that it could be well into their thirties.
We like to see death as an unfair conspiracy, and what we want is a magic practitioner, a combination of Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes.
America didn’t bypass or escape civilization.
It did something far more profound, far cleverer: it simply changed what civilization could be.
I still secretly believe that afternoons are the time for the test card and you shouldn't watch television when the sun is out.
Nobody ever forgets their first night in the bush.
It's among the precious, meagre handful of life firsts that remain indelible.
He (Jeremy Clarkson) is the last man standing on the beach commanding the glaciers' melt waters to go back
Americans think the only funny Brits are John Cleese, Benny Hill and whoever makes our toothpaste. They're not laughing with us, they are laughing at us.
Sport is how poor kids from poor countries pass through the eye of the needle to riches and recognition.
Is it a particularly British trait to so utterly adore truly appalling men, from Tony Hancock through to Steptoe and Alf Garnett, Captain Mainwaring, Rigsby, Del Boy, Victor Meldrew and on to David Brent from The Office. The most deeply adored characters are all simply vile.
Celebrity is a national drama whose characters' parts and plots are written by the tabloids, gossip columnists, websites and interactive buttons. The famous don't actually have to turn up to their own lives at all.
There were moments when I wondered at the gossamer veil that stops licence from being libel. I suspect that taking on the job of England manager puts you outside the protection of the courts. It must be part of the job description that you will be held hostage by media speculation and can have your character tortured, molested and finally executed at the public whim, in exchange for a lifetime's supply of money.
The truth and the facts aren't necessarily the same thing.
Telling the truth is the object of all art; facts are what the unimaginative have instead of ideas.
Once upon a time, a historian told me that the most important choice a new historian could make was of his or her specialist subject. Most of the good stuff was far too overcrowded, so you had to pick about in the exotic and extinct. His recommendations were the Picts or the Minoans, because hardly anything was known about them and you could spend a happy lifetime of speculation.
I walk up a dune to a beach and look out to sea, but it's 100km away.
The ships lie askew in their dry beds, at anchor for ever. Today is my son's birthday. Thousands of miles from here, his healthy lungs are blowing out candles. I should be there but I'm here with another boy, who puts his face close to mine and laughs. I smile back but realise he can't see it, because I'm wearing an antiseptic muzzles to protect me from his breath.
All my life I've been aware of the Second World War humming in the background.
I was born 10 years after it was finished, and without ever seeing it. It formed my generation and the world we lived in. I played Hurricanes and Spitfires in the playground, and war films still form the basis of all my moral philosophy. All the men I've ever got to my feet for or called sir had been in the war.
The reason that chefs become chefs is that they're not allowed into rooms with windows.
If the world were to end tomorrow and we could choose to save only one thing as the explanation and memorial to who we were, then we couldn't do better than the Natural History Museum, although it wouldn't contain a single human. The systematic Linnean order, the vast inquisitiveness and range of collated knowledge and beauty would tell all that is the best of us.
Television gives us the gift to see ourselves as we'd like to be seen.
It's a great historical joke that when the Spanish met the Aztecs, it was a blind date made in serve-you-right heaven. At the time, they were the two most unpleasant cultures in the entire world, and richly deserved each other. Still, the story of how stout Cortes blustered, bullied and bludgeoned his way to collapsing an entire empire with a handful of contagious hoodlums is astonishing.
Television in the 1960s & 70s had just as much dross and the programmes were a lot more tediously patronising than they are now. Memory truncates occasional gems into a glittering skein of brilliance. More television, more channels means more good television and, of course, more bad. The same equation applies to publishing, film and, I expect, sumo wrestling.
An American has invented a remote control that will turn off any telly within a 20ft radius. What a marvellous device! What a splendid invention! What a really helpful and improving way of devoting your time to building something that turns off culture. Next week, I'm instigating Burn a Book Week, to encourage even more conversation. I've come up with a fantastic little device which I'll call a box of matches.
Making a programme that appears to condone a positive stereotype actually enforces all the negative ones as well. It says that they all have a valid point. To assert that Americans are naive, Germans humourless and the French arrogant is one thing: they're big enough to take it. But to say that there's a conspiracy of Jewish bankers, that gypsies are thieves, Pakistanis are dirty and refugees are muggers is something quite else.
Science fiction is never about the future, in the same way history is rarely about the past: they're both parable formats for examining or commenting on the present.
Television is a constant stream of fact, opinions, lies, moral dilemmas, plots: an infinitely complex and sophisticated torrent of information. How could it not make you cleverer? The only people who ever thought television rotted the brain and made kids dumb were those with a vested interest in other ways of learning, or those who were intellectually insecure, usually about books.