Most people want nothing to happen. That is the problem with governments these days. They want to do things all the time; they are always very busy thinking of what things they can do next. That is not what people want. People want to be left alone to look after their cattle.— Alexander McCall Smith
The most memorable Alexander McCall Smith quotes that are glad to read
Gracious acceptance is an art - an art which most never bother to cultivate.
We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving.... Accepting another person's gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you.
Manners are the basic building blocks of civil society.
It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it.
In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems of life. You could think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat your pumpkin. That brought you down to earth. That gave you a reason for going on. Pumpkin.
I see no point in being despondent. We might as well enjoy ourselves during our brief tenure of this life.
Talking about pumpkins doesn't make them grow.
A life without stories would be no life at all.
And stories bound us, did they not, one to another, the living to the dead, people to animals, people to the land?
It is sometimes easier to be happy if you don't know everything.
Who can't like pigs? They're wonderful creatures! I've always liked pigs.
Do you realise that people die of boredom in London suburbs? It's the second biggest cause of death amongs the English in general. Sheer boredom...
[Edinburgh] is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas.
A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.
They're very beautiful, aren't they? Clouds are very beautiful and yet so often we fail to appreciate them properly. We should do that. We should look at them and think about how lucky we are to have them.
Reality television, which turned its eye on people who were doing nothing but being themselves, was the perfect expression of this trend [of narcissism]. Let's look at ourselves, it said. Aren't we fascinating?
There are many women whose lives would be immeasurably improved by widowhood, but one should not always point that out.
We should be careful of the insults we fling at others, lest they return and land at our feet, newly minted to apply to those who had first coined them.
One of the most destructive things that's happening in modern society is that we are losing our sense of the bonds that bind people together - which can lead to nightmares of social collapse.
I think that we've made great moral progress in the second half of the 20th century in many respects, and particularly in relation to human rights but I think that we are losing sight of some of the values of concern for others, and self-respect and respect for others.
The people with the strong, brave exteriors are just as weak and vulnerable as the rest of us. And of course they never admit to their childish practices, their moments of weakness or absurdity, and then the rest of us think that's how it should be.
A very powerful theme in fiction is that of loss.
We are all tempted, Mma. We are all tempted when it comes to cake.
Well, Id say all of us are a combination of moods and emotions.
In my day to day life I dont go around skipping, but at times one can feel sheer exhilarating joy at the world.
As a writer I've learned certain lessons.
One of them is to be careful about how you put a view, and to bear in mind how easily and readily you'll be misinterpreted.
The trouble with Grace, she thought, is that she is so literal.
But that was the trouble with most people, when it came down to it; there were very few who enjoyed flights of fantasy, and to have that sort of mind--one which enjoyed dry with and understood the absurd--left one in a shrinking minority.
But we make such mistakes all the time, all through our lives.
Wisdom, I suppose, is seeing this and acting upon it before it is too late. But it is often too late, isn't it? - and those things that we should have said are unsaid, and remain unsaid for ever.
It seems to me that we're in danger of losing sight of certain basic civic values in society by allowing the growth of a whole generation of people who really have no sense of attachment to society.
It's through the small things that we develop our moral imagination, so that we can understand the sufferings of others.
As a writer, you have to realize that people want to like the characters, so you have to be careful to keep them involved.
Any extreme political creed brought only darkness in the long run;
it lit up nothing. The best politics were those of caution, tolerance and moderation, Angus maintained, but such politics were, alas, also very dull, and certainly moved nobody to poetry.
Now constipation was quite a different matter.
..It would be dreadful for the whole world to know about troubles of that nature. She felt terribly sorry for people who suffered from constipation, and she knew that there were many who did. There were probably enough of them for a political party - which a chance of government. Perhaps - but what would such a party do if it was in power? Nothing, she imagined. It would try to pass legislation, but would fail. (p, 195)
There are old mycologists and there are bold mycologists, but there are no old, bold mycologists.
Each of us is born into our own mysteries but the mystery of another might just take us in and embrace us. And then what a sense of homecoming, of belonging!
It's a different sort of love taht puts up with illness. Old love.
Be content with who you are and where you are, and do whatever you can do to bring to others such contentment, and joy, and understanding that you have managed to find yourself.
It was the same with friendship. Disagreement between friends and spouses, too had to be carefully handled. If the time you spent with friends was consumed by disagreement, then there was no room for the essence of friendship, which was a sharing of the world. And that sharing involved seeing things the same way, or at least seeing things through the eyes of the friend.
A wedding was a strange ceremony, she thought, with all those formal words, those solemn vows made by one to another; whereas the real question that should be put to the two people involved was a very simple one. Are you happy with each other? was the only question that should be asked; to which they both should reply, preferably in unison, Yes.
International business, once allowed to stalk uncontrolled, killed the local, the small, the quirky.
When you allow people to do what they wish, then that is what they do.
They stop doing the things they need to do.
As a writer, I have readers who will have a range of political views.
I don't think they look to me for political guidance.
Do not take on a traditionally built person unless you are prepared for a heavyweight bout.
It was easy to be moral when that was the way you felt anyway.
The hard bit about morality was making yourself feel the opposite of what you really felt.
The Culture of Complaint... We live in a culture of complaint because everyone is always looking for things to complain about. It's all tied in with the desire to blame others for misfortunes and to get some form of compensation into the bargain.
There is room in history for all of us.
We need to believe I think in justice.
We need to run our lives as if justice existed... If we abandon a belief that justice will eventually be done, we make this world much more difficult for ourselves.
But don't we often lie to people we love, or not tell them things, precisely because we love them?
The previously unloved may find it hard to believe that they are now loved;
that is such a miracle, they feel; such a miracle.
I have three older sisters, so we were a reasonably large family and, in general, a happy one.
New York is a wonderful place to be up, an awful place to be down.
Botswana is actually very peaceful. It's democratic. It never was in debt. They've been fortunate, they've had diamonds.
Antonia was very conscious of the corrosive power of envy and felt that it was this emotion, more than any other, which lay behind human unhappiness. People did not realize how widespread envy was.
I am just a tiny person in Africa, but there is a place for me, and for everybody, to sit down on this earth and touch it and call it their own.