PC 251 Collections (2) or ‘I wish I had Said That!’

This is the second collection of words or phrases or passages that I have amassed. I hope you find them interesting, informative, thoughtful and amusing in equal or unequal measure.

Philip Ayrton-Grime had been our Queen’s vet for many decades. On his retirement they were having a glass of sherry. “Do you find” asked the Queen “that you begin to forget names and faces as we get older?” “Absolutely!” your majesty, Philip replied. The Queen sighed: “Fortunately everybody seems to know who I am.

Jeffrey Archer quoted the following in one of his novels: “If it flies, floats or fucks, rent it!” and attributed it to Sir James Goldsmith (1933 – 1997). Goldsmith, a very successful businessman, was loved and hated in equal measure.

His three marriages produced six children including Jemina, who was married to the Pakistani Imran Khan (1995-2004), and Zac who was ennobled in 2020. His mistress gave birth to two more; at one point Goldsmith lived in a house with his wife in one wing and his mistress in another. This colourful character died of pancreatic cancer at the early age of 64. 

In the Offshore Sailing world the name Ellen MacArthur is instantly recognisable, particularly for her record-breaking solo circumnavigation in 2005 on the trimaran B&Q. Subsequently she founded the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust (The EMCT); its aim is to provide an adventurous outlet for teenagers in their remission from cancer. In my capacity as a business coach I provided some pro bono assistance to the CEO.

She spoke at the Southampton Boat Show in 1998: “I don’t know where my motivation comes from …… but one thing I’ve learnt over the past year is that if deep down in your heart you have a goal, you CAN achieve it. Getting to that stage has pushed me hard, harder than I ever imagined, but I have experienced moments more rewarding and more beautiful than in my wildest dreams. Yes, it’s true; luck does play a part in it. But if you believe, and are determined, you can build your own luck … and realize that the vision is really NOT so far away.”

Albert Einstein is often quoted and he had a great wit: “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity; and I am not sure about the universe.”

The late American author Philip Roth wrote some interesting books, among them ‘The Human Stain’ (Note 2), ‘Goodbye Columbus’ and ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’.

He never shied away from writing how it is: “We leave a stain, we leave a trail, we leave an imprint, impurity, cruelty, abuse, error, excrement, semen – there’s no other way to be here. The truth about us is endless …… as are the lies.”

Some writers are delightfully descriptive; I know it adds to my enjoyment of their stories:

The warmth of the day lingered in the still of the night”. Claire Frances, who first came to prominence as a 1977 Round-The-World yacht skipper, has written some good novels.

Oslo was at this hour hers, like sharing a stolen hour from a secret lover. The hills to the east lay in shadows, those to the west bathed in a soft light. The buildings in the city centre were black silhouettes like a cemetery at sunrise. A few glass buildings were lit up like silver coloured fish beneath the dark surface of the water.” Jo Nesbo author

The sea looked like a colourful quilt of sunshine and clouds.” I love this, can imagine narrowing my eyes against the reflection of the sun off the choppy water, and the thousand colourful patches.

A limerick is a short and fun four or five line poem with a distinctive rhythm, popularised by Edward Lear (1812 – 1888).

“There was a young man from Forfar, (Note 1)

Who caught the three three for Forfar,

For he said: “I believe I will leave

far before the four four for Forfar.”

In my business coaching days, I would always summarise a meeting with a client with a follow-up letter, often appending some phrase or saying at the bottom. Sounds a little corny, but I hoped that my client would read, mark and inwardly digest the words, for they had a message! I often used these words spoken by Brutus from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’: “There is a time in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.  Omitted, all the voyage of one’s life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea am I now afloat, and I must take the current when it serves or lose my venture.”

Love: having written about doomed love in my PCs entitled ‘What is This Thing Called Love?” (1&2), I reflect that writing about love is bound to be hugely coloured by one’s own experiences. Some authors are good at describing sex and all its attendant emotions, others gloss over it.

Dolly Alderton, the Sunday Times Columnist would, I had imagined, have been good, but in her book Ghosts she seemed rather shy of graphic descriptions!! When fictional Nina falls in love with Max it’s very bland. Then Max disappears …… ghosting is a new phenomenon in the complex world of human relationships. Maybe she had given her all in her autobiographical “Everything I know About Love” – which is a fun and revealing book.

I am grateful to Meg Mason for this description, from Sorry & Bliss; Martha, after the first two attempts at physical contact, thought: “The third time, it felt like we had been melted down and made into another thing. We lay for so long afterwards, facing each other in the dark, not talking, our breath in the same pattern, our stomachs touching. We went to sleep that way and woke up that way. It was the happiest I have ever felt.” Sexy huh?

Louis de Berniere, author of ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’, ‘Birds Without Wings’ and others

From his book ‘The Autumn of the Ace’

“Nothing is or is not as it seems
As we are, so you shall be,
As you are, so were we,
As dancing motes of golden dust
We whirled within our beam of light,
And then became, but always were,
This dust that falls from dreams.”

…….. this dust that falls from dreams ……. (to be continued)

Richard 8th October 2021


Note 1 Forfar is a town in Scotland about 20kms north of Dundee, on the east coast

Note 2 The Human Stain was made into a film starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman

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