Why Albanians in glass houses shouldn't throw stones

No matter how long a person lives, he always pegs out just too early to catch his obituary

REGULAR READERS will know that I am much addicted to collecting Albanian proverbs.

These are small repositories of hidden wisdom, so well hidden in most cases that the wisdom is not obvious at first sight. Or even later. Still, they sound as if they make a lot of sense, and that's the main thing. I sometimes get letters questioning their authenticity, often from Albanians who do not recognise the source material. It is a wise man who recognises common sense when he sees it. Which is, as it happens, an old Albanian proverb.

Here we go, then...

Before we die, our bones begin to ache and break. After we die, they remain intact for hundreds of years. Either God has a sense of humour, or his hobby is archaeology.

Never act on a proverb which you don't understand.

Even a continent is an island.

A letter bringing tragic news and a letter containing a cheque for pounds 1m travel at exactly the same speed.

At a funeral, all the people left happily alive dress mournfully in black, while the late lamented is joyfully wrapped in white.

When people talk about the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine, ask them what is so wise about the gentle art of chopping little bits off live tigers and bears to feed to patients.

In a country ruled by young people, the age of consent for sex will be a maximum age, not minimum.

When someone tells you that all things are relative, the only possible answer is: "Absolutely".

Of all the things that are hard to throw away, the hardest to throw away is a dustbin.

No matter how long a person lives, he always pegs out just too early to catch his obituary.

In the old days, family mottoes were always written in Latin so that everyone could understand them, no matter what his own language was. Nowadays nobody can understand them. Isn't the spread of education a wonderful thing?

Nobody ever made a fortune by selling children models of UN peace-keeping soldiers.

When a tattooed person dies, who owns the tattoo?

Man has always dreamt of harnessing the power of lightning. So why has nobody ever dreamt of harnessing the power of thunder?

No politician ever gives his speechwriter a knighthood.

If books do not sell, they do not get reprinted. Therefore all unsuccessful books are first editions. It follows, therefore, that all unsuccessful books are collector's items. This is an idea worth pursuing. In fact, someone once wrote a book about it. But nobody bought it.

The best way to unsettle a pedant is to open a parenthesis "( " and then never close it.

The presence of so many football goal posts standing alone in so many fields proves that the public WILL accept modern abstract art - so long as it is functional.

Whoever named the swimming style known as the butterfly stroke had probably never seen a butterfly trying to swim.

Three things to avoid: shirts marked SLIMFIT, sports sections of newspapers and books on diets by famous actresses.

There are three stages in the love of sports. 1. Wanting your own side to win. 2. Wanting the better side to win. 3. Wanting both sides to play well.

Professor Einstein may have been a very clever man, but he could also have been a very rich man if he had gone beyond relativity and thought of the concept of time-sharing...

Nobody can recognise himself from behind.

Taken from `The Great Book of Albanian Proverbs', 1999 edition.

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Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)


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