The top ten: Most English remarks of all time


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The Independent Online

Janan Ganesh, the 'Financial Times' commentator, was most taken by David Cameron's quotation of Boris Johnson's line about his Anglican belief: 'My faith is a bit like Magic FM in the Chilterns, in that the signal comes and goes.' Who can compete?

1. "I am just going outside and may be some time." Captain Oates. Nominated by Martin Boulton.

2. "I think it's easing." (Of the rain.) Nominated by Deborah Loudon.

3. "Old maids hiking to Holy Communion through the mists of the autumn morning." George Orwell. Via Nick Reid.

4. "Who you looking at, mate?" Usually as spoken in a pub, in a market town, on a Saturday night. But can be used any time. From Sean Kenny.

5. "Sorry." James Harvard.

6. "Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough! It isn't fit for humans now." Sir John Betjeman. With thanks to Janson De Couët.

7. "Why don't you fall into two very lovely lines?" Sergeant Wilson, Dad's Army. Patrick Hennessy.

8. "Well, you know me, I ain't one to gossip." Dot Cotton, EastEnders. Thanks to Tom Freeman.

9. "It looked a tad sticky at Dunkirk." Eddie Cozens, nominated by his grandson Mark Wallace, who had asked, "Did you ever think we might lose the war?"

10. "Crashed slow-rolling near the ground. Bad show." Douglas Bader's logbook, on the accident that cost him his legs. From Tom Joyce.

Next week: Unexpected etymology ('bumf' is an abbreviation of bum-fodder, for example).

Coming soon: Tautologies (safe haven, pre-planned). Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to