Review of the Year 2009: Quotes

'I woke up as Britney Spears!'
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The Independent Online


"I've got to be absolutely frank. We've been dealing with global financial failure" Gordon Brown, after much prompting by the BBC's Evan Davis to admit to playing some part in our national meltdown, contrives to be less than absolutely frank.

"He's a naïve man, he is all shop-front and no stockroom. Now we have a Prime Minister who has very little stockroom and very little shop-front" Eddie Hancock, father of a soldier killed in Iraq, on Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

"I believe that everything I have claimed on the ACA has been a properly incurred property-related expense, and that I can produce receipts for almost everything" John Maples MP, after he claimed the Royal Automobile Club as his main home.

"Perhaps we need not more people looking round more corners but the same people looking round more corners more thoroughly to avoid the small things detracting from the big things the Prime Minister is getting right" Lord Mandelson's passionate and eloquent response to the MPs' expenses scandal.

"You know, there are certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office. And then there are moments like this – where I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland" Barack Obama discovers (on "Turkey Pardoning Day") it's not all beer and skittles being leader of the free world.

"You want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not Secretary of State. I am" Hillary Clinton bridles with amour-propre when under the impression she's been slighted during a press conference.

"Goddess Joanna" Placard welcoming actress Joanna Lumley to Nepal, after her successful campaign to secure British settlement rights for Gurkha veterans.

"If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?" Attributed to Sarah Palin.

"I never ordered any combatant to eat anyone" A cry of injured innocence from former Liberian president Charles Taylor, tried at The Hague for crimes against humanity.

"As far as the Iraqis were concerned, here was a nation [US] that could put people on the Moon but who could not, or would not, fix the electricity supply" Colonel JK Tanner, British chief of staff in Iraq from November 2003 to May 2004.

"I greatly appreciate the way your people respect the memory of those who fell, irrespective of the uniform they wore" Noble sentiment from Harry Patch, last surviving First World War veteran, aged 110, to the French on being appointed Officer of the Legion d'Honneur. He died later in the year.


"I wouldn't mind being resuscitated by you" Silvio Berlusconi turns on the charm with a lady doctor at the L'Aquila earthquake zone.

"I find it a bit creepy if you're having sex with people the same age as your children" Jerry Hall, whose ex-husband Mick Jagger's partner is 23 years his junior.

"The perineum is the floor of our body and if it's not kept in shape, it's as if you had a house with no floor" Mildly emetic metaphor from Nicolas Sarkozy's personal trainer, Julie Imperiali, explaining the workings of the presidential groin.

"If you don't send your boyfriend naked pictures, then I feel bad for him" Singer Rihanna tries to make it seem perfectly natural, after nude photos of her were leaked.

"I had been doing this for 45 years and there had never been a hint and nobody knew" Motor-racing boss Max Mosley tells MPs that his orgies have always been a private matter until now.


"Hullo. You don't sound like a black chap!" Displaying his grandfather's endearing sense of humour, Prince Harry meets comedian Stephen K Amos.

"He should go in front of the cameras and say he will never use that word again. He is not some low-IQ skinhead; he is a member of the Royal family" Ifitikar Raja, uncle of the soldier whom Prince Harry called "our little Paki friend".


"I handled it, I admit it, but I'm not the referee ... I played it and we scored, but it was the referee's decision. That's why the Irish all ran to him, not to me" Thierry Henry, shameless French handballer.

"The blatantly incorrect decision by the referee to award the goal has damaged the integrity of the sport, and we now call on Fifa, as the world governing body for our sport, to organise for this match to be replayed" Football Association of Ireland.

"It wasn't so much taming the beast – more like playing with a tabby cat" David Haye dismisses the challenge of boxing against 7ft giant Nikolay Valuev.

"I thought it was like Barack Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize after eight months as USA President" Fabio Capello expresses surprise when David Beckham is named Man of the Match for a 31-minute appearance against Belarus.

"It's surprising how English cricket continues to shoot itself in the foot just before an Ashes series" Former England captain Nasser Hussain on the captaincy debacle.

"There is still time for new blood to get ready for the spring fertility offensive" Morris dancer Paul Reece exhorts enthusiasts to start training soon (in January).


"We managed to source the doves we were going to release into the sky, but the kittens proved terribly difficult" A spokesperson explains that, when Mariah Carey was asked to turn on the Christmas lights at London's Westfield shopping centre, she asked for 20 white kittens and 100 white doves, along with 80 security guards, a Rolls-Royce and a shower of butterfly confetti. The kittens and doves were banned by officials.

"Stephen lived to perform and truly loved being centre stage. You can be sure he's looking down on us now, wishing we'd move over so he could flash his smile for the cameras one more time" Ronan Keating paying tribute to his dead Boyzone bandmate Stephen Gately.

"We don't wanna put in, the negative move, it's killin' the groove" 3G, Georgia's Eurovision hopefuls, drop a sneaky allusion to the Russian president into their song lyrics.

"I thought 'That's why he's Tom Cruise and I'm Tom Hollander,' so I said 'Buy it!'" The British actor laments buying, on Cruise's advice, a house that has halved in value.

Arts & Literature

"Film-making is just a cheap version of being God. And you've got to do it in six days. It's never enough time, just like there wasn't for Him" Writer and film director Terry Gilliam on making 'The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus'.

"They got mightily fed up with me reading bedtime stories with a German accent" Kate Winslet on preparing for 'The Reader' by reading to her children in character, as a former concentration-camp guard.

"The feeling among the judges was that there was a lot wrong with it. It was flawed in many ways; almost no one liked its ending. For some, this was fatal" Matthew Parris, chair of the Costa book award judges, damns Sebastian Barry's winning novel 'The Secret Scripture' with faint praise.

"You can't ask a fantasy writer not to want a knighthood. You know, for two pins I'd get myself a horse and a sword" Terry Pratchett's gracious response to being dubbed Sir Terence by the Queen.


"Unfortunately my guardian angel, most probably on orders from above, did not prevent this incident" Pope Benedict XVI, speaking of the fall that broke his wrist.

"No words of apology would ever be sufficient ... [I offer] to each and every survivor my apology, my sorrow, and my shame" Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin responds to reports of child abuse.

"Aids cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems" Pope Benedict XVI speaks with forked tongue on Africa's public-health crisis during his first visit there as Pontiff.


"I went to sleep as Rihanna and woke up as Britney Spears" Rihanna discovers a new level of media attention after she was assaulted by former boyfriend Chris Brown.

"I read somewhere that British men were the worst lovers, well below Spanish and Italian, so maybe going British is a bad idea" Jerry Hall reveals that she's looking for a boyfriend, but probably not one like her former husband Mick Jagger. Don't you love that 'I read somewhere...'?


"This is all happening because my father didn't buy me a train set as a kid" Warren Buffett, businessman, on his company's $26bn purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.

"I wish they caught me six years ago, eight years ago" Bernie Madoff, jailed financier and Ponzi schemer. So do several thousand people, Mr Madoff.

"I can't see how it is a pension because he is not retired. It is money for nothing" Harriet Harman, scourge of evildoers, on Sir Fred Goodwin's £650,000 per annum pension.


"The other night, at the Testino party, Kate Moss was walking out. I saw her leaving and was, like, 'Go now!' I was walking behind her. She went one way and took the photographers with her. I went straight to my car" Lindsay Lohan explains how she uses other celebrities as a human shield to avoid the paparazzi.

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" Kate Moss incurs the wrath of the health lobby by invoking the mantra of anorexics.


"We know Iran has an erection, sorry election, coming up" Jenni Murray, 'Woman's Hour' anchor, possibly with something on her mind.

"Jeremy Paxman on Victorian art: you know that he knows damn-all about it" David Starkey does a fine impression of a dog jealously guarding his territory.


"It was a combination of calm on the outside, turmoil inside" Pilot Chesley Sullenberger reveals the emotional truth of his forced landing on the Hudson River.

"I call that a real slap in the face to every citizen in this country who has been doing their best to cut back on their own emissions" Environmentally conscious Emma Thompson is dismayed by plans to build a third Heathrow runway.