Miles Kington Remembered: You can't buy charity at a charity shop, or sex at a sex shop

20 June 2002
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It's time for another helping of Albanian proverbs, I think. If you have never met Albanian proverbs before, you are in a for a treat, albeit a puzzling one. Whereas our proverbs are boringly practical and not at all poetic, Albanian proverbs tend to have poetic overtones and be fairly useless. They all seem to make sense until you look at them more closely. If an Albanian proverb can get you across the road safely, then it's not an Albanian proverb, as the old Albanian proverb says. But see what you think. Here is a small selection of Albanian proverbs to whet your appetite.

The unluckiest thing in the world is being a four-leaved clover. People keep picking you the whole time.

An umbrella can keep the sun out, but a parasol is not rainproof.

You cannot insure against your prayers being answered.

Why would an Arab child want to play in a sandpit?

The more important a soldier is, the fewer arms he carries, and all the most important soldiers are completely unarmed.

Nature only gave us hair to protect the top of our heads, yet nobody ever went to their hairdresser and said: "Please make my hair more protective of the top of my head!"

People might have more affection for the memory of the 1970s if they had not just been a low-budget remake of the 1960s.

Mankind listened to the birds and discovered how to sing and whistle. If we had listened to the branches of trees rubbing together instead, we could have had avant-garde classical music 40,000 years ago.

If we could buy gloves three at a time, we would then lose two at a time instead of one.

One day someone will institute the study of the euro, and they will look around for a good word to describe the study of the euro, and they will find to their fury that it has already been taken by urology.

What kind of block does a blockbuster bust? Was a thumbnail sketch ever done by a thumbnail? What do they call mackerel sky in places where they have never seen a mackerel? And why is the centre of a target a bull's- eye? Who would ever want to hit a bull in the eye?

When a man talks for a long time to the waiter, it may be because he is trying to impress his girlfriend. Of course, it may also be because he prefers the waiter to her.

If tea is the national drink of England, what is the national drink of India?

If the Wright brothers had known about airline meals, they might have had second thoughts.

You cannot buy charity at a charity shop.

You cannot buy sex at a sex shop.

And The Body Shop would be a very different sort of establishment if it had been set up by Burke and Hare.

Once it was elderly judges who turned to the court and said, in genuine puzzlement: "Who are the Beatles?" Now nobody in any court can remember who the Beatles were, except the people who grew up with them: that is, today's elderly judges.

The best way to get someone to look round at someone else is to say, "For God's sake don't look now, but the man over there..."

When winter comes and the tree is cold, it decides it needs a covering of leaves. So it acquires a warm covering of leaves, but by that time it is summer, the hottest time of the year. Accordingly it decides to shed its leaves, just in time to shiver through next winter... Let us just say that a tree never learns by experience.

Nobody ever bought a lottery ticket with the purpose of improving regional theatre funding.

Three people to avoid like the devil: a man with a grudge against the Government, a woman with an ungrateful daughter and a youth who has just discovered deodorant.

One man's theatre ticket is another man's bookmark.

All these are taken from 'The Great Big Book of Albanian Proverbs'