Miles Kington: Why no one writes poems about spiders, and other mysteries

8 July 2005
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The Independent Online

Today, another helping of Albanian proverbs. If you haven't met them before, Albanian proverbs are very different from ours. Ours are dry and common-sense. Look before you leap. Don't count your eggs. But Albanian proverbs are both allusive and elusive. They sound impressive at first, but when you think about them, they fall flat and play possum. Still, better a dead proverb than no proverb at all. Which, as it happens, is an old Albanian proverb...

The tragedy of travelling first class is that however comfortable you are, and however many free drinks you get, you still arrive at your destination at the same time as the second-class passengers.

The worst thing that can happen to a trapeze artist: breaking your leg in the safety net.

Better the grass snake you know than the hedgehog you don't.

No one ever started building a cathedral from the top down.

Three days to avoid: someone else's National Holiday, staff training day at a service area, and Speech Day at the Deaf and Dumb College.

Bananas are the only fruit you can pretend to shoot people with. So it must be just a matter of time before they are banned in the war against terrorism.

It is better to be licked by a cow than never to be licked at all.

Happy is the man who wins nothing at the bottle stall, for he shall not get back the truly dreadful bottle of Romanian rosé he donated yesterday.

The only thing you can do after finishing a crossword puzzle is start another one, and who wants to do that?

Nobody was ever asked if they wanted to be a saint.

Does a curtain shut out the darkness, or does it keep in the light?

Do you want to be famous? Have a disease named after you.

Milk would make the best invisible ink, if you could read by smelling.

You can put L plates on a car, but you can teach it nothing.

One nation's famous victory is another's source of rancour. Celebrate Trafalgar at your peril.

We hurry back back to our seats for the second half of the play, glad to enter this haven of peace and quiet after the drama and turmoil of trying to get served at the bar in the interval.

If nobody writes poems about spiders, it is because there is no rhyme for "web".

"Thesaurus" is the Greek word for "treasure", but what is the Greek word for "thesaurus"?

Next time you think how dull it is to watch an orchestra at work, think what it is like for the musicians to have to look at you.

Millions of people have visited Longleat, but not one has ever wondered what a "leat" was, and how long they generally are.

The trombone must be the only musical instrument invented by a marine engineer.

Oranges are not the only fruit, but then, did anyone ever say they were?

Two nations which have never fought each other can never be real friends.

No man is an island. And if what they say about global warming is true, it's just as well.

Listen! What is that soft sound in the suburbs? It is the discreet noise of middle-class housewives getting the place tidy before their cleaning ladies arrive.

Three people to avoid: a man who has recently lost his luggage at an airport, a woman who has recently joined a reading group and a child who has recently been given a how-to-be-a-magician kit.