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I'm far too indiscreet to conduct a secret liaison. I'd get found out in five minutes. I'd rather read a book - Diana Quick, actress

This will be the dullest encounter of your life. I'm a nightmare. Cantankerous. Tetchy. I'll either ramble or shut up - Clive James, TV personality, to a would-be interviewer

For Christ's sake, don't say anything as pompous as that. Only one thing happens to those who guard flames: they get their bottoms burnt - Adrian Noble, director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, when asked if he regarded himself as a worthy guardian of the Shakespearean flame

To the Italians, fashion is about making money, not pretty clothes. British designers never get past the cottage-industry set-up - Jeff Griffin, fashion designer

I suppose I should start tonight by saying how the devil are you? - Tony Blair, joking about the Tories' devil eyes poster campaign

You get thinner-skinned, not thicker-skinned as you get older. I am not a brilliant exponent of the stiff upper lip - Jonathan Miller, opera director

It is impossible to regard a cow who has just died in front of you purely as a vehicle for converting grass into hamburgers - Clive Aslet, editor of 'Country Life'

You would have to be a blind man on a galloping horse not to see it - Paul McCartney, former Beatle, on the similarity in the sound of the Fab Four and Britpop sensation Oasis