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The Top 10: Modern Proverbs

‘A watched update never loads,’ and other pixels of wisdom for the digital age

John Rentoul
Friday 26 October 2018 16:26 BST
Ruth Davidson goes to Wembley: reproduced by permission of @GeneralBoles
Ruth Davidson goes to Wembley: reproduced by permission of @GeneralBoles

This one started when General Boles, the anonymous internet satirist and photoshopper, made a picture of Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, on the back of a buffalo in Wembley stadium. (She was about to join the Remain side in the big pre-referendum debate in Wembley Arena, rather than the stadium.) The photo of Davidson on a buffalo, however, was genuine, taken on a farm in Scotland. Hence the first on this list.

1. “Truly, truth is stranger than Photoshop.” By Chris Hanretty.

2. “No good ever comes of answering an office landline.” That’s one of mine.

3. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to phish and you feed him for a lifetime.” From John Peters. ‏

4. “The least-followed egg is the angriest.” Thanks to Chairman Moët. ‏

5. “A watched update never loads.” Know the feeling, Ken MacLeod.

6. “Tweet in haste, regret immediately.” From Dan Kelly. ‏

7. “If at first you don’t succeed, try turning it off and on again.” Advice from Neil Whyte. ‏

8. “Power corrupts. Absolute power keeps your smartphone fully charged.” Thanks to Paul T Horgan.

9. “Never go below the line.” Dan Kelly. A reference to online comments.

10. “You Brexit, you fixit.” Alistair May. Originally by Robert Hutton: “You Brexit, you own it.” ‏

Next week: Adaptations better than the originals, such as the BBC’s Sherlock.

Coming soon: Politicians in songs, such as: “Of droves of pilgrims at his doorway/ Of Reagan, Carter, Clinton, Gore”, Parquet Courts, “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth”.

Listellany: A Miscellany of Very British Top Tens, From Politics to Pop, is available as an e-book for £3.79. Your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, in the comments please, or to me on Twitter, or by email to

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