Top 140 Quotes & Sayings by Clive James

Explore popular quotes and sayings by an Australian writer Clive James.
Clive James

Clive James was an Australian critic, journalist, broadcaster and writer who lived and worked in the United Kingdom from 1962 until his death in 2019. He began his career specialising in literary criticism before becoming television critic for The Observer in 1972, where he made his name for his wry, deadpan humour.

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Abject Abroad Absorb Abstinence Abstract Absurd Accents Accurate Acquire Activity Hide All Actress Added Adding Adelaide Advertisements Afford Afraid Africa Aged Alcoholics Alcoholics Anonymous Aligned Alive All People Alleviate Allied Allowed Alphabet Amazing America American Amused Angeles Anne Anonymous Apache Appeared Appears Apprentice Argued Arguing Arnold Articulate Artist Artistic Artistic Expression Artists Arts Assembling Assumption Astonish Atonement Attack Auden Audiences Australia Australian Australians Automatically Avoid Avoided Aware Back Backwards Badly Baggy Ball Ballast Balls Bang Basil Basis Basques Be Grateful Be Young Beautiful Beer Beethoven Behaved Believed Belittle Benefit Bible Big Thing Bigger Biotech Birmingham Bits Black Blame Blessed Blindfolded Bloke Body Bomber Bombers Bombing Book Books Booth Borg Boring Bottom Brains Brake Brave Bread Britain British Broccoli Brought Brown Builder Building Buildings Burning Butterflies Button Buyer Caesar California Call Calm Cambridge Camille Canadian Capable Captain Carried Carry Catch Caught Caused Cave Century Chalk Chance Change Channels Character Charming Chased Chasing Chess Childhood China Chosen Cigarettes Cities City Civilian Civilization Civilized Class Class System Classic Clean Clear Cliff Clock Closely Coaster Collection Columbus Comic Coming Commentary Common Common Sense Company Comparison Competition Complex Complicated Component Compulsive Concerned Condemnation Condescension Condescension And Condom Confusion Conscious Consequence Consolation Consume Contemplating Control Conversation Convey Cooking Copy Corpses Correctly Corrupted Cosmos Countries Country Couples Courageous Courting Crazy Credit Critic Critical Critics Crops Crows Curve Cynic Dallas Dancing Danger Dangers David Days Dead Deadly Decade Decided Decipher Decline Degree Deliberately Deliver Delivering Demand Democratic Depends Deprived Depth Desire Developing Developing Countries Developing World Dialogue Diaries Died Dinner Dirty Disc Discipline Disco Discovered Discussion Dishes Disposal Dive Diversity Divided Documentaries Documentary Doom Doomed Doubt Douglas Downtime Drain Dress Drew Drug Drum Dull Dunce Early Easier Easy Edge Edible Education Effect Effective Effective Teaching Efficiency Effort Egalitarian Egomaniac Eliminated Eliot Embraced Emerged Enables Encouraged Endless Endorsement Enemy Energy English English Language Enormous Essence European Evening Examining Exception Exciting Exciting Things Expelled Experts Expired Expression Extraordinary Eyelids Eyes Faces Facing Fact Failed Failing Failure Failures Fair Fall Fame Farmers Fast Faster Favourite Favourite Book Fawlty Towers Fear Featured Feel Feeling Fiction Fight Fills Film Finally Finding Finds Finished Fire First Impression First Impressions First Lady First Time First-Rate Fish Fishermen Fixture Flatmates Florence Food Ford Foresight Forget Form Formed Formula Forties Fortunate Forty Forward Found Fraction Free Free Market Freedom Fright Fruit Full Fundamental Funds Funeral Funny Gain Garage Gastric Generally Gently Gerald Ford German Giant Gifted Gigs Girl Give Glamour Golf Good Good Life Good Way Gown Graduation Grammar Grateful Gravy Great Great Poet Great Thing Greater Gripping Guard Guarded Guardian Guidance Habits Hair Half Hamburger Happen Harbour Hard Haven Head Health Hear Heard Heating Heck Helped Her Eyes Hindsight History Holds Hollywood Home Home Cooking Honest Hope Horse Hotel Hugh Hugo Human Humanism Humanities Humor Humour Hunt Idea Identity Imaginary Immediately Immortal Impersonators Important Impression Impressions Impulse In Fact Incapable Incitement Including Increased India Individual Industry Inevitable Informing Insane Intellectual Interacting Interested Interesting Interviewing Invisible Italian Italy Jack Jail Japanese Jimmy John Joining Joke Judgment Juices Julius Justified Keys Kind King Kitchen Knew Knocking Labor Laboratory Lack Lady Language Languages Larger Las Vegas Late Lawn Learn Learned Learning Leave Left Left Out Lesson Level Life Life Is Light Likes Line Listen Listening Listens Literary Live Living Loaf Lobotomy Local London Long Longer Looked Loose Loosely Los Angeles Love Loved Low Level Lucky Luxury Machine Machines Made Mafia Magazines Mahler Maintained Make Makes Making Margaret Marilyn Market Married Married Couples Marvelous Marxism Mascara Massacre Matter Mature McDonald Meal Means Meat Media Media Studies Melbourne Memoirs Memorable Memorable Moments Memory Mental Middle Midget Mighty Million Mind Minus Miracles Miss Missing Missing Something Mission Mistake Mocking Moment Moments Money Monroe Montreal Moral Moron Mother Mouse Mouth Mouths Move Moved Movie Movie Industry Movies Moving Music My Niece My Wife Nail Nancy Napoleon Narrative Nation National National Identity Natural Neatness Never Trust Never Trust Anyone New York Next Week Niece No Doubt No Idea No Life Notorious Nuclear Obtain Occurred Offensive Older One Thing Open Opinion Order Orders Ordinary Ordinary People Pancake Pants Paper Paper Bag Paradise Parents Part Participation Parts Pasta Pathetic Pathos Paving Payment Pearl People Percent Perfect Performance Performance Art Performer Performing Period Person Personality Perspective Phase Philadelphia Philippines Phone Booth Phrase Phrases Piece Pieces Pirate Pizza Place Placement Plastic Play Played Players Playing Poem Poems Poet Poetry Poets Point Pointed Pond Poor Popular Population Potential Pound Poverty Power Powerful Powerless Prejudices Preserved President Pressed Pretty Price Pride Primordial Princess Prisoner Privileged Privileges Problem Professor Pronunciation Prose Prose And Poetry Prove Proved Provide Provided Provincial Psychopath Public Public Buildings Publications Publish Pushkin Putting Quality Quartets Queen Question Quickly Radio Rapidly Rate Rattle Read Reader Reading Reading And Writing Reagan Real Realise Reality Reason Reasons Recent Recommend Referred Reflect Regard Regional Reject Rejecting Released Remain Remaining Remains Remember Remembered Remind Reminds Rendered Repeat Resemble Resource Restaurants Retired Reveal Ride Rider Riding Riot Ritual Room Room Service Round Rounds Rude Rugged Rule Russian Safe Sails Sales Same Thing Savage Savour Scarcely Sceptic School Schwarzenegger Science Science Fiction Scott Scraps Search Second-Rate Seconds Secret Secret Service Secrets Sellers Sense Sense Of Humor Sentence Service Serving Shaped Shedding Ship Shirt Shirts Shoe Shoes Short Short Pants Short Period Shrink Sick Simple Simply Simultaneously Small Smartest Smoked Smoking Snob Snooker So Much Energy Society Solo Sort Sound Sounds Soup South South Africa Soviet Soviet Union Spanish Speak Specific Spectator Spending Spent Split Spoke Sports Spot Squadron Stage Standard Standard English Standing Star Star Wars Start Started Starts Starvation Starve State Statistical Stay Stayed Stays Steady Stealing Stealth Stomach Stone Stood Stop Stop Worrying Stopped Straight Straight Line Strangers Streets Strength Stuck Studies Studios Stuff Stunning Stupid Style Suave Subject Subject Matter Subsistence Suburbs Succeeding Suffered Suggested Supervisor Suppose Surrounded Surveys Sustain Sustained Swallowed Sweet Swiss Sydney System Taciturn Tail Taking Talent Talk Talking Tangled Tasted Taught Teaching Technology Teeth Telephone Telephones Television Telling Temperament Tendencies Tender Texture Theme Thing Things Thinks Third Person Thirties This World Thought Thrill Thrown Ticket Time Today Tony Tools Touch Tower Towers Town Traditional Tranquility Transformed Treasure Treat Tremendous Trick Triumph Trousers Trust Trusted Turn Turned Twenty Twin Typical Understand Union University Unrelenting Upper Upstairs Urge Usage Useless Utter Valuable Vanishing Vegas Verb Version Very Beautiful Very Good Victor View Virtues Visitors Vocabulary Voices Volvo Waiting Waiting Around Walker Wall Walnuts Wars Wary Washing Washing Machine Watching Water Ways Week Whales Whining Wife Wimbledon Wisely Woman Women Wonderful Wonderful Place Wood Work Workers Working World Worn Worry Worrying Worse Worthy Wrap Wreck Write Writer Writers Writes Writing Writing Poetry Written Wrong Yards Years York Young Young Men Young People Young Women Less More Hide All See All
A life without fame can be a good life, but fame without a life is no life at all.
Disco dancing is just the steady thump of a giant moron knocking in an endless nail.
Even in moments of tranquility, Murray Walker sounds like a man whose trousers are on fire. — © Clive James
Even in moments of tranquility, Murray Walker sounds like a man whose trousers are on fire.
Anyone afraid of what he thinks television does to the world is probably just afraid of the world.
It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are.
Fiction is life with the dull bits left out.
She was good at playing abstract confusion in the same way that a midget is good at being short.
Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.
Everyone has a right to a university degree in America, even if it's in Hamburger Technology.
Whoever called snooker 'chess with balls' was rude, but right.
Jack Aubrey is a tremendous tower of strength and you always want to read about him.
It's a big thing to call yourself a poet. All I can say is that I have always written poems. I don't think I'm interested in any discussion about whether I'm a good poet, a bad poet or a great poet. But I am sure, I want to write great poems. I think every poet should want that.
The key to effective teaching is to remember how you learned.
Television is simultaneously blamed, often by the same people, for worsening the world and for being powerless to change it. — © Clive James
Television is simultaneously blamed, often by the same people, for worsening the world and for being powerless to change it.
Humphrey Searle writes music that sounds like the theme from 'Star Wars' played backwards through a washing machine.
Arnold Schwarzenegger looks like a brown condom full of walnuts.
Like a Volvo, Bjorn Borg is rugged, has good after-sales service, and is very dull.
As a work of art, it reminds me of a long conversation between two drunks
The entrée wasn't tender enough to be a paving stone and the gravy couldn't have been primordial soup because morphogenesis was already taking place.
I've only got a fraction of the energy I once had, but I think I probably use it better.
The Benson and Hedges Cup was won by McEnroe ... he was as charming as always, which means that he was as charming as a dead mouse in a loaf of bread.
Twin miracles of mascara, her eyes looked like the corpses of two small crows that had crashed into a chalk cliff.
The repeat run of Fawlty Towers (BBC2) drew bigger audiences than ever and deservedly so. Statistical surveys reveal that only the television critic of the Spectator is incapable of seeing the joke, which is that Basil Fawlty has the wrong temperament to be a hotel proprietor, just as some other people have the wrong temperament to be television critics.
I was a big pothead for a short period. That was what ticked me off that I shouldn't go near hard drugs, actually, because I would consume the stuff as if it was going out of style and it rapidly occurred to me that if I ever tried a hard drug, the same thing would happen, so I never did.
If the humanism that makes civilization civilized is to be preserved into the new century, it will need advocates. These advocates will need a memory, and part of that memory will need to be of an age in which they were not yet alive.
I actually didn't like that feeling of being out of touch because what I do depends on being in touch. But it's fun to talk about. That's one of the real dangers of drugs: they're too much fun to talk about.
Spending all my remaining money on a ticket to Florence was rendered needlessly complicated by the fact that none of the ticket-sellers had ever heard of the place. At last their supervisor showed up and set them straight by informing them that the city they had always referred to as 'Firenze' was in reality called Florence.
When you cut it up, put the pieces in your mouth and swallowed them, the British hamburger shaped itself to the bottom on your stomach like ballast, while interacting with your gastric juices to form an incipient belch of enormous potential, an airship which had been inflated in a garage. This belch, when silently released, would cause people standing twenty yards away to start examining the soles of their shoes. The vocalized version sounded like a bag of tools thrown into a bog.
If an artist is any good at all, then he or she will have a later phase that's more interesting than the early one.
All intellectual tendencies are corrupted when they consort with power.
Among artists without talent Marxism will always be popular, since it enables them to blame society for the fact that nobody wants to hear what they have to say.
Sick of being a prisoner of my childhood, I want to put it behind me.
Stop worrying, nobody gets out of this world alive.
Almost 70 years have gone by, and I've still got that feeling when I write... Writing, for me, is still it. It has always been the basis of everything I do. I'm a writer who performs, not a performer who writes. I love the act of writing. It's still a thrill for me.
The essence of a class system is not that the privileged are conscious of their privileges, but that the deprived are conscious of their deprivations.
When I finally embraced abstinence it was because of the simple urge to work a longer day. Thus, without joining Alcoholics Anonymous, I was at last able to leave Piss-Artists Notorious.
Beyoncé and pathos are strangers. Amy Winehouse and pathos are flatmates, and you should see the kitchen.
In the twelfth century the Basque fishermen of Biarritz used to hunt whales with deadly efficiency. When the whales sensibly moved away, the Basques chased them further and further, with the consequence that the fishermen of Biarritz discovered America before Columbus did. This is a matter for local pride but on a larger view it is not quite so stunning, since with the possible exception of the Swiss everybody discovered America before Columbus did.
Every sentence he manages to utter scatters its component parts like pond water from a verb chasing its own tail. — © Clive James
Every sentence he manages to utter scatters its component parts like pond water from a verb chasing its own tail.
Like most people who smoked umpteen cigarettes a day, I tasted only the first one. The succeeding umpteen minus one were a compulsive ritual which had no greater savour than the fumes of burning money.
Experts say men think of sex every 10 seconds... What do they think of in the other nine?
A luxury liner is really just a bad play surrounded by water.
All honest labor becomes easy; it only becomes hard when done with unwillingness.
I saw the film Pearl Harbour and it made me wish that the Japanese had bombed Hollywood instead!
In Italy, for the same price as a typical British hamburger meal including sweet, a builder's labourer could eat like a king - rather better in fact, because pasta dishes gain from being kept simple.
All I can do is turn a phrase until it catches the light.
An education without a Bible education is no education.
Generally it is our failures that civilize us. Triumph confirms us in our habits.
When I was young I never believed that Australia was anything else except blessed. I thought it was a little dull when I was young, but that was 'cause I was a snob. — © Clive James
When I was young I never believed that Australia was anything else except blessed. I thought it was a little dull when I was young, but that was 'cause I was a snob.
You can never get a woman to sit down and listen to a drum solo.
The first language that I learned was Italian in Italy in the early and middle-'60s and I had to do that to keep up with the young men who were courting my wife.
I try to be specific. One thought at a time. Clear. Articulate. And above all, memorable, if you can be. You'd like to write phrases that people can't forget as soon as they read them.
The British hamburger thus symbolised, with savage neatness, the country's failure to provide its ordinary people with food which did anything more for them than sustain life.
I've got life for a subject because as life starts to drain away, you start seeing very clearly what life is, for the first time.
They had a... dog called Bluey. A know psychopath, Bluey would attack himself if nothing else was available.
Ban poetry. And make sure that anyone caught reading it is expelled from school. Then it will acquire the glamour.
Common sense and a sense of humour are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humour is just common sense, dancing. Those who lack humour are without judgment and should be trusted with nothing.
I was brought up on the proletarian left, and I remain there. The fair go for workers is fundamental, and I don't believe the free market has a mind.
She wasn't just beautiful. She was like the sun coming up: coming up giggling. She was giggling as if she had just remembered something funny.
She [Marilyn Monroe] was good at being inarticulately abstracted for the same reason that midgets are good at being short.
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