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Katharine Whitehorn

  • When it comes to housework the one thing no book of household management can ever tell you is how to begin.

  • The case against censoring anything is absolute: ... nothing that could be censored can be so bad in its effects, in the long run, as censorship itself.

  • It would be nice to think that a censor could allow a genuine work of artistic seriousness and ban a titillating piece of sadism, but it would take a miracle to make such a distinction stick.

  • It is a pity that so often the only way to treat girls like people seems to be to treat them like boys.

  • Does anybody who gave up smoking to save a pound a week have a pound at the end of the week? Not on your life.

  • American patriotism is generally something that amuses Europeans, I suppose because children look idiotic saluting the flag and because the constitution contains so many cracks through which the lawyers may creep.

  • Too great a preoccupation with motives (especially one's own motives) is liable to lead to too little concern for consequences.

  • I am all for people having their heart in the right place; but the right place for a heart is not inside the head.

  • From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to invent it.

  • Hats divide generally into three classes: offensive hats, defensive hats, and shrapnel.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Hats," Shouts and Murmurs ()
  • Have you ever taken anything out of the clothes basket because it had become, relatively, the cleaner thing?

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • in The Observer ()
  • It was in Poland, where he was a diplomat and she was lecturing, that they originally met: one catches faint nuances of 'Darling, they're playing our country' whenever the place is mentioned.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Meeting Mary McCarthy," in The Observer ()
  • He provided champagne, but it did little to counteract the compelling melancholy of his paintings, each of which showed a more hopeless picture of life than the one before. When we finally tottered out I felt that the logical thing to do next would be to throw ourselves into the Seine ...

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Meeting Mary McCarthy," in The Observer ()
  • As she is a woman, and as she is an American, she was dieting.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Meeting Mary McCarthy," in The Observer ()
  • [On inflation:] The disease is painless; it's the cure that hurts.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • in The Observer ()
  • [On the English climate:] People get a bad impression of it by continually trying to treat it as if it was a bank clerk, who ought to be on time on Tuesday next, instead of philosophically seeing it as a painter, who may do anything so long as you don't try to predict what.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • in Observer ()
  • Perennials are the ones that grow like weeds, biennials are the ones that die this year instead of next and hardy annuals are the ones that never come up at all.

  • Any committee that is the slightest use is composed of people who are too busy to want to sit on it for a second longer than they have to.

  • In our society mothers take the place elsewhere occupied by the Fates, the System, Negroes, Communism or Reactionary Imperialist Plots; mothers go on getting blamed until they're eighty, but shouldn't take it personally.

  • Being young is not having any money; being young is not minding not having any money.

  • They should stop calling it 'Social Security.' It's as secure as a cardboard raft.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • in The Observer ()
  • I am firm. You are obstinate. He is a pig-headed fool.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • in Observer ()
  • A food is not necessarily essential just because your child hates it.

  • The easiest way for your children to learn about money is for you not to have any.

  • The main purpose of children's parties is to remind you that there are children more awful than your own.

  • Filing is concerned with the past; anything you actually need to see again has to do with the future.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Sorting Out," Sunday Best ()
  • I yield to no one in my admiration for the office as a social center, but it's no place actually to get any work done.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Sorting Out," Sunday Best ()
  • I suppose we all share this pipe-dream of being able to reach out a hand and find anything at will; what is amazing is that we think that good filing could somehow make it comes true. On the contrary: putting a letter into a filing system is like releasing your ferret in the Hampton Court maze.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Sorting Out," Sunday Best ()
  • It has long been my boast that I can read or eat anything. But unfortunately, although I eat like a Hoover, I read so slowly that I am always on the smart book three years after everyone else has finished.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Faster Faster," Sunday Best ()
  • I wouldn't say when you've seen one Western you've seen the lot; but when you've seen the lot you get the feeling you've seen one ...

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Decoding the West," Sunday Best ()
  • Newish friends, if they get ghastly, can be weighed and found wanting, but you'd never do a thing like that to old ones; their terrible habits are just part of the universe.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "The Fridge Is Dead, Long Live the Fridge," Sunday Best ()
  • ... the poor man turned pale at lunch when his grouse was badly underdone; he hardly knew whether to eat it or cure it.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "A Vet's Life," Sunday Best ()
  • ... a perfectly managed Christmas correct in every detail is, like basted inside seams and letters answered by return, a sure sign of someone who hasn't enough to do.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Keeping Cool," Sunday Best ()
  • ... I just wish, when neither of us has written to my husband's mother, I didn't feel so much worse about it than he does.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Job Lot," Sunday Best ()
  • ... her husband was once a jockey and can never really understand that people, unlike horses, haven't necessarily got the bloat if they don't feel like exercising in the grey dawn.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Husband-Swapping," Sunday Best ()
  • And what would happen to my illusion that I am a force for order in the home if I wasn't married to the only man north of the Tiber who is even untidier than I am?

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Husband-Swapping," Sunday Best ()
  • The best careers advice given to the young ... is 'Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it' ...

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "A-Work and B-Work," Sunday Best ()
  • As anyone who has ever fallen foul of an airport, a conventional hospital or a bad restaurant knows, misery is made up of little things ...

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "The Decent Inn of Death," Sunday Best ()
  • It might be marvelous to be a man — then I could stop worrying about what's fair to women and just cheerfully assume I was superior, and that they had all been born to iron my shirts. Better still, I could be an Irish man — then I would have all the privileges of being male without giving up the right to be wayward, temperamental and an appealing minority.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • in The Observer ()
  • Why are the umpires, the only two people on the field who aren't going to get grass stains on their knees, the only ones allowed to wear dark trousers?

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "If It's Agony, It Must Be Cricket," View From a Column ()
  • The wind of change, whatever it is, blows most freely through an open mind ...

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Isms and Ists," View From a Column ()
  • ... why do born-again people so often make you wish they'd never been born the first time?

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "Saints and Turncoats," View From a Column ()
  • [On Malcolm Muggeridge:] He thinks he was knocked off his horse by God, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus. His critics think he simply fell off it from old age.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • View From a Column ()
  • In heaven they will bore you, in hell you will bore them.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • in Jilly Cooper and Tom Hartman, Violets and Vinegar ()
  • One reason you are stricken when your parents die is that the audience you've been aiming at all your life — shocking it, pleasing it — has suddenly left the theater.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • in The Observer ()
  • For many people, feminism has almost been equated with a tiresome insistence on 'chair' and 'dustperson,' and plenty of strong-minded women who've never had the slightest difficulty with language think the whole thing is absurd — it's certainly given an easy target to its enemies. But they underestimate the cumulative effect of always hearing Stone-Age man, postman, chairman; of the different reactions you have to 'landlord' and 'landlady,' of 'a bit of a bitch' and 'a bit of a dog.'

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • in The Observer ()
  • For the thing has been blown up out of all proportion. PC language is not enjoined on one and all — there are a lot more places where you can say 'spic' and 'bitch' with impunity than places where you can smoke a cigarette.

    • Katharine Whitehorn,
    • "PC Stands for Politically Correct," The Observer ()
  • Whereas a lot of men used to ask for conversation when they really wanted sex, nowadays they often feel obliged to ask for sex even when they really want conversation.

    • Katharine Whitehorn
  • As I look around the West End these days, it seems to me that outside every thin girl is a fat man, trying to get in.

    • Katharine Whitehorn
  • A good listener is not someone who has nothing to say. A good listener is a good talker with a sore throat.

    • Katharine Whitehorn
  • The great rule is not to talk about money with people who have much more or much less than you.

    • Katharine Whitehorn

Katharine Whitehorn, English journalist, writer, broadcaster

(1928)

Full name: Katharine Elizabeth Whitehorn Lyall.