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Jilly Cooper

  • The letter of application ... should be a masterpiece of fiction, papering over all the cracks. Get it properly typed on decent writing paper. Never let it run over the page, people get bored with reading.

  • Go to lots of interviews, at least one a month even when you don't need a job, to keep in training for when you do.

  • Always be nice to everyone in the firm on the way up. You never know who you may meet on the way down.

  • Although it is the biggest time-waster in office life, you must never underrate the importance of the memo. You will be judged by the volume of your paper work.

  • The memo's chief function ... is as a track-coverer, so that you can turn on someone six months later and snarl: 'Well, you should have known about it, I sent you a memo.'

  • Meetings ... are rather like cocktail parties. You don't want to go, but you're cross not to be asked.

  • A lot of meetings are held to arrange when to have meetings. ... Meetings today are usually called conferences to make them sound more significant.

  • Never drink black coffee at lunch; it will keep you awake in the afternoon.

  • [Her version of management consultants' evaluation of a symphony orchestra:] 'For considerable periods, the four oboe players had nothing to do. The number should be reduced and the work spread more evenly over the whole orchestra, thus eliminating peaks of activity. No useful purpose is served by repeating on the horns a passage that has already been played on the strings. All twelve of the violins played identical notes. The staff of this section should be drastically cut. It is estimated that if all the redundant passages were eliminated the whole concert time could be reduced to twenty minutes and there would be no need for an interval.'

  • The male — I have found — is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness and kindness, can be trained to do most things.

  • Bachelors begin at thirty-six. Up till this age they are regarded as single men.

  • People always assume that bachelors are single by choice and spinsters because nobody asked them. It never enters their heads that poor bachelors might have worn the knees of their trousers out proposing to girls who rejected them or that a girl might deliberately stay unmarried ...

  • The only thing a whirlwind courtship does is blow dust in everyone's eyes.

    • Jilly Cooper,
    • Emily
    • ()
  • ... I can assure you that the class system is alive and well and living in people's minds in England.

    • Jilly Cooper,
    • Class
    • ()
  • The aristocrat, when he wants to, has very good manners. The Scottish upper classes, in particular, have that shell-shocked look that probably comes from banging their heads on low beams leaping to their feet whenever a woman comes into the room. Aristocrats are also deeply male chauvinist, and ... on the whole they tend to be reactionary.

    • Jilly Cooper,
    • Class
    • ()
  • People who can write a book usually do.

  • There is something infinitely dingy about the word workshop. Pray that England doesn't become a nation of workshopkeepers.

  • If you feel compelled to give a New Year's Eve party, don't invite people to arrive too early or they'll go off the boil before midnight.

  • ... hurting other people is not excusable because you've been hurt yourself.

  • ... it's a good idea to wait a few months before joining anything when you arrive at a village. A bookseller friend who retired to nearby Oxfordshire, and was worried he might be bored, got himself on to every village committee in the first six months, and spent the next ten years extricating himself.

  • ... in a village you can't sack or fight with someone, as you'll find yourself stuck beside them in the hairdresser's next morning.

Jilly Cooper, English writer, humorist, journalist


Born Jilly Sallitt.