The Office Quote Book

“You’ve started a profound quote book, have you?”
– Ken Scott, noticing these jottings being made in a notepad at the Watford Observer between October and December 1990.

“Got a second?”
– Peter Wilson-Leary, Watford Observer Group Editor, repeated every day

Lucy Parks talking to reporter Richard Arquati about his construction workers story: “I would have jumped on their tools.”
News editor Frazer Ansell observing Lucy: “She’s fucking mad. She gets too many E numbers.”

“We are doing our best to put other people’s mistakes right. Sometimes in doing this, we make other mistakes.”
– Malcolm Waller, deputy editor

“I’ll take that on board.”
– PWL every day

“I remember the old News Chronicle…”
– Malcolm Waller, every day


Chris Beech talking about office computers: “I think that’s what we’d call in the trade ‘a false economy’. But then we would because we’re pretentious like that. Other people would call it a waste of money.”

“I love my computer. It works so beautifully at the moment.”
– Malcolm, famous last words

“Why do I always have to be Eeyore?”
– Chris

“This machine’s playing up again!”
– Malcolm, not long after the above and again every couple of days

Keith to Malcolm as he opens a stationery consignment: “Have you got a couple of dog turds in there I can use instead of this PCS [typesetting] junk?”
Malcolm, looking up: “Yes!”


“We’re trying to be a community newspaper and that includes putting everything in that happened in this area.”
– Malcolm, every week

“I have done, would you believe, a piece on the M1 Link Road.”
– Simon ‘Scoop’ Berlyn

Chris, to me: “Have you subbed [edited] it?”
Keith: “Well, I’ve read it half-heartedly. That’s the same thing isn’t it?”
Chris: “For you, that’s pretty in depth.”

“I’ll tell you what. I’ve got a real problem actually. The council offices scheme has become a roaring great controversy.”
– Simon running on auto-hype

“If you call someone a ‘duck murderer’ is it libelous?”
– Richard Arquati, asking the important questions.

“Bugger the inspiration. Just get on with it.”
– Malcolm Waller

“I’ll book the photographer for 25 past cos they’ll always be late.”
– Frances Lewis optimistically talking to a contact


Fiona Duffy, women’s page editor, regarding some fashion pictures:
“It’s nice, but you wouldn’t wear it would you?”
Chris: “I’d rather eat my own head.”
Simon B: “You don’t want to give yourself indigestion.”


Features writer Ken Scott was married to a Thai girl whose complicated name was customarily abbreviated. After bumping into her one lunchtime, Chris Beech was heard to say: “We just saw Ken’s Dik in town.”


Simon Berlyn: “Why is sport always later finishing than anything else?”
Sports editor Ollie Phillips: “I’m afraid we try to get today’s news in Simon, not Monday’s.”
Simon: “The only news today is how long you’ve taken to do your pages.”


Keith: “I’ve lost my list of good ideas.”
Chris: “It was so small, it was only a matter of time.”


Frances: ‘I just couldn’t bee-leeeeeve it!”
Malcolm: “Well, she’s genuine is she? This seventy year old?”
Frances: “Oh, ab-so-lute-ly!”
Fran, getting impatient with Malcolm’s changes to her copy: “You’d rather have something that’s not too accurate?”
Malcolm: “Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah!”


Arts editor Grelle White discussing property with features editor Ken Scott:
Grelle: “You should move to Streatham. My son’s just moved in and he’s really comfortable.”
Ken: “And it’s only a four hour drive in?”
Grelle: “No, but it’s really nice in Streatham.”
Ken: “Grelle, you’re not too old to be spanked.”
Chris (aside): “You’re not too old to have your fingernails pulled out.”


Simon Berlyn: “Do you want to have one sort of amorous fling with me before the menopause is over?”
Lucy: “No, I don’t. Thanks for the offer.”
Simon: “It’s strange really because I always fancy the people I like least.”
Lucy: “What a bizarre person you are.”
Simon: “I always think of myself as one of life’s originals.”
Chris Beech (aside): “One of life’s throwbacks.”
Simon: “It’s nothing personal, I just hate everybody.”
Chris, spotting a coincidence: “That’s uncanny.”
Simon: “I think you talk in ironic terms.”


Malcolm: “Actually they’re loveable warm creatures these daleks. Ek-stir-min-ate!”
Chris: “Hey! I thought I was sitting next to a dalek!”


Keith: “Did you know ‘fog’ backwards is ‘gof’?”
Vince: “I think that’s one of the nice things about life, Keith. It’s a constant voyage of discovery.”

Chris: “I remember you — you used to work here.”
Keith: “I deny that.”
Chris: “You used to sit over there and do bog all.”
Chris, several days later, re-reading the above: “Can I add to that now? You used to sit there and do bog all badly.”


“I’m not a snob but one can’t help feeling one doesn’t want to mix with such social outcasts.”
– Chris excusing himself from an office outing


Keith: “English is my illegitimate offspring.”
Chris, watching me write this into the book: “I don’t think you can put your own unfunny quotes in there.”

Malcolm: “I think the whole media is rife with nepotism.”
Keith: “No it’s not, dad.”
Chris: “The trick is knowing which bum to lick when. Don’t put that in—they might realise I’m a bum licker.”


“I’m not going mad tonight.”
– Chris discusses the evening’s drinking strategy before heading to the bar

“I do feel unwell. I think I’m going to have to go home and lie down.”
– Chris with a raging hangover the day after.


Mike from advertising: “As Ken’s not here will you take care of that for him?”
Lucy: “Yeah, put it in here.”
Mike (dropping envelope in what looks like a slot under the desk): “Is that an In Tray or something?”
Lucy: “No, that’s the bin.”


“Honestly it’s no joke being a topical cartoonist, Keith. Christ knows how Giles gets on.”
– Terry Challis, Watford Observer cartoonist

Keith: “Well, what can I do to achieve excellence?”
Group editor PWL: “Nothing at the moment, Keith.”
Keith: “My first exercise in futility will be switching on the computer.”
Chris: “Hey, it’s what you do best.”
Keith: “You always go home at the end of the day. It’s what I’ve noticed about you.”
Chris: “It’s what I do best.”
Malcolm: “Right, it’s industry full steam ahead!”
Chris: “Shovel some more coal in the back of the computer…”


“Simon Berlyn’s an objectionable little runt. He should grow up and become a professional journalist.”
– local MP Cecil Parkinson, as reported by Jeremy Austin from a phone call to the office, which elicited the following responses:
News editor Frazer Ansell: “I’ve never liked Cecil Parkinson until now.”
Reporter Charlotte Adcock: “Did he sound as oily as he looks in real life?”
Jeremy replying: “My ear had to be syringed out.”
Chris: “So I don’t suppose we’ll be getting a scoop out him then?”
Simon: “I wasn’t sure of the meaning of that word but I’ve looked it up and it’s pretty objectionable. It’s Parkinson all over, slimey toad. If he thinks I’m a runt I can think of a word I’d use to describe him that rhymes with runt that’s more apposite actually.”


“Wouldn’t it be great to have a car that you were not too bothered about?”
– Christine Musgrove, TR7 driver


Keith continuing a discussion about what to do with a girl from the printing department if you were stranded on a desert island: “If it was a choice between reproducing and starving…?”
Chris: “I’d bud.”

Keith, pointing to picture on the wall next to Jeremy Austin’s desk: “Last question—did you have sex with this woman?”
Jeremy: “Yes. But she wasn’t there at the time.”

Keith: “Whatever happened to Malcolm Vallerius? About this time, he?d be calling for a knob inspection.”
Malcolm: “He clearly missed out by not doing national service.”


“No matter what time I stop here they still keep me standing here til five o’clock like a cunt.”
– John Batchelor, the most miserable man in the printing department.

“The editor’s indecision is final.”
– Ken Scott

“I don’t help no fucking empire builder.”
– John Batchie to Ken


“Did you ever feel that life’s ‘warm up man’ never turned up?”
– Pete Stevens, 1991

7 thoughts on “The Office Quote Book

  1. You made me laugh so much I snorted all over my keyboard. You sad bastard that you actually kept the office quote book.

  2. I can’t believe any of these things. I lived with you for ages and I simply don’t remember you saying anything this funny at home or in the office. I reckon you just nicked all of Chris and Malcolm’s best lines…

  3. As you know, I confined my humour to creative writing and producing such brilliant advertising headlines as “Manor, manor, b’boo be doo doo.”

  4. and, of course, an ever-growing mountain of itsy-bitsy Reliant Robins. Saw Chris the other day. Asked him if he had seen your blog. His answer was, predictably enough, “why would I want to look at that?”

  5. I used to work as a paste up artist at the WO in the ricky road in the 90’s when the earth was still young and iwas younger. It was a sweat shop and I spent 2 years slaving away pasting up the pages for very little money, most of us where made redundent and paid off but I think soem satyed behind. I want to know how is the happy John Bathelor (the old guy who shows up in your conversation, he used to make up the back pages and adverts) and is he still alive? what happend to Jerry Sillivan who married Odett and Chris Musgrove, and that thug Mac and Tom who ran the section?

    Do you remember those days? Like to hear from you. Justin

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