Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett [Quotes]

“Best not to speculate, really,” said Aziraphale. “You can’t second-guess ineffability, I always say. There’s Right, and there’s Wrong. If you do Wrong when you’re told to do Right, you deserve to be punished. Er.”

*

“Funny thing is,” said Crawly, “I keep wondering whether the apple thing wasn’t the right thing to do, as well. A demon can get into real trouble, doing the right thing.” He nudged the angel. “Funny if we both got it wrong, eh? Funny if I did the good thing and you did the bad one, eh?”

*

Crowley (An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards)

*

CURRENT THEORIES on the creation of the Universe state that, if it was created at all and didn’t just start, as it were, unofficially, it came into being between ten and twenty thousand million years ago.

*

Firstly, that God moves in extremely mysterious, not to say, circuitous ways. God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players,* to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

*

Crowley blessed under his breath.

*

Offer people a new creed with a costume and their hearts and minds will follow.

*

It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.

*

“Hmm?” said Mr. Young. “Oh. No, not really. If it was a girl it would have been Lucinda after my mother. Or Germaine. That was Deirdre’s choice.”

“Wormwood’s a nice name,” said the nun, remembering her classics. “Or Damien. Damien’s very popular.”

*

They were born into a world that was against them in a thousand little ways, and then devoted most of their energies to making it worse.

*

Arrangement— the whole point was that when a human was good or bad it was because they wanted to be. Whereas people like Crowley and, of course, himself, were set in their ways right from the start. People couldn’t become truly holy, he said, unless they also had the opportunity to be definitively wicked.

*

ADAM, THOUGHT MR. YOUNG. He tried saying it, to see how it sounded. “Adam.” Hmm… He stared down at the golden curls of the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness. “You know,” he concluded, after a while, “I think he actually looks like an Adam.”

*

“Of course, we knew something was going on,” Aziraphale said. “But one somehow imagines this sort of thing happening in America. They go in for that sort of thing over there.”

*

“I like the seas as they are. It doesn’t have to happen. You don’t have to test everything to destruction just to see if you made it right.”

*

“What little bird?” said Aziraphale suspiciously.

“This little bird I’m talking about. And every thousand years—”

“The same bird every thousand years?”

Crowley hesitated. “Yeah,” he said. “Bloody ancient bird, then.”

“Okay. And every thousand years this bird flies—”

“— limps—”

“— flies all the way to this mountain and sharpens its beak—”

*

“No, that’s the—” Aziraphale snapped his fingers irritably. “The thing. What d’you call it in your colorful idiom? The line at the bottom.”

“The bottom line.”

“Yes. It’s that.”

*

“Don’t tell me from genetics. What’ve they got to do with it?” said Crowley. “Look at Satan. Created as an angel, grows up to be the Great Adversary. Hey, if you’re going to go on about genetics, you might as well say the kid will grow up to be an angel. After all, his father was really big in Heaven in the old days. Saying he’ll grow up to be a demon just because his dad became one is like saying a mouse with its tail cut off will give birth to tailless mice. No. Upbringing is everything. Take it from me.”

*

“My people,” corrected Crowley. “Well, not my people. Mmm, you know. Satanists.”

He tried to say it dismissively. Apart from, of course, the fact that the world was an amazing interesting place which they both wanted to enjoy for as long as possible, there were few things that the two of them agreed on, but they did see eye to eye about some of those people who, for one reason or another, were inclined to worship the Prince of Darkness. Crowley always found them embarrassing. You couldn’t actually be rude to them, but you couldn’t help feeling about them the same way that, say, a Vietnam veteran would feel about someone who wears combat gear to Neighborhood Watch meetings.

*

Where you found the real McCoy, the real grace and the real heart-stopping evil, was right inside the human mind.

*

Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked. This is because most books on witchcraft are written by men.

*

“Oh, all right,” said Crowley wretchedly. “No one’s actually going to get killed. They’re all going to have miraculous escapes. It wouldn’t be any fun otherwise.”

Aziraphale relaxed. “You know, Crowley,” he said, beaming, “I’ve always said that, deep down inside, you’re really quite a—”

“All right, all right,” Crowley snapped. “Tell the whole blessed world, why don’t you?”

*

“Occult forces?”

“You and me,” explained Crowley.

I’m not occult,” said Aziraphale. “Angels aren’t occult. We’re ethereal.”

*

“Doesn’t bear thinking about it, does it,” said Aziraphale gloomily. “All the higher life forms scythed away, just like that.”

“Terrible.”

“Nothing but dust and fundamentalists.”

“That was nasty.”

“Sorry. Couldn’t resist it.” They stared at the road. “Maybe some terrorist—?” Aziraphale began.

“Not one of ours,” said Crowley.

“Or ours,” said Aziraphale. “Although ours are freedom fighters, of course.”

*

The trouble with trying to find a brown-covered book among brown leaves and brown water at the bottom of a ditch of brown earth in the brown, well, grayish light of dawn, was that you couldn’t.

*

“Bet even the Victorians didn’t force people to have to watch black and white television.”

*

“I’m well known around here,” said Adam.

“She said you were born to hang,” said Anathema.

Adam grinned. Notoriety wasn’t as good as fame, but was heaps better than obscurity.

*

“What’ve you been cryin’ for?” said Adam bluntly.

“Oh? Oh, I’ve just lost something,” said Anathema. “A book.”

“I’ll help you look for it, if you like,” said Adam gallantly. “I know quite a lot about books, actually. I wrote a book once. It was a triffic book. It was nearly eight pages long. It was about this pirate who was a famous detective. And I drew the pictures.” And then, in a flash of largess, he added, “If you like I’ll let you read it. I bet it was a lot more excitin’ than any book you’ve lost. ’Specially the bit in the spaceship where the dinosaur comes out and fights with the cowboys. I bet it’d cheer you up, my book. It cheered up Brian no end. He said he’d never been so cheered up.”

*

Somewhere in Adam’s sleeping head, a butterfly had emerged. It might, or might not, have helped Anathema get a clear view of things if she’d been allowed to spot the very obvious reason why she couldn’t see Adam’s aura. It was for the same reason that people in Trafalgar Square can’t see England.

*

She pressed the little pictogram squares on her till. (Literacy was no longer a requirement for employment in these restaurants. Smiling was.)

*

He stood up, took his tray over to the PLEASE DISPOSE OF YOUR REFUSE WITH CARE receptacle, and dumped the whole thing. If you had told him that there were children starving in Africa he would have been flattered that you’d noticed.

*

Many people, meeting Aziraphale for the first time, formed three impressions: that he was English, that he was intelligent, and that he was gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide.

*

DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death, JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.

*

Newt had never actually seen another one on the road, despite his best efforts. For years, and without much conviction, he’d enthused to his friends about its economy and efficiency in the desperate hope that one of them might buy one, because misery loves company. In vain did he point out its 823cc engine, its three-speed gearbox, its incredible safety devices like the balloons which inflated on dangerous occasions such as when you were doing 45 mph on a straight dry road but were about to crash because a huge safety balloon had just obscured the view. He’d also wax slightly lyrical about the Korean-made radio, which picked up Radio Pyongyang incredibly well, and the simulated electronic voice which warned you about not wearing a seatbelt even when you were; it had been programmed by someone who not only didn’t understand English, but didn’t understand Japanese either. It was state of the art, he said. The art in this case was probably pottery.

*

The English, by and large, being a crass and indolent race, were not as keen on burning women as other countries in Europe. In Germany the bonfires were built and burned with regular Teutonic thoroughness. Even the pious Scots, locked throughout history in a long-drawn-out battle with their arch-enemies the Scots, managed a few burnings to while away the long winter evenings. But the English never seemed to have the heart for it.

*

Thus far in his life he’d never had the urge to drink alcohol, but something told him there had to be a first time.

*

“It’s like you said the other day,” said Adam. “You grow up readin’ about pirates and cowboys and spacemen and stuff, and jus’ when you think the world’s all full of amazin’ things, they tell you it’s really all dead whales and chopped-down forests and nucular waste hang-in’ about for millions of years. ’Snot worth growin’ up for, if you ask my opinion.”

*

Wensleydale looked miserably at the other two. They were sharing a thought that none of them would be able to articulate very satisfactorily even in normal times. Broadly, it was that there had once been real cowboys and gangsters, and that was great. And there would always be pretend cowboys and gangsters, and that was also great. But real pretend cowboys and gangsters, that were alive and not alive and could be put back in their box when you were tired of them— this did not seem great at all. The whole point about gangsters and cowboys and aliens and pirates was that you could stop being them and go home.

*

He ought to tell Crowley. No, he didn’t. He wanted to tell Crowley. He ought to tell Heaven.

*

“Hello? Aziraphale! For Go—, for Sa—, for somebody’s sake! Aziraphale!”

*

“I thought it’d be longer, somehow. All that waiting, just for a few hundred miles.”

“It’s not the traveling,” said Black. “It’s the arriving that matters.”

*

I NEVER WENT AWAY, he said, and his voice was a dark echo from the night places, a cold slab of sound, gray, and dead. If that voice was a stone it would have had words chiseled on it a long time ago: a name, and two dates.

*

“What chapter are you from, then?” The Tall Stranger looked at Big Ted. Then he stood up. It was a complicated motion; if the shores of the seas of night had deck chairs, they’d open up something like that. He seemed to be unfolding himself forever. He wore a dark helmet, completely hiding his features. And it was made of that weird plastic, Big Ted noted. Like, you looked in it, and all you could see was your own face. REVELATIONS, he said. CHAPTER SIX. “Verses two to eight,” added the boy in white, helpfully.

*

Pollution removed his helmet and shook out his long white hair. He had taken over when Pestilence, muttering about penicillin, had retired in 1936. If only the old boy had known what opportunities the future had held…

*

“Well, nice try,” he said, in a completely different voice, “only it won’t be like that at all. Not really. “I mean, you’re right about the fire and war, all that. But that Rapture stuff— well, if you could see them all in Heaven— serried ranks of them as far as the mind can follow and beyond, league after league of us, flaming swords, all that, well, what I’m trying to say is who has time to go round picking people out and popping them up in the air to sneer at the people dying of radiation sickness on the parched and burning earth below them? If that’s your idea of a morally acceptable time, I might add.

*

Death and Famine and War and Pollution continued biking toward Tadfield. And Grievous Bodily Harm, Cruelty to Animals, Things Not Working Properly Even After You’ve Given Them A Good Thumping But Secretly No Alcohol Lager, and Really Cool People traveled with them.

*

And that was where it all fell apart. Because, underneath it all, Crowley was an optimist.

If there was one rock-hard certainty that had sustained him through the bad times— he thought briefly of the fourteenth century— then it was utter surety that he would come out on top; that the universe would look after him.

*

back. “I don’t see why it’s taken thousands of years to sort out.”

“That’s because the people trying to sort it out were men,” said Pepper, meaningfully.

“Don’t see why you have to take sides,” said Wensleydale.

“Of course I have to take sides,” said Pepper. “Everyone has to take sides in something.”

Adam appeared to reach a decision. “Yes. But I reckon you can make your own side.”

*

“Dear lady, how fast would you say we were going?” asked Aziraphale.

“Why?”

“Because it seems to me that we would go slightly faster walking.”

*

The woman was screaming. What she was screaming was this: “Gerrrronnnimooooo!”

*

“And now pull in here. There’s often cars here, and no one takes any notice,” said Anathema.

“What is this place?”

“It’s the local Lovers’ Lane.”

“Is that why it appears to be paved with rubber?”

*

SOMETIMES HUMAN BEINGS are very much like bees. Bees are fiercely protective of their hive, provided you are outside it. Once you’re in, the workers sort of assume that it must have been cleared by management and take no notice; various freeloading insects have evolved a mellifluous existence because of this very fact. Humans act the same way.

*

It has been said that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism.

*

“Well, look,” said Newt, wretchedly, “this isn’t really the time to say it but,”— he swallowed—“ actually I’m not very good with electronics. Not very good at all.”

“You said you were a computer engineer, I seem to remember.”

“That was an exaggeration. I mean, just about as much of an exaggeration as you can possibly get, in fact, really, I suppose it was more what you might call an overstatement. I might go so far as to say that what it really was,” Newt closed his eyes, “was a prevarication.”

“A lie, you mean?” said Anathema sweetly.

“Oh, I wouldn’t go that far,” said Newt.

*

“Oh dear,” said Aziraphale. “It’s him.”

“Him who?” said Crowley.

“The Voice of God,” said the angel. “The Metatron.”

The Them stared. Then Pepper said, “No, it isn’t. The Metatron’s made of plastic and it’s got laser cannon and it can turn into a helicopter.”

*

“I just don’t see why everyone and everything has to be burned up and everything,” Adam said. “Millions of fish an’ whales an’ trees an’, an’ sheep and stuff. An’ not even for anything important. Jus’ to see who’s got the best gang. It’s like us an’ the Johnsonites. But even if you win, you can’t really beat the other side, because you don’t really want to. I mean, not for good. You’ll just start all over again. You’ll just keep on sending people like these two,” he pointed to Crowley and Aziraphale, “to mess people around. It’s hard enough bein’ people as it is, without other people coming and messin’ you around.”

*

“It doesn’t matter!” snapped the Metatron. “The whole point of the creation of the Earth and Good and Evil—”

“I don’t see what’s so triffic about creating people as people and then gettin’ upset ’cos they act like people,” said Adam severely. “Anyway, if you stopped tellin’ people it’s all sorted out after they’re dead, they might try sorting it all out while they’re alive. If I was in charge, I’d try makin’ people live a lot longer, like ole Methuselah. It’d be a lot more interestin’ and they might start thinkin’ about the sort of things they’re doing to all the enviroment and ecology, because they’ll still be around in a hundred years’ time.”

*

“It izz written!” bellowed Beelzebub.

“But it might be written differently somewhere else,” said Crowley.

“Where you can’t read it.”

“In bigger letters,” said Aziraphale.

“Underlined,” Crowley added.

“Twice,” suggested Aziraphale.

*

“I don’t see why it matters what is written. Not when it’s about people. It can always be crossed out.”

*

“But you can’t just leave it at that!” said Anathema, pushing forward. “Think of all the things you could do! Good things.”

“Like what?” said Adam suspiciously. “Well… you could bring all the whales back, to start with.”

He put his head on one side. “An’ that’d stop people killing them, would it?”

*

Archimedes said that with a long enough lever and a solid enough place to stand, he could move the world. He could have stood on Mr. Young.

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2 thoughts on “Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett [Quotes]

  1. Pingback: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett | thebookboozer

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