Jim Hacker : But me no buts, Bernard. Shakespeare.
Bernard Woolley : Oh no, Prime Minister. "But me no buts" is circa 1820. Mrs Centlivre used the phrase in 1708, but actually it was Scott's employment of it in 'The Antiquary' in 1816 which made it fashionable.
Jim Hacker : Shall we keep to the point please, Bernard?
Jim Hacker : Bernard, I really don't want Humphrey putting his head round the door during this meeting.
Bernard Woolley : Well, I'll do my best, Prime Minister.
Jim Hacker : That may not be good enough, Bernard. Dorothy tells me that technically Humphrey's supposed to phone you from the cabinet office before he comes through to Number Ten; is that true?
Bernard Woolley : Well, perhaps in theory, but it's really just a formality.
Jim Hacker : Good. Humphrey likes formality.
Bernard Woolley : As they say, it's a custom more honoured in the breach than in the observance.
Jim Hacker : Oh really, Bernard, must you and Humphrey really always express yourself in this roundabout and pompous way? "More honoured in the breach than the observance"! Must you always distort and destroy the most beautiful language in the world - the language of Shakespeare?
Bernard Woolley : That *is* Shakespeare, Prime Minister.