“The sudden acquisition of power does not go to the head, but to the groin. In some, it promotes lust; in others, supplants it. Those on whom its effect is purely cerebral may indeed be counted as fortunate.”

‘”I’ve noticed that whenever institutions claim to be confident of anything it means the complete opposite.’”

“’All paradises are there to be expelled from.’”

“It was Ruth’s unwavering belief that people were made to be happy, and that romanticism was responsible for most of the miseries she saw in her professional life.”

“To thoughtful natures, events are like depth charges: the surface is calm, but the shock spreads further.”

“In the beginning, Hart had blundered by addressing them as ‘girls and boys’. He had made references to their being ‘the cream of British children’ – a not unreasonable appellation, considering their school fees were among the highest in the country, but one that gave deep offence. He had even referred to Christianity, which was something only the lower middle classes now believed in…. Evil, if it existed, would be some creeping process, not a single decision. The blotchy faces before him were erupting in violent pustules of crimson and mauve, diseased by hormones as by smallpox. Life was first a coarsening, then a disintegration, Hart thought.”

“The smell of school is polish and piss, Grub thought. At the beginning, it was more polish than piss, at the end, more piss than polish.”

“Tore…was beyond style – or beyond good and evil, which at Knotshead amounted to the same thing.”

“Like an arms dealer, Simon Hart always knew when things were hotting up in some country or other a year before revolution broke out, because he would suddenly be deluged with calls from senior government officials related to the current prime minister, asking him to let their child in without taking the entrance tests.”

“Familiarity breeds sentiment before contempt.”

“Dancing is the only compulsory subject here besides agriculture and sex.”

 “Knotes knew by instinct that it is easier to afflict the comfortable than to comfort the afflicted: the line of those whom it was fair game to persecute was always drawn at their own heels.”

“’Schools make up their mind about you the first week. There are the Lads, or Jet-Setters if you’re a girl, at the top; then the Groovers, the Semi-Groovers, the Semi-Rejects and the Rejects. You and I are Rejects.’”

“’Family is all politics. Everyone hates each other’s guts, if they’re honest… Most brothers and sisters try to top each other, given the chance; you always get the worst wars in countries with big families….People have kids because they go soft in the head, tarts especially. They forget what it’s like to be a kid themselves and want to remember through their own. They don’t want us, not real brand-new people who puke and criticise and tell them to bog off: they want their own frigging innocence back. They want to have their own lives back again, with the bad bits taken out. Quite frankly, they’d be better off with a dog. Parents are a bunch of losers from the word go. Take, and don’t thank them. After all, they got you into this shit-=heap, didn’t they?’”

“Fay had the most tedious and common kind of sensibility: that of being acutely sensitive to her own feelings, and completely blind to others.’”

“The idea that any of their offspring could possibly be accused of involvement in criminal activities caused deep offence, even to parents who believed that property was theft.”

‘“The parents who send their children here must either have complete amnesia about what their own adolescence was like, or else the libido of the giant panda.’”

‘”Were I a woman…I would put off falling in love for as long as possible. It is so very bad for the intellect. Not to mention the rarest of all properties, common sense.”’