Rule Book picThe Book
Of Rules

The real guiding principles of
an often malevolent universe
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   The Basics: Sod's Law and its Extensions

  • If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong; and at the most inconvenient time possible.
  • Nothing is ever as easy as it looks.
  • Everything takes longer than you think.
  • If it is possible for several things to go wrong, then the catastrophe that occurs first will be the one which causes the most damage.
  • Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first.
  • Every solution breeds a new problem.
  • It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are such ingenious people.
  • Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
  • Left to themselves, things always go from bad to worse.
  • When things can't possibly get any worse, they will.
  • When confronted by a 50/50 choice of getting something right, there's an approximately 90% chance that you will pick the wrong option.
   Murphy's Law
  • On the whole, Sod's Law is wildly optimistic.
   Mrs. Murphy's Law
  • If a thing can go wrong, it will do so when your husband is away.
   Machiavelli's Rules
  1. Evil constantly wars against good. Those who want peace – an abnormal state – must constantly win wars, because peace is ensured only out of the barrel of a gun.
  2. Winning is the only important thing; and by winning, what you do becomes the right thing.
  3. If unpleasant things must be done, do them all at once, decisively and quickly, and ignore diplomats, who always advise taking things slowly.
  4. Being feared or respected is safer than being loved. People are fickle with those whom they love but consistent with those whom they respect.
  5. Never underestimate luck, which can be good or bad and is uncontrollable. Half an amount of good luck is sufficient if other factors fall into place.
   The Marquis of Queensberry's Rules
  1. To be a fair stand-up boxing match in a twenty-four foot ring, or as near that size as practicable.
  2. No wrestling or hugging allowed.
  3. the rounds to be of three minutes' duration, and one minute's time between rounds.
  4. If either man falls through weakness or otherwise, he must get up unassisted, ten seconds to be allowed him to do so, the other man meanwhile to return to his corner, and when the fallen man is on his legs the round is to be resumed, and continued till the three mintues have expired. If one man fails to come to the scratch in the ten seconds allowed, it shall be in the power of the referee to give his award in favour of the other man.
  5. A man hanging on the ropes in a helpless state, with his toes off the ground, shall be considered down.
  6. No seconds or other person to be allowed in the ring during the rounds.
  7. Should the contest be stopped by any unavoidable interference, the referee to name the time and place as soon as possible for finishing the contest; so that the match must be won and lost, unless the backers of both men agree to draw the stakes.
  8. The gloves to be fair sized boxing gloves of the best quality and new.
  9. Should a glove burst, or come off, it must be replaced to the referee's satisfaction.
  10. A man on one knee is considered down, and if struck is entitled to the stakes.
  11. No shoes or boots with springs allowed.
  12. The contest in all other respects to be governed by revised rules of the London Prize Ring.
   Sir Arthur C. Clarke's Three Laws
  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

    A 4th law was added to the canon, despite Sir Arthur's protestations that he had no intention of going one better than Sir Isaac Newton:

  4. For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert.
   Turner's Law of Communications
  • Everyone with access to a keyboard and a means of distribution thinks they are an expert.
   Gordon Brown's Golden Rules
  1. Borrow only to invest (in the sense of going down the pub to invest in a pint of beer).
  2. Government debt should not exceed 40% of national income – but hiding liabilities off the books is okay until the Chancellor's job can be dropped on some sucker, then the 40% rule can be abandoned.
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  • Never jeer at the crocodiles until after you have crossed the river.
  • A bird in the hand is dead.
  • A dog can't bark and bite your leg simultaneously.
  • The largest spider always descends over the bath just as you step in to it.
  • The lion and the lamb may lay down together but the lamb won't get any sleep.
  • If a cat and a newspaper, or a document which you want to read, are in the same room, the cat will park itself on your reading material.
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   At Home

  • As you emerge from the kitchen, the TV programme, which you have been watching in snatches and following by listening to it, immediately goes to a commercial break.
  • Sud's Law : Your washing maching will give up the ghost 13 minutes into a major wash.
  • If a biscuit is broken, it doesn't count toward a calorie-count.
  • You might as well wash your hands with cold water as by the time any hot water reaches the tap, you'll have finished washing your hands.
  • Nod's Law : You stay awake during the rubbish on TV and fall asleep just before something you want to watch comes on.
  • When cooking dinner, you can never make too many chips.
  • Junk expands to overflow the space available.
  • Hoarded junk will be thrown away and the rubbish collection will be made just before a piece of the junk becomes vital for the survival of the human race.
  • Nothing important ever turns up while you're looking for it.
  • When a body is immersed in water, the phone always rings; and stops again the moment the body is removed from the water.
  • The day you choose for an extra hour in bed is the one when the postman can't get something through the letterbox and rings the bell.
  • Invention is the necessity of a mother.
  • If a woman thinks she is looking good, she should avoid looking in a mirror at the same time as her daughter.
  • The easiest way to keep the door shut is to ask your children to leave it open.
  • A woman's place is in the home and a man's place is in the wrong.
  • A husband's wants and needs are necessities; those of a wife are unaffordable luxuries.
  • Just when you're ready for a good argument, your spouse agrees with you.
  • When the present is unpacked on Christmas morning, the batteries will not be included.
  • Buttered toast always lands butter-side down; except when required to do so to prove Sod's Law.
  • The chance of the toast falling buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
  • If falling toast lands butter-side down, you've put the butter on the wrong side.
  • A woman's financial needs are 10 more than the cash available.
  • Baby doesn't smear his breakfast on Dad's tie every morning; only when he's late for work.
  • A woman's dressing time expands to fill the time that isn't available.
  • The sudden disappearance of the family is due to the readiness of food.
  • The time required to tidy up before guests arrive is always two minutes more than the time available.
  • The number of utensils a man needs to prepare a meal is equal to the number of utensils in the kitchen.
  • Where there is a black decorative surface, white, non-drip paint applied to a higher object will always drip onto it.
  • If there's something nearby that you're likely to tread on once in a million years, then it will leap under your foot the instant you drop your guard.
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  • If you have a trailing shoelace, it always ends up under your other foot.
  • If you're walking on eggs, don't hop.
  • It's the exception which proves the rule is wrong.
  • There is no point in worrying if you can't remember where you've put things. Just enjoy finding all sorts of forgotten stuff while you're looking for the last thing you lost.
  • There is a reason for everything, but it's not necessarily a good reason.
  • Anything that looks too good to be true isn't.
  • Everything put together comes apart sooner or later.
  • As soon as you mention something; if it's good, it never happens, if it's bad, it happens.
  • History repeats itself; that's one of the main things wrong with history.
  • Everyone and everything in life is bent. Only wallpaper is straight - and that's a put-up job.
  • People who love sausages and respect the law should never watch either being made.
  • As with icebergs, seven-eights of everything cannot be seen.
  • A Colt .45 beats any other poker hand.
  • If it's any good, they'll stop making it; or if it's on Channel 4 and it's any good, they'll show it at 3 a.m.
  • The easiest way to find something you've lost is to buy a replacement.
  • Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do what we're told and take the blame afterwards.
  • The shortest queue in a bank or post office is always the slowest moving while traffic hold-ups always clear faster in the lanes beside yours.
  • When you're hanging on by your teeth, don't yell for help.
  • Reality is a state of mind brought on by alcohol-deprivation.
  • Life is what you make it, which means that all this is your fault.
  • Life is always arranged for the benefit of other people.
  • The nutter will always sit next to you on the bus.
  • When you switch the TV on, it's always tuned to the wrong channel.
  • Anything you have the Right To Know ain't worth knowing while the only things worth knowing are the ones they are keeping from you.
  • The grass is brown on both sides of the fence.
  • The greater the importance of the day's event, the bigger and bloodier the shaving cut.
  • No one likes to be frustrated but life's real disasters begin only when you get exactly what you want.
  • Any order that can be misunderstood will be misunderstood.
  • Science is truth; don't be misled by facts.
  • Today's bargain is always even cheaper tomorrow.
  • There's nothing so permanent as a temporary measure.
  • The importance of a subject can be judged by the lack of interest in it.
  • The only laws which are rigidly enforced are those which cannot possibly be obeyed.
  • When you see the truth don't expect it to make any sense.
  • Don't get any of that sticky stuff on you. Too late!
  • Pay too much for quality and you will be ripped off mercilessly.
  • Every DIY task performed with an edged tool requires a blood sacrifice
  • Experience tells us that the contingency for which we plan is nothing like the emergency that arises.
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   Miscellaneous Rules

  • Rule No. 1 There are no rules.
  • Rule No. 2 Re-read Rule No. 1.
  • In the Army: If it moves, salute it. If it doesn't move, pick it up. If you can't pick it up, paint it.
  • In the Police: If it moves, stop it. If it doesn't move, book it for parking.
  • On the Railways: If it moves, be pathetically grateful. If it moves on time, faint.
  • If you laid all the world's statisticians end-to-end, they would still all point in different directions.
  • When you're watching TV alone, the phone will always ring three minutes before the end of your programme.
  • The coal you watched being delivered always lasts longer than the coal delivered while you were out.
  • A bottle of Scotch goes down faster after the half-way mark.
  • The winning number in a prize draw is always one more or one less than your number.
  • If you're late, something will always happen to make you even later.
  • You always bump in to someone you haven't seen for ages when you're looking your worst.
  • It's not the cold girl who gets the fur coat.
  • Two people looking for each other will never meet.
  • You may not score a single shot at hoopla but you're sure to catch your sleeve on the door handle as you go out.
  • If you have to ask, you're not entitled to know.
  • If you don't like the answer, you shouldn't have asked the question.
  • Anything, including garments, situations and relationships, is easier to get into than to get out of.
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  • When asked to predict the future, eminent scientists immediately start talking bollocks.
  • Lending money to people gives them amnesia.
  • People who live alone have no annoying habits.
  • Some people would rather be wrong than quiet.
  • If something goes wrong, someone can be blamed for it.
  • Where there's blame, there's a claim and a lawyer with his billing procedure at the ready. [Often also true when there's no blame - ed.]
  • The Meek shall inherit the Earth; but only when the Strong have finished with it and they won't get the mineral rights.
  • Blessed is he who expects nothing for he shall not be disappointed.
  • The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but they're always the wiser bet.
  • People don't change, they only become more so.
  • The woman giving you the eye is the only in the room you don't fancy.
  • Every wife lives next door to a perfect husband.
  • The secret of lasting human happiness is to be more and more grateful for less and less.
  • A friend in need is no friend of mine.
  • Everybody lies, but it doesn't matter as no one ever listens to anyone else.
  • If you're coasting, you're going downhill.
  • People who design high-rise flats never sleep more than 15 feet off the ground.
  • A good loser is someone who's had plenty of practice at it.
  • Everyone polishes a secret masterplan for getting rich - one which can never work.
  • Today's tabloid hero is tomorrow's Public Enemy No. 1.
  • You always over-order in an Indian restaurant, even when allowing for a tendency to over-order in Indian restaurants.
  • If you try hard enough, you can always manage to boot yourself up the backside.
  • Whenever the man arrives to read the meter, you will be, at best, in your underpants and, at worst, highly embarrassed.
  • When two people share the same name, the actions of each will cause the maximum embarrassment to the other.
  • When two people in the Phone Book have the same name and initials, you will always pick the wrong one.
  • Where there's a will, there's a hopeful relative.
  • No matter how original your idea, the competition entry opened just before yours will say exactly the same thing.
  • An optimist is a pessimist who has yet to find his true calling.
  • A pessimist is never disappointed.
  • An optimist and his money are soon parted.
  • An optimist sees a glass which is half-full, a pessimist sees a half-empty glass which some bastard is about to knock over.
  • A pessimist learns from his mistakes, an optimist always thinks that things will go better the next time.
  • An optimist has one great advantage over a pessimist, he is always satisfied with himself.
  • An optimist tries to match his strength with the stronger; the pessimist turns round and slips away.
  • A pessimist knows that there is trouble ahead and walks slowly, an optimist rushes ahead, expecting something to turn up.
  • Any time things appear to be going well, the pessimist knows that he's overlooked something.
  • When people want to believe in something, no matter how absurd it is, they will let nothing stand in the way of their belief.
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  • The First Rule of Politics : A lie oft repeated by the government is still a lie.
  • The Law of Public Life : Saying that lessons will be learnt is sufficient. Actually learning them is superfluous.
  • Don't vote, it only encourages them.
  • The art of politics is to be able to tell the lies which will get you elected and then keep you on the gravy train.
  • If a politician tells you something 3 times – it's a lie.
  • Democracy is rarely attained as politicians will pervert the democratic process for personal gain if they think they can get away with it (or if they think they can get away with enough loot to make a period in disgrace worth while).
  • If a politician quotes a statistic to prove that something has been improved, the figure is either exaggerated or irrelevant because the politician played no part in making the change.
  • Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
  • Anyone who wants the US Presidency so much that he'll spend two years campaigning, bribing and making deals to win it is not to be trusted with public office.
  • Anyone who says he isn't going to resign four times definitely will.
  • In a democracy, politicians may be respected by the poor but they shouldn't count on it.
  • The Deterrent neither knows nor cares what is coming. The whole point of it is that anyone who knows the Deterrent is waiting will go somewhere else.
  • When you're in the merde up to your nose, keep your mouth shut.
  • When in doubt, mumble. When in trouble, delegate. When in charge, ponder.
  • Both expenditure and revenues rise to meet each other, no matter which one is in excess.
  • When more and more people are thrown out of work, unemployment results.
  • An acceptable level of unemployment means that the Minister still has his job.
  • The Three Laws of Politics: 1. Get elected. 2. Get re-elected. 3. Don't get mad, get even.
  • You cannot have democracy when you involve people.
  • No Cabinet leak is worth a damn.
  • Democracy is government of the damned by the daft.
  • Dimocracy is government by the pushy but stupid.
  • An honest politician is one who pays a bribe out of his own pocket.
  • Never trust a politician; they're all salesmen without an advertising code of ethics.
  • The importance of the speaker is directly proportional to the likelihood that an apparently wise and impressive statement will be shown to be absurd by subsequent events.
  • The secret of success in politics is sincerity; once you can fake that, you've got it made.
  • A welfare state is one which assumes responsibility for the health, happiness and general well-being of all of its citizens; excluding only the taxpayers.
  • The concern a MP shows for his/her constituents is inversely proportional to the size of his/her majority.
  • The regime with the biggest and best-staffed Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Culture can offer neither justice nor culture.
  • Whoever has the gold makes the rules.
  • Speak softly and own a human Rottweiler with a bad attitude.
  • If a journalists gets it right, politicians from all parties will write letters of complaint to his editor.
  • The probability of a government doing anything is inversely proportional to its desirability.
  • While you can't fool all of the people all of the time, you can keep them bamboozled for the length of a parliament.
  • No one every got poor by underestimating the intelligence of politicians.
  • The Milosevich Rule: Anything is for sale as long as the size of the bribe or the amount of the international aid is sufficient.
  • Things go wrong only when the government tries to do something.
  • Life would be a whole lot better if polticians would sit on their meddling hands.
  • New Labour's Rule Number One : Changing the name of something makes it better, e.g. giving us New Labour instead of The Labour Party and Offender Management Centres instead of prisons.
  • If the Minister swears it's true, it isn't. If the Minister swears it never happened, it already has.
  • All political parties die eventually of swallowing their own lies.
  • Under democracy, each party always devotes most of its energies to proving that the others are unfit to rule; and events prove all of them right in this aspect.
  • The amount of effort put into a political campaign by a party worker is directly proportional to the personal benefits which he/she will derive from the party's victory.
  • Politics has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.
  • Politicians are acrobats, who keep their balance by saying the opposite of what they do.
  • A politicial leader must keep looking over his shoulder to see if his party is behind him. If it isn't, he is no longer a politicial leader.
  • Politics is a battle of vested interests posing as a contest of principles.
  • In politics, prejudice masquerades as truth, passion as reason, and invective as fact; the people are all heroes or villains; and everything is black or white with no shades of grey.
  • Half a truth is always better in politics.
  • The skill in politics is being able to foretell what will happen tomorrow, the next day, next month and next year; and having the ability to explain afterwards why it didn't happen.
  • Persistence in one opinion has never been considered a merit in political leaders.
  • As politicians never believe what they are saying, they are always surprised when the voters swallow it.
  • Politics is not the art of the possible; it is a choice between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
  • The most distinctive characteristic of the successful politician is selective cowardice.
  • Politicians are the same all over; they'll promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.
  • Politics is a branch of the theatre in which there is generally much ado about nothing.
  • A candidate for office can have no greater advantage than muddled syntax and no greater liability than a command of language (e.g. John Prescott, George W. Bush).
  • Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
  • A good politician under democracy is as unthinkable as an honest burglar.
  • Politics is the diversion of trivial men who, when they succeed at it, become important in the eyes of more trivial men.
  • Politicial language is designed to make lies sound truthful, murder respectable and give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
  • All politics are based on the indifference of the majority.
  • If truth is ever injected into politics, there is no politics.
  • Under democracy, the voters tend to think a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever one; which is why politicians always pretend to be even more stupid than Nature made them.
  • When political ammunition runs low, the rusty cannon of abuse is always wheeled into action.
  • Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them.
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  • Whenever you try to replace a CD or DVD in its case, it will always be upside down.
  • Any small replacement item can be bought only in a blister pack of six or more.
  • Faulty items always function perfectly when taken to the repairer's.
  • The rake that you step on is always teeth-up, so that it not only stabs your foot, the handle also smacks you in the face.
  • A battery will always conk out just when your really need it.
  • A falling body always rolls to the most inaccessible spot.
  • It is impossible to lose both socks and impossible not to lose one.
  • There is a direct relationship between the cost of the tie and its ability to attract stains from food and drink.
  • If you don't buy something when you don't need it, you'll never be able to find one when you really have to have it.
  • If it's in stock, we've got it.
  • Things are against us.
  • The empty phone box in the row is always out of order.
  • The Maximum Lamp Length Rule: No lamp shall be longer than the maximum dimension of the room it is intended to fit. [Yes, it's an actual rule!]


  • When you try to plug in a USB device, you will never, ever, succeed at the first attempt. Even if you manage to present the slot on the device to the tab in the socket correctly right away, the gadget won't plug in until you have made at least one more attempt.
  • Any new version of a major piece of software will eat up twice the hard disk space of the previous version, run at half the speed on the same PC and, if it's by Microsoft, it will create files which cannot be read by the previous version. And the bug-fix files, which have to be retrieved via the Internet at great expense in terms of time and phone bills, will be ten times bigger than the previous version's.
  • Valuable old data is always on media which you can no longer access.
  • You realize it's time you backed up your hard disk about 2 seconds after it fails.
  • If you can access your data easily, so can everyone else.
  • If the government has your data, it will lose it.
  • Passwords are created to be forgotten.
  • MicroSoft Windows expands to overflow the available storage space and memory.
  • If you install a new version of a tried and trusted old program, at best it won't work and at worst, Windows will commit suicide and trash all your settings, and your computer won't work any more.

    Fracture's Law

  • Anything that can be broken will be broken, sooner or later.
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  • Explorer's Rule No. 1 : You will always get stuck at a crease in the map, or at an edge, where it has become frayed and illegible.
  • When the plane/train/bus you are on is late, your connection will be on time.
  • No matter how many reporters share a cab and no matter who pays, each of them will put the full fare on his own expenses account.
  • Two vehicles approaching each other will always want to pass at the spot where the only other vehicle in sight is parked.
  • Stopping behind a car in the right-hand lane at traffic lights always reminds the driver ahead that he should be signalling a right turn.
  • After driving for miles and miles on a empty road, a driver going in the opposite direction will always appear when you want to turn right.
  • Anything you want to find on a map is always in a crease or half off the edge of the page.
  • While waiting for a bus, you will always see at least two going the other way.
  • An old car will run perfectly until you put four new tyres on it.
  • The number of car doors slammed is double the number of guests leaving the late-night party.
  • If it can be fitted to your car, a piece of plastic worth pennies will cost pounds.
  • The Universal Repair Ratio: materials, 10p; labour 10; plus V.A.T.
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   The World Of Work

  • No energetic operation involving sharp tools, e.g. chopping wood, can be completed without a blood sacrifice to the Gods.
  • Idiot-proof systems have no chance against System-proof idiots.
  • When an employee leaves, the replacement will always know less, do less and have to be paid more.
  • To err is human but it takes a computer to screw things up royally.
  • In every organization, there is always one person who knows what is going on. That person should be fired as soon as possible.
  • If left uncontrolled, work will flow to the most competent person until he/she becomes submerged.
  • Snap judgements have a way of coming unfastened.
  • Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
  • Most jobs are marginally better than daytime TV.
  • An employee's importance is proportional to the distance from their office door to the desk in feet multiplied by the thickness of the office carpet in centimetres.
  • Any complaint in a shop is always the first one they've ever had.
  • The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone to take the blame.
  • Anything worth doing is worth doing for money.
  • If a job is not worth doing, it is not worth doing well.
  • No matter what goes wrong, it will probably look right.
  • When an error has been detected and corrected, it will be found to have been correct in the first place.
  • Once a job has been fouled up, anything done to improve it will only make it worse.
  • If you think the problem is bad now, just wait and see how things look when we've solved it.

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