For God's sake, lads, give me a break. This was John Hume saying something he never said during an interview. It was during the party conference one year at the Killyhevlin and Hume had been standing with a group of party colleagues during an interval. The cameras had gathered round to capture the image of the party leader relaxing. But Hume was having a fag and he didn't want to be seen on television smoking.
There was something in the manner in which he said it, chasing the cameramen and photographers not in the high-handed tone that some of his contemporaries would have adopted when their privacy was invaded. It was more, "wise up", or "lay off". It was saying, "You know yourselves".
And everyone understood. They could have got the telling pic that said the grumpy man of Northern Irish politics had an easy, affable side to him, but they had a more human obligation to another hard worker who was entitled to have a fag without having to sneak out into the rain for it. That's what Hume had appealed to. And with an astute media sense that smoking was a bad look.
Hume was liked and he was given that latitude. Many of the journalists around him would have had a drink with him in the bar at some time and understood that he needed downtime.
That same side of him later worked its influence on Bill Clinton and Irish America, when, after the laborious political discussions, he is said to have shown them the easy Irish charm and sung for them, The Town I Loved So Well.
The trouble with him was that you could never get him onto the ground when you wanted to. He was the most tedious political interviewee and insisted on repeating the same lines over and over again; about how the division was one of people rather than territory.
What does that mean? Does it mean, I said, that if people are reconciled the border disappears? And he snapped at me, because, of course, that was one entirely plausible meaning. That is what unionists thought he meant; that ultimately his strategy was for a united Ireland.
They accused him of Humespeak and, in doing so, did him the credit of recognising that he was smarter than they. He might, indeed, outflank, or wrong-foot, them into something they had not foreseen.
Hume took the leadership of the SDLP in 1979, but really he had it from the formation of the party. The first leader, Gerry Fitt, was all affability and grand oratory. Working the moves was John's job.
When British soldiers killed two young men in Derry, Hume pulled the SDLP out of Stormont. When they killed many more in Belfast, on Fitt's territory, there was negligible political impact.
After internment, the SDLP refused to go back into Stormont despite enormous pressure to try to make politics work in order to sideline the IRA.
Hume was determined that there would have to be major constitutional change and he deadlocked every alternative until Stormont fell and the Irish government was in direct negotiations with the British.
A question over his thinking at that time is how much he believed that a united Ireland was attainable.
Two former British prime ministers wanted a united Ireland. One of them was the foreign and commonwealth secretary at the time, Alec Douglas Home (pronounced Hume). The other was a future prime minister, Harold Wilson.
In September 1971, there were talks at Chequers between the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, Edward Heath, the prime minister, and Brian Faulkner, the prime minister of Northern Ireland.
Heath was working on Lynch to get him to persuade the SDLP to come into talks and he was working on Faulkner to open opportunities for "the minority". Nobody was using terms like "the nationalists" at that time and Faulkner thought he could get away with appeasing "the minority" by giving jobs to Catholic unionists.
Late on the night the talks ended, Hume phoned George Colley, a Fianna Fail minister, with an idea, though it was now too late to put it into effect.
The idea was that Lynch should draw Faulkner into a discussion on the nature of unionist objections to a united Ireland. The effect of that would have been to create huge embarrassment for Faulkner, for the first question Faulkner was going to be asked when he got back to Belfast would be, "Did you discuss a united Ireland?"
These were early days and Hume had other bright ideas, too. Faulkner was, at this stage, voicing severe criticism of the Irish government. He had persuaded Heath to crater border roads, which led to a rift in relations with Lynch.
Hume's suggestion to the Irish was that they should complain that Faulkner's criticism of them was illegal. Foreign relations were not devolved.
Faulkner had no right to say anything about the Irish Republic. Whether Health rapped his knuckles or not, I don't know, but the tenacity of the SDLP strategy invalidated Faulkner's strategy. Hume knew there would be no progress until the SDLP was ready to talk.
In the meantime, the IRA campaign would continue. This was a huge burden on the Catholic community, with stories every month of groups of kids blowing themselves up making bombs, and on everyone, with people being killed by the bombs that got through and the British Army shooting civilians and claiming them as hits against the IRA. Those were awful times. And the Protestant backlash was building.
The moral pressure on Hume was to get back into Stormont, make things work and let the state crush the IRA. After Bloody Sunday, even the British saw that that was impossible.
They made lots of high-sounding defences of the Parachute Regiment, but they assured the Irish government that the Paras would not be deployed the following week at a Newry protest.
Direct rule, introduced in March 1972, was the logical response to Hume's strategy. Immediately, the Irish moved to urge Britain to make a united Ireland the declared goal of their policy and Britain refused.
At that point, Hume could have held out in support of that demand. It might not have seemed too ambitious, knowing that it was also then what Wilson wanted. But Hume didn't. He pitched for the possible: power-sharing.
Maybe not a great idea after all, but it was an alternative to majority rule by unionists and the united Ireland they feared. What he perhaps didn't expect in 1972 was that this same argument would play out for another 30 years.