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Thanks For the Memories
on 28 March 2009
Having read this book I can only assume Caroline Taggart did not attend a postwar secondary modern school where Austen was a car, General Studies, the history of warfare and Rossini the composer of The Lone Ranger.
We were not entirely without knowledge, we had poems by Shakespeare (no plays of course) and books by Dickens - though these were outnumbered by Captain W E Johns's Biggles books. We also learned about Marco Polo, whom Ms Taggart surprisingly left out of her list of explorers. Then again if Margaret Thatcher is remembered as the 'milk snatcher' Ms Taggart is much younger than I thought.
We knew about composers (Tuesday morning after assembly) but artists were an unknown group of people. Science was confined to chemistry while algebra was a foreign language. The parts I learned then (basic English, maths and history) remain intact but those things I never learned, or wanted to learn, remain as obscure as ever. The book, however, does simplify those subjects which teachers appeared to complicate by not explaining why we were learning them.
What struck me was that much of what is contained in this book was meat and drink to grammar school pupils who, unlike eleven plus failures, were expected to go on to university while the rest of us became tradesmen. Some of the educational opportunities denied then were effectively denied for life, although some came later thanks to the opening up of higher education in the 1960's and the creation of the internet.
There's a degree is editorial selection. Personally I always think of "My Love is Like a Red Red Rose," when considering Burns, while Tennyson stirs up "The Charge of the Light Brigade", probably reflecting my love of history. On a factual point the first colonies in the United States were at Roanoake, North Carolina, in 1585 and Jamestown, Virginia,in 1607, not Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts in 1620.
This is an easy to read book and, although much of it was never learned in the first place, seems a good place to start either to remember what you knew or to begin searching for knowledge you never acquired. I never did know what was meant by an anapaest. Now I do. Handy for reference, useful for light reading, certainly worth four stars.