Saturday, 2 May 2009

THOUGHTS OF AN M.A (paperback)

Did not have one myself so I don't understand the fuss about education. I got mine by reading Penguin paperbacks. 

There must be cheaper ways of keeping children off our backs. My darling daughter studied art so long they didn't know whether to give her a BA or a gold watch.

Why art when they are taught fashions not principles? History? Propaganda written by the winner's press agent. Geography? Abroad is just the same as here. Australian soaps and Chinese take-aways. Only difference is you can't read the adverts.

Science and law and rhetoric is what universities were invented for. The rest is jobs for the boys.

Just imagine.

It is the Middle Ages and there are these three fellers on a tram and one says:

"What line you in, then?"

"I teach law at the university."

"Teach? What is teach?"

" I stand up in front of these kids and I tell them how to be lawyers."

"Could end up with more lawyers than jobs."

"Ain't that the truth. But we solved it. The ones don't get jobs,they teach other kids to be lawyers. What's your line?"

"I write books, but the pay is lousy."

"You should teach. Three months holiday a year. All found."

"What can I teach? I just sit down and write."

" It's not what you teach. It's what you call it. Let's see. Book. In Latin Liber. Liberture? Doesn't have a ring. Lit,lit. That's it, Literature. You married?"

"On my wages?"

"So you're a bachelor. Great. Bachelor of Art."

There's this man sitting on the seat behind and he leans over and he says:

"Any chance at your place of a start for me?"

"Could be. What do you do?"

"Not a lot. I keep a diary."

"So. A record of past years. Gimme a minute to come up with something. You write down what happens to you. The story of your life. Your story. Let's run that up the flagpole and see if it waves....Too personal.

Hang about! Teach what is in everyone else's diary. His Story, History! You'll do a bomb."

"I don't KNOW what's in everyone's diary."

"Use your imagination, everyone else did. The Romans claimed they were descended from a wolf. If the public will buy that..............And there was this Greek guy Herodotus. He invented men whose heads grew out of their chests. Never looked back."

"Well, they couldn't, could they?" said this Jewish kid who was strap-hanging and kibbitzing. "Stands to reason. Not with their heads in their chests."

"Congratulations," said the lawyer, "you just invented logic."

"I'll take two dozen," said the Jewish kid who knew a good thing.

Just at this minute along comes the conductor.

"Fares, please. Have your groats ready."

"Three to the university," says the lawyer.

The other two pay.

"Funny old job, conductor," said the lawyer.

"You should see it market days," said the conductor. "Live pigs, rack full of cockerels. And every Wednesday this guy gets it on with a krummhorn. What a racket."

"Why do it?" says the Jewish kid. Having got a corner in logic he is already seeking market opportunities.

"What can I tell you? I like to go abroad for my holidays. Fifty-one weeks a year, krummhorns. One week, Benidorm. I wish I could find some other way."

At this the Jewish kid brings a piece of parchment out of his pocket, sticks a stamp on it and hands it to the conductor.

"Sign here over the stamp,“ he says. “Ten per cent of your wages and I'll introduce you to this talent scout. Hey, lawyer. You profess to know everything. Anything for the conductor, so he can go abroad for his holidays? No krummhorns."

The conductor? Easy. Do what everyone does. Bore people about his holidays. Show snaps. Tell 'em how often it rained. Do I have to draw graphs? Graph. THAT'S IT....Geo...Greek for earth... graph - Geography!"

The conductor was very grateful.

"You got a real faculty for this,” he said.

That is how education was born.

I will not be voting in the Common Market elections either. I watched with great joy a series about agriculture on TV, the walking stick of old intellectuals.

In the programme on cattle we watched delightful archive footing of the Thirties when I worked, a truanting schoolboy, on a local farm. In those far off days the milk yield was forty-six per cent. Since then we have boosted output with farmers' collectives, the milk marketing board, improved grass, and technological aids. Then we joined the Common Market. Our milk yield now?

Forty-six per cent.

The news that our fruit industry is nearing extinction struck a particular blow to me since an ancestor introduced the red streak apple to England. He started a thriving industry producing apples of many varieties. It was killed virtually overnight when we joined the Common Market and learned of the horrors of Golden Delicious apples and all-the-year strawberries which taste like rock.

It was also the end of our fishing industry. We were told it would mean cheaper wine and tobacco. It didn't. We are told we get enormous bags of gold from the EU. What we get is a fraction of the money we pour into its apron.

The EU exists for the membership not of its member states but of its members. Even though it loads them with cash for dubious reasons, it still cannot get its parliament to pass the bare face robbery which is its budget.



Matthew  Paris belongs to a minority which many of us believe is silly and inconsequential. We are not allowed to say so. I am surprised you allow him to so describe the Gurkhali cause in his column to-day