And Ignorance is Bliss

IgnornanceI happened to be watching Pointless the other evening and had to shake my head in disbelief at the sheer effrontery of ignorance. Two English Literature students who couldn’t name the obvious.

The subject was books with missing adjectives and student A couldn’t even hazard a guess at ‘The — Curiosity Shop’ author initials CD.

Instead the Eng Lit student had to a complete guess at one of the other titles ‘The — Soldier’ (FMB) plumping for ‘toy’ which had me swearing at the tv loud enough to worry the dog. (The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Brown is no. 41 on the Guardian’s best novels list after all)

Spool forward to today and Mrs P had a hairdresser’s appointment and mentioned in passing that we had three weeks of football to look forward to. ‘Has the season started again?’ asked the coiffeuse, missing the point that Euro 2016 started yesterday. (And yes, I know that a ‘coiffeuse’ is French for dressing table, but it sounds as if it should mean female hairdresser)

Mrs P metaphorically shook her head, not wanting to force a scissor mishap, and followed up her remark that the football was to be followed by the Olympics. The coiffeuse cutter of hair was equally non-plussed, having no idea that a) such a thing was happening or; b) where it happened to be happening.

Which all sounds as trivial an observation as you can imagine. Certainly not one from which to draw any definite conclusions. But I shall, and it’s all down to my post about Vimto and the one after that about the Vimto Book for Scholars.

We live in the information age. Whatever it is you need to know is just a click away on your computer (or a fingertip on your tablet or phone) and yet does the fact that it is there, 24/7, mean that we value it less? Do we no longer need to bother with the tedious business of learning things, because there is an app out there that does all the learning for you?

And that’s why I mourn the loss of  things like the ‘Vimto Book for Scholars’ that I mentioned yesterday. There was a time when a child had time on its hands when it was raining outside and would pick up a pamphlet like that and actually learn something useful, or useless depending on your point of view, be it the kings and queens of England, Roman numerals or British weights and measures.

Chances are that if they had, the Eng Lit student would have known that the obvious Pointless answer was ‘The Vimto Curiosity Shop’, author Clarissa Dickson.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

4 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 11th June 2016

    I dare you to apply to be on “Pointless” yourself! Let’s see how you get on under those hot studio lights when your secret heartthrob Richard Osman is just a few yards away and your wife is shaking with nerves beside you… or maybe not nerves, lust for Alexander Armstrong.
    In which Shakespeare plays did these characters appear?
    John Rugby
    Sir Oliver Martext
    (Should be easy enough as Shakespeare is our country’s greatest writer and we are all familiar with his plays but which is the pointless answer?… No googling!)

  • John going gently 11th June 2016

    Vimto is an anagram of vomit

  • Trevor Rowley 11th June 2016

    You’ll be having a thrombie, Mr P, if you keep despairing of the ignorance of those around you. Sadly, we are surrounded by twerps who know very little of literature and probably would struggle to quote a book title and its author. In my local corner shop, some weeks ago, we were due to have the last (newspaper) edition of The Independent before it became exclusively on-line. I made some enquiries about this event with the chap behind the counter – hadn’t a clue, as thick as a bag o’chips.

  • rhymeswithplague 14th June 2016

    When I was a boy, on rainy days and even some sunny ones I would curl up in an armchair with one or more volumes (there were 20 in all) of the Grolier Encyclopedia or its equally voluminous companion, The Book of Knowledge, and while away the hours filling my mind with wondrous things from the great big world out there beyond my window. It helped make me what I am today — an irritating old codger who quotes trivia to everyone within earshot. (I jest.)


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