Study. Understanding. Memory.
It is fair to say and a reasonable assumption that not only am/was I lazy; I am/was without any ambition whatsoever. Now how’s that for a self attributable ‘put down’? I believe after what I am about to write any discerning reader will agree with this statement. Because of this I think I shall be digressing/deviating quite a bit and hope that it will all come together and make sense before I finish! I must admit that I have been musing over this since starting the “Religion. My Mother & Me.” series of posts as it is relevant and will hopefully give some cohesion to the whole.
A couple of years ago I wrote a couple of Blogs/Posts on Notes they’re not long and if you’re at all interested in reading them just type the word in the seach box which in case you haven’t noticed is at the top right of the page, well it was the last time I looked, and ‘Notes’ brings me to the first part of the sub heading ‘Study’.
In the late summer of 1946 I was bundled off to continue my education not at the Barking Abbey along with my only school chum Joey Richardson, but to the Park Modern Secondary School for Boys (there was also one for the girls attached) a considerably lesser school than the Abbey but the one my mother wanted. Sonny was a student there as were most if not all of the older boys from Langley Crescent, with the exception of Alec Rook who failed even that entrance exam.
Each of the four years there was divided into 3 classes the lowest class being 1C followed by 1B then 1A ; right up to 4A which was the top class and there was approximately 30 boys to each class. The number of course benoted the year. I was assignd to 1A and our Class Master was one Mr. W.J Stockwell a rather large rotund man. I was assigned to “Red” (later to be renamed “Sheffield” with a Viking ship emblem) house as my brother Sonny was in “Red” and our House Master was one Mr. J. Bright the Science Master, a veritable ball of energy who stood around 5 foot nothing, well perhaps an inch or two over. He was also Deputy Head master, who in one sense became quite a good friend to me and I’ll get to that sometime. Sonny was two years ahead of me and I think he’d advanced then into 3B.
The first day we were given all our exercise books and we spent the best part of the morning writing our names and class and subject in each, we were also given a small supply of pencils and pens with spare nibs. For those unaware of what nibs are these were the things stuck into the end of the pen which we dipped into the inkpots/wells for the ink naturally 🙄 . I didn’t know it then but I was very fortunate to have Mr. Stockwell for the Class Master, it was one of his jobs to teach us to write properly and he had the best hand and the best signature that I’d ever seen, beautiful and I must admit I tried my best to emulate him over the next 70 years.
Our first day at school and we were given a dose of what was to come, we were given homework; not much but Mr.S gave us an assignment, we had to write what he called a composition and we had to write ‘our’ story. Well to cut this bit short when I got home my mother asked me how things went and I said fine but I’d been given some homework to do, she asked what I had to do and when I told her she said fine she’d do it for me and I could copy it out in my book.
Don’t ask me what she wrote I wouldn’t have a clue I didn’t then and I haven’t now, when I got to school the next morning I handed it in and went about day dreaming, I was particularly good at that. Mr S thought I’d done a very good job so I had to stand and read whatever the rubbish that my mother wrote out to the rest of the class to show them how it was done. From then on I became Mr. Stockwell’s favourite and earned the name “Bri Bri”. I’d been called Brian when in trouble and strife I got called Bodger or Midge by the family and Smiffy by my school mates but never “BriBri”.
I quickly put it out that any boy who called me or used that name behind my back did so at their peril, I was not averse to a punch up and enjoyed the physical clashes that I had from time to time especially with my brother who was quite a bit bigger than I, and which I invariably won. I had a nasty, vicious temper at times and would go berserk, many a time I remember my parents pulling me off of Sonny while we were brawling. I don’t think Sonny enjoyed a stoush that much. Anyway nobody ever called me by that name, only ‘Bill’ I still haven’t forgiven him.
There was absolutely nothing stimulating about the lessons we received, it all seemed very simple that I spent more time day dreaming and looking out of the windows than listening to the teachers. In retrospect I’d have probably been better off had they have shoved me into a class a few years further on but they didn’t do that back then you just got stuck in the ‘quagmire of slothdom’.
Like it or lump it there were subjects and classes you were required to do or attend. I wasn’t much interested in ‘Maths’ or ‘Science’ but they were more to my liking than the compulsory “woodwork and metalwork”.
The only subjects that I recall held any excitement, for want of a better word, was ‘French’ hey I was learning a new language, history, a subject never touched upon in my primary years and literature. French has gone by the wayside, (I do have a large print on the wall that is in French and when alone I do at times read the text out aloud to see if I still have the verbal command of the language). But history and literature never left me.
Studying never came hard to me, I love to read, to turn a page? It’s magical! I do not read very quickly (although the War Office will tell you otherwise) I savour each word and the beauty and my good fortune is that I understand everything I read. Some tests conducted by some educational boffins way back concluded that my comprehension rate was in excess of 99%; when they told me this, I said that if it was in excess of 99% then it must be 100% and they assured me that it was not so but in excess of 99% I suggested that perhaps I’d missed a comma or a full stop/period and they looked at me as if I were mad.
I imagine that this is why I’ve never bothered taking and making notes, it was quite pointless writing down what was already stored in my head, if I read something of interest then it would pretty well get shoved into one of the many filing cabinets that somebody once suggested made up my brain and would be called upon when needed. It was this ability that gave me an edge when I started working, I’ve never really thought about the why’s or wherefore’s of this ability.
I recall staying with my brother for some months, during one of our peaceful times and he was studying for admittance to the Baltic Exchange and I recall the frustration and emotions the angst he went through. I’ve never had or suffered that, then I didn’t have to study as such, I just needed to read. I’ll be more explicit when I get back to the series.
I’ve seem my daughter Sarah, aka Dopey Daughter, go through similar emotions whilst doing her studies and writing her papers and I’m at a loss because I never have had those emotions. I have no doubt that they would say that’s because I didn’t study and never obtained qualifications which in one sense is true but in reality not so, and that will be revealed very soon.
The one thing that always strikes me when it comes to ‘qualifications’ ‘degrees’ is this; the students are studying and reading and writing thesis on the same subjects over and over again with little variation, and people who mark these papers see what is a rehash of what they wrote long before and maybe just maybe there’s something fresh in there that singles out somebody that has had a novel idea/theory whatever. I wonder how many of these academics have ever had an original thought, Not too many and those that do get a Nobel Prize. ( That being so I’ll now put my hand up for mine).
So what am I ranting about now? Nothing really, I’m just stating my aversion to study for the sake of study to impress.
I had intended to talk about a couple of my teachers at the “Park” but I’ve gone on long enough I’ve gone way off course so maybe I’ll comeback and finish what I wanted to write about later. What it has to do with “SUM’ (see sub-heading) is beyond me but hopefully it will beome clearer as I plod along. I’ve got the laziness ambitionless bit to write about too! 😕