Sunday, 3 April 2016


ELEVEN: Legs eleven, Ocean's Eleven, eleven pipers piping; Lady Antonia Fraser ("I only sleep with the First XI"), not to mention the 11+...........


The Eleven+ was the Becher’s Brook of the British Education System: many fell, some were destroyed. It was supposed to be the means by which children were allocated to schools appropriate to their abilities, determined by exams in maths, English and an IQ test. These were not schools which were simply better or worse, they were qualitatively different: the grammar schools would be the natural destination of the children of the middle classes, preparing them for academic, professional, executive, administrative and similar occupations, roughly the top 20% of the social spectrum. And the secondary modern schools were created for The Rest, the children of the lumpenproletariat, who would labour in the fields and factories after receiving a more technical and vocational education. To call the system Latin vs Metalwork would be an exaggeration. To describe it as the near-perfect mechanism for the reproduction of the British Class System into the indefinite future would not be. One of the architects of the process was the most famous British psychologist Sir Cyril Burt. A conservative, a reactionary and a eugenicist, Burt believed in the inheritance of intelligence and its correlation with social class. After he died it transpired that he had fabricated the data to support these arguments, and campaigned for an education system that embodied them. Thus the British secondary education system was founded upon a series of lies which relegated millions of children to schools which limited their life-chances. Burt was like Psychology’s Harold Shipman, but instead of murdering patients Burt simply maimed children by forcing them into his template, constricting their lives with his ideology. Psychology should hang its head in shame at having given birth to him, lionised him and then lacked the courage to pursue him with the necessary vigour when his data reeked of falsity and political bias. Burt was responsible for more damage to the lives of British children than Jimmy Savile.

(from FESS #16)

BERNIE & JEREMY: the Gold Blend tendency
I have this image which has stuck in my mind, and it won’t go away because there is something 
about it which is so right: the image of Jeremy and Bernie as two comprehensive school teachers, 
sitting in the staffroom, in the corner where they always sit, every break, have done for years. Jeremy 
eats a ginger nut biscuit, Bernie a digestive. They both have a mug of Gold Blend with a sweetener in it.
In the morning break they discuss the news and current affairs, at lunchtime they do the Guardian
crossword, over packed lunches. Sometimes they exchange a sandwich. They look forward to 
retirement: Jeremy will walk the length of the Pennine Way, Bernie plans to keep bees.

Their colleagues have a deep admiration for them, Old School or not. Maybe they don’t use PowerPoint, 
but they are Proper Teachers, can hold their pupils’ interest, stimulate them and will always be 
remembered by them. Their pupils love and respect them for their kindness, their knowledge and above 
all, their honesty. They work very hard, write a lot on the pupils’ work and will always find them the time 
to talk – about anything. The children confide in them, like nobody else.  

In other words, they are immensely professional, competent and humane teachers who care for their 
constituency, will go to great lengths and personal cost to support and enrich it, while earning less in a 
year than many professional sports stars earn in a week. Lovely blokes who give so much more than
they receive and try to improve the lives of others.

The success of Bernie in the US, and Jeremy in the UK is a welcome coincidence. By chance, they 
have emerged at the same time. As any Cabinet Minister or Republican will tell you, their successes 
are unrelated and have nothing to do with electoral revolt amongst liberals in both countries and the 
politicians’ failure to reflect their views. Neither are they caused by despair at the nature of contemporary
society, driven by highly ideological financial policy, widening inequality and the slow erosion of rights,
education, welfare and health services, all sacrificed to ideology, and to the god of consumerism. 
Obviously, it’s just one of those coincidences.

My abiding image is just a fantasy: we couldn’t have idealists like these two running our countries, 
could we?

Sacred Blue!


The Grand old Duke of York
He had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
The Duke's men marched all over them
And there was awful slaughter.

And for no particular reason some images which appealed, this week:


Three paintings by Peter Swan, my friend, former landlord and one of the reasons that Bristol is such a good place to live. Many many more works to be seen at

ON THURSDAY we had a great evening with a family of four Swedes and I
felt like a turnip.  Aged 16 – 45 (I’m guessing) they all spoke extraordinarily
good English –  such that their grammar, vocabulary, articulacy, even accent,
would be envied by many native English speakers. My Swedish is restricted
to Hej! and hamburgare but that’s another story (see FESS  #32).
On the way home I remembered I had written a piece for Facebook some
time ago, on this very topic:   


When you are abroad in the summer, from time to time you can get that touchy-feely Brotherhood of Man, international feeling, that we are one race, divided only by language. On the one hand, we acknowledge our common humanity, and recognise that every nation on earth has a right to a different way of pronouncing ‘McDonalds’, while on the other there are still little pockets of resistance to linguistic globalism where people essentially say “F*ck off you English, if you want to speak to me learn Spanish”. So my sermon for today is on language. English people are famously unambitious about learning languages, even their own.

Yes, it would not be a bad thing if pupils could spell a whole lot better in their own, knew a little bit of grammar, and understood the difference between a comma and a vegetative state. As they developed further they might be offered the opportunity to excise textspeak from their speech via lolectomy and enter rehab to help kick the ‘like’ habit or to bring it within bounds, say 2 or 3 ‘likes’ per sentence. But there is absolutely no need for foreign language learning, for this is my thesis and manifesto:


The rationale is simple and persuasive:

1) The job is already half done since English has increasingly become the most important international language. Large areas of the world have it as their first language, such that the British Language Empire probably exceeds the original Empire, without a shot being fired in anger. America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand already speak English, even if they haven’t quite got it right, so that’s a good start. One word from the Queen, and the whole Commonwealth will be dusting off its English primers again, and suddenly the whole world map will start to blush pink with pride in Britain, like it used to. And it will only be a matter of time before the Rest realise that resistance is hopeless and they might as well get some of those Michel Thomas English language CDs they saw in the paper. It doesn’t matter that he did not pronounce English properly himself: they won’t either and the CDs are very cheap and user friendly. This would be so much less trouble than us learning a bit of French, Italian, Spanish and German that I’m frankly surprised no-one has thought of it before.

2) It seems a little harsh to abolish native languages but it is the only way to achieve uniformity and compliance. Anyway, some nations will be pleased, in private. The Germans, for example, will no longer be encumbered with those ridiculous compound nouns, some of which take several pages to write out. Unterseeboot is fine, for submarine, but ‘small-metal-implement-for-the-transfer-of-food-materials-from bowl-to-mouth’ is not an efficient way of expressing ‘teaspoon’, and is a bit of a mouthful (sic).

3) I agree that it is difficult to decide which English should be the World language. There is such a rich variety to choose from. It would be perverse to choose a dialect which is barely understood by the locals, and unintelligible to the rest of the population, let alone the World, so that rules out Geordie, Scouse and Brummie English (likewise Scottish and Paisleyite Northern Irish). Cockney carries the danger that old episodes of EastEnders may be mistakenly used as cheap teaching materials and stimulate new levels of murder, arson and sexual infidelity all over the world. East Anglian and West Country accenting to English tends to give an impression of slow-wittedness if not actual retardation which is maybe not an image we wish to export. We should discount Home Counties, Knightsbridge and BBC accents on the grounds that they will tend to recall the Port Outwards, Starboard Home accents of the original British colonisers and give the whole game away. Which leaves us with the Essex and Welsh dialects, coincidentally the exact locus of Gavin & Stacey, and who better than Smiffy and Nessa to be our linguistic champions and exports.Girl for the policy launch and video? Crackin’. Same words but a different dialect for each gender: now there’s an innovative idea for the language of our times. Discrimination? I think not. Nessa wins on points in any physical or intellectual contest, the perfect female role model for the 21st century. And acceding to feminist demands will be the keynote of the New World Order, trust me. The Monstrous Regiment is recruiting for an International Brigade, and about time too.

Let’s be clear: this simple educational and cultural policy is not just talking about avoiding language classes here, we’re talking about a covert re-colonisation of the globe (that Hitler could only dream of). World domination is within our grasp. Tomorrow belongs to us. Because language is power, and they who control the words control the World. What did Humpty Dumpty say to Alice in Through The Looking Glass? “Words shall mean exactly what I chose them to mean. No more, no less”. And the words will be ours.  


Rule Britannia
Britannia waives the rules,
English shall be the only language
Taught in Schools (at home and abroad)

This was a Party Political Broadcast on behalf of the Unadulterated Krap Ideas Party (UKIP).
Other ideologies are available.


Albert Einstein

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

If I had known what they would do with my work I would have rather been a plumber.

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

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