This time I really mean it: I am really truly going to tidy up my things. There are boxes and bags and random piles of things that have been slowly building up into geological strata over the last ten years, as I dashed around hither and thither like a headless chicken. But no more: the time has come to bring order to the chaos.
It’s a shame, then, that I keep coming across things that are far more interesting than tidying. Today’s pick is a wee book that must have been my grandmother’s, called ‘English papers for preparation or homework’. Published in 1931, it provides all the practice a young ‘un could need in identifying famous quotations, paraphrasing great works in a third of the length, and memorising at which school great English leaders were educated.
It also contains the following serious and thought-provoking exercises
* Write a dialogue between a cow and a cabbage, on the subject of vegetarianism
* Name six things besides cigars which should be kept in a dry place
* Write a short essay on the relative advantages of living a short gay life, and a long serious one
* Write a short essay on the uses of indiarubber
* Describe all that you could procure from an ideal penny-slot machine
* Suggest, and illustrate by a drawing, how a petrol-station might be in no way disfiguring to a picturesque country road
* Draw a picture in pencil or colours to illustrate the following incident from Plutarch’s “Life of Antony”…
* Suggest two wireless programmes, to be obtainable concurrently, so that a highbrow and a lowbrow listener can each be satisfied
From here on August 27th 2008