May 25, 2014
Michael Gove is a divisive figure and he has aroused the anger of many in the education establishmnent. I am not going to argue the rights and wrongs of his methods here. What is not in doubt however is the sincerity of his desire to improve the quality of education in this country, nor of the need for it to be improved.
This was borne out for me last night whilst watching the Champions League Final. When watching football on television I like to keep an eye on Twitter; the banter is often very witty and can liven up what otherwise might be a dull match. During the first half of last night’s game, one of Real Madrid’s players, Gareth Bale, missed an easy chance to score. Twitter at once came to life. That is when I saw this tweet. “Bale should of scored.”
From the author’s Twitter profile, I know this is the work of someone who has completed his education – someone who has been through years of schooling, and has completed the process without knowing the difference between “of” and “have.” Could there be a more obvious example of how our education system has failed our youngsters over the past several years?
We are the custodians of the greatest language in the world. It is the language of Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Hardy and Churchill; across the Atlantic, Lincoln, Kennedy and Martin Luther King used it beautifully and powerfully.
Many of the greatest thoughts expressed by mankind have been articulated in the English language and yet today we have young people leaving school unable to speak it or write it properly. That is a national disgrace and it is something which must be addressed without delay.
January 28, 2013
Jane Austen’s literary classic was first published 200 years ago today. It became an instant best seller and has never been out of print. It is a book I have read several times and each time I do so, I find myself loving it even more. “But hang on a minute” I hear you say. “You are a bloke. You like football and golf. You watch Top Gear. You can’t read Jane Austen. She’s for girls!”
Well sorry chaps, but that is a misconception that needs to be changed, and changed quickly. After all, what is not to like?
Elizabeth Bennet is without doubt the most gorgeous girl ever created in fiction. She may not be quite as pretty as her sister Jane, but with her quick wit, her lively and playful disposition and her very fine pair of eyes, she makes me fall madly in love with her, every time I meet her. The girls can swoon all they want to at Mr. Darcy but I would climb mountains, swim seas and fight dragons for Elizabeth Bennet.
Then there is the writing. I love the English language, its poetry, its rich vocabulary, its expressiveness. All of those qualities are in abundance in Pride and Prejudice. I cannot pretend to have read all of the great works of English literature; that is an ongoing project. I can say however that I have yet to read one that for me better demonstrates why English is the greatest language on the planet.
So on this historic anniversary, I say to all the ladies out there, Pride and Prejudice is not just for you, it is a book that should be enjoyed universally. So share it with your husband or boyfriend. And guys – get out there and meet Lizzie Bennet. I guarantee you too will fall in love with her. Just remember however, I saw her first.