Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


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Saturday 27 April 2013

The Lacunae of Life

"At the age of thirty-seven,
She realised she'd never,
Ride to Paris in a sports-car,
With the warm wind in her hair."

How many times has one heard someone say "I wish I'd done XXX"? Edith Piaf famously sang "Non, je ne regrette rien" but I fear that if that were true, she was a rara avis indeed.

I am currently reading The Evening Colonnade, a collection of articles and reviews by the late Cyril Connolly; it has taken only a few pages to serve to remind me how appalling - how lacking - has been my education; this then is one of a number of lacunae in my own life.

I have previously (I am sure) quoted Mark Twain's famous dictum: "The classics: something everyone wants to have read and nobody wants to read."  Well Connolly makes the classics, by which I mean such as Swift, Pope, Dryden, Voltaire and many others, sound so rich and rewarding.  Had I only the education to appreciate them; I know them only by name.  Perhaps the classics serve to illustrate to us certain eternal truths?  I have recently been quoting verses from The Rubâ'iyât of Omar Khayyám; now read the following from Jonathan Swift, quoted by Connolly in a review of a biography of Swift by Nigel Dennis:

"God in His wisdom, hath been pleased to load our declining years with many sufferings, with diseases, and decays of nature, with the death of many friends, and the ingratitude of more... with a want of relish for all worldly enjoyments, with a general dislike of persons and things, and though all these are very natural effects of increasing years, yet they were intended by the Author of our being to ween [sic] us gradually from our fondness of life, the nearer we approach towards the end of it."

I might add to Swift's tragic words, that with age comes regret and reflection - hence perhaps this piece.

The current UK eduction budget is £99 billions; in 2005 it was £65.7 billions.  Last week my mother was talking to a teen-aged girl who is to start at University this year; a pleasant girl etc., but my mother was staggered when she found that the girl had never even heard of the Second World War; "what's that?" she asked!  One might reasonably ask what those are like who fail to qualify for University; £99 billions - one cannot help posing the question.  I remember years ago feeling inadequate because I couldn't remember the ins and outs of Cobbett and the Corn Laws or the South Sea Bubble.

Yet I maintain that I have no education; this of course is far from being the only lacuna in my life; any regulars will of course know very well what the principal one is, or perhaps I should say "who she is." And of course, there are more.

I shall now return to The Evening Colonnade and depress myself further; so many books, so little time.

Until the next time.

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