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Replies 41-53
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41st REPLY

NAME: Nigel Wood  Nigel Wood

DATE: 18 September 2014


Around the third or fourth form we had two History textbooks. One was blue and one was red. One was called Europe and England, and the other, England and Europe. I don't think I ever read them, but I do remember searching their indexes (note the eschewing of the Latin plural) to find as many names of prime ministers as I could, a task set by BoP to fill a lesson when he was unable to teach us. In the Sixth form we had a wonderful inorganic Chemistry textbook by EJ Holmyard (a master at Clifton College), who knew a lot, in an anecdotal sort of way, about the history of Alchemy and Chemistry. The book was full of memorable snippets, such a sufferers from constipation in the Middle ages being prescribed a pound or two of mercury to swallow. There was a graphic description by a ships's purser of neurological problems and outright madness overcoming sailors on board a ship with a cargo of mercury or mercury ore. At the bottom of the page a footnote stated "N.B. Ships' pursers never lie." (It might not have been the purser, but some other officer.) We had a suite of Physics textbooks by one A.E.E. McKenzie, which were clear, well-ordered and elegantly written. Most useful of all, of course, was our own Gabby Hayes's Revision Physics for Sixth Forms, whose praises (Gabby's and his book's) I've sung on another thread.

42nd REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 25 September 2014


Congratulations, Nick and Nigel, for having such a good memory recall of the textbook authors of our youth. I am trailing in comparison. It is sad I did not even remember the names of Kennedy's Latin Primer and Gould & Whiteley's textbooks given the amount of use of them at school. I wonder what QEs use today now they have revived Latin on the syllabus for the early years. As bad is my recall of the contents of my learning for Ancient Greek and Latin A levels. I have been so busy with accounting, auditing, computing, personnel and general management as well as my social and family interests that any revival of studying the classics has been out. I think, though, that maybe EHJ was right in saying the discipline of the classics was still a good basis for working in business or the law and now there may be time to renew acquaintance with those old classical works, though I find so many demands on my time still.

43rd REPLY

NAME: Nick Dean  Nick Dean Nick Dean gallery

DATE: 29 September 2014


An interesting, if slightly overdone, article in The Times (27/9) entitled "Why Alex Salmond should embrace the split infinitive [see reply 23 et seq]. This follows the First Minister's resignation statement in which he referred, to the apparent delight of some grammarians, to people who "refuse meekly to go back into the political shadows". According to The Times' self-styled "Pedant" (Oliver Kamm) this won't do: AS should have said "refuse to meekly go back" because 'meekly' is what is known as a 'squinting modifier' (not a term I had come across, but no doubt a feature of Oliphant's spare time): ie it could modify either 'refuse' or 'to go back' - pretty much Nigel's point about "failed noticeably to prosper" [reply 25 ]. Kamm mentions also the often ambiguous placement of 'often' as in "getting dressed often is a nuisance", which reminded me of when Sam C0cks drew our attention to a nine word sentence (can't remember what is was) in which 'only' could be placed at any point and, on each occasion, changed the meaning. It was possibly the only useful thing I learnt from him. Anyway, as regards split infinitives, Kamm says they were OK for Johnson, Burke, George Eliot and others; have been used for at least 700 years; and should continue noticeably to prosper.

44th REPLY

NAME: Alan Pyle  Alan Pyle

DATE: 02 October 2014

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1948-1953

Eight positions for 'Only' in ... "Peacocks are found on the Western Hills". Is that the one, Nick?

45th REPLY

NAME: Nick Dean  Nick Dean Nick Dean gallery

DATE: 04 October 2014


I think it must be, Alan. He would never have been so original as to have more than one on the go.

46th REPLY

NAME: Steve Lucas  Steve Lucas

DATE: 08 October 2014

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1964-71 (Leiceester)

I am pretty sure the sentence was, "The bishop gave the baboon the bun".

47th REPLY

NAME: Adam Lines  Adam LinesThen & Now

DATE: 08 October 2014


On the topic of grammatical trivia, I do recall one teacher (I believe it was Alfie) challenging the class to devise a meaningful sentence having the same adjacent word repeated as many times as possible. With undisguised delight he brought the ensuing discussion to an abrupt halt with the sentence:
John, whilst Mary had had had had had had had had had had had the approval of the examiners.
Many years later when boasting to the assembled company at a dinner party on the solution I was asked by one present whether I was aware that 'had had' was an STD in The Philippines. If only I had known that then!

VIC NOTES: I won't turn this into a quiz, as the solution is easily found online (I got it from Wikipedia). It's apparentlu used to illustrate the importance of correct punctuation: 'John, whilst Mary had had "had", had had "had had"; "had had" had had the approval of the examiners'.

48th REPLY

NAME: Nick Dean  Nick Dean Nick Dean gallery

DATE: 11 October 2014


I had to look this up on the internet, but it seems that the sentence about peacocks [reply 44] is widely attributed to the journalist Marghanita Laski, writing in The Observer in 1963. However, it was not original as she had heard it at her prep school. Subsequently it found its way into a revision of Fowler and it definitely rang a bell when Alan mentioned it, although the one that Steve recalls [reply 46] about bishops and buns sounds very much like Sam (who may have had two sentences on the go after all). Interesting to speculate, but maybe not on this site, what the bishop would have given only to the actress (apart from a bit of alliteration). My copy of Bill Bryson's Troublesome Words offers another sentence from The Observer - "The A Class bus only ran on Sundays". After wondering if the bus flew on other days, Bryson remarks that 'only' might have been placed, with differing meanings, in any of five positions. Couldn't help noticing that, on the opposite page, he makes clear that almost no private person - "even in Hollywood" - owns an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

49th REPLY

NAME: Allan Ayers

DATE: 10 April 2015

CONNECTION WITH QE: pupil 1960-1967

I hesitate to address a subject that may give our Host Vic a ghastly moral dilemma [see replies 1,5,6] but I fondly remember Chris Brand - who, as a second former, invited me to attend a 'crush' (I think in All Saints hall near Whetstone). I naïvely imagined it involved crushing up against girls in a packed dance hall - as All Saints hall was also the local Rock'n'roll venue. In fact it turned out to be orange juice and Christianity (nothing against either per se - but still a disappointment!). I have only come across a little of Chris's subsequent views but nevertheless would point anyone interested in the direction of Daniel Defoe's wonderful poem The True Born Englishman which just about sums it all up. There's no point trying to find it in a library these days - although maybe the Q.E. library still excels. Also delighted to see in the Torygraph this week that our dear old school has made it to the top 20 of the fabulous 500 schools in the Country - the only non public school to do so .... so very hearty congratulations to current masters and pupils whether your Dad came from Totteridge or Timbuktu.

Don't see any dilemma here, Allan. And thanks for bringing us back to the original topic!

50th REPLY

NAME: Nick Dean  Nick Dean Nick Dean gallery

DATE: 23 June 2015


It was comforting to see, from the programme for this year's fete, that, whereas last year the Headmaster was bemoaning the need for a "whole new roof structure" (ie a new roof) on the Fern building because it had not been built to last [see reply 23], this is now seen as presenting a significant opportunity to "re-model this very large building internally". Mr Enright adds that there are "a number of possibilities for its development, including locating the gym there". It was not possible during the fete to walk round any buildings other than the main (1932) school, but, so far as I could tell from glancing through the window, the gym is still in the 'new' 1950s block that bordered on what used to be the Gun Field.

51st REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 23 June 2016


My wife Ayleen and myself attended Founders Day once more on 18th June 2016. Those of you who commented on the speaker amplification in previous years [replies 20 & 21] may be glad to know that this year the chronicle reading by the headmaster could be heard at a distance and not just by those standing next to him. However I did notice that the clock on the school front was still not working with a time of 9.35. Thankfully the clocks in the classrooms I looked in on including my old Housemaster's room did have the correct time. There was one other shotfall, however, that I did notice. The disabled toilet remained locked for much of the time. Could do better!

52nd REPLY

NAME: Stephen Giles  Stephen Giles

DATE: 25 June 2016

CONNECTION WITH QE: inmate 1957-64

The point of a locked disabled lavatory is that the disabled have a "Radar key"!

53rd REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 29 June 2016


I accept your point, Stephen, about many disabled lavatories having a radar key with the disabled having a key to use it. However this is not the case with the lavatory downstairs at QEs, which is a normal lavatory designated for disabled use and may be and was locked but with an ordinary key. Disabled ladies would have somehow to get to the ladies upstairs until somone might be found to unlock the lavatory. My wife, not disabled, did use the upstairs toilet, whilst we men had the use of the boys lavatory at the end of the school, as in my school days. The town lavatories in the Chantry Centre in Andover similarly are not locked with a radar key and some use them when a lady cleaner is in cleaning the men's lavatories, which they do frequently. I suppose I should not be stressing too much the negative in regard to Founders Day 2016. The traditional service in the Chipping Barnet C of E Parish Church was excellent, including the choir singing and OE address. The OE buffet lunch was also very good and a good time to chat with other OEs and the headmaster/second master/chairman of governors. The FQE fete was also an opportunity to buy some things and a visit to the OE museum an opportunity to look at the exhibits once more and peruse old copies of The Elizabethan. I missed all the cricket match (School v OEs ) but I expect the players enjoyed themselves. When we went round to the 3rd Field they were all enjoying their tea break with many cakes provided..

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