Friday, May 29, 2009

[village idiot] more than a radio game

Of a Friday, I usually cycle the few kilometres to a nearby town and sell my soul to McDonalds, just to take in the local atmosphere.

Today, the girl got everything wrong and apologized, ‘Hang-over, yer know, luv.’

Oh well, that makes it all right then. Don’t give it another thought, dearest. Over the tannoy came the sounds of a local radio show – Village Idiot. Why anyone would wish to go on such a show or be labelled an idiot beats me. Perhaps I am an idiot, I’m too stupid to know but I wouldn’t go on a show to prove I was. I’d open a blog instead.

No matter.

‘Now, Pam, can you tell us what was the name of the book about a society gone wrong, by George Orwell?’


The host continued. ‘It was the name of a year and not all that long ago.’

‘Er … 1964?’

‘Let’s go over to David. Any idea?’

‘Er … 1981?’

‘No, it was, in fact, Nineteen Eighty Four. Right. Ken Dodd. What was …’ A question followed about the worthy Dodd, Pam getting the answer straight off.

‘Right,’ said our host, ‘it all comes down to one last question. What followed was something about an East Enders character which, with unerring accuracy, David got right.

It’s a rash generalization to blame the dumbing down of education and I do take the point that a person can’t know everything. Why, there are things on the topic of This Blog I couldn’t answer. ‘In what month did Higham post an article on …?’

‘Er … no idea.’

I suppose East Enders is the most important topic in everyone’s mind, apart from Beckam and Brangelina. I suppose such people live happy and fulfilling lives, free from the vicissitudes of General Knowledge cluttering up the recesses of their already cluttered minds.

Yet am I wrong in thinking that a certain knowledge of the world is a good thing and perhaps should be taught in schools? Am I wrong in thinking that you should reasonably be expected to know at least two of the Seven Wonders of the World?

Don’t get me wrong – I run quizzes on this blog which I couldn’t expect more than 10% of the populace to know, so don’t judge yourself by that. Judge yourself by this:

Here’s a quiz which I’d expect any school leaver to get 5/5 on. I’d expect a street sweeper to get 3/5:

1. Excluding Antarctica, Australia and Greenland and counting the huge land mass from Portugal to China as two separate continents [which we won’t argue about for now] and excluding sub-continents, how many continents are there?

2. Which female Australian-expat harpie, from the 60s, wrote The Female Eunuch?

3. How many millimetres are there in a decametre [can also be spelt [or spelled] with a ‘k’]?

4. Which is the longest river complex in northern America?

5. In the 1800s, what was the object of the mass movement of people to the Yukon, to Ballarat in Australia and to other places? What was being sought?

Let’s not get pernickety about the questions. The broad answers are what are required.


5, Germaine Greer, 10 000, Mississippi/Missouri, gold


dearieme said...

The continent question is, I fear, hopeless - you could argue forever whether N and S America should be viewed as one continent or two.

Perhaps you know that, thus explaining your odd use of "northern America"?

Also, I suspect that the principles of fractal geometry might mean that a river does not have a unique length, though I don't know whether that necessarily excludes one from being longest.

Punch said...

There are seven wonders? Damn.
Let's see now #1-5
#2-Germaine Greer
#5-the love of gold you sinners

Well i got 4 of 'em

James Higham said...

Dearieme - that's what the 'odd use' was for. As ever, you're right.

Punch - well done.

CherryPie said...

I got four too ;-)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...


Anonymous said...

Germaine Greer? You're supposed to know who Germaine Greer is?!

jams o donnell said...

Germaine Greer a female expat harpie? Ah I see you prefer Andrea Dowrkin!

Surely Animal Farm is just as good an answer as 1984.

James Higham said...

I thought the Greer barb would annoy some. :)