When Children Never Went To School ..
It is hard to imagine a Britain where children never went to school, but until the 1790s the opportunity of learning to read and write was rare for most of the country’s youth.. Learning was mainly the privilege of the aristocracy.. The army, the church, the law or taking over the family estate was the burden of the upper classes and they prepared their offspring accordingly.. Rich fathers hired tutors to ready their sons for running the country before packing them off to Oxford or Cambridge.
North of the border, the Scots were ahead of the times with five universities.
Wealthy wives oversaw the appointment of a governess capable of teaching their daughters how to look pretty, laugh in the right places and bully the servants.
Some elementary knowledge of reading and counting was an advantage but on no account must your daughters appear to be clever.
Wealthy men endowed colleges for the good of their souls, but benefactors apart, it was the Sunday school that introduced the mystery of reading to a wider audience.. Its purpose was to enable the flock simply to read the Bible.. Writing came a poor second and arithmetic was irrelevant.
In 1807, Mr Samuel Whitbread voiced the revolutionary idea that local parishes should be responsible for providing two years’ teaching for children between seven and 14 years of age.. Objections were vociferous.. It would be too expensive, children needed to work on the land and in factories, and anyway they would ‘get ideas above their station’.
Education, of course, was really meant for boys.. The Victorian writer and educator Elizabeth Missing Sewell, a supporter of girls schooling, still reflected the ethos of the time in that ‘boys are sent into the world to govern and direct, girls are to dwell in quiet homes to exercise a noiseless influence’.. Just to make her point clear, she added ‘a woman who is not feminine is a monster in creation’.
In the 19th century, British people were growing restless.. In farming communities new machinery threatened the already pathetic wages and saw agricultural workers turn to violence.. Families moved to the new industrial towns in search of work.. There, in the mills, appalling conditions finally alerted the humanitarians to the need for reform.. If people could read and write and add up, all kinds of new opportunities awaited them.. Many remained unconvinced.
In 1833, the Factory Act included the proposal that children between nine and 13 should have two hours education a day and those under seven should not be employed in the mills.. In that year Mr Roebuck expressed his hope in the Commons that with the ‘slow operation of time, patience and industry’, those in parliament would be won round to seeing that education was a good thing.
It took until 1870, when for the price of 2d a week, all children between five and 13 should go to school.. Poor children’s fees would be paid.
Even then the churches weren’t entirely happy that their sphere of influence was being taken over by the State.
Finally, in 1944, what was known as the Butler Education Act (after Richard ‘Rab’ Butler, the Education Secretary) came into force.. It swept away all previous legislation and guaranteed free non-denominational education for all five to 13-year-olds.. It was intended to promote the spiritual, mental and physical well-being.
( Extract from an article by Janet Toms, September 2015 )
Vivien Leigh ..
When the three year-old Vivian Mary Hartley recited Little Bo Peep to the delight of her mother’s amateur theatre group, it marked the start of a lifelong performing career that would embrace two Academy Awards and a distinguished, 30-year stage career.. As Vivien Leigh she would become one of Britain’s most iconic actresses, the raven-haired beauty who beat hundreds of actresses, including Hollywood heavyweights such as Paulette Goddard and Katherine Hepburn, to the role of Scarlett O’Hara in the 1939 cinematic blockbuster Gone With the Wind.
( Extract from an article by Claire Saul, September 2015 )
The World’s First High Definition Television Service ..
Today there are more than 200 digital channels to choose from.. So it’s hard to recall that there was once a time in Britain when you only had one TV channel to watch.. The grandly-titled BBC Television Service was the world’s first high definition television service.. It launched on the 2nd November 1936 from converted rooms in London’s Alexandra Palace.. From Ally Pally, a diet of quite slow programmes was broadcast to the metropolitan middle-class, and for a long time an exclusively London and south-east audience.. Because of the cost of new transmitters, not to mention television’s suspension during the Second World War, it wasn’t until 1952 that the BBC Television Service was available to around 81% of the population.
( Extract from an article by Andrew White, September 2015 )
Tamerlane, 1336 – 1405 ..
Tamerlane ( ‘Timur the Lame’ ) was born in modern day Uzbekistan, about 400 miles north of the city of Kabul. He had a slight paralysis down one side as a child, which meant his early career was in politics. Despite being illiterate, he was highly intelligent. He spoke at least three languages and invented a variant of chess. He rose quickly to become senior minister to the Mongol khan, then Tamerlane overthrew the khan and began a reign of warfare, slaughter and, yes, mountains of skulls. Tamerlane revered Genghis and claimed to be descended from his second son. He used the city of Samarkand as his base, which Genghis himself had conquered. From there, Tamerlane conquered Persia, Armenia, Georgia and part of Russia.
Plastic Fantastic ..
During the Second World War, many of Britain’s toy factories were requisitioned for munitions work, and although toy making ceased, this war work indirectly led to a new product which would revolutionise the industry – plastic.. Although plastic was known before the war, various techniques were developed and refined in the factories, where it was used for numerous things including aircraft fittings.
When toy making recommenced, plastic was the obvious choice of material to develop, especially for dolls.. Plastic was light, robust, cheap and easy to mould, and it quickly replaced the traditional composition (plaster mix) or porcelain that was the norm before the war.
( Extract from an article by Susan Brewer, November 2015 )
Greedy Ticket Touts ..
Going to a live music event is one of the great pleasures in life.
It was never cheap but ordinary fans could manage to see their great heroes as a treat.. Not any more.. At least not for most of them.
Ticket prices have gone through the roof, costing hundreds if not thousands of pounds.. It isn’t the artists who are getting that money though.
It is today’s breed of hyper-greedy touts.
They grab huge numbers of tickets off the internet within seconds of them going on sale, then re-sell them at a massive mark-up.. It has become such a big and lucrative business that it makes the ruthless people who run it £1billion a year.
The Government knows what is going on but is doing nothing effective to stop it.
( Sunday Mirror, 29.05.2016 )
The Sadistic Torture And Murder Of 87 Slaves In New Orleans ..
Madame Delphine LaLaurie was the last person anyone in 19th century New Orleans expected to be involved in torture and murder. But that changed in 1834, when a fire raged through her extravagant Spanish-style mansion on the corner of a city-centre street. In the kitchen, surprised firefighters found black slaves chained to the stove. The captives, who had started the fire deliberately, directed them to the bolted attic from which came blood-curdling screams. What they discovered made the seasoned rescuers vomit and faint. Human body parts littered the blood-stained floor and chained to the walls were slaves, most of whom appeared to have been grotesquely maimed and disfigured for fun. Many were dead but some still clung on to life. A police report later described their battered faces as more like ‘gargoyles than humans’. One man looked as if he had been the victim of a crude sex change operation. A woman had her arms amputated and skin peeled off in a circular pattern, making her look like a human caterpillar. And another woman’s limb joints had all been broken then reset at odd angles so that she resembled a human crab. Madame Delphine LaLaurie was charged with 12 murders, but eluded the police and, it is suspected, fled to Paris. A century later, 75 skeletons were found under the floorboards taking her murder count to 87.
The Blond Ambition Chickened Out ..
Boris Johnson waited years for the ball to come loose from the Tory scrum then was too cowardly to pick it up.. The burly loudmouth bottled the biggest game of his life after a tackle by Gove the geek.. In-Justice Secretary traitorous Michael Gove played dirty and kicked his chum hard in the ballots in the hope of winning this leadership match for himself.. But the truth is when push came to shove, the blond ambition chickened out, fearing defeat.. Winning in Europe then losing an election isn’t how he intended to emulate his hero Winston Churchill.. Let us bid good riddance after Johnson’s despicable lies and deceit.. Don’t feel a scintilla of sympathy for a bumbler who isn’t half as clever as he thinks.
( Kevin Maguire, 01.07.2016 )
Jobs Linked To The Fab Four ..
The Beatles are responsible for 1% of jobs in Liverpool, according to a report looking into the band’s legacy. Commissioned by the mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, the report found that 2,335 jobs were in some way linked to the Fab Four. These roles were either direct ones, such as those working at Beatles attractions and tours, or indirectly through additional positions created at hotels, bars and shops. Opinions vary as to how many people visit the city for its Beatles connection, with the figure estimated to be between one and two million each year.
( Best of British magazine, March 2016 )