Tuesday, 10 June 2014

rocket science

he's sitting back of the classroom
a million miles away
he's listening to the rock star on a cd
up front the old teacher
she's too tired to snag his mind
he's looking to the future, she's looking
way behind

Those 'messages in a bottle' suggest a few problems really, don't they?

As far as I know (and, indeed, what do I know?) a sailor of whichever Country/Empire/small fishing village off of an undiscovered island near the coast of Paraguay becoming stranded on a desert island - or indeed, a Hebridean one - many years ago managing to find a pencil and banana leaf/piece of paper would send a  message out for someone out there to find and, indeed, respond to. Imagine if a Robinson Crusoe type relied on someone finding his message. Or, imagine if we had personally found one. We would respond, of course, wouldn't we, gentle reader? We'd rally round and try to rescue the poor devil. Unless, of course, we had realised that we were at least 100 hundred years after the fact.

Anyway, my point here is that we would be able to read the aforesaid article. If we were able to at least recognise a word or two, we'd find an expert to decipher it.  All would be well.

Well, I have just spent the last three weeks marking AS Film Studies scripts and I can honestly say that it has proven to be the worst set of scripts I have EVER marked, and I've been marking for some twelve years*. I have had to spend hours deciphering poorly scribbled scripts. For my own sanity, I have realised that it is, of course, because students now write everything they do on iPads or laptops and never have to handwrite a damned thing. Oh, just one thing . . . the way they are examined and assessed is through . . .  wait for it . . . hand-written scripts. The lack of caring is what I find so disconcerting.

So, if we had found a message in a bottle, we'd assume that if we couldn't read it, it would be worth finding out what was written within. When we send out messages to outer space, we assume that an intelligent race would try to work out what might be being said. They, of course, may have a problem with Chuck Berry or Blur, but still, an effort would be made, and I hope that they'd earn a little more than £4.50 for their trouble.

* not this particular set, of course.


Brendini said...

You - you mean - nobody writes with an italic fountain pen any more??? No Parker blue/black ink? No pink blotting paper? No permanently stained fingers?
I actually still use a Sheaffer with Parker black ink. It isn't italic, though. The pen not the ink. My pen and ink is something else entirely and perhaps best not mentioned in mixed company.

Martyn Cornell said...

As someone whose handwriting always was pretty unreadable (and it's only become worse over the years) I have some sympathy for your students. Hey, this is the 21st century – even the typewriter is nearly 150 years old.

Dave Leeke said...


I personally use a Lamy nowadays although for "everyday" use, I've been using - get this - disposable "Zebra Fuente" pens. I think they're made by Pentel. As you know, my main pen of choice remains the Rotring Art Pen and I deny anyone to tell me that I shouldn't.

Which leads me on to Martyn,

Hi and welcome - still waiting for a pint - but my handwriting is probably far worse than yours. The only sympathy you should have for my students is that they have to decipher the words of wisdom scrawled after their work by yours truly.