Sunday, October 29, 2006


I’ve been thinking. Not, on the face of it, an unusually demanding activity you might surmise but if one pauses for a moment to consider, one would have to concede that, for most of us, it remains an ability almost entirely self taught and, though it pains me to admit it, tragically under utilised.

Now I do not concern myself here with the processes involved in making the admittedly important and mood defining decision of, “I think I’ll go with the Bunnahabhain tonight” or even in reaching the conclusion that, “I think you’d look rather fetching with your knees somewhere in the vicinity of your ears” and nor that which would allow me to explain such important consequentialities as why men have nipples and quite how American Foreign Policy can best be meditated upon only with a thorough understanding of the theory of entropy. No. For these I give not a fruit of the ficus carica or wouldn’t even if I had one, which I don’t but I digress.

No, what concerns me mightily at the moment, has set the synapses abuzzing in an optimistic attempt to jump start cells either pickled or too long dormant is the ability for the kind of thought which would allow one to attain a state of true individuality and certainly not that long considered to have allowed us to attach the species sapiens , to our genus, homo . That after all is far too closely associated with knowledge and knowing which is a biscuit of an altogether different provenance. No. In short, the nub, kernel, central point or even G-spot of my cogitations is education.

Now maybe it’s the malt soaked old buffer in me coming to the fore but it would seem to me, even in my more sober moments, that the whole purpose of education is to teach one to think for oneself. To see through the assorted fripperies of advertising, received wisdom, newspaper editorials, state of the nation addresses and serving suggestions and actually reach informed conclusions and opinions of one’s own. A triumph over ovine ignorance in other words.

And it is in this respect that the education system of the UK certainly failed me and is quite demonstrably failing others even yet. I was told. I absorbed. I regurgitated. It was only after the passage of some fifteen or so years, during which I read widely and took far too many drugs, that when I returned to university as a mature(r) student, I was finally able to exchange the intellectual currency I possessed for anything more than face value.

We do not educate any longer. We train. We trammel. Like a vine trained along wires we are pruned and led. And to what? Our own little cubicle if we’re lucky but most will end up as wage slaves, mortgaged to the hilt and running the wheel ever faster and with increasing desperation.

Education, if it means anything, must surely mean freedom. Freedom from the ignorance and prejudices of our elders and yet freedom hardly informs the thinking of our governments today. Oh yes, the freedom to buy shares, to buy one’s council house...freedom to buy, to consume and be afraid. Afraid that one might somehow fall behind, catch bird flu or be rendered into one’s constituent molecules by terrace. Freedom to do all of this but the freedom to think, to challenge, to question, to change?

God help me, I am not perfect. I know nothing. I am hopelessly ignorant and prejudiced to the nth degree. All I would ask is that my daughter has at least a chance, however small, of being better than I am.

I know that if I leave it up to the education system here in Hungary, her knowledge will certainly exceed that of the average Brit but she will be programmed and inculcated all the same. There is so much to do and I am not sure if I am the man to do it.

And should I think about my motives? Am I looking for redemption through my child? Oh, fuck it. I think I’ll have another drink.