Vicissitude, Vocabulary and Victory

Why is it that I can spell vicissitude, a word I seldom use, but I struggle with accommodation, cemetery and success? I use them all the time, so they should be second nature. They aren’t. I always have to think about them. There are others too, but I can’t call them to mind just now.

When I was 16 and coming up to a couple of years of exams (we needn’t discuss the results – the fact I ended up working on a farm rather than carving out a brilliant academic career is all you need to know) I started to read a dictionary – improving my vocabulary and my spelling. If you were to examine my vocabulary and spelling using modern forensic techniques, you would probably find that they are stronger in words beginning with A to H. There is, frankly, only so much dictionary you can read.

Similarly, at that time, I read a number of Shakespeare’s plays to increase the breadth of my knowledge. They mainly went over my head and passed into oblivion. There is only so much you can take in if you are simply reading something. I now realise that in the absence of a teacher I should have at least bought some notes to help me through the work. The only plays of Shakespeare that I know much about were the ones we studied at school and plus Henry V and Romeo and Juliet. The former is courtesy of Kenneth Branagh and the latter is from my watching of Shakespeare in Love.

When you look at my academic career from this point of view it’s hardly surprising that I ended up failing to shine.

However, now I mention academics, I am reminded that I was going to write a post on politicians and skit notes. I will start that in a minute so I don’t forget.

It’s nearly the 11th November, so the header picture is the 2021 Jersey “Masterpiece Poppy” coin 5 ounces of silver and a poppy made using metal from a Spitfire that flew operational sweeps over the Normandy beaches, army mess tins dated 1945 and a Landing Craft that actually landed tanks on D-Day.

Jersey 2020 Poppy Masterpiece Coin

This is the 2020 version – the poppy medallion is made from metal left after Spitfire PM631 had a major restoration. It was one of the last Spitfires in service (until 1957 with the Meteorological Flight)  and one of the first planes in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The penny gives an idea of scale. It seems to be quite fashionable, and lucrative, to make souvenirs from bits of wartime scrap.

Apologies for the title, I was stretching a bit to obtain alliteration.

9 thoughts on “Vicissitude, Vocabulary and Victory

  1. tootlepedal

    I had an education that relied entirely on memory rather than understanding and now that my memory is going, I have not got much left to show for those 18 years of my life. As you have got a head full of knowledge and a writing style to make that knowledge interesting to others, as well as a literary skill worth publishing, your early years seem to have been more fruitful than mine.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Just a shame that it took me so long to reveal all this “talent” . . . However< I take your point about education and memory. I used to drive the kids mad by analysing things, but hope I taught them something about thinking.

  2. Lavinia Ross

    “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost”. Many of us have wandered a bit, and have had trouble with one thing or another. You are an autodidact, and I agree with Laurie, you are at the head of your writing class. The quality of your writing is what matters.

  3. Laurie Graves

    Spelling, Schmelling. I have read that V.S. Pritchett was a terrible speller. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the quality of the writing that really matters, and on that count you are at the head of the class.


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