19 April 2020

Prizes

Back in the sixties the British tea company Brooke Bond sponsored an educational awards programme that was open to every school in the land. Book prizes were given for art, essay writing, handwriting and other skills that I don't recall.

However, what I do remember is that I won two first prizes. In 1964 I won the school prize for handwriting and became the proud recipient of the "Children's Encyclopedia - Book of Learning" (see the top picture). That book has travelled with me all my life and it still sits on a book shelf in our house. The illustrations within are almost all in black and white though for some reason the frontispiece is a coloured painting of The Trojan Horse. Who could tell what was within? Rather like other people's heads.


Inside the front cover a prize label was stuck - presumably by Brooke Bond staff - declaring my happy success. I had nice handwriting when I was ten years old - partly testament to the great store my village primary school placed on neat handwriting. We had daily copperplate writing sessions. My handwriting is not as neat these days. Like everybody else, I have found there's less need for handwriting these days. The keyboard has taken over.

The contents of that prize book appear to be biased towards ancient civilisations. There's a whole chapter on Easter Island. Perhaps that was the seed of the idea that eventually took me to Easter Island forty five years later.

There's even a picture of an Easter Island "bird man" on a stone but the reference to "the Polynesian religion" is lazy. There was never a single "religion" in the countless Polynesian island communities that spread across the vastness of The Pacific Ocean.

In 1965, I won another first prize - this time for Art. I received the "New National Dictionary" this time. There it is below, still with me but battered through use. I had it by my side throughout my grammar school and university years. The pages are now yellowing and it smells fusty as if it has been in the vaults of a museum for decades.
 As you can imagine, many words are absent from  that dictionary, including the word "computer" and back then - in 1965 - the word "gay" meant "lively, merry, light-hearted". Apparently, there was no such being as a "transsexual" and I kid you not - one of the meanings of "trump" was "to impose upon; to deceive" and "trumpery" was defined as "anything showy but of little value; rubbish".
How could I throw these books away? They have been with me for more than half a century. Travelling companions on the road to nowhere. On the days that I received them, how could I have foreseen that they would still be with me when I reached the foothills of old age?  Here are the prize labels:-





44 comments:

  1. I enjoyed that post with my morning coffee in from an hour's hard manual labour. I noticed you said in yesterday's post "Lazy days with time to think, to read, to remember, to bake bread and plant seeds.". I have found myself fully occupied and my list of things to do barely scratched at.

    Your prizes were much to be valued and provide lovely memories. However you said "Travelling companions on the road to nowhere." which I thought was rather sad. I don't know whether I'd have felt the same. I never won any prizes at school. I hate to think, however, that my life has been a journey on the road to nowhere.

    Coffee finished. Back to the garden.

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    1. By "nowhere" I of course mean death. That great black void where we all must go. It is a black void that reminds us that we ought to make best use of the living years because there's nothing beyond them. I feel that truth with all my being.

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  2. Whose a clever boy then? With the encyclopedia you've revealed the source of your omniscience. Ironic you get a book with great illustrations for handwriting and a dictionary for art. As for the dictionary musty smell, did you keep it in the vaults of your bedroom?

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    1. My bedroom is not a museum Tasker. It is a sexy boudoir with purple drapes and velvet scatter cushions plus chains and handcuffs for fun.

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    2. 《《Shudders》》 😳

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    3. Shudders? No, we've got curtains!

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    4. Shudders = shivers
      Shutters = window covers, usually outside.
      😊

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    5. Ah now I get it. I bow to your superior wisdom Marcia. Thank you.

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  3. I love the classic definition of trump. It's so.....apt...don't you think?

    Your prizes are keepsakes to be treasured. It's funny how handwriting and penmanship were so valued in the past, and so ignored today. Lots of schools are no longer teaching cursive writing, and I think that's a shame.

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    1. Yes, very apt! Has that guy said anything kind-hearted about America's dead? Has he sought to console any grieving families? To him it all seems like an annoying inconvenience that gets in the way of the main item on the agenda - his re-election. It is a shame that schools don't teach handwriting any more...but would you like kids to use abacuses and slates?

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  4. I love how the handwriting award is typed in.

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    1. I hadn't thought about that. Quite ironic.

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  5. Can you remember what you did for the art prize?

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    1. Sorry Sue. I have no idea but I am sure I did not paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

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  6. There's something about your posts that often make me question whether they are truth or fiction. In this one, I was a believer until you showed us the prize labels. You may fool some yokels but I happen to know for a fact that your name is not Yorkshire Pudding. Clever, though, for using the same font to deceive us.

    Also, the truth you feel with all your being that you mentioned to Graham is a lie as well from the pit of hell.

    Perhaps you have awakened the sleeping giant. Then again, perhaps not.

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    1. I always tell the truth - unless I am writing fiction. But regarding the labels well-spotted Detective Brague!

      P.S. Heaven is here. There is no other. Sorry.

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    2. I'm pretty sure there will be no coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Heaven.

      No more death, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more sickness, no more tears.

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    3. Bob, my Mum always said there was no way she was going to heaven. She liked the heat.

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    4. Good, I am glad it's not pistols at dawn Bob. Let's just leave the subject. You have got your outlook and I have got mine. That's enough.

      Was your mum a Liverpudlian Graham?

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  7. Well done. I don't think I ever won a prize for anything, other than $20 for a lotto ticket.

    I have a collection of old nursing books dating back one hundred years and my mum's own copy of Mothercraft as well as old cookbooks. They make me smile. Strangely enough, basic nursing care has not changed that much in 100 years.

    Thanks for reminding me of those books and have a lovely day.

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    1. Basic nursing may not have changed but the uniforms have. There's not enough starch nowadays and who is checking the knickers?

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    2. My husband checks my knickers:)

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  8. Fair play Mr Pudding. I think you should be awarded a CDM: Cadburys Dairy Milk.

    I have lots of books I would never part with.

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    1. I would rather have a CDM than an MBE or even a knighthood. I wouldn't want to wear a hood at night. Breathing would be impaired. I bet 99% or your books are gardening books plus a couple of novels - e.g. "Tom's Midnight Garden" and "The Secret Garden".

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    2. There's some Thomas Hardy books and a book by a Nottinghamshire lad called David who wrote a book about a gardener/gamekeeper who ends up having an affair with lady from big house, Mrs Chatterley me thinks she's called.

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    3. The rough gamekeeper was called Oliver Mellors and he loved nowt better than to split plants in his polytunnel or sow seeds wi' "milady".

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  9. I am so glad to see you had already adopted your Yorkshire Pudding persona even way back then! LOL

    I had an entire set of encyclopedias that I kept from my childhood for many decades. When we moved to England, though, I recycled them. I hated to do it but I just couldn't see dragging 20 outdated volumes across the ocean.

    I'm not sure how often you've moved, but I find that the act of moving winnows my book collection every time.

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    1. Since we got married in 1981, we have only lived in two houses. No wonder the place is filled with books!

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  10. Congratulations for the expertise of your youth. Perhaps receiving such prizes encouraged you to go forward with your studies and become a talented teacher. I have saved a few books from my youth as they did and still do mean a lot to me.

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    1. Your congratulations are gratefully received Bonnie - even after fifty five years!

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  11. My eye was caught by the word "compunction", a feeling no one talks about these days and never likely to be spoken of in relation to Trump as it requires another "c" word "conscience".
    Among the thousands of books I now possess are two treasured school prizes. Both English story books as we had no home grown literature in NZ schools until the 1970s and I love them dearly. One was awarded to my father in 1928 and the other to me in 1959. We were both aged 6 and obviously peaked early.
    My book has beautiful colour plates of birds and animals of the English countryside which we also considered "home".
    Dad was a child of the Depression era. His formal schooling finished at 14 and his carpentry apprenticeship was interrupted by WW II service in Egypt and Italy ( his great adventure). He worked hard all his life to provide for his wife and 8 children before a sudden viral infection cruelly took him at 56.
    42 years on I can still see and hear the rise and fall of that ventilator.
    Today's virus is no discriminator either, cruelly ending the lives of so many beautiful,generous people who will not be forgotten by those who loved them.
    What memories your post has evoked!!

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    1. Thanks for calling by again Adele and for leaving such a readable comment. How very sad that your father died so young leaving a wife and eight children in his wake. I know this is many years after the event but may I say that I am sorry for your loss.

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    2. Thanks for your kind thought. How apt that April 19th was Dad's birthday. At the time of his death he was reading his way through my John Steinbeck collection, (beautiful bindings, bought on monthly subscription from my meagre student allowance and yes, I still have them). Surely one of life's greatest pleasures is sharing a book you have loved with another generation, young or old!

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    3. I have always loved Steinbeck's writing and once visited the John Steinbeck Museum in Salinas, California. I would have spent longer there but my family were chomping at the bit to drive on.

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  12. Those are wonderful friends from your past. I would treasure them too.

    My mother recently gave me two books she received as prizes when she was a child in the '40s. When she is gone they will be a tangible reminder of many of the good qualities I associate with her.

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    1. What are the books Jenny? Their titles?

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  13. For fun, back in the day I had three grandchildren in custody, I broke out their grandfather's American Dictionary, and taught them to use it. Two hated it, preferring their laptops, and the very youngest loved it because the older two never let her have time on the "children's laptops". I think I gave it to her. I wonder if my husband ever used it. He did put his name on the flyleaf.

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    1. Perhaps he put his name in the flyleaf to ward off flies.

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    2. No, probably not for that reason.

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  14. When my mother-in-law died (far too young, and far too early into my marriage to really get to know a lovely woman) my father-in-law and his son (my husband) cleared out her books. It's a long time ago. Let's just say I was shocked at how little regard either showed to those books. It appeared to be just something to get rid of (don't know where my sister-in-law was on that day - probably tending to her kids; otherwise she'd intervened too - or so I hope). Anyway, I asked my fil's permission to look through all those cartons of books to be carted of. And I rescued a fair few. My husband graciously granted me a little space in the boot of our car to take them home. If that sounds sour it's because it is. Both those guys good guys but for heaven's sake . . . you can't just tidy away a life in five minutes flat.

    Anyway, back to your post and prizes. One of the books I rescued and has a place on my shelf to this day was a prize "presented by the Governors of Carlisle and County High School" to my Mother-in-Law. The inscription penned in ink. It's "The Oxford Book of English Verse". A fat tome. What touched me when, at leisure and on opening the book weeks later, I'd find the odd dried leaf in between pages, indicating all those poems that clearly meant a lot to her. Reminded me of one of the first walks we went on when she recited to me the "time to stand and stare". You know the one.

    Rest in peace, Marjorie. And rest assured that some of that print once dear to you is, so far, in good hands.

    U

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    1. If I died, I fear that similar would happen to my books. After all they are part of me like my fingernails. However, I would like to think that a handful might be saved - books I mean, not fingernails!

      Leisure

      What is this life if, full of care,
      We have no time to stand and stare.
      No time to stand beneath the boughs
      And stare as long as sheep or cows.
      No time to see, when woods we pass,
      Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
      No time to see, in broad daylight,
      Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
      No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
      And watch her feet, how they can dance.
      No time to wait till her mouth can
      Enrich that smile her eyes began.
      A poor life this if, full of care,
      We have no time to stand and stare.

      by W.H.Davies

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    2. One of my favourite poems. Oddly I've blogged about it occasionally too. That and Adelstrop. I was looking through my Notes App recently and was reading some of your poems blogged over the years so I must have enjoyed them enough at the time to save them and I'm glad I did when re-reading them.

      I'm trying to get rid of as many books as possible before I go. That will just leave perhaps 5 or 600 for my son to worry about.

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    3. Why should Gaz worry about them? He could use them to build a shed.

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