Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Most Celebrated Living Englishman

The following speech was made by a British politician, Charles Curran in 1964. He was using John Lennon's book "In His Own Write" as an example to highlight the problems with the British education system. Unfortunately, he seemed to have missed the entire point of the book...

House of Commons, 19 June 1964

Mr Charles Curran

"...I want to quote an expert whose name is famous not only here but throughout the world. He is perhaps the most celebrated living Englishman. His name is John Lennon and he is one of the Beatles. I have never seen or heard the Beatles, but I have been very interested indeed to read a book by John Lennon, published in America and, I believe, in this country. It is called In His Own Write.

"The book contains a number of poems and fairy stories written by Lennon. These tell a great deal about the education he received in Liverpool. He explains that he was born there in 1940 and attended various schools, where he could not pass examinations. I would like to quote one of the poems. It is one that the Ministry of Education and Science might well distribute to every member of its staff concerned with the kind of children we are discussing. It is called “Deaf Ted, Danoota and Me”.

I will quote three verses from it:

“Never shall we partly stray,
Fast stirrup all we three
Fight the battle mighty sword
Deaf Ted, Danoota and Me.

Thorg billy grows and burnley ten
And Aston Villa three
We clobber ever gallup
Deaf Ted, Danoota and Me.

So if you hear a wondrous sight,
Am blutter or at sea
Remember whom the mighty say
Deaf Ted, Danoota and Me.”

"I quote that poem not because of its literary merit, but because one can see from it, as from other poems and stories in the book, two things about John Lennon: he has a feeling for words and he is in a state of pathetic near-literacy. He seems to have picked up bits of Tennyson, Browning and Robert Louis Stephenson while listening with one ear to the football results on the wireless.

"The book suggests to me a boy who, on the evidence of these writings, should have been given an education which would have enabled him to develop the literary talent that he appears to have. I do not know whether my Honourable Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State can tell me anything about what kind of school this Beatle went to. The volume from which I have quoted strikes me as singularly pathetic and touching."

[Source: 'The Lennon Companion' by Elizabeth Thompson and David Gutman]

I wonder what Mr Curran thought of Lewis Carroll, who wrote:

"Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borograves
And the mome raths outgrabe."


Igor said...

Dear Louise,

I am Igor, I am from and I wish to thank you for your wonderful site.

With your permission I would like to translate into Russian Mr. Curren's speech about John Lennon's book in the House of Commons.

I do hope you will not mind as I am sure it will be of great interest to numerous members of the site.

Yours sincerely,
Igor Kukushkin

Louise said...

Hi Igor,

Yes, you're welcome to translate the speech and use it on your site. I hope your readers will find it interesting!