“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Monday, 14 January 2013

Well it's this or try to unravel the new pension proposals.

Looking back over the past few years of blogging I have to admit that there are a few posts that I really enjoyed writing and that still make me smile if I re-read them. With this in mind, and in an effort to cheer  us all up a bit during these grim, quadruple dip recession blighted January days, I thought I would re-blog "Ready To Ruck" first posted in August 2008 ..................

Years ago I wrote and marketed a correspondence course. My reasons for producing "Ready to Ruck. A guide to street survival" were threefold. In the first place I was hoping to make a few bob. In case anyone is concerned about my being corrupted by the forces of capitalism, let me put their minds at rest straight away. There was never the faintest glimmer of hope that anything remotely resembling a profit was ever going to result from the project. In the second place I somehow hoped that Ready to Ruck would be a vehicle for anti-state propaganda. Don't ask.
The final and perhaps only legitimate reason for unleashing this masterpiece on an unsuspecting public, was a fascination with correspondence courses that dates back to boyhood. The thrill of knowing that a rugged physique, the secret wisdom of the Rosicrucians and the ability to draw like Leonardo could all be mine for the simple investment of a 10/6d postal order was matched only by the exciting sound of the first lesson thudding onto the doormat. From then on it was usually downhill all the way. If any of this was due to some deep rooted psychological shortcoming it was not revealed in the eight lesson course from the British Institute of Practical Psychology.
Anyway, about the time that I was preparing the nation for street survival an advertisement appeared in the local paper (I'm not making any of this up) for a correspondence course in Nihilism. And it was free. All I had to do was send off a SAE. Well, it would have been rude not to. A few weeks later, and having completed the course ( I later discovered that I was the only person to achieve this, and you can draw your own conclusions about that ) I was invited by the chief nihilist to come round to his drum for a meeting on how best to proceed from here. So, much against the advice of friends, I turned up on his doorstep as arranged The meeting comprised just the two of us plus his disgruntled girlfriend who made tea. It was all a bit of an anti-climax really.
The world of correspondence courses came to an end as learning facilities (adult education classes, gyms etc.) began to improve and I suppose that the internet must have been the final nail in it's coffin, but this odd,marginal part of popular culture, populated as it was by experts and charlatans, remains a fascination.
One famous correspondence course, still very much alive, deserves a mention. The cream of the crop and Harold Wilson's finest achievement, the Open University is in a class of its own. I did some OU myself when I was lock-keeping. It was the perfect way to spend the nightshift. With outstanding course material and some very committed tutors I really enjoyed it.


Dr Llareggub said...

Glad you took the OU. My stupidest comment ever was when Walter Perry was invited to become its first VC and when invited to discuss its content with him I told him it would never work, just a pastime for idle middle classes. Boy was I wrong. I taught on the earliest courses and summer schools, helped design and teach the philosophy and ethics units, and am still in contact with some of the early tutors.I taught for the OU in the Max Security prisons to criminals and politcos and eventually combined it with teaching similar courses in the US Navy. But that's another tale. Funny thing is, because of his University of the air, as he called it, I could never come to dislike Wilson. The OU was the best of Labour's achievements.

Gitane said...

Unfortunately the joys of life long learning have gone up the OFSTED and profiteers chimney. I loved the WEA for the same reasons as you liked your correspondence courses Ray; we would sit in a pub agree on a subject, get a venue and some tutors pay a few quid (or check out local government subsidies for adult education)and there was our Wednesday nights for the next three months sorted.This became a lifestyle for many of us older proles.
Everything related to life long learning is now swamped with paperwork, funding issues, overpriced venues,internet competition etc.
Yes Doc you are right the OU was one of Labour's best achievements, but Blaire's new labour managed to savage the WEA and Ruskin funding, political correctness gone barmy done forlife long learning in the community I'm afraid.The fees brought under new labour for OU courses have excluded the very people it was meant to encourage.
I'm ashamed to say it but this particular part of community activity did better under Thatcher!
Having said that I'll just go out the back and slash my wrists

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