Scientific recovery
The Music Maker opinion

Scientific recovery

Our chemistry master spent more time searching for spurious reasons to cane the boys than imparting any useful knowledge regarding the elements, writes Peter Edgerton

Friday, 10 May 2024, 15:04


Down at the pub, we've always tried to do our bit for the cultural panorama in Malaga city centre. From art exhibitions to gypsy jazz concerts, traditional Irish music sessions to artisan ceramic displays, something creative is nearly always in the offing. On another occasion, I'll regale both readers of this column with the extraordinary tale of the night a fight very nearly broke out during a poetry recital. Hilarious.

Anyway, of all the stuff we've done, next week sees the arrival of one of my favourites - the Pint Of Science evenings. This is where recognised scientists and professors give talks on their specialist subjects - anything from robots to the possibility of life on other planets - in such a way that even a science dimwit like me can understand what they're talking about.

I think my lack of enthusiasm for all things scientific is based on three things: a brain that just isn't made that way, a natural aversion to pomposity á la Richard Dawkins and his ilk and, most importantly, rubbish science teachers at school.

Our chemistry master spent more time searching for spurious reasons to cane the boys than imparting any useful knowledge regarding the elements. (Once he had concocted some dubious motive to indulge in his favourite pastime, he would then delight in taking a camp little run-up before thwacking some poor sap across the palm of his hand before returning to his starting point for another go, like Harold Larwood in his pomp. Needless to say, these antics weren't designed to enthuse young minds with a yearning for scientific discovery.)

Things weren't much better in the physics department. The Soup Dragon - so-named owing to his daily routine of heating a tin of soup for his lunch on a bunsen burner - seemed like one of those people who's constantly wishing they were elsewhere; camping in the Lake District, for example, heating tins of soup for his lunch on a bunsen burner. I learned nothing about physics except that V equals I times R, knowledge which should come in handy any day now.

Our biology teacher was more personable but wore the constant, haunted expression of a woman who knows she will be obliged, at some point during the year, to explain sexual reproduction - or 'the facts of life' as they were somewhat alarmingly called back then - to groups of sniggering teenagers who had already been much better informed by Gravesy and McKevitt down by the bike sheds, using their dads' reading material as graphic visual aids.

No, school didn't teach me much about science at all but some time well spent at the Pint Of Science evenings next week will, I hope, help to fill the gap. Cheers.

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