Friday, May 29, 2009


In the June 2009 issue of the BBC History Magazine teacher Guy de la Bedoyere bemoaned the fact that his pupils were drowning in learning skills, but starved of knowledge. 
His pupils laughed at him when he told them during a discussion about medieval villages and their food that "remember they did not have potatoes". 
As well as that a talented artist in year 12 had never heard of Hans Holbein, and according to one young year 8 pupil during the English Civil War Charles I defied Parliament and captured Brazil. Sorry she meant Bristol!

M. de la Bedoyere commented "Now call me amazingly old-fashioned, but I think I heard that potatoes came from America by the time I was 12." 

Perhaps one of the reasons translated crime fiction is of such a high standard is that with publishers not employing editors, or sometimes it seems like it, the translator remains as a backstop to prevent silly inaccuracies creeping into books. The charming Tiina Nunnally mentioned during our trip round Bath that she had recently  intervened pointing out to one author that in medieval Scandinavia they did not eat tomatoes!

I can't be too critical of the young students, when a magazine like Mystery Scene Issue 109  comes up with this howler in an article on Olen Steinhauer's books.

"Oh, there is this crazy guy in Romania, Milosevic. He is like Hitler, but he's going to be much worse." And I said in some stupid , cocky American way, "You guys are so melodramatic! Come on have another drink." Then two years later the Balkan War started.

I know Slobodan Milosevic allegedly had an expansionist Greater Serbia policy but I did not know he had taken over Romania. No wonder NATO had to intervene.

Mystery Scene also has a blurb about another author's book that chirps cheerfully that detective X "must travel the globe to uncover a cunning plot". 
The detective actually only makes one journey from Rome to San Francisco, which in my humble opinion is not the globe, but I suppose I am just "amazingly old fashioned" and like details to be correct.


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