F in Exams by Richard Benson

Ah, exam papers. Puddles of inked theory committed permanently to paper. Paragraphs that, reconsidered, transform into whirlpools of negated swirls. Desperate arrows point to second-guessed answers – every effort made to satisfy my assessing eyes.

Some answers – especially the formulaic ones – can be a joy to evaluate. You get into a rhythm of ticks, crosses and dashes; the only sound in your office the swishing of papers and the scratching of your pen. You can sense the argument quickly, agree, and move on.

Then there are some answers that make you pause, reread … and burst out laughing. Ones that you just have to share with your colleagues – or the greater world. Richard Benson published a collection of these jewels in a book I just discovered. For instance:

F in Exams by Richard Benson

F in Exams by Richard Benson

The book is available via Amazon, both in paperback and for Kindle. The Kindle version costs US$10 (80 ZAR) and the sample I downloaded looks fine on Kindle for Android.

Check some more examples at F in Exams by Richard Benson.

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I’m a geek, but love books first and foremost (# 2)

Introduction

This is the second in a series of posts [1][2][3] that explain just how much I love reading, especially books. I’m a technologist, a digital media consumer, a gamer — but first and foremost, a reader. I often feel the need to justify this love, being involved in an industry that’s undergoing great changes – and being, to some, a representative of the great Disruption.

Ogre No-Grr: Practical Childhood Lexicography

Cover of Ogre, Ogre, the fifth book in the Xanth series by Piers Anthony

The first series of books [of which I exhausted our library’s supply] was the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. In this narrative universe, Ogres are so stupid that they can only speak in simple rhyme.

In Ogre, Ogre [Xanth Series #5], we encounter Smash the Ogre whose human ancestry tempers him slightly.

I had no idea how to pronounce “Ogre”. To me, it was the “-ogger” in “hogger”. At some stage in the story, Smash expresses his peaceful intentions towards a stranger by saying: “Ogre, no grr”. This discovery was delightful because it was a fundamental lesson in language for me, conveyed through rhyme.

This was the same kind of lesson I learned when I recalled the sound a donkey makes from an Asterix and Obelix book.

Also, to a 9 year-old still learning English, Piers used a lot of ‘big words’ in his books. I recall having the Afrikaans-English translating dictionary close to me all the time while reading his books.

Thinking about this makes me want to find out when, exactly, I borrowed the books from our library. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if my old public library still had that on record?

I’m a geek, but love books first and foremost (# 1)

Introduction

This is the first in a series of posts [1], [2], [3] that explain just how much I love reading, especially books. I’m a technologist, a digital media consumer, a gamer – but first and foremost, a reader. I often feel the need to justify this love, being involved in an industry that’s undergoing great changes – and being, to some, a representative of the great Disruption.

Getting lost and finding books

A book on Southern African Wildlife, by the Reader's Digest Association

I was a rather curious/busy kid, which meant I often got lost in shopping centres or other public places. On one such occasion, my parents exhausted most shops a typical parent of a 4/5-year old boy would: toy shops, pet shops, sweet shops or a local game arcade (though at that time most ‘arcades’ were in corner cafés, not malls).

They eventually found me in a local news agency – browsing through the Reader’s Digest Guide to Southern African Wildlife. Unable to read properly yet, I was still adamant that I wanted this book more than anything else.

A book on Southern African Wildlife, by the Reader's Digest Association

Based on the date of publication, I must’ve received that copy after I turned seven, so I don’t think this is the actual copy I was reading as a toddler. Still, it was such a striking thing to my parents that the story is mentioned quite often during family occasions.

22 years later, I saw it again in my parents’ library and decided to take it home. This book remains a cherished object.

My mom also recalls me getting lost at some party, at age three. There was an open pool – among other sources of panic – so a search party was organized. My bawling, terror-stricken mom eventually found me lying behind a covered table paging through magazines.

Asterix and Obelix and onomatopoeia

One of my fondest reading-related memories was when I was about 5. My sister and mom were doing onomatopoeia exercises for her English homework (we spoke Afrikaans at home).

They got stuck on the sound a donkey makes. I recall looking up from my book and answering :”A donkey brays”. They were quite surprised to know I knew this – but I wasn’t. I had read it in an Asterix and Obelix novel a few days earlier!

There are many more stories like these I recall from my youth – and which I hope to share. I’ve loved the written word since I laid eyes on it.