Monday, 26 April 2010

The Black Stone

The Blackstone exam (yes , the same Black Stone in The 39 Steps) , one of the most famous viva voce Latin examinations in the English-speaking world ,was competed for this year upon this ancient chair at Glasgow University .

Joel Leslie of Larkhall won the Cowan Medal , on this occasion .

Educated in the old , Scottish tradition , I attempted to compete for this exam in 1988-9 (the last time the competition was run) , but , fool that I am , I gave up half way through to concentrate on drink and slow women .

Having graduated , I trained as a Classics teacher at Jordanhill . Larkhall Academy was one of the schools in which I trained . The department there was murdered in 1997 , so Joel probably didn't have the opportunity to learn Latin at school . I know , I took many of the books to my then school in England .

The amount of work taken to study for this voluntary exam is equal to a whole year's additional coursework . Difficult even for the best of students .

Joel is therefore a very , very clever and motivated young man .

Scholarship is not dead , nor is Western civilisation .

PS In 1989 my colleague Alan Girdwood was a worthy winner and a better scholar , by far , than I .

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