Past TimesEd

21st February 2003 at 00:00
75 years ago. February 18, 1928

So far as schools and schoolmasters are concerned, Shrove Tuesday has lamentably fallen from its high estate. Time was when each boy brought his schoolmaster a cock-penny on that day. That was a commutation of the income that derived from the sport of "Throwing at Cocks". It was a brutal game.

The cock was tethered to a stake, and competitors threw sticks at it from a distance of 20 or 30 yards. If the bird was knocked over the thrower tried to secure it; if he succeeded the bird become his. As, however, the birds had been in training for some weeks they had learned to evade the sticks. A penny was paid for each shy and these pennies went to the schoolmaster.

50 years ago. February 20, 1953

The campaign in Parliament for spelling reform rises like a phoenix this week from the ashes of 1949 with the publication of Mr Follick's new Bill.

Once again the battalions will be mustered of those who see a new Jerusalem through the gates of a revised orthography and those against them who will resist any attempt to make a page of English prose look like Unkaranian phonetics. It is important, however, to notice that Mr Follick's second Bill is vastly different from the first. In 1949, the country was to take on a rational spelling...The days of cough and bough were numbered and the rule about i before e was to be exchanged for Statute Law.

The new Bill concerns itself only with the schools and with a limited number at that. It proposes that teaching of reading should be investigated and that there shall be research into the help that children might get at the start from a simplified spelling.

25 years ago

The issue of February 17, 1978, was not published "due to unofficial action by National Graphical Association members in the composing room".

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