How to get on in society?

Cristina Odone wrote in the Observer this year:

Shakespeare, Latin and philosophy: in polite society, to admit ignorance of any of these three subjects will cause you to slip, subtly but surely, in your standing.

You can read her article, on teaching Plato to tots, here.

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More MPs know Latin than Italian or Spanish

Not so surprising when you think about it. A survey of all the UK Members of Parliament in May during Adult Learners' Week by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace) found that more MPs could communicate in Latin than in Italian or Spanish.

Well, not many British schools taught Italian or Spanish when this generation of MPs were at school, and I imagine that our political masters are not unlike the average Brit on holiday, trying to get away with knowing the minimum of the local language. Notoriously, we shout loudly in English and think that foreigners will understand. MPs have the advantage over the rest of us, in that they seem to practise shouting loudly and meaninglessly every Wednesday at Prime Minister's question time.

Why on earth do they go on with this senseless ritual, which gives the world the impression not only that they are badly behaved, but that they are stupid?

Belated congratulations to Rosalind

I've only just picked up this item from The Guardian of October 26th. It seems our brightest and best is studying Latin and Greek at A level. Other bright students please copy.

· A high-flying wannabe pilot was named GCSE student of the year last week. Sixteen-year-old Rosalind Oglethorpe, whose hobbies include air and sea travel, scooped the overall accolade out of more than 3m entries. She gained 12 A* GCSEs and is now studying for A-levels in further maths, physics, Latin and classical Greek.