EDitorial ± 12-Feb-2003

Thinking Time

Pop quiz: know your lyrics? Given a couple of clues, namely that (a) the line below is from a Christmas number 1 single, and (b) it's approximately ten years old, can you name the record?

His philosophy of life will steer him through

Because I know you'll peek (as the great Oscar said, "I can resist everything except temptation"), I've relegated the answer to the footer of this page.

Most of what I know about philosophy comes from that Monty Python drinking song, the one that includes this verse:

John Stuart Mill
Of his own free will
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill

Terribly useful to be able to recall the full lyrics if, say, someone's holding a gun to your head and threatening to pull the trigger unless you can name at least ten philosophers. OK, not the greatest example, but, in the current high-security climate, you can't rule anything out.

All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football --- Albert Camus (shirt from Philosophy Football, a highly recommended company)

I've got my old French teacher to thank for the remainder of my philosophical awareness. Doing A-level (natch), a sizeable part of the course was taken up with French literature, during which we studied a variety of works by authors I'd never heard of, including:

  • Anouilh: dramatist; wrote Becket, filmed in 1964 with Richard Burton
  • Gide: had to rely on the translated version of The Pastoral Symphony
  • Maupassant: king of the short story; famed for "le mot juste"
  • Sartre: Mr Existential
Donc alors, we were reading up on Jean-Paul Sartre one lesson and taking turns to read aloud. I was OK until presented with the name of "Camus", which stupidly I pronounced to rhyme with Seamus. Mr Hill nearly hit the roof. Camoo! he shouted, Camoo! Such a moment tends to stay with you.

I warmed to Monsieur Camus, first name Albert, when I discovered that he'd been partial to a game of footy, putting on the goalie's jersey for the Algiers University team. To cut his long story short, a case of TB forced him into sporting retirement; he put pen to paper, writing The Plague and The Outsider among other works; he died, aged just 46, in a car crash.

Be seeing you!