Saturday, February 07, 2009


I was always useless at the Sciences at school and spent more time outside the classroom than inside. In fact the only thing I can remember learning during Chemistry was that there are only eight English families who are really entitled to have double-barrelled names. I've got no idea why we should have been discussing that during a science lesson but, since my school blazer used to be covered in chalk from having the board rubber thrown at me during these lessons, it is no wonder I've got no recall about anything.

Incidentally, French words that start with *Ch* do not have a hard sound, e.g. chemistry is said as chimie ,only it's a *sh* sound not a *k* sound, likewise there is archie-tecture and, taking this 'off at a tangent thing' to an extreme, English words like subtle (with a silent letter) have that letter sounded in French - e.g sub-til.

My new OU study Block is due to begin and it is about...Chemistry, one of my least favourite subjects in the world. I know that might seem shocking to you bloggers of a scientific nature, but that is about the truth of it. It perhaps could be more about the formation of the subject itself as opposed to old-school test tube and symbols stuff, but I still wonder what it is doing during a Humanities course.

Anyway, here's another titbit of rubbish that I heard on BBC Radio 4 the other day - the Maths *A* level students who in 1988 got a Fail, would get a B grade today. I can't talk - I needed a tutor to help me scrape through Math's *O* level, but it's great being an adult because then you can pontificate.


The Accidental Fan said...

So, are you entitled to call yourself Mrs French-Fancy?

Enquiring minds want to know...

ladyfi said...

Aha - so you are Fren-sh Fan-si!

Amazing how standards have fallen - means I would have been a star at Maths whereas back then I was pretty useless at it!

And why is Shemistry on a humanities course? So, you can write about the Periodic Table in a literary fashion?

Dumdad said...

I passed Maths "O" level so presumably today I should be lecturing in higher maths at Cambridge.

Steve said...

I got both my Biology and chemisty O levels back in 85. Maybe I could present The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures this year?!

Mama said...

I would have been throwing the board rubber at you FF, nice to know I would have gotten a "B" though. You will do great, no Billy What's-his-name or Peter Pilkington to distract you now. Kathy.

French Fancy said...

The Accidental Fan - hello there - I'm actually The Hon. French Fancy but let's keep it a secret between us.

Ladyfi- you should be Lady Fi - you can't go wrong with two capital letters.Re the course - well, more next week.

Dumdad - I bet you did it on your own, no extra tutoring for Brightdad

Steve - you've got that bit of the brain that I've got missing - in fact you've probably got my bit.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Shurely shome mishtake - La Chimie (or is it la chemie) dans le monde des arts??! Quelle horreur!

Lane said...

Chemistry? *runs away ashamed at knowing nothing*

Your course is certainly a brain stretcher!

Veggie Carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veggie Carrie said...

Chemistry on a humanities course? That's very strange. Nowadays, some schools don't even do chemisty as a single subject, but combined, "21st century" science instead e.g. a Titanic module looking at the chemistry of metals eroding and the physics of forces on the ship. It sounds more fun!

Blu said...

Is that the lesson that I dropped the magnet into the iron filings?

Cynthia said...

Chemistry...shemistry...what to do? I loved your creative "pontifications" this morning...what a delight! In Puerto Rico everyone has a double last name-even me! We carry the surname of both parents...even though I sign with one, I'm often offically addressed with both. I remember in the states, my husband (who is Puerto Rican) would be called by his mother's last name...even his drivers license and social security card- because his birth certificate listed both last names. I'm sure none of that will help you with the OU challenge ahead. I will certainly have a fresh cup of locally grown coffee in honor of your OU challenge ahead.

Good day Mrs. French Fancy-French!

lakeviewer said...

Thanks for the confession and the French pronounciation lesson. OU Challenge?

DJ Kirkby said...

Oh dear...I adored chemistry, biology, biochemistry, you name it, if it was science I enjoyed it. I am such a geek...xo

Elizabeth said...

Gosh, I love random tidbits - I'm a positive repository of them.
Like you, chemisty is a complete mystery.
Poor you having to study it.
In my day I didn't have to!

Larry M. Brow said...

Pontification. Something about this morning makes it sound like installing a bridge. As to Chemistry in a Humanities course, perhaps it's the historical approach which gets to some pretty fundamental ideas about cause and effect, and human health. I remember (badly) a great story about the great Danish chemist/physics Bohr, as an undergraduate. His instructor had given a poor exam question about using a barometer to establish the height of a skyscraper. Bohr refused to answer it and was then sent up to a higher authority for discipline. Bohr then complains, and correctly lays out eleven completely different approaches to finding the answer, including trigonometry. It immediately established him as the smartest person in the entire building regardless of academic rank.

Also, recent joke, "If you're not part of the solution, you must be precipitate."

In solidarity, I wasn't very good at Chemistry, either.

cheshire wife said...

If you need help with your chemistry homework I'll be happy to help.

Jennysmith said...

Sorry sweetie, late again.

Oh , Private Eye are always making comments about GCSEs in photocopying and the like. Take no notice.

Chemistry is a cruel subject I always found. Its cruel and hard and shitty. My heart is with you. xxxx

Troy said...

I think you will have to change your OU study to UO (Uranium Monoxide). However UO2, Uranium Dioxide is more common. Neither though make great essay topics.

French Fancy said...

Mama - it wasn't so much the boys taking up my attention, it was The Talking, non stop chattering. That's why I spent so much time in the corridor when I should have been learning science.

AWONI - you are absolutely right with your spelling and I did pop back to amend the word but did not have time enough to give you the credit :)

Lane - I bet I know less chemistry than you.

Carrie - how strange that they have merged the sciences. No wonder the UK is falling far behind in the European league tables of this sort of thing. Realistically though - if I had to learn all this stuff then all children should for all time.:p

Blu - I know so little that I don't even know if you did a 'good' thing or a 'bad' thing. Someone tell me please.

Cynthia - so your husband is right at home now, how lovely for him and how interesting for you. Mind you - how could you have ever left La Jolla - one of the loveliest places I've ever seen (after Laguna Beach and Santa Barbara).

lakeviewer - I should have got all the new month's books on the table in front of me right here right now. However, at the thought of science stuff my heart is sore heavy.

Elizabeth - this present course is a real mish-mash, bits of this and bits of that. I think the posh academic word is 'multi-disciplinary'. Sadly I shall have to open the book soon.

DJ - so you've got that equal left side and right side brain whatsit. I haven't got the logical/scientific/map reading bit - just the feeling/words/other stuff side. You are well-balanced, my friend

Larry *As to Chemistry in a Humanities course, perhaps it's the historical approach which gets to some pretty fundamental ideas about cause and effect*.

You've got it in one, Larry. That will be it exactly but it does sound as if you would do much better at it than me. How confident Bohr must have been, how assured, to challenge the question like that.

cheshire wife - you'd be so at home on the course this month, you pharmacist you.

Jen - GCSE's in photocopying - gotta laugh. Sometimes when I look at the lists of degrees - and indeed *A* levels available now, it does make me laugh. these youngsters don't know how lucky they are.

Troy - whoosh - that was the sound of your comment flying above my head.

Brother Tobias said...

You've reminded me of the first time I had to read a lesson in chapel. It was from Genesis, 'Now the serpent was more subtile (that's how it's spelt in the King James' version) than any beast of the field', and despite much coaching I still said 'sub tile' when it came to it.

I hope the board rubbers weren't the sort with the wooden backs?

French Fancy said...

Aw, did you have a kiddie flashback?. You must have been ever so nervous to still remember it to this day!!! I was Amy in our ballet school's production o Little Women and I still remember my entrance on the first night - not that I made a mistake, I was just petrified. Isn't it funny that all these things are stored away in our heads just waiting to be summoned.

As for the board rubbers - yes, they were those antiquated sort of rubbers - ouch.

david mcmahon said...

Life is ALL about Chemistry!

French Fancy said...

david - Indeed it is but I still can't follow the experiments or their explanations.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

chemistry runs the world....great post....conrgrats on POTD

French Fancy said...

fff - ta for that. Surprised David gave me a mention - it's just an average post. Still, maybe it's a quiet time.

CrazyCath said...

I loved science at school but wasn't much good at it. As for maths - I got the O level (in 82) so should be getting a degree today yes? No? Oh well.
Great post. Love the way your thoughts wander.
Congrats on POTD

Merisi said...

Was that the subject right after Physics?

小貓咪 said...