Cavendish Morton, in smart jacket and scarlet neckerchief, at the book launch.
THE VIEW FROM HERE LOTS of students jumping in the air last week when the A-level results were announced. Squeals of delight as super grades were splashed around like dolly mixtures, slightly less stars than last year but overall pass rate up again, whoop-a-doop.
So it’s off to uni, although there’s been a drop in applications this year. This is because, despite their brilliant maths results, these kids can’t seem to grasp that they are being offered an excellent deal on their tuition fees. Nothing to pay up front, no repayment whatsoever until they are earning at least £21,000 pa, at which point they will be asked for £16 a week, and no detrimental effect on mortgage applications. If the loan isn’t repaid within 30 years, it is written off.
What’s the problem, guys?
It may be, however, some of those leaving school have actually done a few calculations and decided uni is possibly not the cleverest option, particularly if it’s a matter of a mediocre degree (a 2:2, not even interesting enough to be a third) in a mediocre subject (I’m thinking 'meeja studies’ here) at a mediocre university (used to be quite good when it was a poly).
Despite the difficulties of getting a job these days, they may have worked out that a willing 18 year old who is prepared to start at the bottom and slog at anything will probably be in a better position in three years’ time than many of their contemporaries who will have had no practical experience and will swiftly discover their dreary degree suits them for pretty much zilch in the real world.
Still, at least they’ll have had plenty of time to contemplate their future during their time as an undergraduate. A survey by the Higher Education Policy Institute shows students spending an average of 27.2 hours a week on combined private study and lectures.
That’s not much, is it? So what else is there to do?
Well, I’m afraid there’s quite a bit of lounging around, with students notorious for their devotion to the telly, particularly when it’s Countdown, Hollyoaks or Deal or No Deal. Such a waste of time. Carpe Diem, my dears, and if you don’t know what that means, the situation in higher education is worse than I thought.
Why not take a tip from Bembridge doyen and eminent artist, 101-year-old Cavendish Morton?
He never went to university or indeed any proper school, receiving only a haphazard education, mostly at the hands of Japanese tutors.
A splendid book on his life and work has just been published and, although nobody thought he’d make it to the launch party, Cavy had other ideas. His family knew he was in celebratory mode when he appeared in a smart jacket and scarlet neckerchief, ready to toot out and greet the guests.
101 and still seizing the day. Slob-around students, kindly take note, and if you’re going to neglect your studies, at least do it in style.
It’s a plum job for Stuart
Another Island success story featuring somebody who didn’t trouble any university admissions office is that of Stuart Pierce, formerly master supplier of all things piggy, from trotters to streaky rashers, but now skipping about his orchards in the Arreton Valley, where this year he has made something of a breakthrough in Island fruity feats.
Apricots had always been thought of as being unsuitable for the British climate, as the trees blossom very early and are thus vulnerable to frost damage.
However, when East Malling Research Station, Kent, asked Stuart to work with it on a project to discover whether an apricot crop could be successfully harvested on the IW, he took up the challenge.
He popped down to Nimes, in France, to study form, planted 5,000 trees and now, three years on, he has this summer produced enough Tomcot and Lady Cot varieties of apricot to market commercially.
Thanks to the Island’s excellent climate and Stuart’s expertise, they’ve been yummy, all smooth skinned and flavoursome, and as Stuart’s trees continue to produce more fruit in future years, they will be a definite coup for the IW foodie scene.
Nor does there seem to be any stopping Stuart as he ensures we all get our five a day right from our own doorstep. His cherries, cropped from 2,000 trees, are an established summer favourite and now he’s looking into the possibility of growing plumcots, a natural cross hybrid between plums and apricots.
Hard work ahead but the harvest looks set for success, with a number of supermarkets expressing interest in Stuart’s progress.
But doesn’t he miss his piggies? Apparently not. "Unlike pigs, fruit tends to stay in one place."
Which is not to say he doesn’t hope it’ll shift pretty speedily when there are customers about.