Knowledge Is Power

I don’t mind admitting that, when I was young, I was a bit of a swot.

I loved reading and I loved learning from reading.

Even if I were reading a storybook (a novel, in adult parlance), I would generally learn something. 

About the world.

About nature.

About humanity.


Many times, I would just learn a new word. I loved learning new words and would often take two books to bed with me: a novel and a dictionary – so I could look up any words I didn’t understand.

It’s no idle boast that as a young teenager, I easily had the largest vocabulary in my family.

My parents bought me a small set of encyclopaedias – I remember they had purple covers – and they took pride of place on my bookshelf.  I’m pretty sure that I read them from cover to cover more than once, over the years.

On a Saturday, I would go into town on the bus and would spend a happy couple of hours in the Town Library… just reading anything that took my fancy or – more often than not – looking up something that I’d heard or read about and just felt I needed to know more.

Once I started work, I never had the time so much, to go into the library. More than that, my thirst for knowledge became more immediate: if I wanted to know about something, I wanted to know about it now! And so, I spent over a thousand pounds on a set of Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

A beautiful set of books and, undoubtedly, the best repository of knowledge that money could buy… at the time.

I kept them for years.

And then Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.

A game changer.

In an amazingly short period of time, all the major knowledge houses had their encyclopaedias or dictionaries and the like, online. Even Microsoft got in on the act with it’s own encyclopaedia: Encarta, which, to be fair, was really very good.

And then, of course, we got Wikipedia – another game changer… because it was free.

Nowadays, just about anything you want to know (and at any time you want to know it), is available somewhere online. For free. It’s bloody fantastic!

And, at Amelia’s Parent’s Evening, last night, the teachers were extolling the virtues of several websites, aimed specifically at helping kids with their education, by providing online, extra-curricular lessons and teaching.

Wow! If I’d had all this when I was their age, maybe I would have done better at school than I did.

Maybe I’d have gone on to university and made a huge success of my life.

Or maybe I’d have been a winner on The Chase.


  1. Alan

    ‘or maybe you would end up being, good old Masher.
    I remember the day you told me how you bought the set of door stops in the Arndale.

    • Masher

      Well remembered!
      Yes, it was from a lady who was an actor and she sold encyclopaedias in her spare time.
      She told me she would be in Eastenders the following week. And she was!
      You can always trust an encyclopaedia salesman/woman.

  2. Jules

    Hmmm. I knew you were a logophile the minute you gave me five preposterous words to add to my monthly challenge some years back. Maybe I should be doing the same to you?

    I would like Fysigunkus, Spavined, Homiletic and Apricity entered into a post. Chop, chop!

    • Masher

      Who do you think I am, Stephen bloody Fry?
      Those words are a bit disparate , so getting them into a single post might prove difficult.
      But, hey.

      Anyway, if you want to play that game, won’t it end with me having to write an erotic sci-fi story about… you? Not sure I’m up for that, even if you are! 🙂

      • Alan

        Oh go on.

        • Jules

          Yes, go on! I’m waiting…

  3. David Sheriton

    You can get those four words into a sentence.

    Anyway, we had Children’s Brittanica. They had white covers. Very useful for homework back in the old days. We only had them I suspect because my Dad worked for a publisher. I would read them a bit but my brother read them cover to cover.

    • Masher

      And where is he now?
      Hugely successful, I’m sure.

  4. Brennig

    I still love a good book. I’m currently reading two. And another on my Kindle. The books win, but the Kindle is more convenient

    • Masher

      Oh, I’m all over the KIndle, Bren.
      Just doesn’t look as impressive on the bookshelves.

  5. Toffeeapple

    Oh, books are slowly edging me out of my house – they are everywhere and even though I keep trying to corral them they break out again soon afterward.

    • Masher

      I used to be terrible and hoard books.
      I had hundreds of paperback novels which I eventually took to a secondhand bookshop and sold for a pittance.
      One of them I have always regretted selling.

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