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Saturday, November 07, 2009

An Eleven Plus Gem

Macbeth has a lot to answer for. He showed his dark thoughts in his soliloquy when he was trying to sort out in his mind what to do about committing murder. He was talking about the problems of instructing people when he: `Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice to our own lips.’.

In the original Star Wars films R2-D2 was remote controlled for part of the time – and at other times he played his part with an actor inside him. We all love R2-D2 because he is possibly the most plausible character in the whole Star Wars series. The little star, who at times, seemed to carry the film, would have been welcomed by Macbeth. I bet R2-D2 could have found a way to cheer Macbeth up and prevent him from feeling murderous thoughts.

R2-D2 would also have been able to cope with way in which to manage a poisoned chalice. He would have grasped the chalice in one of his semi-artificial hands and thrown it out of the window of the star ship.

Parents must wonder too if they could throw away some of the myths and misconceptions of the eleven plus. Just think, a mother has downloaded a paper from the internet. There is a question on the paper that no one in the family can think of how to answer. The teacher at school tells the mother that the question will not be covered in Year 5 or Year 6 at school. Mum wants to murder someone.

Mum can’t murder the internet – because it takes up the whole of space. Even R2-D2 would struggle to control the issuing of the exactly the eleven plus right paper at the right time for their child. She can’t murder her child – because that is called filicide – and a dark prison cell would not be a happy home for twenty years. She starts to think of ways to plot a little revenge.

We know that revenge is a cup best drunk cold. So even if she poured a little poison into a cup shaped in the form of a chalice, she still could not be sure she could reach the perpetrator of the crime against her much loved child. After all her child is in the top groups at school, has been doing very well on papers, and yet has been stumped by an apparently, unrealistic question.

Despairingly she looks down at her hands. She sees her beloved diamond ring sparkling at her. She remembers when she was given the ring. Her children, including her eleven plus child, have all played with the ring. A sense of calm comes over her. Murder recedes from her heart. She thinks soothing thoughts and lets her mind wander. Suddenly she knows what to do. She rubs her diamond reflectively. A word springs to mind. She saw the word on a jewellery site ( and knows exactly what the gem represents.

This is no ordinary gem. It would not be a good idea to wear it. In fact there could be few people in the world who would even want an Ekanite.

She thinks to herself. The family honour can be saved. I may have one child away in Spain and another in Japan, but we can find a solution to the question. We can confine the gem and the hateful question to a nuclear waste bunker.

She calls her husband. She calls her parents. She arranges a conference call with her children in Spain and Japan. “I know the answer to the eleven plus question!”

The family say, collectively, “Oh! How can you be sure? What was the question again?”

Mum reads the question again:

`Which gemstone is radioactive?
a) sapphire
b) ekanite
c) diamond
d) emerald'

The mother crows delightedly: “Yes. I read it when I was browsing through that enormous jewellery site. Ekanite is a radioactive gem!”

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