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Rock Maze
  • Writer's pictureNeil

Veraciter mortem solum confrontare non multus cachinni est.

Here is a post pertaining to nothing in particular. I just found a bit of Latin and it got me thinking.

Somethings I simply couldn't care less about, a few things I care deeply l about. The vast majority of stuff in between is interesting but not all that necessary to my wellbeing.

I, or more accurately Tricia, came across a box of stuff with my name on it that my brother gave me after clearing my parents home. Amongst the stuff in this box were some of my school reports. These reports spanned the whole of my school career. If read collectively or if they were homogenised an overarching school report it may have read; Must try harder. Doesn’t engage with the subject. Could do better if he applied himself.

When presenting these school reports to my parents I invariably stood before them, uncomfortably shifting my weight from foot to foot with my hands shoved deeply into the pockets of my school shorts like the scolded child I was about to become. I felt just the same when Tricia was reading them.

What these school reports failed to say was easily bored, needs stimulation, clever if enjoying himself, good with his hands, needs purpose, makes friends, reads loads. I recommend this boy learns a load of practical stuff maybe a trade, even consider the armed forces and he'll probably be crap at Latin.

When the time came my mother failed to contemplate or accept that she may have a son who failed to achieve sufficiently well at his 11 plus exam to automatically be selected for the local grammar school. (Top 20%) So she challenged the result. At the time the simple solution was to give me a battery of tests to determine my Intelligence Quotient (IQ) not brilliantly reliable at the time but definitely reliable enough. Most people score between 70 and 130 with 100 being about average. Throughout our lifetimes that score doesn't change very much. So if I scored above 120 I’d be deemed bright enough. My score was easily high enough, embarrassingly high. Result....... give him the most academic education we can find and make him do it for 5 years!

I hated school but made some friends that 48 years later I still have. If there was an O’level in gregariousness I would have an A* if they existed then. In fact, from this point on, I’m awarding myself an A* in Gregariousness I’ll even stick it on my CV. Curriculum Vitae is Latin for “course of life" unless you live in the colonies where the French word resumée is commonly used, although misspelt.

So what of my success at the Grammar school? Well I managed to become a teacher so I must have done something right. But possibly of more importance, I also graciously made sure none of my friends came bottom at Latin. I reserved that position for myself by achieving 0% in my first exam and 1% in my second, why not chill if you know you’re going to fail, I must have been pretty chilled. And then FFS I became a teacher? WTF! It was all too clear that education failed me. Oddly, many years later, of course, I became an associate member of the British Psychological Society so I suppose I could now test myself.

Regardless of average ½% Latin exam results, that, and my imaginary A* in Gregariousness, has served me well.

So I can recite a few useful cod (read fake, mock or dog) Latin phrases. Like “Illegitimi non carborundum” and “Excreto thermic. Recently however I came across this one; ” Veraciter mortem solum confrontare non multus cachinni est.

Now this is exactly where my A* in Gregariousness comes into its own. Whatever else happens to me I never feel alone. I can feel lonely at times but not alone. Whenever Tricia and I had a party we would ask ourselves what if no one turns up? Our answer, we'll just have to party on our own. Thankfully, of course, it never happened. When I now go out for coffee friends and family always turn up. On my Zoom Coffee Club on Tuesdays I’m never alone. Friends? I’m not short of. Close friends? I’m not short of. Family? I’m definitely not short of. And I don’t want to lose any.

So I pose a question; Without feeling so loved up by my family and friends would my dark humour be so dark, would my lightheartedness regarding my situation be so light, would I still have some friv in my frivolity, face in my facetiousness or gung in my gung ho? I think not!

I simply can’t contemplate how anyone without a strong social and familial network would cope. I shudder to think. These sorts of musings are interesting but not all that necessary to my wellbeing. What is of great interest to me however is my IQ at 11 years old (11 years of age, in modern parlance) was 147 apparently.

And the cod Latin phrases

“Illegitimi non carborundum”

Don’t let the bastards grind you down

“Excreto Thermic”

Shit Hot


“Veraciter mortem solum confrontare non multus cachinni est”.

Facing death alone really isn’t much of a laugh.

So it’s something I intend not to do!

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Ros Hodges
Ros Hodges
Aug 21, 2021

Great post Neil, I think teachers in those days were just fantastically lazy in reports mine all tended to follow what the first teacher had written and if that was Maths WELL, woe betide, it was much the same in our house when reports were received. Father would sit behind his desk with the paperwork in front of him and a glass of Whiskey beside him and the customary lecture would begin....14,,% in Latin got me removed to Domestic Science classes, didn't do much better there!

You will never be at a loss for friends because you and Tricia are diamonds among us. I can't claim to be a close friend or to know you well but the weekend together…


John Gaudry
John Gaudry
Aug 21, 2021

Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu. Live well my friend as those around you enjoy your company 🙂

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