Saturday, 12 July 2008

Grit meets her match

On my To Do List (now as long as both my arms and the weight of a small baby hippo), I add Russian Revolution.

Eager to start, I tell Shark, Squirrel and Tiger (but not Dig), that today in the house we will be running autocratic control. I bagsy autocrat. I say we can swap over later, when the actual revolution comes. Then I can be Lenin. Everyone agrees.

I like being the autocrat. I order everyone in the car. I say the next step is to go to the library to find out what actually happens when the revolution comes. Then we can think about whether being Tsar Nicholas II was really such an idea worth fighting over.

We have to drive to the Big Library because, for the Russian Revolution, Smalltown will have nothing. 'Russian Revolution?' the young woman on the library apprentice scheme will enquire. 'Uh? We have Handling your Menopausal Budgie, Death and Your Cocker Spaniel, or Tea and Cakes in the Yorkshire Dales: the hilarious saga of moving house and taking the nanny and children with you – but nope, nothing on the Russian Revolution. Which country did it happen in?'

At Big Library, there are no books on the Russian Revolution either. I feared this before we left the house. But if there is one thread which runs through Grit's day, it is hope. I ask Linny, with whom we are on surprisingly good terms after several years of home education and Shark weeing on the floor in the children's section.

'We can do the Tudors', sniffs Linny. Then she starts, and she's even worse than me. 'How many books do you want on the Tudors?' she adds sarcastically. 'We can do six thousand of those'. OK, I've touched a nerve. 'If it's not the Tudors, then it's the Second World War' she continues. I detect a whiff of pissed off librarian. She tells me her son just completed A-level history and, she adds disdainfully, he just did two years of German history.

Even with Linny on side, we can't find anything about the Russian Revolution. And she's right. Because the Russian Revolution is not on the National Curriculum. One of the great powers on earth and here we are in the UK as ignorant as a flea on the backside of a mongrel.

After an hour I have cleaned out the entire library. I have a guide to life in Russia today from the children's library and an Eyewitness book which is good to look at, and has pictures of onion domes. From the adult library I have two studious volumes on the years 1895 to 1949, both of which are heavily annotated in pencil; probably by the same exam-taking university student.

I console Linny. I say it could be that round here everyone's just been to see Fiddler on the Roof and are now desperate to find out about the Jewish experience in Russia circa 1905. She looks doubtful, and adds sorrowfully that two years of German history wouldn't be so bad if it didn't just follow ten years of The Tudors.


Kitty said...

I can honestly say that the Russian Revolution was the least favourite part of my O Level History course. I don't know why, but I found it as dull as the dullest thing; whereas if I'd known it might have involved Omar Sharif, I'd have been much more interested.


sharon said...

Can't the Library order in books from other libraries covering this subject? How about looking for books on the Romanovs, Rasputin, Trotsky or Lenin, or did you already try this? Could even go further back for Catherine the Great (now there's a role model Grit!!)Ivan the Terrible etc.

On a lighter note, maybe sticking to pre-revolutionary days is best - you don't want the peasants getting too uppity and demanding equal rights!

Jonny's Mommy said...

You are an amazing writer...You make me laugh and think all at the same time.

So, American History...let me tell you our schools (at least around here) we could never seem to get past the Civil War. Then finally we would get to World War II, go to the next school year and then back to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Argh!

I so wanted to learn more about the Vietnam Conflict and the Korean Conflict and etc.... etc...but no. Just the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. *sigh*