Do you remember what you were doing forty years ago? Well, I don’t know about you, but I was in 5C, preparing to take my O levels the following summer while doing my best to wind up poor Mr. Mitchell, our long-suffering English teacher...
“Cathy and Heathcliff dominate the whole of Wuthering Heights” – Discuss
“Cathy dies halfway through the book so it is difficult to see how she and Heathcliff could possibly dominate Wuthering Heights. The relationship between Cathy the Younger and Linton is far more interesting (although still very boring)...”
– Explain why! Why are you so pleased at not being able to enjoy literature?
“In fact, memories of the elder Cathy were virtually non-existent...”
– You’d better read the book again!
Under the circumstances, I think I can consider myself lucky to have scraped a borderline pass, don’t you?
– 11/20. Quite good, but lacking in specific detail.
The sad thing here of course is that Wuthering Heights is probably one of the most beautiful books ever written. It never fails to move me now that I’ve reached that age – I nearly said maturity – at which I am able to appreciate great literature. It certainly gives The Da Vinci Code a good run for its money, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Back in 1977-78, however, my classmates and I were far more interested in a different kind of Wuthering Heights altogether:
Yes, the lovely Kate Bush who, by a wonderful coincidence, shares her birthday with Emily Brontë (30 July). As Kate soared to the top of the UK charts, the whole nation debated,
leave the Common Market? Do you prefer Kate Bush or Debbie Harry? Actually,
I preferred Jeff Lynne, but that’s another story.
I’m pleased to report that, despite my best efforts, this particular story has a happy ending: I passed my English O levels, got my A levels, did French at uni, then ended up becoming an English teacher. Funny old world, isn’t it?
They were on the home run now. And all the signs suggested it was going to be a stormy ride. Colin breezed into the room, greeted Miss Tedley and seized a red marker. As the rest of his Rappers traipsed in, Colin set about transcribing his notes onto the whiteboard:
But the hour came, at last, that ended Mr. Earnshaw’s troubles on earth. He died quietly in his chair one October evening, seated by the fire-side. A high wind blustered round the house, and roared in the chimney: it sounded wild and stormy, yet it was not cold, and we were all together – I, a little removed from the hearth, busy at my knitting, and Joseph reading his Bible near the table.
‘Hi, everyone. Any idea who wrote that?’
‘You did, dear. It’s beautiful,’ said Miss Tearley, shedding a ted.
‘I couldn’t agree more, Miss Tedley, but it’s not my work, I’m afraid.’
‘Yes, it is, dear. I saw you come in just now and—’
‘So does anyone here want to take a guess?’ Colin had no time today – or any day – for Miss Tedley’s tedious twaddle. This was Raphead’s Rappers’ last chance to get their act together.
‘Is it from Harry Potter?’
‘It doesn’t matter which one, Nicola. It’s not Harry Potter.’
‘I was thinking of Harry Potter and the Bloody Prince.’
‘You mean, Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Prince, Jack.’
‘Oh yeah, right. What did you make of the film?’
‘I thought they—’
‘Listen, it’s not Harry Potter. Got that?’
‘Who wrote Harry Potter, anyway?’ asked Jack.
‘I can never remember her name,’ said Nicola. ‘J. R. Tolking or something like that?’
‘No, that’s the bloke who did Lord Of The Flies.’
‘Wasn’t that Michael Flatley?’
‘That guy’s amazing. Do you know he can do more than thirty taps in a second?’
‘That’s a lot faster than our plumber. So is it The Da Vinci Code, Colin?’
‘No, Nicola, it isn’t. Look, I’ll give you a clue: Emily.’
‘Did you say, “Emily Dumder”, Violet?’
‘Yes, that’s right.’ Hurrah! They were making progress of sorts. Talk about pushing an elephant up a hill.
dayrealing, Chapter 28, “Wuthering Heights”