How To Pass The Citizenship Test, [Part 3].

You must pass the “Life in the United Kingdom Test” to get your British citizenship, or to stay in Britain as a permanent resident.

I’ve just watched a film called ‘The History Boys’. It’s based on a play of the same name written by Alan Bennet that was performed by The National Theatre.


Akthar, Crowther, Dakin, Lockwood, Posner, Rudge, Scripps, and Timms are pupils at Cutlers’ Grammar School, Sheffield in the early 1980’s. They are the eight most intelligent pupils to ever have passed through the school.

There’s nothing sexist about this. The play is set in an all boys school.

When they achieve great, some excellent, ‘A’ level results they return to Cutler’s to study for the Oxbridge Entrance Examination. Headmaster Felix Armstrong, (graduated from Hull in Geography), is determined that they will succeed, although he has reservations about Rudge, who only got two ‘Bs’ and one ‘A’ in his grades.

The group are coached for the exam by Mrs Dorothy Lintott, History, who has got them thus far; Douglas Hector, English/General Studies, who does his best to develop the boys as people; and Tom Irwin, History, who has been brought in because he is thought to have attended Oxford, and can therefore give the boys an edge.

Although the film has many themes the point about having an edge if you are competing for any privileged resource rings true.

The film is titled ‘The History Boys’ because it’s about boys who wish to read history as undergraduates. They know their subject thoroughly. They probably know dates verbatim. Most likely they could tell you in what year married women in England were given the right to divorce their husbands, or; when the first census was conducted in England and Wales, or even; why recruitment centres were set up in the West Indies during the 1950s. These, incidently, are all sample questions for the U.K. Citizenship Test.

The point is that although all the boys are undoubtedly intelligent, and knew how to memorise facts; they were unable to think in original ways or project their essential selves. It fell to Tom Irwin to develop these faculties.

And this just the problem with the U.K. Citizenship Test, isn’t it? It’s dull beyond measure, and I’m not just writing thus because I failed it by a large margin. Anyone passing should be dumped immediately on Gruinard Island. There they may interbreed, but will be well quarantined from of the rest of us.

Montgomery watches Allied tanks advance forwar...

Image via Wikipedia

When on May 3rd, 1945 a high-ranking German delegation, including a senior admiral and a senior general, appeared at the headquarters of Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, near Lubeck, Monty barked, ‘Who are these men? What do they want?’ I doubt that anyone able to pass the Citizenship Test would ever demand such a thing.

They had come to surrender the German forces in Northern Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

In 1801, during the Battle of Copenhagen cautious Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, in overall command of the British forces, sent a signal to Nelson’s forces giving him discretion to withdraw. Naval orders were transmitted via a system of signal flags at that time. When this order was given to the more aggressive Nelson, he lifted his telescope up to his blind eye, said “I really do not see the signal”, and his forces continued to press home the attack.

Now that’s really good history. Unlike petty-fogging questions such as: ‘Ulster Scots is a dialect which is spoken in Northern Ireland – True, or False?’ Where’s the attitude in that? Dakin, perhaps the brightest of the History Boys, would no doubt pose a question about Nelson thus: ‘Had Nelson not lost the sight of his right eye until after 1801 what would have been the outcome of the war against the Dutch?’ It’s subjunctive-history, you see, what-if, you have to think about it rather than just memorise facts.

Now I must confess that I’m unsure if the good Boris could pass a Citizenship Examination? He said of David Cameron’s leadership campaign: “I’m backing David Cameron’s campaign out of pure, cynical self-interest.” As for Boris on the 43rd President of the United States: “The President is a cross-eyed Texan warmonger, unelected, inarticulate, who epitomises the arrogance of American foreign policy.” He’s almost statesmanlike? Anyone writing that on the Examination Paper, no matter the question, should be asked to form a parliament, even though Boris doesn’t rate his own chances: “My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.”

Some say Boris is a buffoon. I simply think of him as English?

As for David Cameron, could he take and pass this examination? Of course, but then he’s just the kind loafered, numb-brained half-wit that Britain wants to accept.

N.B. This entry has little, or nothing to do with my first or second post in this series  and, thankfully, is the last!

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