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Saturday, December 01, 2012

"It's before my time" - the four most infuriating words in the language

None of the three contestants on a trivia quiz on Danny Baker's Saturday morning show just now could tell us which member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was called Graham.

You just knew what they were going to say. "It's before my time."

I hate "it's before my time".  I loathe "it's before my time". It makes my blood boil.

These four words are the wholly inadequate sick note offered up by all those who think that knowledge is something exclusively acquired through direct experience, who have such a distorted sense of the lens of their own life that everything which is outside their immediate field of vision falls sharply away into the gloom of total ignorance (they haven't even got enough of a framework to attempt a guess), who regard learning as something that stopped at the end of their learning years, who must be making an effort to ensure that nothing lodges in the windy vacancy of their mind that they haven't made a definite effort to put there, who, most infuriatingly of all, can never quite hide the fact that they are, if anything, quite proud that they don't know because this somehow makes them young and vital. It doesn't.

When I was young, nobody said "it's before my time". You were expected to know lots of things that were before your time. That's what civilisation is. Yes, even with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.