Learning from Dr Johnson’s dictionary

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I’m nearly 78 and I remember how I learned in earlier days.

Many of the cheap edition books were in Woolworths down Attercliffe and in some odd second-hand establishment along the Common. When I was about 12 I wondered who these people were who recently owned Dr Johnson’s famous dictionary.

I bought it, as I remember, somewhere near Woolworths, for one and sixpence, after having scanned it for this and that and finding a definition of ‘fart’ which, I recall, was ‘small explosion between the legs.’

I kept it for years until it became OK for ordinary people to openly use that sort of language – still only in certain situations. I am still amazed that I came across quite a bit of the treasure referred to in Richard Hoggart’s Uses of Literacy, though I suspect by then that sort of Attercliffe had already gone.

Keith Bell

Coedpoeth, Wrexham