Grandparents sometimes have a reputation for knowing everything, but don’t believe it.
Grandparents were sitting in a classroom at a Dubbo primary school, supposedly listening to the way the young students were being taught but in reality marvelling at the technology on display.
The class had a screen that showed a picture every time somebody rubbed over a blank portion of the screen. And the blackboard and chalk were nowhere to be seen.
The teacher, who looked to be only a few years older than the students, decided to conduct a quiz, the students competing against their grandparents. Up on the screen appeared a series of questions about the Olympics.
The grandparents put up a good show in the beginning, but then everybody was stumped by one of the questions and the grandparents fell to pieces. Despite some encouraging words from the teacher to the oldies, the students won 6-2.
It was the absence of a blackboard and chalk that did it. The oldies were way out of their depth.
And what was the question that stumped the oldies and the students?
It was the meaning of pankration.
The answer flashed up on the screen might have mentioned the marathon, I can’t remember. The grandparents were adding up where they might have finished if they had received the three points that the teacher promised for a successful answer.
Pankration does have some association with the Olympics, but that association seemed to have ended long before the students and the grandparents were born.
In the early days of the Olympics, when men wore nothing and women weren’t allowed compete, pankration was important.
Pankration, as I understand it, was a martial art introduced in the very early days of the ancient Olympics.
It was a blend of boxing and wrestling and if it had rules then very few people seemed to follow them. The Greek word pankration meant something like “all powers”.
I think pankration was used in other areas of athletic prowess. I gather that if one contestant was killed during such an event, the survivor could claim victory - probably a bit like wheelchair rugby at the modern Paralympics.
One of my sources said a bloke called Arrhichion won such a fight but as the referee raised his hand in victory the referee discovered that Arrhichion was dead. Arrhichion received his olive wreath and then I presume he received a decent burial.
Pankration events were eventually abolished. Probably synchronised swimming took their place.
INCIDENTALLY, while Dubbo is still on my mind, the Weekend Liberal newspaper published some criticism because it had used some words to spell out MYOB, a business program mentioned by a council candidate.
MYOB referred to Mind Your Own Business, but the critic said the newspaper by revealing that fact had shown a bias against the candidate and should apologise. Apparently, according to the correspondent, the inference could be gained that the candidate was telling people to “mind their own business”.
I applaud the newspaper on two counts - one for publishing the criticism (as it should) and the other for mentioning that the company style was always to spell out an acronym in the first instance.
I don’t like acronyms. In 869 weekly columns since 1995 I have never used acronyms unless in a column about them.
But then, I was taught in days of blackboard and chalk.