As I've mentioned before, while I enjoy learning languages, I'm not very good at it. Which is why I identified very much with this passage from Simon Winder's introduction to his book called Germania:
"...for many years I charged at language after language in the manner of someone running up against some massively barred and studded fortress door: Italian, Latin, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic (in a moment of lunatic lack of self-knowledge), German, Ancient Greek - a catalogue of complete pointlessness."
Winder goes on to explain that he did manage to master Arabic script but then:
"... there was an awful awakening - Arabic beyond the script was even worse than French ... There was an unhappy sequel to this. I still vividly remember wandering around the abbey of St-Denis, north of Paris, where all the French kings were buried, and vowing to improve my knowledge of medieval monarchs. I had the sequence down from 1550 or so (everyone's called Louis, in order, with a handful of easily remembered, vivid exceptions) - but the huge accumulation of earlier people called Louis or Charles was a tangle.
This was when I realised the limits of the human brain. I had always assumed I could indefinitely add stuff - battles, capital cities, dynasties. As I loaded up those Merovingian and Capetian kings I felt my brain, like some desperately rubbish, home-assembled bathroom shelf, lurch suddenly to one side, and all the Arabic alphabet fall off the other end. Shortly after that the whole thing came off the wall, taking the pointless Merovingians with it too."
I know that feeling. Oh dear yes, I know that feeling very, very well.
The kiss of death …
48 minutes ago