Last Word, Memoirs, Writing

Late Kate – Radiant Way Reader


I cannot understand it. There seems to be a section of internet surfers who search for “Late Kate”. Everyday, I am seeing 4-5 seekers seeking Kate. What they are looking for I don’t know, but they end up here because of this very silly post about the then impending arrival of Prince George. Curiosity is one of my middle names, comes right after Modesty. So naturally, I decided to find out for myself.

Lo and behold, there is a whole market full of old fogeys like me who remember the Radiant Readers. They remember the stories, “Uncle Podger hangs a picture”, an excerpt from the very funny “Three men in a boat” by Jerome K Jerome. They remember Late Kate and the “Sing Mother Sing” thing, which kind of goes with a weird swing.

I found a bunch of people at this blog . One of the amazing things about this discovery is that the the folks span two countries, India and Pakistan. A reminder of the colonial past shared by these two estranged brother (sister?) countries.

On that note, I was reading something somewhere and was reminded that Burma was partitioned from India in 1937. Of course in 1947, the British, aided and abetted by the dumb politicians of the day managed to split India into 3 parts.

What an absolutely amazing concept was Pakistan, a country carved out in 1947, acrimoniously and artificially from undivided India, but separated by a thousands of miles of an unfriendly India. Pure genius!! Of course, the two parts of Pakistan were not going to remain so, and in 1971, Bangladesh was born.

I was 11 years old, living in Calcutta and I remember coming home from school and being forced to wait in the car because Mujibur Rahman was coming through. Crowds lined the street and I saw him wave as he drove by. My first celebrity sighting.

The 14 day war brought brown paper black-out shades for windows and car headlights, air raid warnings, and overnight shanty towns full of people, my god, the people! Living under sackcloth stretched over 4 bamboos, thousands, millions of them. All along the highway to the airport, which was barely 70 km from the border with war torn East Pakistan / Bangladesh, these makeshift shelters lined every available inch of space. The refugees reportedly brought with them conjunctivitis, Red Eye. Naturally, it was given the name “Joy Bangla“, “Victory to Bangla”. 🙂

Good grief, I just digressed handsomely from the Radiant Way Readers to the partition of India into 4 countries! Why didn’t you stop me? Someone should have said something! It’s all your fault….

Anyway, back to the Readers and the pining would-be readers, looking for Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore, who, as we all know, was the boy who never could shut the door, though the wind would whistle and the wind would roar, but, of course, Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore would never remember to shut the door. They seem to share my own experience of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the concept of slavery being alien and unappreciated. And Wren and Martin….. the ultimate grammar companion. There is no convent school kid from that generation who would not know this book. Just a couple of months ago, my younger brother sent me a pdf of the book. Sadly, it’s been Indianized and the examples now all use Indian names and it’s not the same.

Oh well, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who feels nostalgic about these Readers. I remember we also had the Ronald Ridout books volumes I – VI. They were very useful, also doing sterling duty, spine up in the middle of the dining table, acting as a net for table tennis matches.

Now for the lame question that WordPress tells you to ask at the end of each post, cleverly designed to drive engagement.

What Primary school text books do you remember?

( So please, engage, whatever that means, don’t just leave. Leave a message, we’ll definitely read it and and respond. ) Isn’t that a better exhortation than the lame question above?

Your opinion and your comments are highly prized..

10 thoughts on “Late Kate – Radiant Way Reader”

  1. I will purposely not engage in the WordPress-recommended baiting questions, on principle alone. (Readers should feel engaged based on the content, not because you posed a question. :))

    Instead I have two comments:
    1. Thank you for digressing! I found the history fascinating!
    2. I *wish* Late Kate (or anything inoffensive) was sitting in my Search Terms report. I get the weirdest, nastiest and most disturbing terms… Shudder.


    1. Totally agree about the inane question thing. I don’t care if you ask a question. If your content, grammar, layout is so unspeakably poor as to cause me to see stars, I’m not “engaging”. And I don’t care what WP sez.

      Oh I have my share of weird search terms too. “Chicken Longingly Computer”, “Bangalan Sex” come to mind.

      Glad you liked the history lesson!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re hilarious.. I wonder if they were blurry on purpose? And 4th grade? We had weird lessons in Grade 10 on “how to wash yourself”. I was in an all boys Jesuit run school…


        1. Uh no! I know it is possible, at least plausible. Shouldnt be that hard.

          I was in a very crowded commuter train during the rainy season and this lady changed out of her wet sari into a dry one right there without showing any skin.

          And when I say crowded, I mean ass to crotch crowded as only Indian trains can be…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I too remember the name Late Kate and we used to call the book RR instead of Radiant Reader and my child mind used to think its name is Reading Reader. I came to know today its actual name. And I too remember one story where one boy stops a train with a red flag and avoid a accident something on that lines… And who can forget sing sing sing pat had a sing sing pat sing… I remember one chapter heading written Busy in it with picture of a honey bee if i remember correctly its also from RR


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