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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

CONTEXTUALLY YOURS (article first published : 2000-09-2)

In addition to Michael Green’s Wine Notes, the Lifesmart pages will now feature a new contributor who prefers to use the pseudonym Ulysses Online and presents Contextually Yours.

A qualified teacher, he was born and brought up in Johannesburg where he studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, acquiring an honours degree in English with Latin as a subsidiary major. The son and grandson of schoolmasters, he became one himself and, as he puts it, “served a 20-year sentence, abandoning English teaching when grammar was made illegal, and turning to middle-school maths and science instead.”

He gave up teaching altogether when a pupil of his was “found to know his multiplication tables and after a summary trial was shot in the school quadrangle”. Ulysses became “a vagrant, left Johannesburg, and prospered somewhat”. He now lives in Durban.

His love of words and their origins probably stems from his father's love of crossword puzzles. He remembers one day in 1944 watching his father confront a puzzle in a wartime paperback collection of London Times crosswords. One clue was “Pelt with stones”. He watched The Old Man fill in the solution: “Skinflints”. That did it: “Ulysses Online” was 12. He understood. He was hooked and remains so.

He has spent much time during the last ten years as a volunteer with Tape Aids for the Blind, reading, editing, and monitoring other readers among whom is Caroline Smart, artSMart’s editor. Oddly enough, his own mother's maiden name was Smart but there seems to be no traceable relationship. ArtSMart invites you to enjoy the fascinating complexities of the English language with Ulysses Online.




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