Our friend the acupuncturist came by today for a quick cram. She is proposing to sit the new Citizenship Exam, and had a book of 300 practice questions. Overall the exercise doesn’t strike me as wholly stupid, though I think about 80% of natives would fail, but quite a lot of the questions are things one ought to know: if you can answer them then you will know, for example, if, should your wife be taken ill, you can take your 14-year-old daughter out of school to look after her (something many recent arrivals would take for granted), who to talk to if your business is failing, other than your wife’s second cousin, law relating to mortgages, and whether you can drive at more than 60 mph on a dual carriageway. The good Doctor has passed many exams in a hardworking life: the more random end of all this, such as who were the Hugenots and when, or who was Guy Fawkes and why does it matter, is stuff she can cram. What did make me feel sorry for her was not the antiquated bulk of England’s history — though ‘why the House of Lords’, and ‘what is a life peer’ took some time — but the peculiarities of English as a language: we spent absolutely ages on whether you could get an opinion from a doctor over the telephone before we understood that the phrase ‘over the telephone’ was wholly mysterious to her — and the more you think about it the more opaque it looks. I think she’s very brave. But if Hugenots turn up in pub quizzes, you know, the ones with all the answers will be people who have been citizens for less than two years. Not that the dear Dr goes to the pub. I fear that in her case this knowledge will wither on the vine.