Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Snow. Reasons to buy poetry books. The dangers of going cashless.

The promised snow has arrived, although not so far in any great depth. According to my daughter who came to breakfast this morning, today being Tuesday, it has been enough to cause an increase in traffic on the roads this morning. Her middle daughter had to be in school early for something called an “intervention” - a fancy name for an extra lesson because the teacher feels the class is not making fast enough progress through the curriculum in time for GCSE exams - and arrived a few minutes later than planned, not because the roads were particularly snow-covered but because extra people had got their cars out.

We shall see what delights the rest of the day brings!

I read that there has been an increase in sales of poetry books. Curiously this is attributed to an increased passion for politics, especially among teenagers and millennials. A spokesman for the UK book sales monitor Nielson BookScan said that sales were booming because in times of political upheaval and uncertainty, people turn to poems to make sense of the world: “Poetry is resonating with people who are looking for understanding. It is a really good way to explore complex, difficult emotions and uncertainty.”

 Well, who knew that that was something that goes on?

Social media is, of course, involved in this. Rupi Kaur, a 26-year-old Canadian poet with 3.4 million followers on Instagram, leads the bestsellers list and was responsible for almost £1m of sales. The numbers of “followers” says it all. The spokesman for Nielson added that in general poetry’s brevity also meant it could be easily consumed on phones.

There you go. Everything comes down in the end to that handheld device we almost all carry around with us.

I recently re-read “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Having seen the two TV series based on the book, I wanted to remind myself of the original and see how faithful the series were to the written version. Quite faithful, as it turns out. There were some quite distinct changes, such as the commander’s wife, Serena Joy, being rather younger in the TV series than in the book, but in the whole it ran fairly true to the original. The backstory was more developed in the TV series details such as mobile phones brought it all more up to date.

Mobile phones were not around when Margaret Atwood published the book in 1985 but credit and debit cards were and computers were becoming more important. In the book the narrator comments that the uprising’s takeover of everyone’s lives in Gilead was made possible by the disappearance of actual cash from general use. All payments were made by card, connecting to a central banking system and so the government was able to close down access to money by women in particular and presumably by anyone for whom they wanted to make life difficult.

We need to think hard as we progress towards a cashless society.

Maybe we need to start storing gold under mattress as well as stockpiling medicines and tins of food in preparation for a No-Deal Brexit!

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