Friday, 13 September 2019

Putting things in perspective.

I may complain about a bit of drizzle around here (although today began very nicely and in the late morning I noticed one of the neighbours sitting outside sunning himself) but at least we have not had the torrential stuff which has fallen in some parts of Spain, causing floods in the Southeast. Everything is relative, I suppose.

When I was a child I used to see notices on the upper decks of buses: NO SPITTING. I don’t remember them being put up,on the lower deck. Maybe it was thought that those likely to spit were also more likely to travel upstairs on the bus. Neither do I remember when those notices disappeared. People must have stopped spitting, at least in public. And it is quite shocking if you actually see people spitting on the street.

And yet Michael Morpurgo describes being spat upon by someone who disagreed with his views on Brexit. I tend to agree with Michael Morpurgo that the world’s getting nastier. When DID it become acceptable to spit at someone because you don't like their opinions?

I was amused to read about his father-in-law’s reaction to the young Michael Morpurgo when he wanted to get married. His bride to be was the daughter of the founder of Penguin books and this supicious gentleman sent his son-in-law’s handwriting to a graphologist, in the hope of proving he was a gold-digger. I suppose if you worked in publishing then such a line of investigation might seem logical. Nowadays there would be more hi-tech ways of seeking info about your daughter’s beau.

The results of the investigation must have been satisfactory as the wedding took place and the couple are still together now, all these years on. And rather than being a gold-digger Morpurgo turned into a teacher, poet and writer and critic of things educational. And he says if he were education secretary he would have children start formal learning at seven, eradicate exam pressure and have universal state education for all; private schools, he says, could be turned into specialist sixth-form colleges. Maybe we could start off by taking away their charitable status and having them pay taxes that could be spent on state education.

I read that the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has finished her maternity leave. I find it very strange this attempt to make these privileged young women seem like ordinary working women by claiming that they have been on maternity leave. I bet they have no problems working out if they can afford childcare when they go back to work.

Anyway her “return to work” involves a charity helping provide clothes for women to go to interview for jobs. All very good but I still wonder how many women it actually helps. It seems that the city of Dunkirk might have found a better solution by providing free transport for everyone around their city. Getting tomwork is a big expense.

“For many, the effect has been nothing short of liberating, says Vanessa Delevoye, editor of Urbis, a magazine of urban politics published by the local government. To get around town, you no longer need to look at the schedules, buy tickets or worry about parking, she says. You just hop on the bus.

“It’s become a synonym of freedom,” she says, attracting those who might not otherwise have used public transport. In this largely working-class city, “people of limited means say they’ve rediscovered transport” – a prerequisite to finding a job, maintaining friendships or participating in local arts and culture. But it’s not only disadvantaged or working-class people who take the bus. It is also attracting white-collar workers, students and pensioners, according to Delevoye.”

There you go.

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