Thursday, 16 September 2021

On owning land and air. Refugee children’s adaptability. Marketing people … like eating people, is it wrong?

Listening to “A History of the World in 100 Objects” on Radio 4 yesterday, I marvelled once again at the clipped, precise English of the presenter, Neil MacGregor, choosing items from the British Museum to tell us stories about the world. His object yesterday was a map of North America, bits of modern USA and Canada, drawn on deerskin. He told us about the sale of land and how, basically, the native Americans were cheated. At one point one of the people interviewed explained that for the native Americans it was no more possible to “own” the land than it was to “own” the air above it. And I thought of something I read some time ago about the height of buildings in some American cities. It seems there are regulations about how high a building can be, understandably enough. However, if for example the limit is ten floors and two buildings are side by side, one eight floors and the other ten, and the owner of the ten floor building wants to extend upwards, he can buy the right to build another two floors from his neighbour, who is happy to remain an eight floor building. So in modern times it is possible to “own” the air!

Reshuffle! Will it make a difference? Or will it be like in “The Leopard” where it was agreed that everything had to change for things to remain the same! Deputy leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner points out that departing ministers will receive a bonus of £17,000, apparently regardless of how well or how badly they did the job. This at the same time as people on universal credit are about to lose £20 a week! The mind boggles! Cynics wonder if the reshuffle is a ploy to draw our attention away from things like the reduction in universal credit. Hmm!

Our daughter has an Afghan refugee child in her class of 8 year olds. At first she thought the little girl had some English as she responded to a number of questions and instructions with a confident “Okay!” Then it became evident that that was more or less all the English she knows. She’s a whizz at maths though and understood enough of what was going on to happily step up and solve a problem on the class whiteboard. Not bad going for day one. I bet by the end of the week she will be beginning to communicate. By half term she’ll be pretty fluent. 

I mentioned the marketing of Emma Raducanu yesterday. It seems that Adrian Chiles is also surprised by it. Here’s something he wrote:-

“As early as Monday afternoon, I was listening to someone called Tess O’Sullivan on a Radio 4 news bulletin singing hosannas about the money to be made, every bit as loudly as the rest of us had been shouting from the rooftops about Raducanu’s staggering tennis. Fair enough, this is O’Sullivan’s line of work – and she must be good at it if she has, as was billed, brokered commercial deals for David Beckham and Usain Bolt.

This is what she said: “I think, quite quickly, her sponsorship earnings off the court will dwarf her prize money on the court. She is the most marketable British athlete since David Beckham, because she is the complete package: she’s young; she’s already winning millions of social media followers, which increases her influence as a brand; she has a multicultural background; and she won her grand slam in America, one of the most important consumer markets in the world.”

Dear God, is this what Raducanu must become: a brand? A brand, moreover, the purpose of which is to promote other brands? Never mind the glorious shots on the big points; this girl can shift product.”

As Adrian Chiles went on to say, it would be nice, for her and for us, just to enjoy her tennis. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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