I was thinking a lot today about how powerful language is and how very clichéd it has become in the world of media and politics. Watching Question Time today, followed by the Channel 4 news, the amount of time the same phrases were (mis)used was ridiculous: Let me be very clear; there is a BIG problem; we will not tolerate; strong and stable…. You can predict what will be said before it’s spoken. We’ve made a game of this at home and it’s funny when we get it right, but not really funny at all because the cost of this empty rhetoric is people’s lives. My daughter’s 10 this month and unworried by the world, sure she’ll be famous. She doesn’t know that ignorant people in power, who will continue to live lives unhindered by austerity or poverty, are making decisions as we speak that will effect her chances in life – educationally, financially and in terms of all that comes with that, including mental and physical health.
Today we went to work on a house in Maryport. It’s a big, old, haunted cobbler’s shop that’s a holiday let that hasn’t let yet much (the Map Room is in the picture above). Pick of the Pops was on and I was transported back to 1991 – that dreaded year we moved to Cumbria. The songs brought back memories of temporary classrooms (huts), feeling like an outsider and also the strange excitement that comes from being young and being on the edge of growing up just as rave culture (the embers of the Summer of Love) was being stamped out by the Criminal Justice Act.
We tried to record a couple of poems in the garden but there were many obstacles! – A cat appearing on the wall, a (very well known!) child sneaking up in my peripheral vision, birds chirruping and cawing, church bells and Parsley the rabbit sneezing and hacking repeatedly (part of her health condition and probably caused by the tom cat) until she decided to move herself to the other end of the path and continue off-camera. I’ve put the result on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=U5jlZmynr3s if anyone would like to see it.
I’m reading The Past tonight by Tessa Hadley. I’ve also got The Guardian in store for late-night Saturday/early-Sunday reading too and the Claire Tomalin Thomas Hardy biography in case it’s an especially late Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.