Monday, April 13, 2015

Children and Money

I have just been reading the Tonight section of the Cape Argus. I would not waste my hard-earned (or  even my not so hard-earned) cash on this newspaper if it wasn't for the crossword puzzles. These are of a very high standard unlike the articles. The local content is written in very poor, but amazingly pretentious,  English. Take this phrase "...with her DNA strongly rooted in entertainment." Whatever does the  writer think DNA is?  Does she envisage a helix-shaped molecule somehow growing out of rhizoids which have been planted among other dancing and singing molecules and then attached or perhaps given to the  actor referred to. Reading it over I came to the conclusion that the reader is supposed to infer that the person in question comes from a family associated with TV or the theatre. No further mention is made of these relations, who may or may not be"household words." So perhaps the writer just means to say that the actor was previously involved in the entertainment industry. Am I being fussy in preferring plain English? Why do journalists have to use a long word when there is a perfectly good short one. For example "Celebritydom comes at a price."This is the first sentence in another article in the same paper.  "Celebritydom" may well be a word in some American dictionary.(It is not to be found in my copy of Chambers), but it is a very ugly one. There is no reason why "Celebrity" the abstract noun, meaning "fame" could not be used here.

Other articles, the ones which have been previously published in overseas journals, are more readable, if not particularly exciting. A whole page in the latest edition is given to the question of teaching children about money. So many of the children I know are extremely mercenary. Do they really need more instruction about money?  What the writer(Lieber of the Washington Post)  advocates is making children set aside a proportion of their pocket money for savings and for charity. Having "three jars" is how she puts it. One is for spending money, one for money to be saved for something special and one for charity.This is supposed to teach them economy and generosity. She also believes strongly that lessons about money should be given at home and parents should not expect children to learn these lessons at school.

On the face of it this seems to make sense, but in fact, is it really a good system?  Children are totally dependent on parents. Parents supply all their needs. Pocket money is a gift like a toy. It is an educational toy, of course. When they spend it they find out how to buy things in a shop and how much these things cost. Making them put some of it in a "savings' jar is a bit of a con, like pretending to give a present and then taking it away again. And teaching them at home before they learn about money at school?  Without a good grasp of Arithmetic, how can they have any idea about budgeting?
You can forget about teaching children the value of money when they are really young. When they are teenagers a clothes allowance might be a good idea. They might learn the difference between what clothes are really necessary and what are not, but this is a luxury that only really well-off parents can afford.

Actually, after bringing up five children, I have come to the conclusion that thrift is a virtue that one is born with and it can't be taught. Also I think that we live in such a commercialised world, the most difficult problem is to get children to think less  of the importance of money.. . . . .

Monday, April 6, 2015

The poems I like to read

I have downloaded the programme for the Franschhoek festival. I would like to book now, but I must wait to see what Jenny wants to do. We are going together either on the Friday or the Saturday. I think probably the Friday.  We had thought of staying over, but the cheapest place will not accept bookings for less than two nights and Jen doesn't want to stay away from home that long.

When deciding what to book for I am looking particularly at the Poetry events. This is not only because I am a poet myself and read quite a lot of poetry, but also because I want to support my fellow poets. Many of those that are reading are personal friends.

As far as the Festival goes, I am attending the events prepared to listen and  enjoy, but when it comes to reading poems and even more when I contemplate buying a book of poems, I am rather fussy. There are several kinds of poems that I don't much like. Some of these I will listen to if I really have to and will skim over when I encounter them in a journal, but some I don't want to read at all. I list those below.

1. Poems in which the meaning is very obscure.
Sometimes one has to read a poem a few times before knowing what it is about,  I am prepared to do this if the poem is worthwhile, if the words are beautiful for instance or if it has something new and important to say. But some people who write poetry seem to think that a poem should be full of ambiguities and some even seem to think intelligibility is unnecessary and that it is the reader's job to supply meaning. I was shocked to find this sentiment actually expressed by a modern, (or perhaps Post-modern,) American Poet. If the writer himself doesn't care enough about what he wants to say, to make it clear to the reader, why should the reader care about it either. If on reading the first stanza of a poem two or three times, I still don't understand it,I don't bother to read the rest of it.

2. Sermon poems.
These are poems listing or dwelling on sins. Not the poet's own sins but the sins of those around him or her. Hypocrisy and self-righteousness are favourites. Lack of care for the poor or the environment are also frequent subjects. I have never liked being lectured. A pet hate is Philip Larkin's This be the verse.

3 Confessional poems.
But not all confessional poems. There is much confessional poetry that I like very much, but some poems are just too gloomy and others are the kind of which it is said that they give "too much information." I prefer blood and guts to be in crime novels,

4. Political poems
I know I should read  more of the so-called "Struggle  Poetry" and I do think that some of the Black poets are very good, but I just don't enjoy this kind of Poem.

5.Long narrative poems.
I prefer a story, unless it is very short, to be in prose. On the other hand I am not very fond of Flash Fiction (I make an exception of Liesl Jobson's work)

Now with all this in mind I must decide what poetry sessions to book for.